It seems that some guitar players are so focused on what they should be doing when playing guitar, that sometimes bad habits can creep in without them even realizing… Could this already have happened to you?
When guitar players watch each other, usually they try to pick up on all the bad things that they are doing rather than the good things, I’m sure you know what I mean as you have probably found yourself judging another guitar player on their mistakes, it just human nature. This is an easy trap to fall into, and most will never realized they even fell into it! Obviously this isn’t a good habit to have as a guitar player, but noticing it is the first step to fixing it. ‘See the cup as half full’ so to speak. See what you can learn by watching other guitar players instead of being critical.
The first and biggest mistake a lot of guitar players make, usually when they first start playing, is to learn a song and try play it straight away. This usually results in the song sounding sloppy, messy and just plain bad.
Whenever you learn a song, do what the pros do! Get a metronome, learn the song at half speed, or even slower! I am sure that you could play anything any song that has ever been written on guitar at a snails pace… So do that to begin with. Then everyday slowly increase the BPM (Beats Per Minute) on your metronome.
Next thing you know, you will be playing songs you thought were impossible, note for note & effortlessly.
Nobody wants to hear someone play a song they still can’t actually play, so don’t be that guy (or gal). Obviously, you can sound bad while you’re practicing… Heck, you’re meant to sound good while you’re practicing, or else you’re not trying hard enough to get better!
Another mistake a lot of beginners make is to only use 2 or 3 fingers, usually leaving out their pinky (little finger) because ‘It’s too hard’. The only reason it is too hard is because people do not generally use the little finger separately in day to day life so the muscles are not developed enough for your brain to tell it what to do.
Get all your fingers moving, even your pinky. Soon you will find that with a little practice is will soon become just as easy to use as any other finger. In fact, Kirk Hammet (the guitarist of Metallica) once said that he wished someone had told him to start using his pinky finger a lot earlier in his guitar playing career.
Have you ever seen someone play a song, make a mistake, then stop, start again and make the same mistake? This is because they are training themselves to make mistakes…
Sounds crazy, right? But it’s true.
Whenever you are learning to play a song, if you make a mistake, whatever you do, do not stop! This is the worst thing you can do, especially when first learning a song.
Even if you make a complete mess of the thing, try to get the rhythm going and after you finish the song or complete section, go from the start. If you stop as soon as you make a mistake it can be very easy to get stuck at that point and keep making the same mistake over and over. This is the time when a lot of people put the guitar down and never look at that song again… Just because they didn’t know they were training themselves to make mistakes.
Don’t jump ahead of your ability. You should know your own ability’s on a guitar, what you can play and what you can’t. Don’t try play something that is far beyond your current level of playing, because you simply wont be able to do it. Instead, build up your skills slowly. I know nobody wants to hear that, but it is the tried and true way to really get good at the guitar.
I’m not saying to NOT try playing much harder songs, but don’t ONLY do that because otherwise you will get discouraged from playing, and that’s the last thing you want. You want your goal songs to stretch your abilities, not hinder them.
The main thing you have to remember is that the rock stars you try to emulate have been playing guitar in some cases their whole life. It takes a long time to get really good at guitar no matter how you learn. But sticking with it and practicing a little bit everyday is the path to where you want to be as a guitarist.
You can get there a lot faster than you think as long as you have a structured practice session and structured learning material.