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Guitar playing mistakes I used to make


Throughout my guitar playing life, there are things I used to do that were really wrong.

I'm going to list off the ones I can remember. And the reason I say that is because I'm certain there were many things I used to do wrong but just can't remember them all.

Am I playing guitar 100% correct now? The way I answer that is that these days I play correctly for me.

1. Digging into the fretboard with my fingernail for note vibrato

This is something I used to do in my teens and stopped doing in my 20s once I realized how wrong it was. What I did was curl my index finger on the string, push my fingernail right down to the fretboard wood and make a digging motion to make note vibrato.

Out of everything dumb I've ever done with guitar playing, that was the dumbest.

2. Hiking the guitar up really high on the strap when playing standing

It took me a while before I finally learned how to properly play while standing. Before I did, I used to hike up the guitar very high on the strap, almost to chest level. It was ridiculous.

This wasn't necessarily a dumb thing since there are many guitar players who prefer hiking the guitar up high, but it was wrong for the way I play.

3. Raking the pick across the fretboard when strumming

Again, not a dumb thing, but but my reason for doing it was dumb.

Back in my earlier days, I didn't have very good pick control. My way of strumming used to be almost caveman-like, so I used the neck itself to soften the strike when I needed to play chords.

Later on when I switched over to thinner picks with more flex, learned more chords and so on, my picking got lighter and I stopped doing the caveman thing.

4. Never using the volume or tone controls

I used to be one of those "always on 10" guys. Plug in, turn the guitar volume to 10, turn the tone to 10, leave them there, and only touch the volume knob when the riff or song is over.

What made me stop doing this is not making 10 the beginning of the sound but rather the place I went when I needed overdrive. I now shape sounds where 3 or 4 is clean, 5 to 7 is dirt, and 10 is all the dirt.

Having my sound this way is mighty convenient because I never have to click on or off a pedal. All that's required to get the sound I want is done 100% from the volume knob.

I don't use tone controls too often, but they do get used mainly for clean stuff. This is way different from the way I used to play where I literally never touched them.

5. Soloing way too much

Nobody likes solos except guitar players and I know this very well. But being I play guitar, of course I like to solo. It's fun. But wow, does it get in the way of songwriting.

I have to mentally prep myself whenever I sit down to do songwriting. It's just two words I keep saying to myself. "DON'T SOLO."

Even though I don't solo nearly as much as I used to, it's almost too easy to fall into the trap of being in the middle of writing a song, and then.... oh, I think I'll play some single notes. Then a scale. Then another scale. And another. And another. And another. Throw in a bend. Thrown in ten bends. Do a harmonic. Do many harmonics. A finger-tap. More finger taps. Blah blah blah blah frickin' blah.

Suddenly, an hour or two is gone, the song isn't any further along, and all that time has been wasted SOLOING.

I still struggle with this one to this day.

Eventually, I stop soloing and get songs done.


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