During my 20 years of guitar teaching journey, I’ve seen most of my students are struggling at the same stuff and making mostly the same mistakes. So YOU might be making them too! Let’s talk about each of them and then I’ll show you how you can fix them!
1. Mistake “Not Precise Bends”
We bend the strings up or down to change the wavelength thus the frequency and the pitch of the sound.
Our bends needs to be very precise with the frequencies we hit. If you are bending whole-tone, the pitch should be shifted precisely a whole-tone and likewise if you bend semi-tone, the pitch should become precisely a semi-tone higher. If you bend a little higher or lower it will sound detune. If your muscle memory and ear isn’t developed enough, if your bends are not precise yet; your solos and melodies may sound detuned since bends are often used. It’s great idea to work on your bends, get a reference sound from the pitch you want to bend and try to get the same sound with string bending.
Another reason your bends may sound not so great is what you do at the release. I often observe that my students tend to relax when they hit the right note with the fist bend and they don’t try to hold the right note. So the note starts getting flatter, and then they release. You should also consider staying at the right pitch after the bend until the release.
String bending is a very important technique. If you are not good at it, you will sound worse than your maximum potential
2. Mistake “Messy Vibratos”
Just like string bending, vibrato also has an influence on your intonation.
You can think the vibrato as smaller and faster bends.
The vibration should be periodic, and they need to hit the right pitch just like bends. Try to apply the technique from your wrist instead of bending strings from the tip of your fingers. You’ll have more control over your vibrato if you use your wrist.
3. Mistake “Too Much Gain”
When you increase gain, you compress your sound even more and increase the sustain and it becomes very much easier to play.
But too much gain will make your articulations disappear. And it may also ruin a band mix.
Since the compression will increase along with the gain, your dynamics range will become smaller. Meaning the difference between strong and soft articulations will disappear. While playing guitar, making music, contrast and dynamics are very important.
Too much gain will also reduce the understandability of the melody you play. It’s best to set the gain just as the melody needs.
When you are recording, you will probably layer some guitar tracks. In the final mix, you’ll hear all the gain set for individual tracks adds up. So if you record with too much gain, none of your guitar parts will be understandable.
4. Mistake “Playing Out Of Tempo”
I observe that some of my students don’t develop the rhythm feeling because they don’t work with a metronome. Especially if your timing is not good while playing fast, people won’t understand what you are trying to play.
As a guitar player we need to have a great timing both while playing rhythm and lead parts so we can get a clean, sharp feeling.
To improve your timing you always need to work with a stable tempo. A metronome or a drum loop for example.
Start your practice sessions at a tempo where you can play clean and easy. Then slowly try to increase the speed.
You may notice sometimes it’s even harder to practice at slower tempos than faster tempos.
5. Mistake “Not Tuning Your Guitar”
While we practice guitar, we have 3 purposes. The first is to develop a muscle memory, the second is to improve our ear (hearing right notes and imagining them). The most important one is the 3rd. We need to combine the muscle memory with our inner ear. “Which note will I hear when I play a certain note on the guitar?” The answer to this question will become an extension of your mind, you should feel it.
Practicing with an out-of-tune instrument will make you regress, since you will get used to hearing wrong frequencies. And your muscle memory will connect to those wrong notes.
If you are playing live, you should definitely control your tuning in each space you find. Because if your instrument is out of tune, it will sound bad independent of how good you are.
6. Mistake “Irregular Practice Sessions”
If you want to improve, you definitely need to practice your instrument every day (of course with some exceptions).
It’s much better to practice at least 30 minutes a day, everyday than to practice 5 hours a single day in a week.
As previously mentioned, we are trying to build a muscle memory. And the best way to do it, reminding your fingers how to play, everyday.
I personally try to practice guitar 4 hours a day. But I am also giving Skype lessons, recording guitar so I play the guitar around 7 hours a day.
Everyone isn’t the same. If you have time and dedication, of course it’s much better to practice more. But if you are playing for fun, you can improve even with 30 minutes a day.
You also need a clear roadmap. If you know what to study next you’ll improve much faster than trying to find the info you need on YouTube or Google.
If you want to practice the exercises and concepts you need to learn in a certain order; you can check out the courses we prepared for Online Guitar University
7. Mistake “Not Learning MUSIC”
Learning music theory may seem frightening, I know. I felt the same when I was much younger.
But to become a better musician we have to improve our music theory knowledge. And after you practice for a while, you’ll realize that it is not that scary, actually it is fun to learn and try to apply those while playing the guitar.
Learning music theory is very important to become aware of what you are playing and improve your musical imagination. If you know which chord progressions, which scales, arpeggios you will be able to come up with more creative ideas both while composing and improvising.
When you practice Online Guitar University guitar courses, you’ll learn how to apply the music theory on the guitar fretboard without getting bored.
8. Mistake “Listening Limited Music Genres”
I’ve played and composed pop, pop rock, funk, blues, hard rock and heavy metal songs during my music career. I’ve been in many bands.
At certain periods I’ve listened to classical music, rap & electronic too.
I’ve realized that, every different music that I listened, every different genre I practiced are the pieces that makes me the musician I am today. I’ve found songs, ideas and melodies that I liked in each of them. They improved my subconscious musical ideas. And in the end I believe that each of them have an influence on the music I create today.
As for creativity, I think, the things we’ve been through, music we’ve listened, books that we’ve read, movies and shows we’ve seen, games we’ve played, places that we’ve lived sums up to make us the musician we are today.
So listening to different genres is a part of them and it will make you a more creative musician.
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We’e talked about the 8 common mistakes that guitar players make and how we can fix them. The first step to fix a mistake is to be aware of it. So I think this article will help many aspiring guitar players.
Let’s rock and I’ll see you in the next posts!