There are some common mistakes of ukulele and acoustic guitar beginners on a daily basis which affect the practice process somehow.
I have covered some highlights flaws and solutions here to give you a glimpse of these mistakes so that you can avoid and stay clear of them as a freshman.
Those mistakes are going to be divided into two parts:
- Mistake #1-5: The physical aspect
- Mistake #6-17: The psychological aspect
Mistake #1. Play with an out of tune ukulele & acoustic guitar
Before you start playing ukulele or your guitar, you have to make sure it is in tune first. Playing with an out of tune instrument might take you to nowhere.
Your performance will be full of wrong notes. And the repeatedly wrong tune will obsess your mind day by day. That’s why you can’t aware which is the right pitches anymore.
Moreover, hearing other people play well in tune will lead you to self-doubt your ability.
Not realizing the actual problem can even make you feel depressed and you may give up your practice.
I myself used to make this mistake as a beginner. It was not because I was too lazy to tune my guitar before every practice, but because I didn’t know how to get my guitar in tune.
And, as many other beginners, I couldn’t even recognize which is the right or wrong tune.
As a result, I didn’t dare to tune my guitar from the very beginning. It’s so funny, I was too scared of breaking my guitar strings.
It sounds hard for an acoustic guitar beginner to have a basic knowledge of tune and adjust their strings, right?
But in fact, every beginner can get their guitar in tune on their own right out of the box with a tuner.
To avoid this ordinary mistake, pick a tuner right beside your guitar. Then, learn how to use it so that your guitar is in tune for every practice.
You can buy a tuner easily at guitar centers or download tuner apps to your smartphone. I myself prefer free online tuner for their convenience. In my opinion, GuitarTuna is an android app that worth your consideration if you use an Android phone.
If you still want an electric tuner, take a look at this: Snark SN-5 Tuner for Guitar, Bass and Violin. This tuner is highly recommended for guitar beginners.
Its display screen is pretty visual with multi-color and very easy to use, even when you have never tried any tuner before.
Mistake #2. Lack of warm up workouts
Most of the guitar masters begin a practice session or even a gig in the same way: by warming up. In other words, the precursory limbering up period is very important.
Lack of warming up will decrease the effectiveness of your progress. This mistake can even cost the muscle flexibility and safety.
You can find a bunch of warm up exercises such as chordal warm-ups, string skippers, the final stretch, four fingers exercises, etc. Each workout can help you aim to specific usages and objectives.
In this short article, it’s too difficult to cover all of these exercises. So instead of going into details, I recommend watching 2 videos below for a further look at the workout stuff.
Mistake #3. Form bad habits of position
Proper guitar posture plays a tremendously important role in the progress but it’s somehow underestimated.
The wrong position is one of the most common mistakes of acoustic beginners which will not instantly result in injuries. However, it can cause a lot of physical problems to your body in the long term.
Getting a good teacher to make sure you have a solid foundation for your position practicing routine. Or just watch some tutorial videos by other guitarists below for a closer look at the right guitar postures:
Sitting Position vs. Standing Position:
Other issues related to posture:
Mistake# 4. Don’t cut your fingernails properly
This seems to be quite simple but it’s still a mistake that I see most of the guitar beginners making.
Long nails in both the fretting hand and the strumming hand are the obstacles for guitar playing.
This mistake can costs notes smoothie. It also decides whether other finger skills turn out all right or not.
Firstly, for the fret fingers, make sure trim your nails anytime they tend to pass your fingertips. Trim the nails of your fretting hand as much by possible, but don’t cut it too short.
Trimming your nails too short may lead to hurting your skin on the fingertips. Leave it 2-3 cm then use a filing with a diamond file to adjust.
Secondly, for the strumming fingers, it’s a bit complicated. Actually, guitarists are still divided in this field because no guitar player is the same.
So I’m going to link you to the video below for a large picture of this stuff in order to you can choose which type of fingernails you prefer.
Mistake #5. Form calluses in the wrong way
It’s obviously a deadly mistake by acoustic guitar beginners!
Okay, I just overdraw here but it’s totally a huge mistake which is worth your consideration.
We all know that beginners always have to face dreadfully hurts on the fret hands. It’s definitely true for acoustic guitar players.
And forming calluses is the truly and natural way to overcome the finger soreness. Therefore, most of the beginners try to practice as best as they can to get those.
However, sometimes all they do is practicing non-stop. Deep down, by doing it this way, any effort players try to make will usually backfire.
The fingers will get serious blisters soon instead of calluses.
Normally, your calluses will be formed after 10 days. You should practice at least 30 minutes per day but breaks is very important.
