20 Most Common Guitar Mistakes Beginners Need To Avoid

common guitar mistakes
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As a beginner guitarist, it’s easy to make common mistakes that can hold you back from progressing and sounding your best. However, by learning what these mistakes are, you can avoid them and become a better guitarist.

In this article, we’ll share the top 20 most common guitar mistakes made by beginners and how to avoid them. By avoiding these traps, you’ll be on your path to becoming a better guitar player in no time.

Top 20 Beginner Guitar Mistakes:

1. Not getting a proper guitar setup

One of the most common mistakes made by beginner guitarists is not getting their guitar set up professionally. This can cause all sorts of problems including poor intonation, too high or too low string height, and more.

In order to get the most out of your guitar, it’s important to have set up your guitar properly by a qualified guitar technician. This will ensure that your guitar is intonated correctly and that the action is set to your liking.

It’s also a good idea to have your guitar set up if you’re buying a new one, as most guitars need some adjustment out of the box.

2. Not changing strings often

Another common mistake beginner guitar players make is if they don’t change guitar strings often enough. Some beginners think that guitar strings should be changed only when they break. However, this isn’t the case. Strings should change every few months (or more often if you play a lot) to keep them sounding their best.

Old strings can sound dull and lifeless, and they’re also more prone to breaking. If you notice your strings sounding dull or dead, it’s probably time to change them.

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If you are confused about how often you should change your guitar strings then read this easy guide on the topic.

It’s also a good idea to clean guitar strings regularly if you want to avoid changing strings within a short period and extend your guitar strings life. You can do this by wiping them down with a soft cloth after each use. Also, you can use string cleaners or other guitar cleaning products for better performance.

3. Forgetting to tune before practicing

beginner guitar problems: forgetting to tune

One typical mistake that beginners make is forgetting to tune their guitar before practicing. It can cause problems with intonation and lead to your guitar sounding out of tune, even if it’s been properly tuned earlier. Playing an out-of-tune guitar can be very frustrating and can hold you back from progressing.

To avoid this situation, it’s essential to always tune your guitar before practicing, especially if you’re a beginner. You have to build up a habit of tuning your guitar before each practice session.

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If you need guidance on guitar tuning, check out our article on How to tune an acoustic guitar (with or without a tuner).

You can use a tuning app on your phone or a clip-on guitar tuner to help you tune your guitar. Tuning your guitar before every practice will help you progress faster and sound your best.

4. Not holding the guitar in the right way

If you do not learn to hold the guitar in the right way, you will not be able to play it properly. You will also put unnecessary strain on your muscles and joints, which can lead to pain in the long run.

If you are facing difficulties playing certain chords or licks, it might be because you are not holding the guitar in the proper position.

Here is the proper way of holding a guitar for a right-handed person:

The guitar body should rest on your right leg, and your strumming (right) hand should rest on the top of the guitar body. The fretboard should be in a vertical position or parallel to the floor. Your left hand (fretting hand) should be positioned on the fretboard with your thumb on the back of the neck.

Remember to hold the guitar in a way that is comfortable for you and that allows you to reach all the notes on the fretboard. Also, do not tilt the guitar too much backward to see the fretboard, as this will form a bad habit.

5. Not practicing regularly

Another very common mistake made by novice guitarists is not practicing regularly. If you want to get a satisfactory level at guitar, you need to rehearse every day. Even if it’s just for 15 minutes or a half-hour, make sure to practice regularly to improve your skills.

Playing for a couple of hours in one day and then skipping practice for the next few days won’t help you anyway. You have to be regular with your practice sessions if you want to get some good results.

Regular playing will help you create your muscle memory which is very important for playing guitar. You will be able to play the chords and scale patterns easily if you have developed good muscle memory.

So, if you are not practicing regularly, make sure to start doing it from today. It will help you to improve your guitar skills in the long run.

