You can read the last 4 on this blog post if you missed the email.
Mistake 5) Not being in tune
There is more to having a guitar that is just in tune.
Of course, you will always want to make sure you tune up before you start playing.
No matter what tuning you use, it has to be in tune or the music will sound bad.
It’s not just about tuning the open strings though.
You also have to make sure you aren’t accidently bending any notes out of tune – this sounds especially bad on chords and can happen on the low E string especially when playing a standard G chord.
This is super common with beginners – particularly those who play an acoustic AND an electric. On an acoustic the strings are usually a heavier gauge than those of an electric.
This means they have to press harder when playing the acoustic. The problem often occurs however, when they pick up their electric.
The strings on the electric are lighter and therefore require a lighter touch. If they continue to play the electric with the same fretting hand pressure as they did for an acoustic, notes are going to be pushed and bent out of tune.
Also, keep in mind that if you use string bending you have to make sure you arebending the right amount.
Too much and you’ll be sharp, too little, you’ll be flat.
The intonation on your guitar has to be set up properly too.
Have you ever noticed that when you play higher up the neck the notes start to sound out of tune?
If so, the intonation of your guitar needs looking at. Intonation is simply how in tune the guitar stays going up the neck.
Those are just some of the examples of being in or out of tune.
As you can see there is far more to it than just tuning your open strings.
Any time there is an out of tune note, your audience will squirm.
Keep your ears peeled for out of tune notes and get to the bottom of the problem quickly.
Mistake 6) Not learning the things you need to be learning
When I started out, I was 15 and we didn’t have the money for a guitar teacher in our household.
Instead I used to buy Total Guitar, a very cool magazine in the UK that cost £5.
There were plenty of cool features in the magazine, but I used to waste so much time learning things from it that I would never use.
I would often spend hours trying to perfect them and they were really hard.
The thing is, I would never actually use them in a real life setting.
I just wasn’t good enough and speed metal wasn’t really what I was into.
It was all a sad waste of time.
I should have been learning my favourite songs by Nirvana, Silverchair and Oasis and jamming them loads.
Don’t make the mistake of learning things you don’t really care about.
You no doubt have loads of songs and pieces of music that you care about.
Learn these instead!
Mistake 7) Not learning a variety of styles/genres and different type of songs
It’s my belief that no matter what styles of music you truly love every guitarist should learn a variety of things.
Yes, of course, focus on learning the songs and techniques from the music you are most passionate about, but throw in a few other bits and pieces too.
For example, I loved modern rock and grunge when I started out but when I learnt a few things outside of those genres, my playing become so much more fun and enjoyable.
I was more versatile too, which meant when jamming or playing in front of a few people I’d sound more impressive.
I learnt the 12 bar blues, a really easy flamenco riff, a way to bluff through jazz rhythm chords, and an easy but distinctive classical piece.
It was really cool.
People who I played in front of thought I was a really cool, versatile guitarist.
The thing is, they didn’t know I only knew one 12 bar blues piece, one classical piece and so on.
It just made it all more fun.
Have an open mind.
About 90% of the songs you learn should be ones you are passionate about, but the rest should be songs from genres that you have not played much of before but have a curious interest in.
You’ll have loads of fun and learn new techniques along the way which will only make you a better and more rounded guitarist.
Mistake 8) Not enjoying the journey
Everyone is so impatient these days.
Not just guitarists, In fact I think most guitarists are pretty patient people.
That’s why we stick with the instrument during the brutal first 3 months.
I just think, sometimes beginner guitarists (and more advanced players) need to take a step back, realise that they are getting better and just keep on having fun.
It’s a wonderful instrument.
You definitely want to push yourself to get better, but you also want to have fun with the instrument.
Last night, my student David was learning ‘Old Man’ by Neil Young.
To play the intro correctly is tough unless you have played for a few years.
He’s been doing a great job on it, but it will take a few more weeks of practicing it in small doses to get it.
To give him a breather from it, I suggested he learn something quick and fun.
The song was ‘Disarm’ by The Smashing Pumpkins.
A great song that I suggested because he is a massive fan of the band.
He got excited when I suggested it. I showed him and he learnt it within 5 minutes.
Yes, just 5 minutes. He was beaming. I was delighted he was so happy.
Keep pushing yourself, but also give yourself a break, and keep learning lots of fun stuff.
It’s a long journey and one we are all lucky to be on.
I hope you enjoyed these past few emails where we have discussed the limiting beliefs that most guitarists have, we have learned the 8 big mistakes that most guitarists make, and importantly solutions on how to avoid them.