If you are a beginner guitarist there are some techniques that you should learn right off the bat. So that you don’t make beginner guitar mistakes. That can be hard to overcome once you have learned bad habits.
Here is a list of beginner guitar mistakes: 11 beginner guitar mistakes you don’t want to make.
- Holding the guitar at the wrong angle.
- Holding the pick with two fingers.
- Strumming the strings too hard.
- Using the pads of your fingers to hold the strings down.
- Practicing too long.
- Holding your fretting arm in the wrong position.
- Holding your fretting hand to close to the strings.
- Clenching the strings and the neck of the guitar.
- Not tuning your guitar before you play.
- Practicing to fast.
- Not picking the strings efficiently.
- Playing only open chords and no Barre Chords
What I outlined for you are some basic concepts and techniques that if you get it wrong makes playing the guitar more difficult. So let’s go over each of the 11 beginner guitar mistakes you don’t want to make. Grab your guitar to get started
Holding the Guitar at the Wrong Angle is a Beginner Guitar Mistake
You see a lot of people. When I say people I mean beginner guitarists. They will take the body of the guitar and hold it incorrectly. They lower the top of the back of the guitar down on there lap.
So that they can see there hand easier. There strumming hand and then also there fretting hand. This is Beginner guitar mistake Number 1.
If you are not holding the guitar properly you will get all sorts of aches from not sitting up properly. Your arms will be in the wrong position. You can hurt your wrist when you make chords. And though it may seem that you can see the strings easier. Your strumming technique will prove that slouching is not the answer.
So what is the answer? I’m glad you asked. Your guitar should be against your body. The back of the guitar rests against your body, and sitting on your right leg. That is if you are a right handed guitar player. Off course if you are left handed the guitar would sit on your left leg.
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It is easier to play the guitar if the neck is in an upward position. Meaning the headstock (end of guitar). Is up higher than the body of the guitar. There is no science on how much the neck of the guitar should sit.
This depends on how tall of a person you are. And if you have long or short arms. The more of an angle the neck of the guitar has. The shorter the distance from your body. Making it easier to hold, and play the guitar.
Try for yourself to get the right angle on the neck of the guitar. Which ever feels easiest and most comfortable to play. Then that’s the angle for you. Now let’s take a look at how to hold the guitar pick.
Related Article: 10 Tips for Learning Guitar Chords.
Beginner Guitar Mistake #2 – Holding the Pick With Two Fingers
At first glance this may seem like a good idea. But if you think so, you would be mistaken. Reason being is you need to make very small movements with the pick at times. And you just can’t using two fingers.
The proper way to hold the guitar pick is between your thumb and first finger. There is a complete free lesson on how to hold the guitar pick click the link 10 things every beginner needs to know.
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Beginner Guitar Mistake #3 Strumming the Strings to Hard
Everyone when they get there first guitar wants to sound like there favorite Rock Star. Your so excited that you are just hammering away at the strings. “Rocking out”, but this is a good way to break your strings. And it won’t sound very good.
The proper way to strum is to lightly touch the strings. When you hold the pick you want just enough pressure to hold the pick in place. So that the pick doesn’t fly out of your hand. And your hand should be relaxed. If you need help with strumming click here for How to Get Better at Strumming Guitar.
Using the Pads of Your Fingers to Hold the Strings Down is a Big Beginner Guitar Mistake
Fretting hand technique is one of those basic principles that you can’t over look if you want to be a great guitarist. Without knowing how to hold your fretting hand properly. Then you will have loads of problems with the chords.
If you do not use the tips of your fingers. Then the sound of the chord will suffer. When making the chord you may encounter a buzzing noise. Or even muted strings. This all has to do with proper Fretting hand technique.
Here are some tips to get you up and running playing chords that sound great. First you want to position your fingers as close to the fret as possible. And Play on the tips of your fingers. I’m not going to take for granted that you know what a fret is.
Let me quickly cover what is the fret. The metal going across the fingerboard. That runs All the way down the neck of the guitar is called a fret. The space in between each fret is refereed to as a fret. But the metal going down the neck is the fret.
You want to get directly behind the fret. When you are making a chord. If you have problems making chords or switching between them check out the Guitar Bootcamp Course. Where You will learn the fundamentals and more. So that you will be able to play thousands of songs.
You will find that the further away from the fret you are. You are going to start hearing noises from the strings. The next thing is to always, always play on the tips of your fingers. This will prevent you from touching other strings. When you do touch other strings then they become muted and the chord sounds muted.
When I say tips of your fingers this is the very end of your finger. Just below your finger nail. Which is another tip. In order to hold the guitar strings down properly you need to have short finger nails.
At least on your fretting hand. Your strumming hand may have an advantage with long nails. especially if you decide to play finger style or use hybrid picking. But that’s a completely different story. I would recommend keeping your fretting hand finger nails short.
Holding Your Fretting Hand to Close Between the Strings & Your Hand Beginner Guitar Mistake
Another thing about fretting hand technique is the position of your hand. You need to be able to see at the bottom of the neck and palm of your hand. This space allows you to keep a distance from the strings. So you are not accidentally muting the strings.
To do this make sure your thumb is at the back of the guitar neck. Towards the middle of the neck. When your thumb is in that lower position. Then your hand naturally falls below the line of the bottom of the guitar neck.
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Another Beginner Guitar Mistake-Not Holding Your Fretting Arm Elbow in
This Beginner mistake has everything to do with the mechanics of your arm and hand. At times you will be able to make chords easier. By just simply keeping your elbow in close to your body. For example the C chord.
