4 Deadly Mistakes You Must Avoid If You Want To Become A Great Guitarist

by Mike Philippov


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Do you want to know why some guitar players become great musicians quickly and others (the unfortunate majority) struggle year after year to improve their guitar playing? You can probably think of several reasons why this happens, such as: different amounts of time spent practicing guitar and different levels of motivation among guitar players (among other factors). However, even among guitarists who practice for equal amounts of time and are equally self-motivated about music, there are certain underlying elements that separate those who WILL become great guitar players from those who will not.

To put it simply, guitarists who become the musicians they want to be have certain things in common among them that enable them to reach this result (if you want to learn more about what these things are, watch this free video on learning to play guitar). Likewise, there are also certain things that the "struggling" guitar players have in common in their approaches to learning to play guitar that PREVENT them from becoming great musicians.

In this article, I want to tell you about the most common (and the least obvious) reasons why many guitarists have a very difficult time improving their guitar playing.

If you practice guitar regularly but are not seeing the results you want, ask yourself if you can identify with any of the scenarios described below. If you can, then you have just discovered the obstacles holding back your guitar playing.

1. Focusing On "Time" Instead Of The "Process"

Many guitar players (especially those who begin taking guitar lessons for the first time) spend a lot of energy searching for the answer to the question:”How much time will it take me to become a great guitarist?”

While it is natural to be curious about this question when you are a beginner guitarist, being preoccupied with this issue will do nothing but hurt your progress in the long run and will prevent you from seeing everything you need to do to improve your guitar playing. The reason why is because becoming a great guitarist depends NOT on the “amount of time” that has gone by but rather on how effectively and efficiently you have been practicing guitar during that time. The old saying: “It isn’t the hours you put in, it’s what you put INTO the hours” describes this idea perfectly.

Focusing on "how long" something takes to learn or master on the guitar will (subconsciously) shift your focus from making your guitar practicing more effective to passively "waiting" for a fixed amount of time to pass and expecting to make progress.

Instead, your focus should be on “getting the most results” out of every second you spend practicing guitar. After you are confident that you are practicing effectively and efficiently, then and ONLY then, will “time” make a significant difference in your guitar playing.

2. Paralysis By Analysis And Lack Of Direction

In today’s world, it is easier than ever to find lots of free guitar playing lessons, exercises, tab and other guitar learning resources. Unfortunately, despite having massive amounts of guitar playing information at their fingertips, there are still millions of people who struggle to improve their guitar playing.

Although it may seem that this abundance of guitar learning resources is good, such “information overload” often creates its own problems for guitar players (particularly for those who are learning to play music on their own without a guitar teacher). In particular, one or both of the following problems usually happen:

1. Guitarists begin randomly and aimlessly jumping from one guitar learning resource to the next, without any direction, hoping to discover an effective way to improve their guitar playing.

2. Guitarists spend a lot of time trying to go through the vast amounts of free information and become frustrated when they realize that they cannot decide where (and how) to begin the process of practicing guitar. In both cases above, your guitar playing progress will be very slow.

Great guitar players avoid the above problems by following a clear and consistent path to improving their guitar skills and focusing only on the things that matter specifically to their guitar playing. This enables them to avoid information overload and become better guitarists faster.

If you want to learn how to do the same in your guitar playing and become a great guitarist faster, watch this free video about learning to play guitar.

3. Lack Of Self Reliance

The above problems of information overload and paralysis by analysis are common among guitar players who learn to play guitar on their own.

On the other hand, lack of “self reliance” is a common issue among guitarists who study with a guitar teacher. Self reliance refers to taking ultimate responsibility for your guitar playing progress and not expecting any guitar teacher or guitar learning resource to “do all the work for you”. This sense of personal accountability will enable you to improve your guitar playing in the least amount of time.

Having self reliance does NOT mean that you should question everything your guitar teacher tells you and/or assume that you know more than your guitar teacher. It also does not mean that you must never ask for help when you truly don’t understand something. Instead, being self reliant means to “do your part” in getting the most out of whatever resource you use to improve your guitar playing (whether studying with a guitar teacher or not). It also means to make at least some attempt to find an answer to your own guitar playing questions before asking for help. By balancing self reliance and personal responsibility with seeking out the most effective guitar learning resources, you will make much faster progress in your guitar playing without becoming forever dependent on your guitar teacher or other resources you use to learn to play guitar.

Great guitarists all possess this quality and this is in part what enables them to develop the perseverance needed to reach their high level of guitar playing. In contrast, the guitar players who struggle to make consistent progress often lack this trait.

4. Lack Of Patience And Unrealistic Expectations

When you learn to practice guitar effectively, you will make much faster progress in your guitar playing by saving yourself a huge amount of wasted time. However, it is important to remember that learning to play guitar is a process that cannot be "rushed" beyond its natural course.

This is no different than planting a seed into the ground and waiting for it to grow into an apple tree. Although you can speed up the process and ensure that the tree will grow strong and healthy by nurturing it with water, sunlight and minerals, there are certain processes outside of your control that need to take place over time in order for the tree to grow to its full potential. These events cannot be rushed if you want the tree to remain healthy and bear fruit. The same is true with the process of learning how to become a musician.

Unfortunately, many guitarists underestimate the need for patience in learning to play guitar and put unnecessary pressure on themselves to improve their guitar playing in an unrealistically short amount of time. Such pressure only leads to disappointment (when the impractical demands are not met) and creates a vicious circle of negative emotions that will only drive you away from practicing guitar.

The solution to this problem is to be prepared for a long term journey of playing guitar even while you look for ways to make your guitar practicing more effective. It also means making sure that you are doing everything possible to get the most results from your guitar practice time. Doing this will help you to become a great guitarist in the shortest amount of time possible.

If you haven’t yet done so, make sure to watch this free video on learning to play guitar to discover the things that enable guitar players to become truly great musicians. Together, the ideas from the video and the concepts from this article will show you a more complete picture of what you must do (and avoid doing) to finally become the guitar player you want to be.

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