7 Mistakes Guitar Players Make – Online Guitar Lessons


Hey I’m Nate Savage, and in this lesson
I’m going to share with you seven mistakes that I see guitar players make. And this is
both newer guitar players and people who’ve been at it for a while. If you’re just starting
out on the guitar these tips are going to help you not develop bad practice habits,
and they are going to help your practice times be more productive too. If you’ve been playing
for a while, these tips are going to help you get some bad habits out of your practice
routine and help you see a lot more productive practice too. So out of these seven mistakes,
some of them are conceptual and some of them are actual physical things on the guitar.
We will cover both. The number one mistake that I see guitar players
make is not setting goals. I get emails from people all the time telling me “Nate, I
just don’t know what to practice next, I’m not getting any better. What am I doing wrong?”
When I get an email like that I reply back. The first thing I ask them is, have you set
goals for your guitar playing? And most of the time, the majority of the time, the answer
that they give me is no. Now if you don’t set goals, you are not
going to be able to break those goals down into practice points that you fill your practice
time with. And you goal shouldn’t be something like “I want to be a great guitar player.”
That’s way too general. There’s no way that you can really break that down. Your
goal should be something like “I want to be able to play this particular song” or
” I want to be able to play blues leads over a twelve bar blues progression.” When you set realistic goals like that, what’s
going to happen is you are going to be able to break them down into small practice steps
to fill up your practice time. Let’s take that last one that I said. If you want to
play, be able to play blues leads over a twelve bar blues progression, you can break that
goal down into learning the blues scale, working on your left and right hand technique, learning
blues licks, learning blues theory, and playing along with blues jam tracks too. Look at these goals you make like a big steak
dinner. You are not going to stick the fork in the entire steak and shove it in your mouth.
You are never going to get it down and it’s not going to be good. You are going to cut
that steak up into bite size pieces, or a practice routine, and it’s going to be really
good that way. It’s going to be really effective. Now, failing to set goals for your guitar
playing leads us to the second mistake that guitar players make and that’s noodling
away your valuable practice time.  Now, we all do this. I’m guilty of it, you’re
guilty of it. We all do it no matter if you have twenty minutes to practice or if you
have two hours. How many times have you sat down and just gone over stuff that you already
know or that you are already good at. And you know, that’s fun, it’s very therapeutic.
That’s one thing that’s awesome about the guitar, but you can’t let that get in
the way of your time you’ve designated to reach your goals on the guitar. So, one way around this is to actually schedule
time just to noodle and have fun on the guitar. Take how ever many minutes you want per practice
session or how ever many hours per week and set out a time just to noodle and have fun
on the guitar. When you do that, you are going to keep that noodling time separate from your
actual designated practice time that you use to reach your goals on the guitar. Alright, let’s get into some physical, some
actual physical mistakes that guitar players make when playing the guitar. The first one
that I see a lot, especially in newer guitar players, is they tend to lock their wrist
and just play from their elbow and only use downstrokes. Kind of like this. Or if you’re
doing it with power chords. That’s bad for a couple of reasons. The
first reason is after a while that can kind of open the gateway to some injuries and some
fatigue with your elbow, and that’s never good. The second reason it’s bad is because
it’s extremely inefficient and it makes you work a lot harder when you are picking
or strumming. So, what you want to do is kind of free up your elbow a little bit and free
up your wrist. And what you are going to do is use your actual wrist to make the motions.
It’s a lot small motion, it’s a lot more efficient. And what you want to start doing
as well is start using upstrokes too if you are not already. Work on your upstrokes. A
lot of newer guitar players completely ignore that for a long time. Once you get your upstrokes
going, put your down and your upstrokes together and make sure to use small motions and use
your wrist. Number four is poor muting. That’s one of
the biggest things that can make your playing sound unprofessional, and it’s a little
bit easier for me to show you what this is than it is to explain it. So, I’m going
to play through an A minor scale, and I’m not going to mute any of the strings. I’m
just going to focus on the notes that are happening, and watch how the strings kind
of bleed over one another and it doesn’t really sound good. What you can do to fix that is learn how to
mute the strings you are not playing with both your fretting hand and your picking hand.