Calluses forming does take time, so stay calm and take breaks as practicing your guitar. It’s recommended that you should take a 10-minute break after every 45 minutes playing.
Keeping your hands safe and sound is the very first requirement to get you started on the path to success with your guitar.
Mistake #6. Being scared of music theory
Although music theory is extremely difficult, it’s an indispensable factor that you need to take along with you in your practice process.
Of course, you can still play guitar without knowing well music theory. But it means that you may not understand the essence of what you are playing. Therefore, this can surely slow down or even prevent your improvement.
It goes without saying that education anyway is the greatest solution for something abstract.
So take part in a serious guitar course or self-learn music theory with trusted documents if you have enough determination.
Again, education is the key to fixing this mistake of acoustic guitar beginners.
Mistake #7. Being so scared of barre chords
Being stuck with barre chords is a horrible experience that most of the beginners have to face. It’s all about the struggle when your fingers try to fix the ugly buzzing sounds.
The most difficult task here is ensuring to keep all your fingers to press the strings properly together.
It’s so hard that a lot of my online friends did show their seemingly hopeless effort in forming barre chords.
Whichever the barre chord is, I always recommend using your heart to feel its sound.
No, it’s not that kind of a romantic exaggeration, in case you are thinking I’m a bit chessy saying that.
Actually, it’s serious for you to feel the delicate changes of sound as pressing the fretboard.
Firstly, just search for a chord sample to have an impression of how the right chord should be: both the form and sound.
Then whenever you make the mistake, compare your sound and the fingers’ position to the sample, try to form your fingers again carefully til things turn out right. The fingers’ positions are the key to this stuff.
The strength doesn’t count here so don’t try press too hard. Remember to always keep all the fingers come down perpendicular to the fretboard.
Once again, practice at least 30 minutes per day. Depend on your attempt and flexibility, you will get it sooner or later. Trust me!
Mistake #8. Not playing with a metronome.
According to many guitarists – musicians, despite how gifted at timing and rhythm you are, you tend to be not in the pocket as playing guitar without a metronome.
For instance, as a beginner, I always see myself singing and playing a bit out of the pocket.
To put it differently, a metronome can help you to improve your sense of tempo.
Especially, a metronome makes the practice easier by giving us a chance to gradually practice on speed.
It’s a serious mistake of acoustic guitar beginners because losing timing and rhythm is the worst in music. So don’t forget the metronome as practicing. Not at any price.
How to use a metronome:
Like tuners, there are tons of metronome apps which you can download to your smartphone.
They’re totally free and super easy to use! Just go to Google Store, search for “metronome” and pick one.
Mistake #9. Can’t deal with constant failure
Guitar practice process is not a bed of roses. It’s a hard and long journey which you have to face failures time after time.
For me, there are two types of guitar players in practice:
- those who can overcome the failure to improve themselves
- those who give up immediately and forever as being stuck with a failure
“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently” – Henry Ford. This quote is always true to guitar practicing.
Keep in mind that guitar practice is just like connecting the dot, no one can do things perfect right from the start.
All you need is dedicating with the right methods, practicing and analyzing what you make. Once the quantity of experience reaches a certain volume, things will turn out pretty good.
Mistake #10. Not spend enough time for an element
Mostly, quality is over quantity. An outstanding mistake of acoustic guitar beginners is mere surfaces practice.
For example, I usually collect my favourite songs to make a wishlist. I just practice a song in a few days then move on to another song when I have not been skillful with things I was previously working on.
I forget that playing guitar is like any other skills; it takes practice to be mastered. It’s hard to be skillful if you don’t spend enough time for an element.
I made this mistake again and again until I realized that spreading my interest will decrease my skill development. It’s not very good to jack of all trades and master of none.
We should focus on the bigger picture and follow these tips:
- spend proper time for a song/an element,
- practice what you can already play repeatedly until it haunts your memory.
- after that, you can motivate yourself by getting something new to practice.
Mistake #11. Take shortcut as practice
Cutting corners is the most typical mistake of an acoustic guitar beginner.
There are too many factors that lead players to stay away from the right path of practice:
- the desire of being skillful quickly
- skipping the current session, jumping to a new difficult song just to be on trend
- underestimating and skipping some easy steps
- being impatient and distracted by trying too many sources of documents.
If you make the same mistakes, it will definitely slow down your progress.
- Determine what is your exact insight for guitar
- Plan an appropriate schedule for practice, then stick with it.
- Sometimes adjusting your plan is necessary, but …
- Don’t jump from this stuff to that stuff or even switch your courses. It always takes time
for things to work.
