Today, I want to share six typical beginner bad habits with you.

I struggled with these myself and they are habits I see a lot of people struggle with too.

Some may be obvious to you, but some may not. (Even if they are obvious to you, the following will make for good reminders to avoid them.)

Here we go…


1 – The “Death Grip” 

If you’ve been on my email list for a while now, you’ll probably already know about this. The “Death Grip” is when you press and squeeze harder than you need to with your fretting hand fingers. If you have sore fingers, you’ll know about this. Even if they’re not sore, most guitarists use more pressure than is necessary. Doing so has no positives… so remember to use a “light touch” when you practise.


2 – “Jagged” Upstrums 

Most people are good at playing downstrums, but as soon as they try an upstrum, it can all go wrong. There are a few reasons for this, which usually involve gripping a pick too hard and twisting their strumming hand wrist. I like to get students to practise only upstrums for a while to help smooth them out.


3 – Bunched Up Fingers

A common mistake many make is they don’t spread their fretting hand fingers. In fact, if you don’t do this, your fingers can look like a bunch of bananas. The problem with this is it can make reaching for notes up and down the fretboard tougher and it can make playing chords awkward too.


4 – Fingerpicking With a Shy Tone

If you’re not a confident guitarist yet, you might worry about others in your household hearing you practise. This is actually pretty common (I was like this once). The problem is fingerpicking at a quiet volume causes your tone to suffer. It’s important to pick each note with volume and clarity – so the notes sparkle. Remember, simple fingerpicking patterns played over basic chords can sound great when you pick with a good tone.


5 – Rigid Fingers

Do your fretting hand fingers stick out “ramrod” straight when you play? If so, it can cause all sorts of niggly issues. Not least, it can be difficult when you next go to use these fingers. It’s important to spot this so you can fix this issue quickly, otherwise muscle memory can kick in to make this a hard habit to get out of.


6 – No Warm-Ups

Here in the UK, temperatures are starting to drop. That means some days I’m picking up the guitar with cold hands. Diving right into tricky pieces is not much fun at times like this. For me, it just feels unpleasant to have the cold touch of a string on my cold fingers.

For that reason, I urge you to do a “pre-warm-up” before you play. This can get your fingers “in the mood”, so to speak. It’s a good idea to do this anyway, but especially on a cold day.


Anyway, these are six habits to try to avoid.

I hope you found that helpful.

If you want more help fixing those issues, check out my eBook bundle.

The first (and most important) book in the bundle is my Essential Guitar Technique guide.

You can find out more about it and the other eBooks below…

Guitar Domination Super eBook Bundle


Dan Thorpe

Guitar Domination

P.S. This post was originally taken from Dan Thorpe’s private email list. To get blog posts like this sent to you which are full of great tips to make fingerpicking, strumming, and learning guitar more enjoyable (especially if you are over 40) join Dan’s list. It’s 100% free, HERE.

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