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Why You Struggle To Fix Your Guitar Playing Problems

Tom Hess shreddingDo you feel like it is nearly impossible to make a lot of progress on guitar? Every guitar player goes through this phase, because every guitar player accrues several poor playing habits that prevent them from getting great results from their practice. In many cases, these bad habits will make you feel like you have to ‘start over’ in your guitar playing every time you learn something new. Before you can become the guitarists you want to be, you MUST undo all the damage done by these bad habits.

First, here is the bad news about these situations: If you have noticed that you’ve reached a plateau after many years of playing/practicing guitar, you ‘will’ need to face the frustration described above (possibly many times) before you accomplish your musical goals. I see this happen ALL THE TIME to guitar players who have spent the majority of their time teaching themselves how to play. This is a very risky way to learn guitar because without a teacher to guide you, you are almost certain to develop destructive and limiting playing habits.

The good news is, you will significantly reduce the amount of frustration you go through by altering the way you fix bad habits and implementing the ideas I discuss throughout this article.

In my experience of turning so-so guitar students into truly excellent guitar players for nearly 3 decades, I’ve helped people overcome any kind of bad playing habit you can think of. The following list is just an example of some of these bad habits I’ve seen in new students who have to me to me for lessons:

1. Poor picking technique that is built off of years of inefficient picking hand movement and/or using an ineffective picking system. Check out this video about how to increase guitar speed to get more information on this topic.

2. Poor guitar practicing methods that make it very difficult to learn guitar and achieve your musical goals. Discover great solutions for fixing poor guitar practice habits in this video on how to get better results from guitar practice.

3. Using one of the most destructive methods for learning scales – the CAGED method. This approach causes so many issues that I can’t list them all here, but in nearly all situations you will limit your creativity while improvising if you use it. It is very frustrating taking the time to undo the problems caused by the CAGED method and other foundational misconceptions, but once it’s completed, my students are very thankful to me for helping them become great musicians.

4. Undoing all the guitar technique mistakes caused by years of using too much tension while playing.

Although the issues discussed above are just examples and the particular problems you might be facing may be completely different, there are common steps that all guitarists should take when fixing bad habits in their playing. By following these steps you will be able to go through the process of solving your guitar playing problems with as little frustration as possible.

Here is the process you need to follow:

1. START GETTING EXCITED. Many guitarists have the gut reaction of feeling disappointed when they come across very fundamental mistakes in their playing. However, you really should NOT be feeling this way. Why? Because when you discover major faults in your guitar playing, you are learning ‘exactly’ what needs to be fixed in order for you to become a MUCH better guitarist. This is not a negative thing at all – it’s a reason to celebrate!

2. Think as specifically as possible. Before you will fix a fundamental playing issue, you need to:

A. Clearly identify the issue or bad habit (utilize these guitar playing surveys to learn what your most important issues are)

B. Get a clear understanding of why the problem is keeping you from becoming the player you want to become

C. Know what steps to take to solve your problem

D. Figure precisely why these specific steps are the best solutions for solving the issue

E. Picture how much better you will be once you have solved the issue and improved your guitar playing skills

Each of the five points mentioned above are all highly important. To get inspired to go through the work needed to fix a fundamental problem in your playing, you must understand both ‘what’ the problem is and WHY the problem is keeping you from becoming a better player. Additionally, when you visualize what it will be like when you overcome your current issues (and what it will be like to play guitar how you want), you will drastically improve your ability to sustain motivation throughout the improvement process.

The majority of guitar players only focus on letters A and C in the list above – while not paying attention to letters B, D and E. This causes them to become unmotivated fairly quickly, preventing them from fully eliminating their bad playing habits. Prevent this from occurring by reading this instructional article about how to avoid musician burnout.

3. While fixing your problems, do not spread yourself too thin. Many people feel overwhelmed when they find out that they essentially need to ‘begin anew’ in order to solve many areas in their guitar playing. However, this is not the case and you don’t need to feel this way.

Rather than feeling overwhelmed, simply put together a highly effective guitar practice routine and eliminate your problem areas exactly how you would approach learning new techniques or skills.

This transitions into the next point:

4. Don’t feel like you have to solve ALL of your guitar playing issues at once. In other words, don’t put your other guitar skills on hold in order to fix your bad habits. This is something that many guitar players do and their playing suffers as a result. Rather than doing this, simply set aside time to practice/improve your problem areas, but continue to develop in other areas of your playing as well. Learn why focusing only in one area of your playing is such a major error by reading this article about making fast progress on guitar.

5. Stop trying to solve you bad guitar playing habits by yourself. If you did not have the foresight to prevent these issues from occurring, you’re not going to know how to fix them. Instead, locate an experienced guitar teacher who has invested a lot of time into helping guitar players like you achieve their greatest musical goals. Learn how to find a good guitar teacher.

6. You become like the people you surround yourself with… so surround yourself with excellent guitar players who will support you as you work on correcting major guitar playing issues. By simply being around these types of people, you will gain a huge motivational boost to reach your musical goals faster. I know this is true, because I continually see the massive positive effect my private musician forum has on every new student who begins taking lessons with me.

7. Perseverance is key – stay patient and push through. When you begin the process of eliminating many years worth of bad guitar playing habits, you will find yourself trying to revert back to your old (more comfortable) ways of playing that lead you down the wrong path. To avoid giving into the temptation of playing what ‘feels’ comfortable in the moment, you need to focus your mind on the end result you wish to attain. Learn more about this by reading this article about why you don’t need natural talent for guitar in order to become a great player.

After reading this article, you are now prepared to begin fixing fundamental issues in your guitar playing. Complete these guitar playing surveys now to get the process started. Next, carefully follow the points in this article, apply the concepts into your current practicing methods and find a great guitar teacher who will guide you along the right path. Once you do this, you will quickly reach your highest guitar playing goals and become the guitarist you always wanted to be!



About The Author:

Tom Hess is a highly successful guitar teacher, recording artist and virtuoso guitar player. He teaches guitar players from all over the world in his online guitar lessons. Visit his website to get free guitar playing resources and to read more guitar playing articles.

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