12 Common Mistakes of the Beginner Guitarist


Courtesy of Roots-Rock Guitar Tips...

12 Common Beginner Guitarist Mistakes...

1). Assuming that getting the notes and fingering right, is more important than the tempo/timing. Timing is equally if not more important than getting the notes right.

2). Amps are for being heard over a drummer. There are few things as annoying as a listening to a beginner playing by them alone, really loud. A general rule of thumb for playing loud is; “if nobody tells you to crank it up, please don’t”.


3). Effect pedals are fun but don’t think they’ll actually improve your playing. When you are learning, the amp doesn’t matter either. My first amp was a used old tube radio with a Y splitter cable for 2 guitars. As long as you can hear yourself don’t worry about having a flashy amp or pedals. Put your money into getting the best guitar you can afford.

4). The general rule of thumb for buying first Guitar is, double what you think it should cost. Buying used will get you more for your money and save you breaking-in the instrument. New Guitars smell nice but unless you’re rolling in dough, buying used makes more sense.

5). Don’t try to learn riffs at full speed. Building muscle-memory requires slow repetition. Get used to cycling riffs over and over at low speed until it becomes automatic.

6). Not using the most efficient fingering. For example, using 3 fingers to play an open A chord when it can be played with 1 finger barring. Also, moving the whole hand when you could just move your fingers is wasted movement.


7). Play in front of people as often as possible. Learning to recover from a mistake in a live situation is a valuable lesson.

8). Make sure you hear every note clearly. No buzzes, mutes or trail-offs. Practice using just enough pressure to get a clear sound. Finger position within the fret is also important. Always use the lightest possible touch. Some players put way too much effort into it. Tension is your enemy, you have to be fully relaxed to play.

9). Learn songs that you like and always end a practice session by playing something fun.

10). Make sure you are holding the guitar and the pick properly.


11). Thinking that playing chords/rhythm is easier than playing single string melody/lead. I learned to play lead before I could play rhythm because I was more interested in being a lead player. Starting off playing open chords, power chords or bar chords is hard if you haven’t built up strength yet. Full barre chords that span 5-6 strings are very difficult for players just starting off.Beginners need to cut chords down to manageable size.

12). If a technique doesn’t seem possible or doesn’t make sense to you, try a different approach to the problem. Ask a few different people their opinions. Show them how you are trying to play it, there might be a simple obvious solution. If you are taking lessons, (if not you should be), your teacher will be able to suggest several alternate approaches for you.
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