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3 Beginner Mistakes to Avoid on Guitar

In my occupation as a professional guitar teacher I tend to see a lot of the same “mistakes” or “bad habits” being made by people starting out with the guitar. If you are new to the guitar, chances are that you might have some of these “bad habits” as well. If this is the case, these bad habits may be holding back your playing and they can take a lot of time to unlearn, so if you haven’t formed these habits yet make absolutely sure to focus on not forming them. 













Bad Habit 1: Having The Thumb Above The Neck

Placing the thumb above the neck is a very common mistake beginners make when starting out on the guitar. Beginners often hold the guitar neck with the same power as they would other things (a baseball bat for example). This often leads them to place the thumb in the wrong place. The truth is, that you don’t need a lot of power to play the guitar. If you are precise in placing your fingers on the fretboard almost no power is needed to play. Therefore, you need to place your thumb just behind your fretting fingers approximately in the middle of the fretboard. Having the thumb above the neck restrains your fingers and it will make it harder for you to progress on the guitar. 


For a video explanation, press play here: 


















Bad Habit 2: Not Anchoring Your Picking Hand 

Another common mistake that holds beginner players back is not anchoring their picking hand. A lot of the time their hand will be “floating” when they try to play, opening up for a lot of mistakes to be made. Instead you need to 

anchor your picking hand on the bridge of the guitar. This will give you a lot of benefits. Not only will it illuminate a lot of insecurities in your playing, you will also develop the muscle memory needed to play without having to look at your hand all the time. Furthermore it will make it much easier for you to develop the right angle between your pick and the strings. 


For an in-depth explanation of how to do this, watch this video: 














Bad Habit 3: A Loose Grip On The Pick

Having a lose grip on the pick is the root of a lot of sloppy playing amongst beginner guitarists. The problem is often the consequence of not anchoring your fretting hand on the bridge as explained above. When you don’t do this, you will often create a wrong angle between the pick and the  strings. The angle should be about 45 degrees, but in reality the pick is often parallel to the strings, causing it to get “stuck” on the strings. To compensate for this bad habit the player will often adopt a very loose grip on the guitar pick. This causes a totally different set of problems such as sloppy playing and risking to loose your pick while playing. What you need to do instead is to have a firm grip on the pick while holding the correct angle to consistently pluck the strings. If you are unable to play with a firm grip your angle is wrong and must be corrected. This is a great guideline for you to have in developing a good picking technique. 


For a deeper explanation watch the video below:


These guidelines will make you able to develop efficient techniques on guitar shaving months or even years of frustration of your guitar playing development. 


About the author: Janus is the founder of the Guitar Academy of Copenhagen and has great experience in teaching Acoustic Guitar Lessons in Vejle. At the Guitar Academy you will find the support, teaching and training you will need to take you playing to the next level. You have nothing to lose, but a fulfilled musical future to gain. 

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