The Worst Misconception Guitarists Have About Taking Guitar Lessons With A Teacher

By Tom Hess

What is the most crucial role of any great guitar teacher? You might be thinking that it is: “To teach students a bunch of interesting things to play like songs, techniques or other skills”. This answer is misguided at best. The #1 role of any guitar teacher is to:

  1. Solve any guitar playing issues that hold you back and frustrate you.
  2. Enable you to get HUGE results in your guitar playing very quickly.
  3. Give you the skills required for reaching high guitar playing goals.
  4. Coach you through the process of becoming a truly great player.

To be totally clear, you will certainly learn about new things during guitar lessons, but that’s not the fundamental thing that will make you a better guitarist in less time. Most importantly, a great guitar teacher can usually fix your guitar playing issues without teaching you a single new thing.

Need proof of this?

Check out the video below where I give a guitar lesson to a student of mine and walk him through the entire process of improving his sweep picking technique:

While watching the video above, pay close attention to the following critical points:

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1. Problems In Your Guitar Playing Are Often Caused By A Breakdown In Your Fundamental Technique

While taking guitar lessons with a great teacher, he must be able to spot the underlying cause(s) of your playing issues and show you precisely how to correct them.

Watch out for guitar teachers who try to “fix” your problems by giving you a lot of new exercises to play (without examining the flaws in your technique or explaining how to correct them). I call this approach the “spray and pray” approach - it includes throwing a ton of exercises at the problem and hoping that everything seems to fix itself (rather than helping you solve the problem’s fundamental causes).

As you saw in the video above, the student claimed that his main problem was an “inability to play fast and clean sweep picking arpeggios”. He definitely did not need additional exercises to practice. Instead, he needed to understand the three causes of his stated problem (that I got him to see in the video). This got him back on the correct path and will help him master any arpeggio he plays from now on.

If your guitar teacher helps you breakdown your playing and practicing habits like this, this same thing will happen for you (in whichever area of your guitar playing you are working to improve).

This transitions into another important point:

2. Solving Fundamental Problems Has Amazing Effects On Your Guitar Playing As A Whole

Major challenges in your guitar playing (such as not being able to improvise, not being able to play clean or fast enough, etc.) are not true problems. These issues are just on the surface, and they are symptoms of lower level problems. When you correct the cause of a specific problem, you will see MASSIVE improvements in many additional areas of your guitar playing that you thought had nothing to do with what you were trying to fix.

In the video you watched on this page, you noticed that correcting a few fretting hand problems made it much easier for my student to play clean arpeggios. Note: these same technical movements are also important for smooth and clean legato technique, fast chord changes, two-hand tapping and two-hand synchronization while practicing scales. Getting good at these things leads to what I refer to as “progress by ripple effect” and it’s one of the most exciting feelings you can feel during practice.

To get more information about transforming your guitar technique in this way, check out this free resource on how to easily build your guitar speed.

Why Understanding The A Guitar Teacher’s Role Is Important For You To Make More Progress In Your Guitar Playing:

There are many guitar players who think they don’t need guitar lessons. These players generally think that: “they can learn the exact same ideas a guitar teacher can show them for free by themselves”. This assumption stems from the idea that guitar teachers simply “give you new things to practice”.

However, even if it was the case that you could teach yourself the same things that a mediocre guitar teacher could teach you, know that simply “learning things” is extremely limited in its ability to help you achieve your guitar playing goals.

Here are four reasons why:

Reason #1: You will probably only learn a few of the things you need to work on to achieve your musical goals and will also learn things in the wrong order. This is very bad. The order in which you practice and learn new concepts makes a MASSIVE impact on how much overall progress you make in your playing.

Reason #2: You neither get the feedback you need to correct bad habits nor the analysis of your playing that would help you make fast progress.

Reason #3: You have to deal with a lot of trial and error, while hoping to somehow find the right way to achieve your goals.

Reason #4: Most guitar players simply don’t have a high enough degree of self-discipline to do everything needed for transforming themselves into amazing guitar players on a consistent basis. With no experienced teacher to keep them accountable or coach them through the process, they will easily lose focus and wander down the wrong path. This commonly happens even if someone has all the correct things to practice right in front of their face.

To be honest, there is a very small percentage of guitar players who work alone to figure out the right way to reach their musical goals, fix their guitar playing issues and get themselves to consistently do everything that must be done to become better players. We usually call these people “naturally gifted”. These guitarists will frequently become great with or without taking guitar lessons. For the rest of us (who were not born with natural gifts like this), taking lessons with an expert guitar teacher provides a powerful boost of natural talent right into your mind and hands – helping you to play just like any of your favorite guitar players.

To better understand the common issues guitarists face with increasing their guitar speed (and how to overcome them yourself), download this free guide on how to easily build your guitar speed.

Author's Bio: 

About The Author:

Tom Hess is a professional touring musician, recording artist and online guitar teacher who teaches guitarists from all over the world in his online guitar lessons. On his website,, you can get additional free tips about guitar playing, guitar playing resources , mini courses and surveys.