How To Avoid Frustration When Learning Guitar - 010

podcast Mar 07, 2018

Today, I talk about the steps to take to avoid frustration when learning the guitar.




On todays episode titled “How To Avoid Frustration When Learning Guitar”, I go over the most common problems that you will deal with when learning the guitar. If you know what’s coming, you can avoid a ton of frustration.

This is very timely, because I’m at the end of my winter quarter for my small group classes.

We just had our winter concert and It was so much fun. I get a fun venue and hire a rhythm section. Then I get all of the different groups to play their songs with the band for a big room full of people. It was great an awesome time to celebrate the end of the winter quarter.

And having ended the last quarter, I’m starting Spring quarter today. With a bunch of new nervous and excited students ready to head down the path that we have all gone. The Beginner guitarist

So I have Beginner guitarist on my mind and I’m planning something fun

Next week is Beginner Week on the podcast. I am going to spend some time helping out people that are just staring on guitar.

But I need something from you!

I need your help!

I don’t want this to be the same old beginner stuff. I want it to be different. Something that can be looked back at and that would be a great resource to point new players to.

But to do that I need you to be involved.

I think together we can build the best beginner guide available right here on the podcast.

So I need to know: what advice would you give an absolute beginner? Where would you send them to start? YouTube, dvds, books, teacher etc. What can you tell them to expect? What are the struggles that you went through?

I’ve been planning next weeks episode for a long time and I’m really excited about. But I want it to be better.

I value your opinion.

I’m very interested in the topic of learning guitar on line, and I’ve spoke about this before. I want to find ways to make it better. It should be better now.

I have been helping frustrated guitar players get back on track for a long time now and there is just something missing about learning on line. I definitely have my opinions and I’ll share them next week

Lets help these people who are just starting down this awesome path of guitar mastery that we are all on. Let’s save them from some of the headaches and frustrations that we have gone through.

Send in your ideas about and experiences with starting guitar and I will include them, with my ideas, and I think we will be able to help a lot of people out. Leave a comment in the show notes or at:

[email protected] or twitter @playguitarpdcst.

But today’s focus is not on just beginners.

Today I’m going to tackle frustration on guitar. Beginners definitely don’t corner the marked on frustration.

Getting better on the guitar is not easy. If it was we’d have people strumming everywhere. So today I will go through some things to think about that could save you a lot of headaches down the road.

Also, I have big big big news to tell you, … but i’m not sure I can yet. Something super exciting has happened that directly affects this podcast. I want to tell you, but I want to make sure that it’s ok to let the cat out of the bag before I do.

Anyway, great things are happening here and as soon as I can, I’ll let you know. Very exciting!

So, I’m glad you are here and let’s go ahead and get started!

Avoid frustration when learning guitar

Knowing where you are headed means everything on guitar!

Have you seen this guy. I’m not going to link to it and if there are kids listening don’t watch it. But he’s trying to learn this nice calm little song and sing along with it. Everything is going along fine and then he makes one little mistake.

And it’s on. It’s like his blood pressure goes through the roof. He shakes swears. Hits his hands. Kicks his guitar and then tries again. It’s so funny, but not because he’s kicking his guitar.

I’ts funny because I’ve felt that before.

Sometimes you just cant believe the things you have to go through to play this thing.

As I have hit episode 10, and I’ve been getting some great feedback from you, I’ve been a bit surprised.

From what I’m hearing , I’m getting a good bit of feedback about some of what you would call the coaching aspect. Putting us in the right frame of mind to move forward on the guitar.

I thought that the: “do this and then put your finger here, and play this scale over this chord”, etc., would be the most discussed things, and they are, but not by the margin I would have thought.

Learning the guitar is so huge right now. It’s very much like being a kid in a candy store. There are so many songs to learn, and so many videos that will teach you whatever it is that you want to learn.

It’s overwhelming and can be frustrating. A lot of times you may not have the skills you need to attempt a certain song or lick, but you dont’ know that ahead of time. Until you have spent so much time trying and it’s too late. You are stuck and discouraged.

Now there are some that are the type of person that thrive in this kind of environment. Just throw all of this information at them and they just soak it up like a sponge. And for that small percentage, they are loving life.

But, from my experience the majority, the rest of us are having a different experience. It’s still a tough road to travel.

I think that if we knew what was ahead of us, most would have an easier time learning the guitar. (and that’s why having a teacher is so effective, they can see where you are going and can warn you of what you are going to go through ahead of time. And either steer you away from some bad moves or help you go through them)

If we could see the things that are potential obstacles in our path, learning the guitar would be what it it supposed to be …FUN

Thats right, FUN. This thing is supposed to be FUN. And our desires to be incredible on this thing put so much pressure on ourselves. We are in an environment that encourages us to become our own worst enemy.

