The Top 10 Most Common Beginner Guitar Mistakes To Avoid!

Playing the guitar is an exciting journey, but it’s not without its challenges! As a beginner guitarist, it’s easy to make simple mistakes that can hinder your progress and prevent you from reaching your full potential. 

However, with awareness and the right guidance, you can avoid these bad habits and become a better guitarist. This article will show you the top beginner guitar mistakes and provide practical tips on overcoming them. These are all fixable, so don’t worry if you’ve been doing any of these – the most important part is becoming aware of them so you can correct them!

1. Not Getting a Guitar Setup

One of the most frequently made mistakes by beginner guitarists is neglecting to get a proper guitar setup. This is especially true when buying a brand-new guitar, especially if it’s an entry-level one.

A guitar setup refers to the fine-tuning and adjustment of various components of the instrument to ensure optimal playability and sound quality. Without a professional setup, your guitar may suffer from issues such as poor intonation, high or low string height, and buzzing strings – all issues that can make your guitar sound bad and uninspiring.

To get the most out of your guitar, it’s crucial to have it professionally set up by a qualified guitar technician. They will adjust the truss rod, string action, and intonation to ensure your guitar plays and sounds its best. 

2. Neglecting to Change Your Strings

Another mistake beginners make is neglecting to change their guitar strings regularly. Some beginners believe that strings should only be changed when they break, but this is not the case. Strings lose their brightness and tonal quality over time, and changing them regularly is essential to maintain optimal sound.

On average, guitar strings should be changed every few weeks or more frequently if you play regularly. Old strings can sound dull, lifeless, prone to breaking, and even start to smell bad. If you notice your strings sounding dead or worn out, it’s time to invest in a fresh set.

To extend the life of your strings, it’s also important to clean them regularly. Wipe them down with a soft microfiber cloth after each use, and consider using string cleaners or other guitar cleaning products for better performance and longevity.

3. Forgetting to Tune Before Practicing

Tuning your guitar is a fundamental aspect of playing, yet many beginners forget to tune their instrument before each practice session. Playing an out-of-tune guitar can be frustrating and hinder your progress.

To avoid this mistake, make it a habit to tune your guitar before every practice session. You can use a tuning app on your phone or invest in a clip-on guitar tuner for convenience or grab yourself a standard digital tuner that you plug into. Tuning your guitar not only ensures that you’re playing in the correct pitch but also helps train your ear and develop a sense of musicality.

However, even though learning to tune your guitar by ear is a valuable skill that will enhance your overall musicianship, I recommend beginners to have an actual guitar tuner handy. If you’re unsure how to tune your guitar, there are a lot of online resources and tutorials available that can guide you through the process. 

4. Holding the Guitar Incorrectly

The way you hold your guitar has a significant impact on your playing ability and comfort. Holding the guitar incorrectly can lead to difficulties in playing certain chords and licks and may even cause physical strain and discomfort in the long run.

For right-handed players, it’s important to position the guitar correctly. When sitting down, in most cases (except for classical guitar playing), the guitar body should rest on your right leg and be close to your own body, with your picking (right) hand resting on the top of the guitar body. The fretboard should be in a vertical position or parallel to the floor. Your left hand (fretting hand) should be positioned on the fretboard with your thumb resting on the back of the neck.

It’s crucial to find a comfortable and ergonomic posture that allows you to reach all the notes on the fretboard without excessive tension or strain. You should also avoid tilting the guitar too far back to see the fretboard, as this can lead to poor technique and create bad habits.

5. Fretting Too Hard

Another issue that’s related to performance and tension that a lot of beginners make is that they press down on the frets too hard. While articulation certainly has its place, you don’t need to add a lot of force or pressure in order to sound a note clearly. 

In fact, a light touch will suffice most of the time! Just focus on reducing the amount of tension you apply, and you’ll quickly learn how much of it is necessary.

By doing this, you’ll not only reduce strain in your fretting hand and reduce the likelihood of injury, but it will also improve your speed because it will make traveling across the fretboard effortless. Additionally, you’ll also develop better dynamic control because you’ll let your picking hand be what control how soft or hard you hit a note. 