So you know, let’s start with our fretting hand and I’ll show you how to mute some
strings with your fretting hand. I’m going to play the three lowest notes of that scale
again. And look at my index finger. When it comes and frets that first note, it’s kind
of hanging over and muting this A string. That way if I accidentally brush up against
that A string while I’m playing the lower notes of this scale, it won’t ring out.
So that’s how you can use your fretting hand to mute the neighboring strings when
you are playing the guitar. Now, your picking hand can also help mute
the strings too. The first way is my second third and fourth fingers are kind of hanging
out on the high strings up here and keeping those guys quiet while I’m playing the lower
strings. Now as I go up the scale, my thumb right here and the palm of my hand right here,
start to mute the lower strings. Just watch that as I go up the scale. By the time I got
up to the top, my whole hand was laying on the strings that weren’t being played. Mistake number five that I see a lot of guitar
players make is not using the very tips of their fingers to come down and make their
chords. And I get emails all the time from people saying “Nate my chords just sound
buzzy and not clear, what am I doing wrong?”. Most of the time, they are not coming right
down on the very tips of their fingers. And one way you can tell if you are doing this
or not is to just make a regular C major chord. Watch wat happens when I just barely relax
my fingers and don’t come down right down on the tips of them. This is what happens
to a lot of people. Most of the notes in that chord just disappeared just from this little
tiny motion of not coming down right on the tips of your fingers. So keep an eye out for
that and remember to implement that when you are learning chords and that will help a lot
of the buzz get out of your chords. Mistake number six that I see a lot of guitar
players make is not learning how to tune your guitar by ear really well. We live in a time
where there are tuners all around us more than ever before. Like traditional tuners
or tuners on your smartphone or ipad or whatever. And we can kind of become a little over dependant
on that because you can be in situations where you are not going to have a tuner or where
it’s too noisy for you to use a tuner, right? So, practicing, actually practicing, tuning your
guitar and checking yourself against a tuner is a great way to kind of hone in your skills
for that. If you don’t know the fifth fret method
for tuning your guitar it’s out there. There are tons of places that have this information,
but I’ll just go ahead and show you how to use it using, just to tune the A string.
Let’s just go to the fifth fret of the low E string right here, and play that note. That’s
an A, and the next string over is an open A, right? So if you play those two notes,
they should sound the same. I’m going to throw this E out a little bit. And this is
a good exercise. Just throw your guitar out of tune here and there, try to get it back
in tune, and then double check yourself with a tuner. It may take a while for you to get
your ears trained, but it’s really good practice and you’ll thank yourself later. Mistake number seven that I see guitar players
make is not applying what you’ve been practicing or learning. And by that I mean not applying
what you’ve been learning to actual real music. I can play a G major scale all day,
and I can play a G major chord all day. But if I don’t apply it to real music then what
good is it? I’m kind of just learning those shapes for the sake of learning them. So,
if you are working on a G major scale, pull up a jam track that’s in the key of G major
and try to solo with it. Just try to improvise. If you are learning some chords, find a song
that uses those chords, and apply those chords to some actual music. Now, one reason I think people don’t do
this a lot is because it can be really intimidating. You are not going to sound like Joe Satriani
the first time you pull up a jam track and try to jam with your G major scale right.
It’s just not going to happen, but actually sitting down and doing it is the first step
to really taking a step toward some real progress. And every time you do it you’ll get better
and better at it. So that does it for the seven mistakes guitar
players make. One bonus one that I wanted to throw at you was get your guitar set up
by a professional. I get emails from people all the time asking me “Nate I don’t know
what’s going on, my guitar is hard to play and my chords still sound terrible.” And
most of the time the action on their guitar is really high, which makes their practice
un-enjoyable and pretty un-fruitful too. So, get your guitar set up. It only takes about
twenty or thirty bucks, and it’s going to play so much easier, and you are going to
enjoy practicing so much more. I hope these tips really hit home with you.
I know at least a couple of them apply to pretty much every guitar player on earth.
Next time you’re practicing, think about these things, and apply them in your practice
time, and that way they will help you. I just launched a new guitar lesson series
that you can get right now for free. Just go to guitarsystem.com/free-series and I’ll
see you there.

