You’re not going to quickly improve your guitar playing unless you understand precisely what prevents you from reaching your musical goals. In fact, you might go years without making significant progress until you figure this out. To propel your guitar playing progress forward like a rocket, you’ll need to first become aware of which bad habits hold you back, then take action to eliminate them.

Here are 5 reasons why you aren’t making fast progress (and what you must do to get your guitar playing back on track):

1. You Practice Guitar Without A Strategy

Chances are, you’ve already heard the cliché “practice makes perfect”. You’ve probably also heard “perfect practice makes perfect”. Fact is, both statements do not reveal the entire story behind what it takes to improve on guitar. To quickly become a better guitarist, you must not only practice perfectly, but also use a STRATEGY.

Here is the difference between following the above-mentioned clichés versus using a strategy to get better:

Without a strategy, your practice will consist of sorting through endless tablature, exercises or lessons and trying to work on them to get better. As a result:

1. You eventually become burned out and frustrated when you compile more practice materials than you can deal with. This happens because random tablature, exercises and lessons are not centered around a strategy for helping you achieve your goals in as little time as possible.

2. You have no method for tracking your progress, because you did not create a long term goal for your practice (this is much more than generally wanting to “get good at guitar”). So you keep practicing for the sake of practicing without ever really getting any results.

3. You have unbalanced guitar skills (more info on this in a moment).

Notice: having good practice habits does not guarantee fast results in your guitar playing. Practicing all the wrong things perfectly is just as bad as practicing the right things poorly.

Practicing with a strategy begins by understanding the most important goals you want to reach. You then need to understand what you should practice on guitar to achieve your goals, and not waste time on things that will NOT help you achieve them.

2. You Don’t Know HOW To Become A Great Guitar Player Every Time You Practice

Knowing what to practice is merely one piece of the puzzle when it comes to making improvement on guitar. To make fast improvement, you have to know both what to practice and how to practice it. Even if you have the right strategy plus a full list of correct exercises and skills to practice, it will be useless if you:

1. Practice guitar in a mindless manner.

3. Aren't aware of how to solve guitar playing issues without frustration.

3. Don’t have a guitar practicing schedule to prioritize the items you already have.

You will practice guitar most effectively when you work with a guitar teacher who has already done the things you want to do (and can show you exactly how to do them), plus has countless testimonials of his success with helping other guitar students.

3. You Are A Self-Taught Guitar Player

A lot of guitar players choose to learn guitar by themselves. In many cases, they do this because they think they can make the same progress on their own that they would make with a guitar teacher. Unfortunately, this belief could not be any more wrong.

Here are 2 reasons why this thinking is totally backwards:

1. Assorted videos, song tablature or amateur lessons you locate on the internet can’t correct your mistakes when you practice inefficiently, use terrible guitar playing habits or start practicing things that lead you away from your musical goals. They also do not help you when you have questions, give you feedback or personalize themselves to fit your skill level and musical interests. This leaves you on your own to figure everything out even though you don’t have a clear idea on how things need to be done in the first place.

However, a good guitar teacher will put together an effective learning strategy customized to fit your needs, will guide you past every challenge in your playing, and give an ample supply of support/encouragement as you make progress. This not only helps you make faster progress, but also enjoy the process of improving and attaining your musical goals. This leads me to my next point:

2. Guitar players who learn exclusively by themselves, usually make slower progress once they begin losing their motivation to practice (due to a lack of seeing results). This problem is solved when you work together with a good guitar teacher. Not only will he help you understand all the things you should be practicing (and how to practice them), but he will keep you accountable for your progress and encourage you to fulfill your greatest potential (so you make the fastest possible progress). Without this influence, your progress will be much slower.

To better illustrate this point, compare improving on guitar to going to a gym to lose fat. Learning guitar by yourself is like gathering random exercise information online and becoming discouraged when you don’t lose a lot of fat at first... or even GAIN weight! This can be frustrating and cause many people to give up.

Now imagine losing weight by working with a personal trainer who will:

*Make you accountable for showing up to the gym five days per week.

*Explain that your initial small weight loss is normal, as your body is adjusting to the training regimen and that the fat you thought you gained when you first began working out is actually lean muscle (this is good for fat loss!). This is a phenomenon that happens in guitar playing as your skills seem to briefly take a step back, while you work on getting rid of terrible guitar playing habits.

*Put together a powerful advancement program, customized to you, that is simple and takes into account your current physical needs, your long term goals and personal motivation.

While doing things on your own, you prevent yourself from reaching your weight loss goals. When you work with a trainer, you have the best chances of not only achieving the goals you set out to achieve, but doing so in a fun way with less risk of injury.

4. Your Guitar Playing Lacks A Sense Of Balance

You will significantly slow down your progress on guitar when you waste a lot of time practicing techniques or exercises you can already do very well, while not improving your weaker areas. This leads to unbalanced guitar playing, when you become very strong in some areas while remaining very weak in others. In nearly all cases, your weak areas will hold you back from advancing your guitar skills as a whole.

For example, I get messages from guitarists all the time who struggle to play great guitar solos (even though they work a lot on technique). I then have to inform them that technique is merely one aspect of playing great guitar solos. To improve, they must work on their lead guitar phrasing, music theory understanding, visualization of the entire fretboard, aural skills and many other things. Regardless of whether or not you are interested in playing guitar solos, chances are your playing is unbalanced in a variety of ways, because you already spent many years learning on your own (and/or developing bad playing habits).

Become a more balanced guitarist by learning what you should be practicing on guitar.

5. You Aren’t Aware Of (And Don’t Know How To Correct) Your Ineffective Guitar Playing Habits

You can know exactly what to practice on guitar and how to practice it, but still make very slow progress due to ineffective playing habits. Study the seven points in this article about fixing terrible guitar playing habits so you can quickly fix yours.

Don’t Believe These Myths About Making Slow Guitar Playing Progress:

In addition to knowing the five things above that slow down guitar playing progress, here are 3 things that do NOT slow down your progress (even though most people think they do):

1. Not Having Talent: Many guitarists think they aren’t talented enough to make fast progress. All the greatest guitar players sucked at some point, but it was NOT their natural talent that helped them push through to become great. They became great because they invested countless hours into improving their guitar playing (in addition to not making the mistakes mentioned in this article). When you do the same, you will get the same results.

2. Being Too Old: Age is not a factor for making fast progress in your playing. Find out more by reading this article about becoming a great guitar player.

3. Having Very Limited Practice Time: As long as you don’t make the mistakes mentioned above in this article, you can make tons of progress with very little practice time. To find out how, read this column about practicing guitar more effectively with limited time.

Now that you know why tons of guitarists have a difficult time making progress, check out this page about electric guitar lessons to learn how to become a better guitarist faster than ever before.


Author's Bio: 

Tom Hess is a professional musician, composer, and highly successful guitar instructor who trains and mentors guitarists with online guitar tuition. Visit to get free guitar playing tips, guitar playing resources, mini courses and more guitar playing articles.