6. Focusing on speed instead of accuracy

Trying to play too fast is another common guitar mistake made by beginner guitarists. When you are just starting, it’s crucial to focus on playing accurately rather than trying to play fast. As you get better, you will be able to play faster. But in the beginning, it’s more important to focus on accuracy.

Speeding habits can also lead to sloppy guitar playing that you want to avoid. So, take your time and focus on accuracy. Once you have grasped the basics, you can start increasing your speed.

7. Not practicing with a metronome

beginner guitar challenges: using a metronome

A metronome is a tool that can use to develop timing and rhythm. Beginners need to practice with a metronome, especially if they’re trying to improve their timing and rhythm.

Though using a metronome is not compulsory, it is highly recommended for beginner guitarists. It will help you develop your internal clock and the ability to stay to a tempo.

You can buy a metronome or download any free metronome app on your phone if you don’t want to spend money.

Lessons from Julliard & Oberlin Musicians at Virtu.Academy
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If you don't know how to use a metronome, check out our best tips on how to practice guitar with a metronome.

8. Trying to learn too fast or too much within a short period

Some beginners try to learn too many things straight away. It’s not an effective way to learn and can be counter-productive. When you are just starting, it’s crucial to focus on one thing at a time.

Don’t try to learn too many chords or songs in the beginning. Start with the basics and master them before moving on to something else.

Also, trying to progress too fast can lead to frustration and discouragement. If you concentrate on fast playing without learning how to play correctly, you will develop bad habits that will be difficult to break later.

So, try to play every note clearly and slowly before increasing the speed. Speed will improve naturally with enough practice, so don’t be too hard on yourself and take your time learning things.

9. Not learning music theory

One of the biggest mistakes beginner guitarists make is avoiding music theory. Without a theoretical foundation, it will be difficult to understand why you’re doing what you’re doing on the fretboard.

Music theory will help you understand the construction of chords and scales, and learning them will allow you to apply them to your playing. Additionally, music theory will give you a better understanding of the relationships between notes, chords, and scales.

If you’re interested in learning music theory, there are plenty of great resources out there, both online and offline. There’s also no substitute for taking a music theory class from a qualified instructor.

10. Keeping away from barre chords

Barre chords are challenging to play, and they can be very painful for your fingers. So, many beginners avoid them altogether and try a different chord shape that’s easier for them to play.

While it’s true that master barre chords can be hard to play, they are a very vital part of playing guitar. They allow you to play chords in more places on the fretboard and provide a wide range of voicing possibilities.

If you’re struggling with barre chords, you need to practice more to learn how to play them correctly. Start by practicing them slowly and work your way up to playing them at a faster tempo. Some helpful exercises can make barre chords easier to play.

But we recommend that beginner guitar students need to learn the basic open chords first and then practice barre chords.

11. Holding chords too hard or playing with too much force

bad guitar habits

It is common to hold the chords too hard or strum the strings with too much force when you are first starting. This wrongdoing can make it challenging to create a clean sound and lead to pain in your fingers.

It is required to relax your hand and use just enough pressure to hold down or strum the strings. You will know you are employing too much force if your fingers start to hurt.

One common reason beginners tend to use too much pressure on the fretboard is that they are trying to reduce the amount of fret buzz. It can be caused by incorrect techniques or by using too much pressure on the strings.

If you’re having trouble with fret buzz, try using less pressure on the strings and check your technique. Also, learn proper strumming techniques to improve your playing.

12. Practicing some advanced stuff beyond your level

When you are first starting, it is crucial to practice songs of your level. Trying to learn a lesson/song that is too difficult can be frustrating and lead to bad habits.

If you encounter yourself struggling with a particular lesson, take a step back and try an easier one. You can still come back to the more challenging songs later.

Practicing something too easy or too hard can be unfavorable for your musical growth. It is crucial to find a balance between various difficulty levels and practice different songs that suit your playing level.

