Why You Struggle To Play Guitar

There's more to playing guitar than learning new songs. It's a great place to start, but you need to go much deeper to really rock the house.

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Maybe you've played guitar for a few years, maybe more than 15 years... Maybe your whole life. But you still feel like you aren't the best you could be. And that's why you're here.

Well there are many reasons why you're probably not the guitar player you want to be, but all of those reasons can't be explained in an article. However we can go further into depth about just ONE reason.

There is a lot of stuff you need to learn, and a lot of stuff to study, and a lot of stuff to play if you want to become a really good guitar player. Some of these things you might know about, some of them you may never heard of, some of them you don't know how to practice, or whatever.

What are some of those things you should be focusing on to better your guitar playing? Do you think you need to learn more chops? More solos? More songs? More chords? More jamming? More practice?

The answer is, none of these.

So what is the answer?

You may be thinking about Music Theory. Well, this is still only PART of the total equation. You may be thinking about Improvising. This also is only part of it.

MAINLY, the issue lies in your listening skills. I can bet that you can't identify specific chords, or notes, or intervals when you hear them. And this is a big deal.

We're talking about music. Music is MOSTLY auditory. Not written, not technique, not length. It's your EAR you're working with.

Many of you have tried to work out songs by ear, and this is a good way to practice your ear, but it's not the most effective way. Transcribing is better, without your instrument.

But there's STILL MORE to what you need to be practicing on than just Music Theory, Ear Training, and Improvisation. There's Technique, there's Songwriting and Composition, there's Creativity, there's Rhythm.

A lot of you work with Improvisation, and Technique, and Songwriting. These are generally what we think about when we want to improve our songs, our music, our skills. But it's not enough. Hundreds upon thousands of people are doing those things, and if you want to be BETTER than all of those people, you need to work on THE WHOLE PICTURE.

So if you're good at Improvising, Technique, and Songwriting, I can bet a LOT of money that you are terrible at Rhythm, Critical Listening, Creativity, and Music Theory.

And that is why you're struggling with your guitar playing.

So you need to think about the BIG PICTURE when you're in the music field, because if you just take one step at a time trying to improve in one area of music before you even touch on another subject, there's NO WAY that you're going to be a great guitar player. There's no way.

If you want to find out why you can't get big results from learning things step by step, read the article I've written called "Art is Not a Science".

7 comments sorted by best / new / date

    miauwmjam
    So if you're good at Improvising, Technique, and Songwriting, I can bet a LOT of money that you are terrible at Rhythm, Critical Listening, Creativity, and Music Theory.
    Urgh what? Improving solo's isn't creative? Kinda louzy article this. Basicly what you're saying is that you need to be the best in all aspects to be a great musician. No sh*t, Captain Obvious.
    DanBrown93
    Urgh what? Improving solo's isn't creative? Kinda louzy article this. Basicly what you're saying is that you need to be the best in all aspects to be a great musician. No sh*t, Captain Obvious.
    The above comment does have a point, but the article does point to some good an interesting aspects to consider. Highlighting your ear development is something anyone should focus on improving. However, I always feel that for you to be the best you can be, get a teacher. The mentoring one can offer can be priceless in developing yourself as a musician. However, there are also many other ways to develop yourself and what people need to realise, and any respectable teacher will tell you this, is that when you practice something, it's not the quantity it's the quality of your practice that counts. To explain how to achieve this quality would most probably warrant an entire article on its own (something I made consider doing) but it all boils down to a deep, thorough analysis of your playing and then figuring out how to develop and improve the problem areas in the most creative, but effective way possible. That's my two cents anyway.
    krypticguitar87
    DanBrown93 wrote: Urgh what? Improving solo's isn't creative? Kinda louzy article this. Basicly what you're saying is that you need to be the best in all aspects to be a great musician. No sh*t, Captain Obvious. The above comment does have a point, but the article does point to some good an interesting aspects to consider. Highlighting your ear development is something anyone should focus on improving. However, I always feel that for you to be the best you can be, get a teacher. The mentoring one can offer can be priceless in developing yourself as a musician. However, there are also many other ways to develop yourself and what people need to realise, and any respectable teacher will tell you this, is that when you practice something, it's not the quantity it's the quality of your practice that counts. To explain how to achieve this quality would most probably warrant an entire article on its own (something I made consider doing) but it all boils down to a deep, thorough analysis of your playing and then figuring out how to develop and improve the problem areas in the most creative, but effective way possible. That's my two cents anyway.
    Sorry but saying that it points you in any direction is a bit of an overstatement... it is super vague and essentially an ad for theauthors article from another site. he does not ellaborate as to how one figures out whats wrong, he simply states the qualities of a good musician. this, oddly enough, is quite useless.
    DanBrown93
    it is super vague and essentially an ad for theauthors article from another site. he does not ellaborate as to how one figures out whats wrong, he simply states the qualities of a good musician. this, oddly enough, is quite useless.
    Yeah you do have a point, the article is stupidly vague and pretty much pointless. I guess was trying to draw something out from the article that people could actually use and consider. I do happen to agree with your comment as well as miaumjam's comment. (And yes I did notice the cheeky reference to the other article)
    maltmn
    What you guys missed is you don't need to get really good at all subjects of guitar. The point is you just simply need to spend some time working on every aspect of music, even if just for 5-10 minutes a day, not try to master one of the aspects before moving to another. Meaning, when you learn songs, you're only working on technique and rhythm and learning "chops", you're not learning music theory, or composition, or your listening skills... and if you spend your life learning through songs, trying to get better and better and faster and faster, you'll only get your skills out of balance, meaning one some of them will be far more developed than others. When this happens you start thinking you're getting really good, so you go to write a song... and then you start to think of a riff but you can't really find one you really, really like... or you try to solo over some chords, but you keep making mistakes or it just sounds okay... There are countless frustrations that come from being "out of balance". which is why you should strive to work on everything a little bit each day to smooth out the angles. Imagine going to the gym every day and working for hours on cardio and triceps, then wondering a few years later why you don't have a six-pack! It's cause you didn't work on that specific muscle! xD Obviously this doesn't mean you need to do absolutely EVERYTHING at once, don't overwhelm yourself.. just take up a week to spread out all the different things you can do with music. Well, hopefully this clears things up.
    kotorfreak666
    I've read your articles, and you have some good points, but your delivery is sh*t. Like literally, always talking sh*t like you know everything about everything. Yes you need to spread things out, but don't say that everyone doesn't know what the hell they're doing just because of an ego trip. This aside, It is better to work on many things, but rhythm and technique are very important. Another thing is the ability to work with other musicians