It’s not simply enough to spend an enjoyable amount of time with the guitar. We feel like we need to be progressing at an ever increasing rate. And when that does not happen the way we would like, it feels bad.

I say this a lot. How you feel when studying the guitar and how you actually are progressing are two very different things.

Do you remember when you made a big accomplishment on the guitar. How did you feel. You felt great obviously. But what happened in the weeks and months after that.

For a lot of players that feeling is quick to wear off. You are still practicing like you did, but you aren’t having the big wins like you did before. It feels like you went up a step and went no further, you leveled off.

But then, one day someone pays you a compliment. BOOM, you jump up to the next level. You feel great!

And then the process starts all over again. That’s how it feels. I’ve heard it from a lot of guitar students. Even though that is how it feels, that’s not how it actually is.

The time you spend on the guitar working on scales, chords, techniques, songs, is bringing you closer to mastery on the guitar. It may not feel like it, but it is. I can see improvement in a student when they can’t.

So how do we fix this? How do we navigate our way to getting great on the guitar while still staying focused, avoiding pitfalls and having fun when you have all of this information at your fingertips and no one to guide you?

How can I help you avoid your pitfalls when I don’t know where you are on your journey with the guitar, and how can I help lots of people at the same time where it would be impossible to help them all one on one.

When you start to help lots of different guitar players,who like lots of different styles of music, and have lot’s of different goals with the guitar, some things start to come into focus.

You start to see some trends. Although everyones problems are a little different, you can see that most are going through the same problems over and over.

For me, I want to take these problems into account ahead of time. Realize that you are going to go through them before I prepare a lesson online. Make the content I put out to you structured in a way that informs you what could be a potential stumbling block and what we are doing to avoid that.

So I’m going to go through today some of the most common problems guitar players have today (this is not just beginners) and what you can do to avoid them.

The first I already touched on. That is, realize that you are not going to always feel like you are getting better all the time, but, if consistently put the time in, you are improving.

Just spending the time on an exercise or a song, is a step forward. Be confident that the time you are putting in will pay off. It will, I’ve seen it so many times.

Students that are ready to quit because they just don’t feel like they are getting better. And then BOOM something sparks their interest or someone gives them a compliment. And It’s full steam ahead.

That’s important to realize, but, it’s also important to realize that getting better at the guitar does require some PATIENCE, DEDICATION and FOCUS.

Do you have to have these things to play guitar. No. If you are happy just strumming a few chords then that’s great. But, knowing what I know, Most of us want to go a lot farther than that with the guitar.

To really progress, It takes TIME. And to make the most of that time we need to be prepared for it.

It’s going to take time to get better, but being patientdedicating your self to a schedule, and being focused on the right steps it takes to learn what’s at hand, will dramatically speed up the whole process.

It’s like being a horse with those blinders on. Have you ever seen that. A horse that is pulling a buggy and they have these little black shields that keep them from looking left or right. They keep the horse from being distracted. It makes it easy for the horse to pull the buggy directly where it needs to go in quick time.

The next thing that I would recommend is to keep your repertoire of songs up to date. I dealt with this just yesterday. I had a conversation with two of my longterm favorite students. One said that he didn’t know what to do when he got the line that all guitar students get from family and friends. “Oh your learning the guitar, well play me something”. He didn’t know what to play. I thought what are you talking about. We had learned songs over years and performed them at our concerts. I knew that they had many songs that they could play in that situation. But once we played them at a concert, that is the last they played them.

You never know when you are going to need to play something you know. You should periodically work on keeping these songs up. Make a list of them and play them from time to time. Don’t let them go. Songs are valuable. Even if you just loop the solo section and work on your improvisation it is very helpful! You could also try playing that old song with chords in different areas, different chord voicings. You could be working on new things while keeping up the repertoire.

The next thing to help you keep on course is to try to keep a daily practice rountine. This is important.

In school, when you knew you had a test in a week, did you always study everynight? Or did you put it off and cram the night before the test, Stressfully trying to keep all of the information in your head until test time.

What happened. You may have done well on the test, but, the minute you left school, I’m sure most of what you learned was gone, dumped. You fought to keep all of that in short term memory.

But, what if you had just studied a bit every day for that week. Just the repeated action of daily study put all of that information in long term memory.

That’s what we want on guitar.

We want to be that guitar player that doesn’t have to think about every little chord and finger movement. It looks effortless, because it is. Most of what a well studied guitarist plays comes from long term memory.

So, spending a reasonable time on a repeated basis is so much better for retaining everything we are learning, than these marathon weekend sessions.

The last two things are tips that are very common online, but are still very valuable.

The first you hear a lot is: don’t compare yourself to other players. This isn’t a race and everyone learns a different pace.

