Whether you're a beginner or experienced guitar player, there are common worries and questions we all have.
Have you left it too late to learn guitar? What are the biggest practice mistakes to avoid? And what one tip would help you learn to play guitar better, faster?
I asked 7 of my guitar student tribe 5 burning questions about their playing journey to share with you. So if you’re having a down day feeling unconfident or uninspired, pick yourself up by hearing from some of your fellow guitar players about how they’re finding learning guitar so far.
Following the amazing feedback from this post, we're now taking reader submissions for our next guitar player Q&A article. Submit your answers here - after you've finished reading the article of course.
I had a conversation with my eldest daughter about my youth and it came out that one of my regrets was never learning to play a musical instrument. Both of my girls had piano and violin lessons and my wife sings in a choir plus has learnt to play the ukulele.
So at 65 I was feeling a bit left out!
Guitar was my personal preference to want to learn, but I thought I was too old to start. To my surprise, my daughter bought me a course of lessons with Tiff for Christmas. That was two years ago and it has really got under my skin. I massively look forward to my lessons and they keep me motivated enough to practice everyday.
Headlining a world tour would be nice! Realistically though, I just want to be able to competently play some of my favourite tunes just for me. Surprisingly I already have a number of popular songs that I can play, and the more I practise, the more I improve.
1. Clear, precise notes.
2. Perfect chord changes.
3. Great rhythm.
1. Clear, precise notes - daily practice of scales and chords making sure I eliminate buzzing and that each note is clear. I always work on proper technique like alternate picking, never just down picks.
2. Perfect chord changes - getting from one chord to another cleanly takes a lot of practice. Again this needs to be done daily using a metronome to slowly increase your speed and accuracy.
3. Great rhythm - I play along with the tracks I'm learning, slowly at first to pick up the rhythm. I've been taught that you need to record yourself so you can track your progress and see your improvement also.
Get a really good guitar teacher who can show you how to play properly, who can tell you where you're going wrong, and show you how correct your errors. You need someone to teach you how to play the guitar so you don't get into bad habits - someone who can help you to use all the technique you've been taught into learning songs.
I got into classic rock in my late teens through older mates where I used to work. Started going to local pub gigs and hearing bands doing covers. One of my mates played and he lent me his old Westfield electric to learn on. He taught me a few things, it was fun so I bought my own Squire Silver series strat (in photo).
Marks acoustic and electric guitars
Just to be more accomplished on both electric and acoustic. Mainly keep enjoying playing music and learning new songs, techniques and theory.
I think I just said it, sorry. Good technique, solid theory, and a good ear. There’s way more than three skills though that make a guitar player sound great!
Divide my time between them but not in each practice. Sometimes due to being busy with work or family I only get 15 mins practice, so I warm up for 5 then focus for 10 minutes on specific things such as Travis picking or scales, modes or chord shapes. Almost always finish with a song when I have a longer proper practice sesh.
Find a good guitar teacher who puts you centre and helps you make the best of the limited time to “practice effectively”.
I have always loved singing and wanted to take up an instrument so I could accompany myself nicely.
To be confident and good enough to play and sing at the same time in front of other people.
Alice with her acoustic
1. Good rhythm
2. Good technique
3. A sense of musicality
1. Rhythm - I always use a metronome to make sure I keep in time. You shouldn't cut corners on this one I've been taught by Tiff my tutor!
2. Technique - Practice all the bits that I find hard until they come naturally. Doesn't happen overnight, so I'm working on being less hard on myself.
3. Musicality - Listen to (and watch) different musicians to hear how they play and interpenetrate the music.
Definitely give it a go! You have nothing to loose only so much to gain. I had no experience of playing the guitar but, after learning only a few chords I was able to play a few of my favourite songs.
Playing the guitar is also a great way to give yourself a bit of a break from the stresses of life, sitting down to practice allows you real space to just enjoy playing and forget about anything else that's on your mind.
The type of music I listen to such as rock, indie and jazz. I thought it would be cool to be able to play an instrument.
I think everyone should play an instrument as it's good for you to grow and let out your creative side isn't it?
James' exceedingly impressive gear
To be good enough to play in front of other people confidently and well, not badly LOL! Also I want to get to the point where I can casually or even professionally play with friends. I want to be able to freestyle and improvise well too. Those guitarists that can make up solos on the spot - it would be cool to be able to do that.
1. Be able to adapt, like matching different tempos.
2. Have the music theory know-how to be able to change keys and play different chord inversions and things like that.
3. Being open minded and take in what other good players and your teacher (if you have one) say. You're never gonna get better if you only live by your own rules. If you've been playing for a long time, you could get big headed and ignore what others suggest.
1. I use a metronome for timing.
2. I record myself practicing, the worse it sounds the better it is for you to get better if that makes sense?
3. I started to have lessons. I get feedback and good advice that way - I think all learner guitar players of all skills should have at least a few lessons as they're admitting that they can improve.
