These five mistakes lead you on the wrong path to becoming a great musician. Learn how to get rid of them.
Too much physical effort
New players often feel like pressing and strumming the guitar strings requires a lot of tension and effort for better performance. Of course, learning new scales and rhythms can be really hard but the physical act itself should not be strenuous at all. It should feel quite easy.
You must place your fingers near the fretwire but shouldn’t press right above it. You should rather do it slightly behind the fret wire. Adjust your fingerpositions properly and playing will be much more effortless.
Try it out for yourself and you will see that it requires less pressure to create a clean and defined note.
Too much speed
You shouldn’t try to play a song in the actual tempo before learning where all the notes are and how to play them. Your technique is far more important than speed. If you prioritize the latter, you will end up hitting several wrong notes throughout the song without even noticing.
Beginners should play at 50% speed or less. It doesn’t mean that you are less skilled at playing. It means that you´re focusing on doing everything on point so that you can perform the song flawlessly at 100% speed.
Players that want to play the original tempos right away usually have a very sloppy technique that will stay glued to them and will be much harder to let go of in the future.
To put it simply, playing any instrument boils down to muscle memory. Playing the guitar requires meticulous motor skills. So, the best way to make the movements become natural and effortless is by practicing consistently without long intervals.
Playing for several hours straight is not necessarily a synonym of progress. If you spend a week or so without playing, the training will be inefficient. If you don’t have much time per day to play, try practicing daily from 10 to 20 minutes.
It is much better than having an unreasonably long session only once a week.
Too much at once
In the beginning, it is totally natural that you are super motivated and ready to learn. But being motivated doesn’t mean trying to learn too much at once and moving to new skills or techniques without mastering previous ones.
You will totally agree if we put it this way: being great at a few things are much better than being mediocre in many. With guitar playing, that’s exactly the case.
Obsession with perfection
Even the best guitarists hit lots of wrong notes throughout their successful careers. If you get too caught up with perfection, you will be more anxious and your body will become more tense, which will result in you making more mistakes.
What happens in music and virtually anything else in life is that we perform much better when we’re not focused on pleasing others or prove ourselves.
Of course, the objective is to achieve a great technique. But think of playing the guitar as a combination of two goals that you can’t forget about: having the privilege of enjoying your own music and play it to the best of your ability. The first goal should be the top priority.
You’re lucky if you get to read this before starting to play so you can avoid these pitfalls right away.
These five expert tips will carry through the process of moving from a beginner to a pro.
Learn at your own pace
Trying to learn fast should not even cross your mind. To actually have good technique you must always hit the right notes and use your fingers accurately. That is something that can’t be rushed.
This is especially the case for tricky and more complicated bar chords and scales. If you learn to play correctly, the speed will increase naturally. Taking your time is essential and not a sign that you’re not making progress.
Avoid the death grip
The left-hand death grip is known by practically every guitarist because all beginners incur in this mistake. Pressing the strings against the board is not as simple as it seems.
It can make your fingers and your wrist hurt. A natural reaction is placing your thumb over the top of the fret. That hand position will make you press the strings with your fingerprints rather than the fingertips, which is the part of the finger that should always be used to press.
Although the death grip lets you hold the guitar better, it undermines the reach of the fingers. The correct grip is having your thumb on the back of the fretboard so that you can play with your fingertips.
Otherwise, you may end up muting other strings with the bigger and flatter part of your finger below the tip. Yes, it is hard at first and causes a bit of wrist and finger discomfort. But it is the way to play properly.
Use your fingers correctly
Playing with your fingers correctly refers to knowing which finger should play each note on the fretboard. This is actually something that has been the subject of various studies throughout the years. Nowadays, you can easily access the expert recommendations on this topic.
The fingering instructions are applied to chords, scales and variations. If you divert from these tips and try to play variations your own way, you can end up helping prove that the fingers you were trying to use are simply impossible to play with on those variations.
Use a metronome
The advantages of playing to a click track are many, although it can be very difficult at the beginning. You will get to train your rhythm and your timing. So, the sooner you start using a metronome after the initial steps, the better.
Start by setting the beats per minute to a very slow pace. The goal is not to learn to play fast, but steady and in time. The metronome is a step that you should take only when your technique is already relatively strong.
Play sitting down and standing up
Starting to play while standing up can be a huge challenge. But if you’re taking your practice seriously, you’ll have to do it eventually. When you’re sitting, it’s easy to look over and control your finger movements with your eyes.
But you should let go of that habit as soon as you feel more comfortable. Once you insist on playing standing up, your technique will improve and you will play much more naturally. A good strap is key. It must be padded on the shoulder and be adjusted to a proper length.
Focus on technique from day one. Being disciplined and avoiding mistakes will make your evolution more natural, stable, fast and enjoyable.
Did you know that some of your favorite hits by your favorite artists are actually really simple to play on the guitar? Come along and discover four amazing songs for new players.