Make a C chord and try to play it with your elbow out. First thing you will notice is that you can’t really play it that good. When your elbow is out then your hand auto manically moves where ever your elbow is.
When your elbow is out. Then your fingers want to move up and out. When they are suppose to be down and in on the strings. Like I said try it yourself.
I will give you a C chord shape just in case you don’t know what it is. So you can try making the chord and move your fretting arm away from your body. Watch what happens to your fingers. After that tuck your elbow in close to your body and see how easy the chord is to make and play.
Since we are on the subject of fretting hand. Lets take a look at holding the guitar with your fretting hand.
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Clenching the strings and the neck of the guitar
When you hold things to pick them up. It is natural to get a firm grip on the object. Say you were picking up a glass of water. You would hold it with your palm so that you have a firm grip. To make sure your not going to drop the glass.
When you pick up your guitar with one hand. By the neck of the guitar in the same manner you have a solid grip on it. Like holding a baseball bat. With your palm, to make sure your not going to drop your guitar.
But when you are playing your guitar. You don’t need to hold the neck with the same death grip. If you were to do this then your fingers would be flat against the finger board of the guitar. And against all the strings.
When you hold your guitar the base or body of the guitar is resting against your body. Your strumming arm is helping you hold it in place. That arm should be resting against the body of the guitar.
Then your fretting hand needs to lightly hold the neck of the guitar. Mostly your thumb and palm are holding it secure. So it doesn’t fall off your lap. Allowing your hand to be free to make chords. This position is described more in the fretting hand technique video.
When Should You Tune Your Guitar? One of the 11 Beginner Guitar Mistakes
Why risk sounding bad? No matter how good you are at playing the guitar. It won’t sound good if your guitar is out of tune. A good practice is to tune your guitar every time you pick it up to play it. Also if you are playing a song with a Capo then. After you have finished using the Capo. You might want to see if your guitar is in tune.
The Capo tends to make the strings go out of tune. Click the link if you want to learn how to tune your guitar.
Practicing to Fast
When you are learning anything you need to learn the basic fundamentals before you can move on. This is true with playing the guitar too. But not just learning the basics the right way. But everything you do when learning the guitar if you go slow. You will have a better outcome.
When you are learning to hold one finger on a fret and then pick that note for example. The whole thing is not to go fast and plow through it. But to really pay attention to where you are placing your fingers.
Which you want to make sure they are behind the fret. Like we discussed. Next you want to make sure you are playing on the tips of your fingers. Holding the pick properly and at the angle necessary to pick the string.
The end result is not how fast you can pick that note. But a culmination of all that technique rolled into one. And how do you know when it’s right? The way that note sounds.
The same thing goes for learning a chord. A riff, or a complete song. What you want to do is break it down into little manageable pieces. And then practice that one little part. Until you can play it perfect. Then you move on to the next part. After you get two or three bits of the Riff or song. Then try put them all together, and see what that sounds like.
If there is a bit that you are having problems with. Go to that part and find out why. Find what the problem is. Work on that until you get it.
See in guitar a big part of playing is muscle memory. Muscle memory is playing something so that your muscles know how to play it without thinking about it. You are getting your muscles to do what you want them to do.
So what good is it if you can play really fast, but it is wrong. If you learn something the wrong way it is a lot harder to retrain to do it the right way. So just slow down and learn it right the first time. It will make learning to play less frustrating.
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Practicing to long
You might be excited about learning to play your new guitar. And want to play it all day and night. What you need to remember. When you are playing you are using muscles, and ligaments that are not used to being used in this way.
When you are starting to play you should not play more than 20 min. at a time. Then take a break. Stand up and stretch. Then after you rest you can play some more.
If you are playing and feel any signs of pain. STOP! You need to think of playing as if you are an athlete. If you were going to run a 5k. You would not start out on the first day running the 5k. You would start out small and work your way towards the 5k.
In the same way you need to play a little at a time until your muscles can get limber.
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Not Picking the Strings Efficiently
Starting out a lot of people pick in one direction. Which will do for a little bit. But if you need to pick something that is at a faster tempo. It will be time to learn alternate picking. Where you pick up and down.
This style of picking works great in songs like Tennessee Flat Top Box.
Playing only open chords & No Barre Chords
Every beginner starts out learning notes. Then open chords. Then the next would be Barre Chords. A lot of beginners get to this point and then try everything they can to avoid learning barre chords.
But if you want to be able to play all over the guitar neck. And play different chord voicing then the best thing to do is. Roll your sleeves up, and dive in to barre chords. When you learn the different shapes and how the root of the chord works. You will learn hundreds of more chords just with a few basic principles. Take a look at the Course Page to learn how to play barre chords and much more.
Do You Have to Press Hard on Guitar Strings?
When holding the strings down. The amount of pressure will vary depending if you are playing an acoustic guitar or an electric guitar.
When you are playing an electric guitar it doesn’t take as much force to be able to hear the sound of the guitar. When it is plugged into an amplifier.
The opposite is true of an acoustic guitar. It takes more force to hold the acoustic guitar strings down.
But to play the guitar properly you do not want to place to much force on your hands. When holding the strings down. The best way to describe this is to hold as much pressure on the strings to make them ring out properly.
Use the techniques mentioned earlier in this article. To help with your fretting hand. So that holding the strings down will become second nature to you.
Beginner Guitar Tips
As mentioned before there are some really good guitar tips. But I really sat and thought about a lot of tips that will help you out. And I put them all into this article called 58 Beginner Guitar Tips You Should Know.