6. Inconsistent Practice

Consistency is key when it comes to learning the guitar. One common mistake beginners make is not practicing regularly. If you want to improve your skills and make progress, it’s important to establish a regular practice routine.

Even if you can only dedicate a short amount of time each day, consistency is more important than the duration of practice. Aim to practice every day, even if it’s just for 15 minutes. Regular practice helps build muscle memory, improves finger dexterity, and reinforces learning.

Avoid the temptation to practice intensively for a few hours in one day and then skip practice for the next few days. It’s better to have short, focused practice sessions spread out over time than irregular, sporadic practice. Set realistic goals that are still challenging enough for you, and commit to regular practice to maximize your progress. Here are more some tips for practicing guitar if you want to learn how to do it more effectively!

7. Not Using a Metronome

A metronome is a valuable tool for developing timing, rhythm, and precision in your playing. Yet, many beginners neglect to use a metronome in their practice sessions. This can lead to poor timing and inconsistent rhythm, hindering your ability to play with others and perform accurately.

Using a metronome is highly recommended for people of all skill levels, but it’s crucial to get started early on. It helps you develop a strong sense of timing and internalize different tempos. Start by practicing simple exercises and scales with a metronome, gradually increasing the tempo as you improve.

There are various metronome apps available for smartphones, as well as physical metronomes. Experiment with different metronome settings and incorporate them into your practice routine to enhance your rhythmic skills and overall musicality.

8. Focusing on Speed Instead of Accuracy

Many beginners are eager to play fast and impress others with their speed because their favorite players can do so. However, focusing solely on speed without prioritizing accuracy is a mistake that can hinder you. Playing fast is exciting, but it’s crucial to develop a solid foundation of accuracy and precision first. In other words, you need to learn how to walk before you can run!

Start by practicing slowly and paying attention to every note and technique. Focus on playing each note cleanly and with the correct technique before gradually increasing your speed. Speed will naturally come with time and practice, but rushing to play fast without mastering the fundamentals can lead to sloppy playing and bad habits.

Take your time to develop a strong foundation of accuracy, and you’ll find that your speed will improve naturally as you progress. Keeping track of your progress by gradually increasing the tempo on your metronome will definitely make the process of developing good technique easier.

9. Skipping Music Theory

Music theory may seem intimidating to some beginners, but ignoring it is a significant mistake. Theory provides a framework for understanding the construction of chords, scales, and melodies. It helps you make sense of the music you play and allows for greater creativity and improvisation.

While you don’t have to become a music theory expert, learning the basics can greatly enhance your playing. Understanding chord progressions, scales, and key signatures will enable you to navigate the fretboard more effectively and make informed musical choices.

There are numerous online resources, books, and tutorials available that can help you learn music theory at your own pace. So, consider incorporating music theory into your practice routine and explore its practical applications on the guitar. Even a little bit of it goes a long way!

10. Comparing Yourself to Other Players

Comparing your progress to other guitarists, whether they’re other beginners or more experienced players, can be psychologically demoralizing and hinder your own development. Every guitarist learns at their own pace, and it’s important to focus on your own journey rather than making unfair comparisons to others.

Remember that everyone starts as a beginner and progresses at different rates. Celebrate your own achievements and milestones, no matter how small they may seem – you’ll probably realize that you have your own strengths too. Embrace the joy of learning and improving, and use others as inspiration rather than a basis for comparison.

Stay committed to your own development and enjoy the process of learning and playing the guitar. With dedication and perseverance, you’ll reach your goals and become the guitarist you aspire to be.


As a beginner guitarist, making mistakes along the way is natural. However, recognizing and addressing these common pitfalls can accelerate your progress and help you become a better player. Remember, anything can be fixed, and it’s better that it’s done sooner than later!

By avoiding these guitar mistakes, developing good habits, and, importantly, maintaining a positive and dedicated mindset, you’ll unlock your full potential as a guitarist and enjoy a fulfilling musical journey.