The goal is really understanding the guitar and how music works.

Don’t throw yourself forward before you are confident in what you are studying.

We don’t need thousands of players that sound like someone else. Work on YOURSELF at your own paceIf you can be content with your own playing and progress then you keep frustration at bay.

When you keep the frustration away, the learning pace automatically speeds up.

The other you hear a lot is: Make sure your instrument is not difficult to play.

Escpecially beginners, they might not realize that their acoustic guitar is not supposed to have the strings an inch away from the fretboard.

But even if you are not a beginner and you guitar is difficult to play: Do something about it. Take it to someone that knows how to properly adjust a guitar and see if there is anything that can be done.

  • Try lots of different guitars and get familliar with what is comfortable to you.
  • If the strings on your guitar are hard to play, get some lighter gauge strings and have someone put them on if you don’t know how to.
  • Be proactive! Don’t spend time with an instrument that is no fun to play. It’s not worth it! 

So that’s my list of a few things you can take into consideration before you hit stumbling blocks on the guitar. This is not just for beginners. Once a guitar player get set in how they like to do things, it’s tough to change. But a little change could really make the guitar more fun to play and help you avoid a lot of future frustration.

Listener Feedback 

This is listener feedback. This is where. If you have a comment or question that I can help you with I will try my best to help you. To get in touch, you can always email me at feedback [at] playguitarpodcast [dot] com , use the comments on the show notes page, or use the contact form on the site.

But, the coolest way to leave a question for the show is by my speakpipe voicemail. When you go to the main page of, to the right of the screen you will see a button call send voicemail. That will allow you to record a short message for me to use on the show. You can also get to this voicemail on my contact page.

Got a great email from Barry. He was the clip that I couldn’t play last week but i still wanted to answer anyway. Well, he was cool with playing the clip, so, im going to go ahead and update last weeks show with his question. Maybe in a few days when things settle down here.

But one thing that Barry reminded me to mention to you is that I also do have the podcast up on Youtube each week. I’ve tried really hard to make sure that the show is available in as many places as posible.

So the list of place you can catch the show now is:

I’m sure I’m missing some but I’m going to set up a page on my website with all of the different places you can download the show. Thanks Barry for the kind words and the reminder!

Thanks to HooKooEKoo for a great Itunes review, I really appreciate it!

Thanks for the kind words Carlos! Interested in fingerstyle guitar, I have several ideas about topics on fingerstyle in the future, So keep an ear out.

I also put a question out on twitter about what frustrates you about playing guitar the most. I got some great responses from Darren, Zoe, Duke and Josh. Thanks for all of your feedback. I am planning to address all of these frustrations either here or on youtube. I’ll let you know when I do.

I’m also getting some great feedback on the website. If you have any comments or questions directly related to the topic at hand, feel free to leave them on the show notes page. The page for today’s show is

So this one was really abunch of thank-yous. Thanks a lot and keep the reviews, comments and questions coming. I really appreciate it

Creating the Band


Let’s get into Creating the band. This is where I share with you each week every step it takes to start from scratch – from just an Idea in my head – all the way through the process to end up with a working band with album, videos website, promotional material and gigs.

Now that I have all 10 ideas, It’s time to work on each idea, make some decisions and start working on the form of each of them. I’m going to start with Idea 1. It’s been a while, so lets take a listen.

Play idea one.

This idea is an A and a B section. The first section revolves around a G7 chord and has a sort of funk beat.

So you would think blues or funk. But, I wanted to have the chord structure more like a jazz tune. The groove is funk and blues and the harmony is more complex.

Just starting on the G7 gives a familliar sound, but right away it moves to an A minor 11 and then to an Ab7#5. It repeats and then the progression ends with a I vi ii V in G and repeats all over again.

The second section is a bass walkdown from Cm7 and then another bass walkdown in Dm7 . Finally it has 2 ii V progressions as a turnaround. Last is a variation on the A section. I can tell that there will be some challenges to matching a melody and solos to this progression, but I think it will be a lot of fun getting it just right.

I was thinking of making this one an instrumental but the more I play it I feel it just has to have a vocal. So I think I’ll make a new 8 bar intro based on the G7 chord, then have the vocal start right on the chord progression of what we just heard.

The form I’m thinking for this is a refrain type, without a clear chorus, but the hook or title of the song would be sung at the end of each verse. I don’t know if that is going to work out until I hear it , though.

I will have to come up with one or two more parts for the solo section and then end on the original AB section. So, I definitely have some strong Ideas where I would like this song to go. I’m curious to see what actually happens. I think it is a good idea, but it needs a lot of work. Hopefully I have a lot more time to work on this this week and get some accomplished. At least I have an idea of the direction I want to go.


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