Nearly every adult I've met has said they wished they'd have played an instrument when they were younger, so I'd say go for it if you're on the fence. You can stop at anytime if you don't like it - but I doubt you will once you start!
I watched a re-run of “Neil Young in Concert at the BBC” from 1971. It was just Neil Young with an acoustic guitar and harmonica – he was awesome. It’s available to view on YouTube and it’s essential viewing.
Q2. What are some of your long term playing goals?
Ians lovely Taylor, Faith & Epiphone Dot 335
To play confidently in public like an open mic night (I keep putting it off though know I shouldn't as my tutor keeps telling me to go for it) and perhaps some slide guitar!
Q3. What three skills make a great guitar player?
1. Playing at the correct tempo, neither slowing down or speeding up
2. Knowing all the notes on the keyboard
3. Knowing the CAGED system (and how to apply it)
1. Use a metronome when practicing
2. Learn all the notes at the 3rd, 5th, 7th etc fret (where the fret markers are), and the rest will fall into place using mnemonics and octave shapes
3. Try substituting a chord or two from a song you can play with CAGED barre chords
Set aside just 20 minutes each day to practice. It sounds manageable and those twenty minutes will soon turn into an hour + that flys by.
For years I’d watch in awe guitarists like Eric Clapton, Mark Knoffler, etc and I thought their ability to play was a gift they were born with.
I soon realised they weren’t born being able to play guitar- it was hard work, practice and theory based knowledge that gave them the tools to create such wonderful music.
Mark with his acoustic guitar
My personal goals are to be as good as I can be , and that’s simply to continually improve and eventually be able to put my own spin on my favorite songs.
What makes a great guitarist is practice, practice, then practice some more. Couple that with patience, and listen to yourself constantly; Record , replay and if it sounds good to you then it’ll sound good to everybody (as long as you have good high standards of course).
I practice daily whether it’s a ten minute run through of scales or a song I’ve been working on with Tiff my tutor - it’s all good practice. You have to keep your practice up as it's the only way to get better. I’ll record it, listen to it and more often than not find something that needs a tweak .
If you’re considering learning how to play a guitar I’d advise talking to a teacher. Youtube has become many people’s go to place for information on the how to aspect of things , but what it can’t do is advise, correct a technique or provide a structured learning programme that’s based around your own ability and / or aspirations.
Just go for it - my only regret is that I wish I’d started years ago...
I've always wanted to be able to play a guitar, purely because it's a valuable skill that can help with more than you'd think. It's just something I've always wanted to do. You can do so much with a guitar which makes it a perfect choice of instrument I think.
To be playing whole songs comfortably in front of friends and family. It seems like such a nice thing to do and every lesson I'm getting closer and closer to that goal.
Abi's lush Epiphone Les Paul
I think 3 skills that make a great guitar player are patience, confidence and being willing to put in effort even when you feel like you're annoyed at your progression.
I try to have patience overall and a mindset that tells you to not just give up. The effort really depends on how far you get with guitar, you get back what you put in. The confidence is pretty much I'm trying new things and working on not being afraid of getting something wrong.
If you're thinking of starting guitar lessons, I can't say much apart from just try it out. I was scared before my lesson for literally weeks in advance but as soon as I got there it was fun, I felt comfortable and I really enjoy learning to this day. The worst that can happen is that it might not be for you (but it will be if you have a passion for guitar), so just give it a go.
There's a quick and easy answer to give you - Jimi Hendrix.
To continue improving and to have perhaps an album (maybe not for release)’s worth of songs to amaze friends with.
Clives home set-up with Taylor & Gretsch guitars
1. Attention to detail.
2. When it comes to solo playing and improv, knowing when to be busy on the fretboard and when to shut up and leave gaps.
3. Listening hard and studying continuously.
1. I film and record what’s needed, use softwares to slow tunes down with, and then slowly (perhaps by 1 BPM at a time) increase the pace at which I practise the section.
2. Listen to loads of the guitar greats and play then listen to what I’ve created. Start simple then add in only if it’s truly wise, not for showing off top speed shredding.
3. Practise EVERY day; set challenges just within reach; bear in mind that frustration is just a step towards improvement.
Not very exciting but "USE A BLOODY METRONOME!" Oh and “Your fingers will harden up soon.”
If you'd like to submit your answers to be featured on our upcoming guitar player Q&A's, copy and paste the questions in the box below along with you answers to email@example.com with the subject "Guitar Player Q&A Article Submissions".
Remember to attach a photo of your guitar(s) gear too.
Time playing -
Ability level -
Acoustic or Electric -
Q1. What inspired you to learn guitar?
Q2. What 3 bands or guitar players have influenced you the most?
Q3. How are you currently learning to play guitar? (Guitar lessons, internet, books etc)
Q4. What are some of your long term playing goals?
Q5. What are some of the biggest challenges you've faced learning guitar so far?
Q6. What are three signs of a bad guitar player?
Q7. How would you describe your playing style in one sentence?
Q8. If you had to choose only one, what is the most useful bit of music theory you have learned so far to your playing gains?