We’ve all met that person. It might even be you – that budding rookie guitarist who picks up the instrument for the first time with high hopes of one day shredding like the masters only to put it down a few months later because of all the frustration that comes with learning how to play a new instrument. Many of those early frustrations are usually caused by few all too common mistakes. By correcting these common mistakes and playing with patience and plenty of dedication, you'll make your journey as a guitarist lot more fruitful and enjoyable.
Effective Practice Sessions
Earlier this week, we listed a few tips for effective practice sessions. If you haven’t already taken a look, we highly suggest you do. The ideas in there should help you get the most out of your practice routine. You can spend hours upon hours just noodling around on the guitar but that doesn't guarantee it will make you a better guitarist.
Running When You Should Walk
In other words, trying to play beyond your ability. You shouldn’t expect to nail intricate riffs before mastering the basics. Nothing will put you down faster than trying to play outside of your current skill level. Like the old saying goes, it’s a marathon, not a sprint – you have your entire life to master the guitar. Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eddie Van Halen weren’t born being able to nail riffs like madmen. Be patient and don’t get discouraged. As long as you keep at it, you'll begin to see yourself improve.
Choosing The Wrong Guitar
A much too common mistake. The right piece of gear can go a long way in making your journey a smoother and more enjoyable ride. Don't go by looks alone. Go with what feels and sounds right for you. Today, guitars come in a variety of styles and specs and are available at nearly every price point. Things like neck profile, scale length and even weight and overall balance of the guitar will have a huge impact on playability. Few things will hold you back more than choosing an instrument that just doesn't feel good to play.
With the dawn of the internet in full swing, there is so much information online that you could realistically learn to play the guitar at an impressive level all on your own. What you can't learn on your own however is playing with other musicians -- a key part of being a fluent guitarist. Once you get a little comfortable with the instrument, make it a priority to start playing with other musicians as much as possible. There's no better way of learning the push-pull and flow of playing with others than by experiencing it as much as you can. As a bonus, you’ll also benefit from any constructive feedback.
Not Warming Up
Ever wondered why there are times when you pick up your guitar and cannot play something that you have played with ease before? The main cause is not warming up first. Try going through various finger exercises, running through scales, or just riffing on some licks that you’re familiar with. You’ll be surprised what a five-minute warmup session before beginning your practice will do for your playing. It can make the difference as a guitarist.
Not Applying What You Learn
Sure, you can memorize a ton of different riffs and play them all flawlessly but are you thinking about how to apply what you learn to your own playing? The next time you learn a lick or riff, instead of just playing it, try to really study what's going on. Knowing a ton of different riffs and playing them perfectly is all well and good, but really knowing them to the point where you understand what skills and concepts are being used will help you then apply similar techniques to your own repertoire.
In Conclusion ...
Being able to play an instrument – be it the guitar, bass, violin or what have you – can be one of the most satisfying personal accomplishments in life. But it's not quick or easy. There will be times when you feel like you hit a wall or maybe start to doubt yourself. Those are all temporary speed bumps that every guitarist has gone through. With enough patience and dedication, it’s not a question of if you’ll ever learn a to play, but when. And never be afraid to ask for help. If you have any question or need help finding the best gear for your needs, you can always chat with one of our PAL Pros by using the Contact Us chat box below!
Your Turn to Sound Off!
What are some other common mistakes made by new guitarists?