Ever wonder why guitar players struggle to express themselves? It is not that they don’t know enough guitar licks or scales or that they lack natural talent. Truth is, most guitarist do not even attempt to improve their ability to express emotion in their playing.

If you neglect this skill or don’t know how to correctly practice it, you won’t be able to fill your guitar playing with emotion. Fortunately, learning how to express yourself in music is a learnable skill just like anything else.

These are the most common mistakes guitar players make that prevent them from expressing themselves through their guitar playing, and how you can avoid them:

Mistake One: Focusing On The Wrong Things

Most guitarists focus their mind on which specific notes need to be played instead of focusing on how to play these notes more expressively.

Many guitar players tends to think that if a phrase or lick doesn’t sound good it must be changed completely to make it expressive and cool. In reality, you can turn any guitar lick into an expressive one if you know how to get the most of it.

Take a look at this video to learn how to do this:

The notes of any guitar lick constitute only 50% of the emotions it can express. The next 50% (sometimes more) is determined by how you play the notes of the lick.

Mistake Two: Not Using Enough Creative Approaches

Many guitar players usually think that vibrato and string bending are the only ways to add emotion to a guitar phrase or lick. They stop practicing too soon without exploring all the guitar phrasing variations, like:

  • Utilizing many vibrato styles (there are at least four kinds of vibrato)
  • Creating many variations of guitar licks that utilize string bends
  • Using different approaches to articulate the notes (using legato vs. picking the notes for example)
  • Utilizing slides creatively to come up with several expressive variations
  • Creatively changing the rhythm of the notes
  • …and countless more possibilities that most guitar players don’t try because they don’t force themselves to think creatively to find them

Your creative skill is like a muscle: if you work to improve it daily, you will make it stronger and become a more creative musician in the process.

Find out how good you are at adding emotion to guitar licks. Take the following lick and come up with at least twelve variations to play it in the most expressive and contrasting ways possible - can you do it?


Hear several possible variations

The vast majority of guitar players struggle to come up with lots of cool variations. If you struggled to do it, you’re not alone. The good news is, anyone can improve and master creativity in order to become a highly expressive guitar player. Discover how you can do this by getting this free e-guide to making your guitar licks more expressive.

Mistake Three: Thinking You Already Know Vibrato

Guitarists fall into three categories when it comes to practicing vibrato technique:

Category #1: Guitar players who never practice vibrato.

Category #2: Guitar players who have practiced vibrato before but don't practice it anymore because they believe they have already mastered it. By assuming this, you greatly hurt the expressiveness of your guitar playing. Learn how this mindset prevents you from making progress in your guitar playing by reading this article on how to get bigger results from guitar lessons.

Category #3: Guitarists who are always looking for ways to improve their vibrato. Such guitar players make huge improvements in their overall guitar playing faster and become better, more expressive guitarists as a result.

As with any other guitar technique, schedule some time to practice vibrato and you will witness huge improvements in the expressiveness of your guitar playing. Learn the best way to practice vibrato by reading this article.

Mistake Four: Ignoring The Most Important Notes In Your Guitar Phrases

The final note of any guitar phrase is what determines how good the phrase actually is. People who hear your phrase won't remember every note you play, but the last note in you guitar phrasing will be the one that sticks out in their minds and is remembered most vividly.
The overwhelming majority of guitar players practice hard to improve the middle notes in their guitar phrasing, but they never work on making the last note sound totally killer. Focus on finding ways to ornament the last notes of your phrases as you heard demonstrated in the previous example.

You now know the most common mistakes that keep you from fully expressing yourself through your guitar playing. Now it’s time to learn how to add passion and fire to your guitar solos... even if you can't play fast yet. Get this e-guide to playing killer guitar solos and learn how to play with intense emotion in your guitar playing.

Author's Bio: 

About The Author: Tom Hess is a very successful guitar trainer and recording musician. He assists people from all over the world in his rock guitar lessons online. Check out his website tomhess.net to get free guitar playing tools and to read more guitar playing articles.