6 Mistake Beginner Guitarists Often Make (& How To Avoid Them)
July 18, 2019
Shaun Letang in Advice, Guitar, beginners guitar lesson, guitar lessons

As a beginner guitarist, you probably don’t know all the ins and outs of playing the guitar.

Mistakes will be made. That’s not a problem.

Where it becomes a problem is when you don’t learn from your mistakes and figure out what to do instead.

So, here are six mistakes beginner guitarist often make and how to avoid them.

Not Tuning Your Guitar

Don’t kid yourself – even non-musical people can often tell when your guitar is not in tune.

It’s okay if your guitar goes a little out of tune while you’re playing a song, and if you have a moment to adjust, take advantage.

But you shouldn’t start your rehearsal, recital or live show with a guitar that’s not in tune. This is amateurish and even a great player can sometimes come across less than great if they don’t pay attention to their tuning.

The same goes for recording in the studio. There’s just no excuse to record a guitar that’s not at the right pitch.

So, get yourself an electronic tuner and learn how to use it. Always keep it with you.

Showing Up To A Gig Without Practicing

“No worries, I can wing it” said no professional guitarist ever.

Sure, if you know the songs inside and out and can cover your mistakes with improvisation maybe you don’t need to spend hours preparing for a gig. But if you can do that, you’re probably not a beginner.

I’ve showed up to some gigs having spent a lot of time practicing and still made mistakes. That should tell you how important it is to know the songs inside and out.

Perfection is the enemy of done, so I’m not saying you must be perfect. But you should be prepared. Leave yourself plenty of time to practice before important commitments.

Failing To Practice Slowly With Precision

When practicing, it’s altogether too easy to assume that speed is a byproduct of practicing fast. This simply isn’t the case.

When practicing something new or difficult you should always begin playing it slowly, preferably with a metronome. Ensure that you’re giving every note, double stop or chord the duration required.

If you practice something the wrong way, you only get better at playing it the wrong way!

Proper practice requires patience. But if you start slow and gradually build up speed, you will improve.

Neglecting To Replace Your Guitar Strings

Now, here’s a little secret – I don’t replace my strings as often as I should.

When one string breaks, I tend to replace all of them. But if I’m crunched for time, I’ll just replace the one string and move on.

But breaking a string at a rehearsal or gig isn’t much fun and if you don’t have any replacements, that’s worse.

To prevent this from happening, you should replace your strings regularly. You don’t necessarily need to put new strings on before every gig but at the very least it would be wise to restring your guitar monthly.

That way you can avoid the embarrassment or setback of breaking a string at the least opportune moment.

So, learn how to replace strings yourself and always keep an extra set on hand.

Forgetting Cables & Other Accessories

Showing up to rehearsals and performances without the right equipment can leave you scrambling at the last minute to get your act together.

And, sometimes there just isn’t enough time to run to the nearest guitar store or find a friend who has what you need.

Always double check that you have everything you need before leaving home – straps, instrument cables, effects pedals, batteries, slides, capos, extra strings… whatever else you need.

This can happen to the best of us, so don’t be down on yourself if you leave home without everything you need. If you can, stuff extras into the pockets of your gig bag in case you forget.

Ignoring Music Theory

It’s fun to learn a lot of easy songs without concerning yourself with how music works.

Now, the benchmark for beginners isn’t exactly high. There is no expectation that you have a thorough understanding of music theory.

But if you have a basic understating of how music works, you can easily take what you’ve learned and apply it elsewhere.

It’s funny to watch intermediate guitar players who know a bunch of riffs and licks but don’t know how to move them to different keys or how to apply them in different contexts.

You may never need to learn everything there is to know about music theory, even as you reach a pro level.

But if anyone (a bandmate, another musician, collaborator, etc.) comes to you and says, “let’s play a blues in E” you should know how to do that.

So, in addition to practicing finger exercises, scales, chords and the like, you should also pick up a book or two about music theory and work your way through them.

Final Thoughts

Some of the best guitarists have made every mistake under the sun. That’s how they learned how not to make them.

You should never be down on yourself for making a mistake. Use it as a learning experience to improve and refine your craft.

You’ll need to if you want to one day go pro.

Music is supposed to be fun, so let’s keep it that way.

Article originally appeared on Music Think Tank (http://www.musicthinktank.com/).
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