55 thoughts on “7 Mistakes Guitar Players Make – Online Guitar Lessons

  1. Big Mistake #1. Not using your pinky finger. When learning, keep your index over the first fret like the home keys on a typewriter and it never leaves that fret. Much easier to change major chords that way and play barre chords. Harder to learn, but will pay major dividends later on. G, D, and A are all played with the pinky and fingers 2,3,and 4.

  2. My main mistake: thinking you'll get better at guitar pieces by just playing them over and over instead of analysing what actually needs to be improved. That and your number 2 mistake.

  3. I never noodle away my time…because I'm not good at anything yet 😂 loving it anyway though!

  4. Your brige peg things look weird.. is it intonated like that? that's crazy those old style guitars are funky

  5. What I do is I always pick up the guitar with the intention of getting better at somethign i have trouble with…. whether it's a solo or bending the e string to get that perfect pitch around fret 7 (it's about impossible ): lol

    or to learn a song or whatever and etc and so on and what not….. However when I know I'm getting tired of playing and I wanna relax or go do somethig else soon, THAT is when i just let loose and play for the fun of it……

  6. The tuning thing is so true. I've been playing for well over a year, and i still can't tune the guitar by ear.

  7. I disagree with the noodling away during practice point ,I am a self thought guitarist and my goals were to write my own songs ,I found loads of new chords and techniques by noodling ,and I have since achieved my goal as a result ,also another point is about the tuning ,I think you should have mentioned that there is a distinctive sound to a note and a distinct "vibration" to a supposed note that is not in tune ,also I think you could have specified that its easier to hear the "vibration" with distortion.
    I am not a good tuner of a guitar myself but they were a few quick pointers you could have mentioned.

  8. Wow….this was a helpful video. It really helped me move forward with my guitar lessons. Thank you Nate.

  9. Mistakes I made when started learning ,was listening to ignorant show off pricks that cut you up , ridicule your playing and put you down . You feel like shit , but I decided to keep going ,I saw A JEFF HEALY report once where HE stated that the bastards that told him he was no good and would not accomplished anything ,HELPED HIM and his band The MOST ( true story ) . That give me a uplift and look where our BLIND ! don't forget ,,,CANADIAN JEFF HEALY took his music and his band . One of the best,, R I P JEFF I still listen to you ! And we miss you terribly !

  10. Why do people advertise video series from their websites on YouTube ?!

    Wouldnt it make more sense to just post it to youtube?

    Isnt that where all the viewer traffic is?

  11. I think the biggest mistake people make is not taking lessons in person. It is the best way to learn the guitar, of course watching how other people play or do something is important too. Anyways great video

  12. I often see the 1st problem quite regularly. A lot of students I've taught often don't have clear goals in mind. It's something many beginning musicians (and even experienced musicians) take for granted.

    If your ultimate goal is to be the best guitar player possible, then the best start is to set short term goals for yourself (as mentioned in the video) and keep adding on more of those goals as you progress. It's really a lot of fun when you do this.

    Keep it up with the great videos, Nate.

  13. I only have poor muting (if you mean muting with your right hand on the very beginning of the strings if you mean with the left hand i can do that very well)

  14. Excellent video.

    I played my guitar without a good setup for 12 years (no Youtube for me until recently) and the intonation was awful. I got the tool, adjusted the truss rod, and I sound like a professional now! I suggest using the internet to learn how to setup your own guitar; if you are not good at learning you should learn to better learn. Good learning is the most important life skill there is.

    I think I'll choose a scale a week and in 12 weeks I will have all the major scales down; and simultaniously I will practice applying the scale in its minor form. For instance, the C major and A minor scales are the same notes, but the root note (the "first") is C in one and A in the other. So I will practice the same 12 notes with the major root at times and with the minor root at times, thus 12 weeks 24 scales.

    If you don't know what "root" means exactly you should go enjoy some music theory videos. First dive into videos where the theory is over your head, just enjoy and get some context through osmosis, then go study details from beginner music theory and the details will have context so you will learn them far better.

    Memorization is a horrible way to learn. Understanding is the good way to learn.

    Much love. May The Spirit Of Truth in Christ Jesus be your ultimate guitar coach.

  15. rather beginner mistakes than general mistakes. this should have been written in the title. i mean, in this video he talks about the 5th fret tuning. what the fuck? you learn that in the first 5 minutes of a backyard guitar tutorial.

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