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10 Beginner Mistakes to Avoid When Learning Guitar

Updated: Dec 18, 2023



Beginner Guitar Students Often Make These Simple Mistakes


Embarking on the journey of learning guitar is an exciting adventure, filled with endless possibilities and potential. However, like all journeys, there are obstacles and pitfalls that can hinder your progress and dampen your enthusiasm.


Our Manchester guitar teachers have compiled a list of 10 common beginner mistakes to avoid, helping you stay on track to becoming the guitar player you’ve always dreamed of becoming. So let’s dive in and tackle these potential roadblocks head-on!


1. Incorrect Posture and Guitar Holding


Avoiding strain and maximizing your guitar playing efficiency hinges on proper posture and correct guitar holding. Here are some tips to help you hold the guitar properly.


  1. For a right-handed player, the body of the guitar should rest on the right leg.

  2. The strumming hand should be on top of the guitar body.

  3. Make sure the fretboard is either vertical or parallel to the floor.

  4. Position your left hand on the fretboard with your thumb on the back of the neck.


By following these tips, you can hold the guitar properly, allowing you to play with ease and comfort.

When you or your child embark on the exciting journey of learning to play guitar, it's essential to keep a few fundamental things in mind.


  • Invest in a quality guitar

  • Resist any pressure to purchase something that’s not in your budget

  • Select the right size guitar for children

  • Always use a guitar stand or case


Remember, a great guitar teacher can guide you through this process, helping you achieve the best possible posture and guitar-holding techniques.


When it comes to acoustic vs electric guitar for beginner guitarists, the electric guitar can sometimes be easier to hold with its thinner neck and lower action.


Focusing on these fundamentals from the onset lays a strong foundation for your guitar playing and paves the way for long-term success!





2. Poor Finger Placement


Finger placement significantly impacts the note or chord’s sound and your overall technique. Achieving a clean sound and mastering the instrument heavily depend on this! For accurate finger placement, be careful not to flatten your fingers on the guitar neck when picking notes or crafting chords, and avoid too much pressure on the fret itself or applying excessive force to the string against the fretboard.


Beginner players should start by taking it slow and making sure each note is played with clarity and accuracy. Adjust your finger positioning while maintaining a light and effortless touch. With consistent practice, you will be able to:


  • Speed up and play the guitar with ease

  • Explore alternate picking, tremolo picking, barre chords, proper picking and strumming techniques

  • Tune the guitar before playing to perfect your finger placement


Choose a good guitar teacher who can help guide you through the process of perfecting your finger placement, ensuring that you develop proper technique and avoid bad habits. Remember, practice makes perfect, so dedicate time to honing your finger placement skills and watch as your abilities soar.


3. Ignoring Rhythm and Timing


Mastering rhythm and timing is vital for delivering music with finesse. Guitar lessons can aid in refining these skills. A metronome is an excellent choice for refining your rhythm and timing abilities, especially for beginner guitarists.


Practicing with a metronome cultivates a robust sense of timing, keeping you in sync with the band and steering clear of a common guitar mishap - playing out of tempo with the rest of the band.


So, make it a priority to work on your rhythm and timing during your practice sessions. With consistent practice and the use of a metronome, you’ll become a more proficient and well-rounded guitar player, able to perform with confidence and ease.





4. Overlooking String Maintenance


Routine string maintenance prolongs your strings’ lifespan and guarantees optimal sound quality, warding off an out-of-tune guitar. Changing your guitar strings at least 3 times a year will ensure you get the best sound out of your instrument. Unchanged strings can sound dull and uninspired, plus they’re more likely to snap.


Taking care of your first guitar is important. Here are some tips to keep your guitar looking its best.

  • Avoid using house cleaning products, as this can damage the wood and chrome parts.

  • Use specific guitar cleaning products to clean your guitar, including a classical guitar.

  • Wipe down your guitar with a soft cloth after each use to keep the strings clean and last longer.

  • Consider using string cleaners or other guitar cleaning products to optimize their performance.

Proper tuning ensures you get the best sound quality possible and helps prevent string breakage. Tuning your guitar before every practice is key to making sure you get the most out of your practice session. If you don’t, you could end up spending time trying to troubleshoot why something isn’t sounding the way you want it to.


5. Skipping Music Theory Basics


Learning music theory can give you the tools to progress faster and improvise more confidently. Think of music as a language; if we truly want to express our thoughts and ideas through music, it is important to understand basic sentence construction, rather than just memorizing words and sentences.


The study of music theory will provide an in-depth exploration of the ways sound works. You will learn about chords and scales, and open up a whole host of new possibilities in your playing. You’ll gain a deeper understanding of the relationships between notes, chords, and scales. It’s an incredibly rewarding experience!