Mistake #12. Not joining any jam session
Being able to play guitar together with others is very good for your progress. It can:
- Make you feel the truly joy of jam
- Help you see what level you are and what you should do next in your plan
- Train your spirit, get you familiar with the reaction of other people when you are playing
- Help you learn how to play guitar in a team
Therefore, don’t be that kind of bedroom guitarist anymore.
It’s not too hard for a beginner to join in a jam. There are a bunch of guitar groups out there, you can firstly connect to them on social networks.
Then tell yourself that the shyness is the biggest obstacle to your practice. If you want to go faster, just hang out and jam with them. There is no need to hesitate.
Mistake #13. Negatively compare yourself to other players
A lot of acoustic guitar beginners make this mistake. “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence”.
Sincerely, no guitarist is the same. If someone can play at a higher level than you, what makes the most different is the time and the effort in practice.
Comparing yourself to others is good for your motivation, but don’t let it make you depressed.
Just focus on your process in spite of paying too much attention to the results. Stick with your schedule and you will see.
Mistake #14. To be a very ON-OFF person in practice
If you usually start practice guitar enthusiastically but soon lose your enthusiasm, you are a moody person.
For example, some days you feel high and practice 10 exercises 8 hours one day a week and do nothing for other days.
Of course, we all need inspiration to do anything in life.
But why isn’t being moody frequently good for your guitar progress?
Why should we learn any instrument consistently?
Why can’t we learn to master everything once for all in guitar?
It’s just because most of the instrument practice depends on muscle memory. And practicing guitar is a typical activity that requires consistent repetitions to make you skillful.
If you try to practice a huge list of things in a short time, your muscle memory can’t be built so your attempt will be all in vain.
That’s the reason why you should not be an ON and OFF person in guitar practice.
It is highly recommended to practice for 15-30 minutes everyday than to practice once in a blue moon.
To deal with this trait – I prefer to consider this as a trait than a mistake of acoustic guitar beginners – you can follow these suggestions:
- make time tables for your practice in short term and long term
- take proper breaks as practice so that you don’t feel overwhelmed
- let yourself be motivated through social influences by having a friend or a tutor interact with you
- whenever you have a tough day, let something exciting and unplanned lift your spirits, you will find energy for guitar practice soon.
Mistake #15. Boxing your taste of music
Truth be told, we are all limited by our prejudices. It is said that all men are created equal, it’s the same to kinds of music.
Pop, rock, jazz, blues… each kind of music will affect us in different ways. So don’t keep your extreme view in musical by only listening to a specific one.
Open up your mind to musical taste is the way to set you free, think out of the box and enlarge your ability of feeling and playing music.
When listening to a new kind of music, you should get yourself familiar with some genres which are easy-to-feel first.
For example, as listening to opera for the first time, you may feel very unpleasant if you pick up a totally classical song such as “No other love” – Bryn Terfel.
So a semi-classical may be easier for you. I strongly recommend songs from “The Phantom of the opera”, a well-known musical movie you can find on YouTube.
Mistake #16. Being stuck with perfection as playing guitar
In fact, no one can play music perfectly. We always make mistake somehow. So expecting ourselves to play guitar perfectly is asking for something impossible.
Moreover, it will lead us to playing under the pressure. This is opposite to what music really relates to: the relaxation of your entire body and mind.
So the more you try to play perfectly, the more tense feeling and mistakes you may get.
This mistake can also lead to the mistake #17 so these two mistakes have the same solution.
Mistake #17. Don’t add emotion to your performance
Last but not least, beginners may forget the link between the mind and the body as playing guitar.
The music you are playing is a mirror that reflects what you feel deep inside. So without emotion, your performance will be insensitiveness.
There are many reasons why this common mistake of guitar beginners happens but the root cause is beginners often have a lot of things to deal with. Most of them are related to physical aspects.
Solution for mistake #16 &17
It’s so easy to tell someone that he/she should take it easy as playing music. But the key to these two mistakes is good preparation.
Try to make it as best as you can when you’re practicing. Master it. Let techniques become a part of you so that you can play automatically.
As a result, when it comes to performing, you don’t need to care about the pressure of being perfect or any difficult techniques.
Just play and let the music lead you.
We all know that beginners have a lot to take in: chords, scales, embellishments, techniques, hammer-on, music theory, blah blah.
So to avoid the most common mistake of ukulele and acoustic guitar beginners, you should have a good basic foundation.
As a good rule of thumb, the only miracle that appears in guitar exactly depends on practice, no exception.
Hope this article can help you somehow. If you have any experience with guitar practice, feel free to leave us a comment.