Mistakes Beginner Guitarists Face + How to Fix ’em • Acoustic Tuesday 272

Learning how to play guitar ain’t easy. It’s like hopping on a train: difficult to get on, easy to fall off, but there’s nothing like it once you’re on.

On today’s episode, I’ll go over the common pitfalls beginner guitarists face at the start of their journey. From never setting a goal to the comparison mindset, discover how you can thrive in your guitar journey.

I’ve seen thousands of beginner guitar players play for a few weeks and then never pick up the guitar. This episode will guide you away from that outcome and towards a rewarding, lifelong journey of guitar playing. 

As much as techniques and warmups might make a difference in your journey, I highly encourage you to think of the more meta—or mental—aspect of playing. Uncover your why. Set a routine. Ask questions. It’s these small elements of a guitar journey that make all the difference for learning how to play guitar. 

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Featured on this episode…
– Will McNicol
– Jake Eddy
– Trey Hensley  
– Herbie Hancock  

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Responses

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  1. Hey TAC family of beginners, 4 werds of wisdom… “Follow the Process” 🙂 Tony and this TAC team has cut through a lot of the “Bull Sh!t” of learn-N to play the guitar. From A BC D EF G A to Play… “Follow the Process”
    Blessings y’all…

  2. Tony! I’m upset and It’s all your fault! 3 years ago I fell down the Tony Polecastro rabbit hole on my guitar journey. You end each Acoustic Tuesday with “Guitar Geeks unite”. Not so Today? Must be the 3-month cold. My Wife has it as well. My 2nd issue is you fire me up about Rosewood neck and Ivory nut, Solid Driftwood mahogany top, XXX bracing, hand voiced, Vintage Martin lite strings. Yet, you hold in your hands a beautiful, what looks like a Thompson Guitar, Santa Cruz parabolic strings maybe?….?
    I have picked up my guitar every day and started my playing sessions with TAC for the last 3 years you never waver or get upset with me, yell back at me. You are consistent in your approach and with a cool guitar in hand and a smile. In the beginning, I would yell at you to let you know just how stupid the cord is because I couldn’t get it the first 1000 times. Over this time, I realized what it takes for ME to learn to play guitar. Once I found or at this point have direction on what I want in my current path in the journey, I needed to slow down and focus on small things within the lessons. One thing I found is I always lift my hand in transitioning cords or even single notes while flat picking. For me, it’s the next level of learning to recognizing these type of playing improvements. Having that consistency in lessons and playing has let me see, hear, and learn, at just the right pace.
    So my question is, what are you playing, my friend?
    Have a Grateful Day
    Al

  3. I just joined TAC to finish out 2022 and start 2023, so this is the first episode I’ve watched, and I definitely appreciated it! As I’m sure many have, I’ve fallen victim to some of the pitfalls (specifically “I’m not good enough to…” and not setting goals). I’ll definitely be doing what I can to try to avoid these as I move forward. I also appreciated the segment with Herbie Hancock. This view of “mistakes” can apply so many places! I’m a math teacher, and it is so important for students to see that “mistakes” are ok, and can really help to teach us and help us grow!

  4. Great segment Tony. I don’t normally submit questions, however, your comment about asking questions prompts me to ask one. I have been playing guitar for quite a few years and I still have a problem that I cannot remedy. The guitar pick turns in my finger & thumb, particularly on up strokes. I use a commercial sticky substance, “gorilla snot”, that allows me to finish a song without dropping my pick or having it turn in my hand. Squeezing the pick tighter does no good, I just bang the strings louder. My question is: Are there exercises I can do to strengthen my picking hand that will prevent the pick from turning?

  5. Thanks Tony. An excellent episode. So – here’s my stupid questions:) When is it best to use a pick and when is it better to rely on fingers? Can you please make it clear in your videos when you are using a pick and when you are not? I find it hard to see sometimes. I would also appreciate a lesson on how best to finger strum and the various ways of doing that. Cheers and Happy New Year

  6. Correction of my 1-3-23 email. I left the negative in the 3rd sentence. Stretching isn’t giving me the reach with my 3rd and 4th finger (ring and pinky fingers). Suggestions please

  7. I’m hitting phyical limitations. My fingers can’t reach the strings on every cord. Stretch is giving me the reach with my 3 and 4 fingers on my left hand. Once I get the tips able to hold the strings to the frets for clean sound, that inability gets be to stop., Any suggestions.

  8. Hi Tony I loved what you sed today. and loved the meme. So my mom and dad got me a guitar slide for christmas. and i have no idea on how to use it. do you have any courses or videos on how to use one?

  9. I am currently reading “The Music Lesson” by Victor L. Wooten. It is a really intriguing book about a spiritual music teacher who just shows up in his life and starts teaching him what music is really about. Just yesterday I read the chapter on “notes” – ‘wrong’ and ‘right’ notes. The ‘teacher’ explains how you need to find the groove of the music first and not the key. And how if you land on a ‘wrong’ note, you are only half a step from a right note. The wrong notes are leading somewhere. Miles Davis was mentioned in the chapter as well.

  10. Perhaps a subset of “don’t compare” is “I’ll never”. Sometimes when I hear someone really good, like, say, Doc Watson, my negativity kicks in: “Oh man, I’ll never ever be that good, so what’s the use?” When that type of thought occurs, I try very hard to realize that, no, I’m not a natural-born guitar genius, but I’m sure I can get good enough to have fun and be a pretty decent player, and that is fine, that is a good thing, that is sufficient! Thanks Tony for your insights!

  11. I was guilty of delaying my “restart” because I thought I would have lost too much and it was discouraging. My daughter got me a cool little guitar pick holder for Christmas so I had to at least try. I decided to try Tony’s system as a jumpstart. I have now gone 8 days straight and I found that a lot more of my old skills stuck. Sure I am rusty, but I am having a blast and the skills are returning fast. Don’t hesitate, just go for it, or get back at it. You won’t regret it.

  12. Enjoyed the show as always. I’ve learned to take notes so I can go back and look up thing’s you’ve mentioned.

  13. My biggest pitfall right now is my confidence. I can sit down to a piano and play almost anything put in front of me and the same can’t be said about my guitar playing. I need to be consistent on a routine.

    1. Keep at it. When i was 10 my folks started me on piano a d 2 weeks later I started to figure out how to put that knowledge on guitar. Been teaching 40 years or so and my best students were always piano players. Now I have taught a little piano with my guitar so they have that black and white thing in there head what shows where the notes are and how they’re related. Keep at it.

  14. Hey Tone!
    I would offer that delaying fun is not just a pitfall for beginners. Everyone needs to incorporate some fun time in their routines and not just limit it to new things to learn. For example, play your favorite songs and songs that you already can play well to give yourself that ego boost and reward. You may even be able to embellish on the songs you know well already by incorporating new some new things you’ve learned, like different chord voicings.

  15. Great session, Tony. I especially appreciated the Herbie Hancock clip. Happy New Year.

  16. Blisters. That is my pitfall. How long does it take to make these not hurt? I am playing for at least 10 min. every day for the last 2 weeks. It is hard because it hurts.

    1. It takes awhile, DHeaton.
      I’ve been “playing” a little over a year now. Some days I will really like something and work on it quite a bit. Later that day or the next day, I will still feel them. It’s not bad, I just realize it’s there.

    2. I started out by borrowing my dad’s steel string guitar and I had the same problem for a while. I ended up changing the strings to silk coated ones and it was *much* easier on my fingers. It still took one or two months of semi-regular short practice to build up the callouses, but it was a much less painful process.