Why I Suck At Guitar & How To Avoid It

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When I was a younger player, one of the questions I often ask myself was

“Why am I bad at playing the guitar?”

And the common answer I got was that  “I don’t practice enough”.

Well, while it’s true, its only partially true. I found that this partial truth has harmed me in my progress of playing better guitar. As I really love playing, the amount of time I practice wasn’t really the biggest issue.

I discovered the biggest issue was not knowing the real reason why I suck.

When I thought my bad playing was because of my lack of practice,  I made it a point to practice more. The more I practice, the more I practice my bad playing habits rather than correcting it.  You see, I invested more practice to reinforce all my bad playing habit. 

In short, not knowing the real reason why I suck, has made me practice exactly what got me into the rut in the first place.

So there must be a better reasons why we suck. And we need to find out what it was quickly.

Not practicing is a symptom, not the cause of bad playing. Something deeper is at play here. Sadly I had to spend almost 20 years playing bad guitar to discover these top 5 BETTER REASONS why someone can suck at guitar:

  1. Because I focus on notes more than feel
  2. Because my guitar sets me up to fail
  3. Because I’m comparing myself to unreal gods
  4. Because my goal for playing is wrong
  5. Finally,  because the guitar is really not my instrument.

With these ‘better’ reasons, I found these ways to avoid them (and hence free myself from practicing bad habits)

  1. Focus on feel and my ability to keep a beat. I play with a metronome
  2. Get a better guitar and/or make sure it is setup to play optimally
  3. Compare only to yourself. Focus on improving not envying other people’s playing.
  4. Set the right guitar playing goals that is personal to why you play.
  5. Quit guitar, and find something that is more an extension of you musically.

It’s sad to say that the last reason is there on the list. But the truth set us free to pursue a more suitable musical instrument for ourselves.

I have personally moved from guitar to harmonica, to piano, to bass and then to producing music before going back to guitar again. This journey is for another post altogether.

I will write on each of these topics in a 5 part series in the weeks to come and link the article above.

Until then, drop me a line for comments about practicing bad habits and stuff that prevents us from getting good at playing.

I love to hear what you think

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5 thoughts on “Why I Suck At Guitar & How To Avoid It

  1. Arief Wibowo

    LOL. You are right. I think I set myself up for failure. I insisted that my guitar is fine and my hand is not big enough to hold a chord properly.

    Maybe I should start shopping for the right guitar. Can you recommend a good guitar for a small hand player like me?

    Reply
  2. Samuel Winick

    Very interesting how you wrote this article.

    I definitely don’t practice enough! But I’d love to believe that guitar is for me, so I’m not going to even put that on my list haha.

    I totally agree that you need the right goals!

    Thanks for this entertaining and informative read.

    Reply
  3. Rob

    Wow, I always wondered this. I had the same problem. I always wanted to learn guitar and have tried two or three times and always give up. I tried self-teaching myself through youtube and I always failed. I always wondered why. I thought maybe it didn’t come to me and we had to be naturals. I guess, in part that is right.

    Reply

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