5 Guitar Habits NOT To Fall Into

I definitely haven't been playing guitar long enough to find all of the bad habits that somebody can hit. That hasn't stopped me from finding more than I thought possible though.

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5 Guitar Habits NOT To Fall Into

I definitely haven't been playing guitar long enough to find all of the bad habits that somebody can hit. That hasn't stopped me from finding more than I thought possible though. Here's a list of the five habits that have set me back and what songs I learned that broke them.

1. Rejecting the Use of the Fourth Finger

I think this one is definitely the one that most people come across first. The reason for this is that the fourth finger is often times too weak to be able to rely on fully until you start to realize that you're helpless without it. That's why especially when introduced to high A or F sharp on the fourth string from G Major scale, many will just move their hand and use the third.

Song -Thunderstruck by AC/DC

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The purpose of using this song is that the lick combination of hammer-on and pull-offs make it an easy way to build the strength needed in the fourth finger, while boosting the confidence of knowing that you will be able to impress many with this lick.

2. Rejecting the Use of Full Bar Chords

It goes without saying that compared to the traditional use of major chords like C Major or the integrated form of D5 to become a major chord, 5 and 6 string bar chords are definitely hard to get used to forming quickly. The main reason that people reject them are because of knowing that using a four string power chord usually does the trick almost exactly the same.

Song -Bouncing Off The Walls by Green Day

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The verse use of power chords starting on E and A make it a simple way to build the skill of bar chords without having to shift an extreme amount.

3. Rejecting Up and Down Strokes

The little voice in my head that told me to write this was screaming about this habit as it is one I carried from the moment I started using eighth notes to very recently. Using up and down strokes was something I rejected almost immediately as a guitarist because I had trouble picking up things without having to practice them as much so I wouldn't hit the wrong strings.

Song -Know Your Enemy by Green Day

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Having a guitar solo that is comprised entirely of eighth notes made this the song to break the habit because it was something that didn't take the extreme amount of coordination that I have lost through time of wasting my practicing hours.

4. Rejecting Alternate Tunings

I have a confession, I still haven't broken this one. I simply don't enjoy re-tuning my guitars for playing a few songs, especially when I always feel like I am out of tune since I'm not in standard. These are some of the few songs that I do enjoy playing in alternative tunings, although it depends from person to person.

Song(s) -This is Gospel by Panic! At The Disco in Drop D

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No More Mr. Nice Guy by Alice Cooper in A:447

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Round and Round by Ratt in Eb standard.

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5. Playing Traditional Chords

This one was simply something where one style overtook another. I had become so accustomed to playing rock that I rarely every used those first chords I learned. Luckily a song reignited my realization that they were part of all music genres.

Song -Sleep On The Floor by The Lumineers

This song I simply loved when I heard, and that is what made me want to learn it even though it was a little far away from my style.


Song 1


B|0h4p0h7p0h4p0h7p0h4p0h7p0h4p0h7 0h5p0h8p0h5p0h8p0h5p0h8p0h5p0h8 x2



Song 2


Song 3


B|--------7-----7-7-7--7--------7-----------7-------7------7------7---7 x2



B|-5-5---5-5-4---------7-----7----------- B|--/11

G|----------------4-4-4---4----4-4------- x3 G|--/11

Song 5



16 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Learn how to fingerpick.  I basically did it just so I'd force myself to learn more chords since whenever I pick up a guitar and a pick I can't help but noodle/scale improv/solo.  It really helps to slow down 
    I think the easiest bad habit to pick up is bad picking habits. Practice your alternate picking correctly!!  My guitar teacher used to show me scales and give me various patterns to practice with them.  Some of which seems easier (at the time) if you fudge the picking and go down-down in certain spots rather than up-down-up-down.  Stick with the proper up-down!  Practice the smooth picking transition from ascending to descending patterns.  You can get simple scale patterns sounding pretty good with sloppy picking but when you try to move onto more advanced material, it will bite you in the ass as your hand will naturally want to do the wrong thing.  Better to not get into the habit in the first place... this took me so long to break.  It also vastly improved the coordination and timing between your picking and fretting hands. In the spirit of this article, to work on the proper technique try playing some Al DiMeola.  Playing his music (or trying to) was probably one of the best things I've done to really improve my playing.  It's nearly impossible to play with bad technique. 
    cmvideo That's exactly how it happened to me. Just trying to take the easy way out for the quick depressed ability definitely isn't worth it. Thanks for sharing your story.
    I literally fell into non of these traps
    MitchellMA I wish I never had. Most of them were me being scared to make mistakes by not being good enough at bar chords or not having a strong enough fourth finger. 
    I'd recommend learning a few songs by 'The Tallest Man on Earth', such as 'drying of the lawns', 'the wild hunt', and 'king of spain' Learning these songs forced me out of the all of the pitfalls described above, but they are quite challenging if you are new to fingerpicking. I found that it was totally worth it.
    Daysleeper_05 Thank you for adding more songs. I hope to learn these as an expanding skillset comes from learning things that you haven't heard before.
    It surprises me that people still aren't using their pinkies, especially with all the two handed tapping that seems so in these days going on.
    drunkseph I've noticed though that as pop music has gotten more popular and rock has faded, a lot of songs are mostly chords which probably contributes for a lot of people. You even notice that a lot more songs that are new don't have many leads or fancy chords.
    Not using your pinky is really the biggest one here, I remember when i first started looking at other tunings besides standard and drop D I hesitated a bit just because I wasn't really sure if i was doing correctly, but besides that changing tune isn't a big deal at all to me. I actually started with fingerpicking and then went to using a pick and it was really difficult. I think to make sure you don't get caught in that is to evenly practice both. Also just focusing on your fretting hand speed, which is a bit of a problem I'm having still, where I have the speed in my fretting hand but have problems with syncing it with my picking hand, so working on bringing both of those up together at the same time instead of separate is another way to make sure you don't end up trying to play catchup.
    robb11 I like Drop D too but for me it was so unfamiliar that only one string was tuned differently. Fingerpicking to using a pick or vice-versa is definitely the hardest transition I've dealt with or seen people deal with. Even for pianist learning it is a hard transition to only having one "finger" to operate with.