Are you trying to learn guitar but want to make sure you’re not wasting your time? In this video, I’m going to show you the FIVE worst pick and fret hand errors that happen when people attempt to learn how to play the guitar...

The irony is that many of these techniques are the most popular methods that people use when trying to learn how to pick and fret notes on this instrument. In this post, we're going to help you fix each of these points and get you on the right track to better guitar playing.


Today we’re talking about learning guitar. And, most importantly, the wrong ways to go about doing this.

There are some popular methods that I believe are an incredible waste of time. And, I want to make sure you guys realize that.

But, I’m also not going to leave you without what I think is the best approach overall, so you guys don’t end up waste your time doing the wrong things. Our first guitar learning area will be picking technique.

Picking Technique:
Before we start, I want you to look at these 3 ways of picking...

Forearm Rotation

Lowered-Arm Elbow Method

3-Finger Grip

In the images above we’ve got the; fore-arm rotation, the low-elbow hinge, and the three-finger grip. Now, if you were able to focus on just one of these, which one do you think would lead to the best picking technique down the road?

If you follow me, you’ll already know I don’t like fore-arm rotation, and the elbow hinge doesn’t offer accuracy, and the 3-finger grip leads to sloppy playing.

So, all three of those methods are terrible ways to learn how to pick notes on the guitar. And, that also includes strumming as well… But, I’ve seen all of them taught – either on YouTube videos or from players who are going at learning guitar on their own.

And, none of them will help guide you toward good quality, fast accurate guitar playing, whether you’re a beginner or an Intermediate guitarist – you need to learn the habits that promote good accurate guitar playing.

To properly develop your picking, I’m going to suggest a picking practice approach that focuses on holding the pick between only two fingers, (the index and the thumb).

Have the playing action itself occur from the wrist moving down and up (with minimal movement from the elbow, or the fingers).

NOTE:  If you’re an absolute beginner, start by only using down picking. But, once you’re playing accuracy starts becoming more refined, switch as quickly as you can to using alternate (down and up) picking.

Also, it’s important to work at having the picking strokes remain short. Too much motion (pick swing) will lead to a waste of energy.

For greater accuracy, when picking on higher strings, learn to lightly brush, (with the heel of the hand), on the lower strings.

Brush on the higher strings (with the top of your small finger) when picking on the lower guitar strings. That along is going to increase picking accuracy ten-fold.

Now, that we’ve discussed how to fix three of the worst picking hand technique issues – next up, I want to move on and discuss the fretting hand.

On this side of our guitar, I’ve noticed two horrible ways that students either learn to fret notes on their own, or how they’ll perhaps even get taught how to fret notes by YouTube videos, or maybe by a private guitar instructor...

Take a look at these two images below and tell me if you can spot a couple of problems that are going on here.

Palm-Grab (from rear of neck)

Finger Pad Note Fretting (instead of Tip)

In the top image the fret-hand’s palm is grabbing the neck like it’s a baseball bat. That’s not exactly the most balanced way of holding a guitar neck.

And, in the lower image, the notes are being fretted with the pads of each finger rather than with the tips.

If either of these sound like you, there’s some practice that needs to happen to fix these areas.

The fretting hand always operates the absolute best when it’s relaxed and the best tone comes from when we fret the strings with the tips of each finger.

If we set a goal of attending to both of these areas, at the same time, we need to make sure that the pad of the thumb is supportive in the middle of the back of the neck.

This position will allow for a nice arch of the fingers out in front of the fingerboard.

Also, when we play notes, we need to play them with the tips of the fingers – not with the pads of the fingers. By playing each note with the finger-tip we’ll achieve the best possible tone.

Now, it’s also important to talk about exceptions to these rules. Because when you play in the open and 1st positions, you’ll tend to have your thumb placed up higher.

And, when we fret chord types that include the application of a “Barring” technique, we’ll have to obviously bypass our tip of the finger rule in order to properly execute these barre-chord ideas for playing any of Barre chords. 

The combination of all of these elements that I’ve run through here in this video are what I’ve been trained to do my whole life. I’ve taught this stuff to over a thousand guitar players and I know that these ideas work.

I know they yield excellent results. But, there’s something to keep in mind, and I’ll add this as a bonus tip for you. In order to make changes in the way you’re learning guitar, there needs to be a change in your mindset.

A lot of guitarists try and get more serious about their technique, but they fail and end up reverting back to their old bad habits. They’ll second guess new ideas, they’ll go back to their old ways (because they’re familiar and feel easier), but you cannot do that.

You cannot revert to inefficient methods of playing the first time you hit struggle. No method will work for you, unless you change your mind-set. The first time you feel like you need to work hard, don’t quit. If you slip up, and revert to your old ways - don’t quit.

Stay the course. Continue this throughout the length of time that’s required to over-write any bad habits with good ones. And, I promise you, that it’ll all work out, and it’ll work for you forever. 

If you’d like to learn more about topics like this one and many others, join my members site as a free member and start looking through my, “Guitar Courses.”

I’ve spent over 25 years working with hundreds of guitar students creating thousands of detailed step-by-step guitar lessons for both my website members and my private students.

The result is the most comprehensive guitar course that covers every aspect of beginner to advanced playing ideas to help you improve your playing.

If you join my site as a Premium member, you’ll receive a FREE copy of my popular Guitar Technique eBook.

My Guitar Technique eBook is 28 pages of jam-packed exercises, drills and studies for mastering all of your technical skills at playing Guitar.



Join Now

Guitar Chords | F Chord | Guitar Notes | G Chord | C Chord | D Chord | Guitar String Notes