13. Not keeping patience

Learning any musical instrument takes time, patience, and practice. If a beginner gets impatient and wants to grasp everything overnight, that is unattainable and will only lead to frustration.

If you find yourself getting frustrated, take a leave and come back to it later. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t learn something as quickly as you want to. Everyone learns at their own pace. Just keep practicing, and you will improve over time.

14. Not setting realistic goals

In the beginning, it is necessary to set practical goals for yourself. Trying to learn too much instantly can be overwhelming and lead to frustration. Start by learning basic chords and melodies. Once you have mastered those, move on to more challenging songs.

It is essential to have both short and long term goals set for yourself. That way, you can track your improvement and notice how far you have come. Don’t be frustrated if you don’t achieve your goals as quickly as you want to. Just keep practicing, and you will ultimately reach there.

15. Learning from too many sources

what not to do when learning guitar

Today guitar lessons and tutorials are available at our fingertips. While numerous sources are easily accessible now, it is tempting to learn from as many sources as possible. It can be a big mistake as you can be overwhelmed and confused.

It is helpful to have a structured lesson plan from the very beginning. It will help you progress on time and avoid becoming overwhelmed.

When learning from a guitar teacher, make sure they are qualified to teach you. Ask around for recommendations, or look for online reviews. Once you have found a good professional teacher, stick with them until you have mastered the lesson and don’t try to learn from various sources at a time.

16. Comparing yourself to others

Comparing yourself to others is the most harmful thing you can do when learning guitar. Everyone learns at their own pace, so it is necessary to focus on your progress.

Comparing yourself to others can lead to feelings of inadequacy and frustration. It can also push you to give up altogether. Remember that everyone starts at the same place, and everyone has to put in the time and effort to get better.

The best way to improve is to practice regularly and set goals. As long as you are making advancements, you are doing great.

17. Learning new vs practicing old lessons

It can be easy to get sidetracked when learning to play guitar. You might find yourself spending more time learning new things than practicing the old ones. It can lead to frustration and a lack of progress.

It is important to find a balance between learning new material and practicing old stuff. It will help you make progress and avoid frustration. Try to set aside time each day for both new and old material.

18. Using poor quality instruments and accessories

There are plenty of cheap and poor-quality guitars available on the market. If you are new to playing guitar, it is crucial to buy a quality instrument as your first guitar. A cheap guitar will only frustrate you and hinder your progress.

In addition, using the wrong type of strings can also lead to frustration. There are different types of strings available for different styles of music. If you are unsure which strings to use, ask a guitar instructor or a music store employee.

Another common mistake is buying the wrong kind of amp for playing electric guitar. If you are a beginner, you might not need an amp as powerful as an experienced player needs. Buying an amp that is too powerful can be expensive and unnecessary.

So, use quality instruments and accessories for learning guitar cause it will help you avoid frustration and make progress.

19. Not playing in front of others

mistakes beginner guitarists make

Isolating yourself while you’re learning guitar can be detrimental to your progress. One of the best ways to enhance your skills is to play in front of others. It will help you get feedback and improve your playing faster. In addition, playing in front of others can be a lot of fun.

If you are nervous about playing in front of others, start playing in front of your friends and family. You can also find online guitar forums, guitar groups, or classes where you can play with other people. Playing in front of others is a great way to improve your skills.

20. Staying away from alternate picking

Alternate picking is an essential technique for beginner guitar players to learn. It is a technique where the player alternates between down and upstrokes when playing a note. This technique is used to play fast passages with ease.

Many beginner guitar players avoid alternate picking because it is tough to learn. However, alternate picking can be mastered with proper practice and can be used in other styles of music besides lead guitar playing.

Final Words

Learning to play guitar can be a challenging but rewarding experience. There are many mistakes that most beginners make which are part of the learning process.

Knowing about these guitar mistakes beforehand will allow you to take the necessary steps to avoid them. So be patient and continue to do proper practice to sidestep all these mistakes.

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