5 Bad Habits of Beginner Guitar Players and How to Get Rid of Them

bad habits of beginner guitar players

5 Bad Habits of Beginner Guitar Players and How to Get Rid of Them

Playing the guitar is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding experiences there is. Not only does it provide a challenge, but it’s also a lifelong skill that you can follow as a hobby, or as a career, as well as giving you the opportunity to be as creative as you want to be.

However, during the time you’re practicing, just as there is with any hobby, it’s easy to fall into the practice of a bad habit. You may have picked up a habit instinctively, or perhaps inherited it from a tutor who didn’t know any better. Regardless of how you picked it up, it can be holding you back.

Today, we’re going to explore the five most common bad habits that are found among guitarists, and how you can get rid of them, so you can enjoy the very best music practice possible.

#1 – Playing Out of Tune

If you’re playing your guitar when it’s not in tune, the sound that you’re listening to will not be the sound that you’re trying to make. If you’re a beginner, this can be frustrating because you may know that you’re playing the right notes and chords, but the sound you’re producing sounds nothing like them.

The solution? Simply make sure that you’re tuning your guitar EVERY SINGLE TIME before you play. This way, you can be absolutely sure that you’re creating the right sounds, minimizing the chances of getting frustrated.

If you play live frequently, and tuning manually every now and then seems tiring, you can invest in polyphonic tuners, or even better, locking tuners. These can keep your guitar in tune for a long long time, which is especially crucial for live performers.

#2 – Trying to Learn Everything, But Not Well

It doesn’t matter whether you’ve just started playing the guitar or you’ve been practicing for several months; there’s a certain novelty that affects everyone, which always results in a rush to try and learn everything, especially when it comes to scales.

However, there’s no point in learning everything if you can’t do everything well. It’s far more beneficial for your skills to learn one scale really really well, and then move to the next, than learning several different scales in a below average manner.

#3 – Playing Your Guitar in the Wrong Position

Another bad habit that a lot of guitarists find is that they’re spending a lot of time trying to find the right position to play. This optimal position is a pose where you’re both comfortable, and you’re able to play the right sounds with ease. Sitting in the wrong position can also mean you’ll develop back problems in later life.

The easy answer to this is to invest in a guitar strap. This way, you can set your guitar up perfectly, so it’s in the same position every time you pick it up. Also, make sure you’re sitting or standing with a straight back to alleviate the risk of a back problem.

If you just can’t seem to feel comfortable while playing no matter what position you try, make sure you’re playing a guitar that’s the right size for you. In fact, there are guitars made especially for people with smaller hands to alleviate the discomfort that comes with playing an oversized guitar.

#4 – Learning Bits and Pieces of a Song

Don’t worry, this is something we all do from time to time, but it’s an extremely bad habit to fall into. If you’re only learning the intro of a song, or that sick riff and solo in the middle, you’re not harnessing your skills; you’re just memorizing a single part.

By taking the time to learn an entire song, you can help to teach yourself other valuable musical lessons, such as how to transfer from one part of a song to the next, as well as learning rhythm and the discipline you need as a musician to improve your abilities.

#5 – Practicing the Same Song Repeatedly

Since you’re practicing the guitar, it’s easy to fall into the habit of ‘practicing’ in which you define it as playing the same song over and over again; perhaps Back in Black or White Stripes. However, this isn’t ‘practice’, and you’re not going to develop your skills by playing the same song over and over again.

Instead, play it a few times just to make sure that it stays in your memory, but always strive to keep learning new songs so you can keep developing and enhancing your skills. This is the only way you’re going to get better.


Gavin Whitner is a composer, songwriter and the lead guitar player of an alt-rock band. He also blogs about music at MusicOomph . He loves watching sports in his free time, ranging from Tennis to F1.

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