Don’t let the fear of music theory hold you back. Embrace the challenge and dive into the world of music theory. As you gain a deeper understanding of the language of music, you’ll find yourself more comfortable and confident in your guitar playing, able to:


  • Express your creativity and emotions with ease

  • Understand and analyze songs more effectively

  • Communicate with other musicians more effectively

  • Write your own music and improvise with confidence


6. Focusing Solely on Speed


One of the most common guitar mistakes made by novice guitarists is prioritizing speed over precision. Starting slow is important for you to play each note accurately and learn properly, so that you can eventually build up to playing at speed. By practicing at slower speeds, you can ensure that you are developing good habits and proper technique, avoiding any sloppy playing.


If you try to progress too quickly and learn too many things at once, you won’t be able to learn anything properly. Playing slowly can also develop your musical ear training.


As a result, your playing won’t be as good as it could be if you took your time and learned step by step. Remember, accuracy should always come first; speed will naturally develop as you become more proficient in your technique.





7. Avoiding Challenging Techniques


Don’t shy away from challenging techniques, such as barre chords. Barre chords are chords that use one finger to press down multiple strings, giving you access to chords in more places on the fretboard and a variety of voicing options - so you can really get creative with your playing.


The best way for beginners to learn barre chords is to practice them for 5 minutes every day and start playing songs that use barre chords. This is a great way to improve your skills and have fun at the same time.


So, practice barre chords, even if they are challenging to play! Mastering them is incredibly rewarding and can open up countless possibilities in your playing. They may be painful for fingers at first, but the effort is worth it.


Embrace the challenge of learning barre chords and other difficult techniques. As you conquer these hurdles, you’ll not only improve your overall playing ability, but also boost your confidence and motivation to tackle even more complex aspects of playing music.


8. Inadequate Practice Routine


Adopt a regular practice routine that combines both new and old lessons, fostering muscle memory and continual skill enhancement. Consistency is essential for muscle memory, as it helps make complex movements feel effortless and automatic.


Without regular practice sessions, your guitar skills won’t reach their full potential. Can your child dedicate time each day to practicing? Also, make sure to revisit older lessons to reinforce your learning. This will ensure that you continue to grow and improve as a guitar player, becoming more proficient and confident over time.


Remember, practice makes perfect. By establishing a solid practice routine and sticking to it, you’ll set yourself up for success and enjoy the rewards of your hard work and dedication.


9. Limiting Genre Exploration


Expand your musical scope by delving into various genres and styles. Electric guitar players should take advantage of the many musical genres featuring the electric guitar to expand their musical knowledge. By being open to influence from different sources and players, you can unlock amazing potential and create incredible results.


Don’t limit yourself to a single genre; instead, explore the vast world of music and discover new techniques, styles, and inspirations to fuel your creativity and passion for guitar playing.


As you venture into new musical territories, you’ll not only expand your knowledge and skills, but also enrich your playing with unique and diverse influences.





10. Overemphasis on Perfection


Aim for progress over perfection. Celebrate your unique playing style and concentrate on continual improvement instead of chasing an unattainable idea of perfection. Every lesson you take will bring you closer to becoming a great guitar player.


Having fun is the best way to keep improving your musical skills! By focusing on progress and growth rather than perfection, you’ll find yourself enjoying the learning process and becoming a more confident and capable guitar player.


Remember, it’s the journey that matters, not the destination. So embrace your unique playing style, learn from your mistakes, and enjoy the process of becoming a better guitar player.


Before You Go


Avoiding these 10 common beginner mistakes will set you on the path to becoming a successful and accomplished guitar player. From proper posture and finger placement to exploring different genres and focusing on progress over perfection, each of these tips will help you overcome obstacles and develop a strong foundation for your journey.


Remember, the key to success lies in your dedication, practice, and willingness to learn from your mistakes. Embrace the challenges, enjoy the process, and watch as your skills soar to new heights. Happy strumming!


And if you're looking for exceptional music lessons in Manchester, don't forget to explore Anthem Tuition. We offer not only Manchester guitar lessons but also Manchester piano lessons, Manchester singing lessons, and Manchester drum lessons for students of all ages and skill levels!


Frequently Asked Questions


What should you not do when learning guitar?

Don’t use too much force when playing, practice without a metronome, try to learn too many things at once, or use too many effects - these are some common guitar mistakes you should avoid for better performance.

What should you not do when learning guitar?

What is the hardest part about learning guitar?

What is the importance of proper posture when playing guitar?



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