Stand by Me – Ben E. King
This is a smooth and classic song, easy to play on the guitar. It came out in 1960 and, to this day, almost everyone knows it. It is easy to play because it only has four chords, which are the same throughout the entire song.
The strumming patterns are fun and will help you get better at the rhythm. And since it is so widely enjoyed, you can play it for your friends and family.
Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes
This is the first song a lot of beginners learn.
It sounds good on an electric or an acoustic guitar. It’s perfect to start out because the main riff can be played on just one string. While many songs train you to move around the strings, this one is great for practicing moving your fingers on the fretboard.
Shake It Off – Taylor Swift
For this song, you’ll only have to play three simple chords. Needless to say, Shake It Off is a huge hit that people of all ages love. You can play with just two fingers and the chords are always the same throughout the song. The strumming pattern is simple, fun and pleasing.
Radioactive – Imagine Dragons
This is another perfect song for beginners. The chords are easy and remain the same all the way through to the end of the song. It’s not very fast to play but the patterns are still quite interesting and different.
With time and practice, you’ll get to master these four suggestions.
Choosing an amazing guitar is a crucial step if you want to become a top-notch player. You can’t go wrong with these ones.
The 3 best acoustic guitars for beginners
Epiphone Dove Pro
The Epiphone Dove Pro is an acoustic-electric guitar with a sturdy spruce top and a comfortable neck. The sound is impressively rich. It comes with a system that perfectly reproduces the acoustic sounds even when the guitar is plugged into an amplifier.
Martin LX Little Martin
The Little Martin has a smaller structure but the sound is big and full. It is a perfect guitar to carry around.
This Yamaha guitar is not only aesthetically pleasing and made out of the best materials. The tone is incredibly balanced and every note is perfectly defined.
The 3 best electric guitars for beginners
Epiphone Les Paul Special II
The tones in this guitar take you back to the sound of the classic LPs. The body is light and the guitar is perfect for virtually any musical genre. The electric guitar is a favorite in many beginner articles. It’s available in six different styles and colors. And the package includes picks, a cable and an amplifier.
Gretsch G5425 Electromatic Jet Club
With a beautiful arched maple top and a basswood body, this Gretsch guitar offers a fantastic quality-price relation. The tones are resounding and classic.
Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster 50s
The control is easy and the playing is smooth, while the tuning machines are simple and reliable. This true classic offers a broad range of tones and is great for pop, country and soft rock.
All six guitars are affordable and top-quality. What’s your favorite?
These are the four points you simply cannot forget about when you decide to start your guitar jamming sessions.
The first step
After you decide to start playing the guitar you must determine whether you want to be self-taught and learn on your own or take guitar lessons. Nowadays, there are dozens of good guitar courses online that keep beginners interested and encouraged, while teaching them the basics, the best tips and the tricks that make the difference.
If you prefer taking private or group classes, that’s also a great choice. It can help you be more focused and committed. The way you learn should be tailored to you so that you can start adopting learning habits that are both enjoyable and serious from the beginning.
Acoustic or electric
Both types are suitable for beginners and both have advantages. It all depends on what you prefer and what kind of music you will play the most. Acoustic guitars are more affordable because they don’t require extra equipment.
And the heavy strings will train you better from the start.On the other hand, electric guitars are easier to strum as they have thin strings. The reach and the grip will also be easier because of their slimmer neck.
The best strings
When choosing which strings to buy, you need to consider the gauge and the sound. It’s probably better, to begin with, lighter strings since they create less tension and make it easier to play.
Acoustic players should look for a gauge of 0.011 to 0.52 inches. For electric guitars, the ideal gauge is of 0.009 to 0.042 inches.
When it comes to the string materials, they produce very different tones. The best acoustic guitar strings are made of phosphor bronze or 80/20 bronze. The first ones create darker and more mellow sounds, while the latter is great for bright and metallic tones.
For the electrics, nickel and stainless steel are the perfect strings. Nickel strings allow for definition and articulation, especially for blues, rock and jazz music. The stainless steel produces strong and big sounds for heavier rock.
Additional equipment can make a big difference in technique and sound. There are dozens of amazing pieces of equipment to improve your music, but these are the essentials.
As you go along, try out picks different in size, shape, material and thickness. You’ll be able to understand which ones are better for you and your guitar. Generally, plastic picks are a great beginner choice because they offer grip and flexibility.
Start out with picks of medium thickness and standard shape and size. They will warrant solid and easy holding.
A strap is crucial to stabilizing the guitar and you have countless designs and materials to choose from. But whichever those are, the strap must be comfortable with a minimum width of 2 inches and extra padding for the shoulder.
For acoustic guitars, you also need to get two strap pins.
The best alternatives are electronic, chromatic, clip-on or app tuners.
Feeling more prepared already? Never forget these essential steps as you move along.