You may be surprised at how many guitar players work hard and practice every day, yet struggle to play the guitar the way they want. They become frustrated when they can’t get better quickly enough and feel angry or discouraged at themselves for not being able to play the guitar as well.
Do you feel the same? You can. I did that 15 years ago.
Guitar players can experience frustration and disappointment for a variety of reasons. These are 11 common mistakes that guitar players make, which you should avoid.
1. Learn How to Play Guitar. Many people try to learn how to play the guitar. While it is true that some famous players learned the guitar by themselves, I don’t recommend following this strategy, even if you are a fan. You can create powerful learning and training systems that are 100% effective on your own if you’re confident. If you’re like most people, however, learning anything by yourself is difficult, time-consuming and stressful. This is a mistake you should avoid. It is tempting for guitar players to say that they are self-taught. Although this statement may be a nice way to impress some inexperienced players, it is not a badge of honor. Do you prefer to impress people with your guitar playing, or with a small statement about your guitar playing. I am not critiquing self-taught guitarists. I am only saying that it isn’t better to be self-taught… and that it’s not true that being “original” is more beneficial. The opposite is often true.
2. Learn Guitar from Incompetent Guitar Teachers. Most electric guitar teachers are not trained in how to teach the guitar. Worse, most teachers don’t do anything to improve their teaching skills. Do you want to see the proof? Google’s keyword tool is a good example. You will see that there are less than 10 searches per year for the keyword phrase ‘improve your guitar teaching skills’ or ‘guitar teacher training’. There are many highly skilled electric guitar teachers, but there are also many ineffective teachers.
3. You are looking for new guitar information (tricks and tips, tab, etc.) without a proven strategy to achieve your musical goals. Information, advice, music, and help are all important. However, without a proven strategy to reach your specific musical goals, you won’t be able to use the information. To become a better guitarist, it is better to seek out help to develop a personalized strategy. Once that strategy has been established, it’s time to learn the right information.
4. It is difficult to know exactly what you want to be able do with your guitar. Guitar players don’t know what they want to do with their instrument. It is too vague to say “I want to do whatever I like to do” If your goals are not specific, how can you or your teacher develop a guitar training strategy that is specific and effective? If you have a vague goal to become a great athlete, then how can you train effectively? There are many things you can do in order to improve your speed, strength, flexibility, etc. but it is much easier to get specific goals such as “I want to train to be an athlete,” or “I want to run long distances.” You can improve even if you don’t have a strategy. However, it will be more difficult and take much longer. If you decide you prefer something else, you can always change your goal.
5. It is not enough to focus on the things that are most important for you to be a better guitarist. Do you find yourself falling into the trap of playing guitar and not focusing on the things that will help you improve your playing? This concept is not well understood by many people ….. I know a student named Mark, who took lessons from another teacher. Mark was working with his former teacher to learn sweep picking arpeggios. He was making progress. Mark didn’t know what the’specific’ elements were that he had to pay attention to before he could master the sweep picking arpeggios that he was practising. This was holding Mark back and making it very frustrating. Mark’s former teacher knew only how to teach arpeggios, general sweep picking concepts, and so on. He didn’t know how to train Mark to the right things and overcome the obstacles Mark was facing.
6. It is easy to focus too much on things that are not essential to your goals. Guitar players often focus too much on the “wrong” things instead of focusing on specific goals. Many guitar players get distracted by things that distract them from their guitar playing. Let me give you an example. I would get frustrated and angry when I couldn’t play a particular chord perfectly. I would lock myself in my practice room and swear, “I won’t leave this room until I learn this damn lick, even if it takes me 19 hours!” No breaks! No food! No human contact! This is what I will do! It was easy to master. It might appear that I was on the right path and practicing in a positive way ….. In reality, my frustration and anger were not a result of the time I was spending. My guitar practice time was not being used wisely. I focused on what really mattered to me in order to become a better guitarist. My perseverance was admirable, but I was not able to develop a strategy that would help me achieve long-term goals. I let myself be distracted. This is a mistake I won’t repeat. You must focus on what is most important for your guitar playing today. You can find a seasoned teacher if you don’t know how to do it.
7. Focusing on the Right Things in the Wrong Order. This is a common error that many guitar players make, which can lead to frustration and wasted time. You want to learn how to make cool solos on your guitar. Let’s say you have the knowledge and skills to compose your own guitar solos. To create amazing solos, each element must be understood and/or practiced. How do you start? Which of these should you be focusing on first? Second? Third? Which of these should you do simultaneously? To EXPLODE your musical abilities, there is a certain order that musical skills must be learned and mastered. This order can be different for everyone, depending on their musical style, musical goals, skills, and knowledge. So, it would be futile to give an example. I advise you to find the best teacher and learn with them to make your guitar playing much more enjoyable and faster.
8. Problem areas should not be ignored. Many guitar players don’t realize the little things that can hold them back from greatness. We often overlook these small imperfections because they seem so insignificant. Despite their small size, they can open up big doors. In the video above, I showed you how allowing your guitar to lose momentum when it is ‘not picking’ a string on the guitar can cause your playing to become slow and sloppy ….. This will lead you to feel frustrated. To avoid this, I made a special point.
9. Learning And Practicing Guitar In A Step By Step Linear Process. Do you find a step-by-step linear approach to learning, practicing, and mastering the guitar to be common sense? It does… and that is why guitarists who follow this path to learning, practicing and mastering the guitar are not great players. Let me tell you an insider’s tip… Truth is, a linear approach to learning and practicing guitar, as well as mastering the guitar is what makes “good guitarists” “GREAT GUITAR PLAYERS
10. You can practice guitar the same way your favorite guitarists do. Ever read about the practice habits of your favorite guitarists and tried to replicate them? This is a mistake I made! It is natural to follow the same practice routines as our favorite guitarists. It is not a good idea to do this as your guitar skills and music knowledge may be very different from that of your favorite guitarist. Your needs and challenges are likely to be different from theirs.
Professional guitarists practice differently to amateurs. Example: I practice differently before recording a new album than I did before going on tour. My practice routine drastically changes once I’m on tour. My practice schedule changes throughout the year. Because each case is different, my goals and challenges are completely different. My guitar students often ask me “Tom, how do your practice guitar?” My students don’t have to practice in the same way as I do. Your practice strategy and schedule should be built around you and only you! Email me if you need assistance in building your practice schedule.
11. You can learn too many different sources of information. There will always be learning opportunities and many paths to follow. However, it is important to not become distracted and take too many steps backwards.
Once you have a strategy in place to make you the best guitarist you can be, you should never lose sight of it. This is best done by having a primary guitar teacher that helps you become the musician you want to be.
You shouldn’t ignore advice from others, but you need to have one source of information, training, and coaching. Then, you should look at the advice as an additional resource but not be distracted.