Stuck in a Guitar Rut - 128


Can't make any progress and losing interest? Putting in more effort and getting less results?

Today, I show my proven path to getting back on the road to success on guitar.

How is your guitar playing going? I ask this question a lot.

It's never an answer that comes quickly. It's a question that usually puts a puzzled look on people's face.

We don't normally think about these things. It's underneath the surface, it's how you feel.
Then come the struggle to put it into words how they feel about their guitar playing.

I rarely get an instant positive answer. That's understandable. The guitar journey has tons of ups and downs and pitfalls. The pitfalls are what I'm focusing on today.

Have you been in a rut on guitar before?

Do you think you might be in one now.
You may be in one right now and haven't really thought about it. When you are seeing improvement it's easy to know. It's exciting.You are on a roll.

But, the nature of anything that takes time and patience to master (like guitar) it's not easy to distinguish whether you are still on course or stuck in a rut.

In this first part, I'm going to talk about the common ruts that beginner, intermediate, and advanced guitarists fall into. If any of these sound familiar, you could be in need of a different approach to the guitar.

1. Why you are not seeing improvement on guitar - Stuck in a Guitar Rut

If you feel that you aren't moving forward on guitar the way that you would like to, there are several common reasons why this could be happening.  Unfortunately, with guitar, it's not always obvious what the problems are that are holding you back.

Let's take a look at the problems that the three main types of players get that could be holding them back. By doing this, we can pinpoint the problems and get started doing something about it, instead of wondering what's going on and spinning our wheels.


The number one problem I see in beginners is the self-teacher. We like to call it the a la carte method. It is marked by the thinking that all you need to do is watch YouTube and you will be great - fast and free.

The problem starts quickly after you pursue that avenue. You find out it doesn't work that way. There is a disconnect. I've got all of this great free instruction, and I can copy a few things. But I'm still in the dark.

Then you get stopped in your tracks, and the fun of learning guitar diminishes.


Hit The Wall

The next problem I find with new students is that they have decided to learn a certain technique and put everything they have into it. They mean well and are dedicated to figuring this thing out.

Days turn to weeks. Weeks to months, and even months to years by beating their head against the wall and trying to brute force the free instruction into their guitar playing.
Unfortunately, this doesn't usually end well.

Too Slow For You

The third most common problem I see with new players is frustration with how slow the process is. They really expected to be able to at least impress their friends in a very short time.

They want to speed the process up without the hard work that goes into it. This isn't necessarily a bad way to be. There is initiative involved, which is great. But, without seeking help to find the narrow path ahead, this player ends up too frustrated as well.


The first problem in intermediate players is knowledge overwhelm. When asked if they know a certain technique, the answer is always, Yes. I know this and I know that, but I want to move on to modes or advanced stuff in my lead playing.

This comes from the routine of acquisition of free content. Trying to figure out how things are doing with only a small look at each skill. It's like collecting gear. 

They start collecting pieces of knowledge without making them your own I've found that 90% of songs use the big four scales: Major, minor, Major Pentatonic, and minor Pentatonic.

And just because you know the major scales or pentatonic scales doesn't mean you can use it effectively. It needs to be a continual part of your practice, you don't just leave the heart of your playing and expect to progress.

Learning a scale pattern isn't enough. You have to spend time with them.
What's more important showing off or playing a song

Just knowing the scales and rhythms and chords - just being able to play them isn't enough. Then blowing past them before they can use them in an effective way, causes more frustration as they pile more advanced knowledge on top of a weak foundation.

This also relates to the next problem: Avoiding What Actually Helps.

Is jamming over the same chord progression using the same pattern really helping you?
Are you frustrated that you aren't getting better but you play all of the time?
It could be that you are avoiding the very things that will actually get you what you want.

It could be the fear of success. The fear of where this will all lead... Playing in front of people can be very scary.

It could very well be subliminal. In the back of your mind, you may not want to really reach your goal even though you want it. 

The last intermediate problem I have is the student who thinks it's all too much effort

You started playing and you had a lot of fun. It kept you interested and you were seeing improvement. But then, things started to slow down.

The amount of time you put in vs the amount of progress you receive is upside down.
You should be better, but it just isn't going to work for you.

The adrenaline rush seems over. You aren't in a band, or you are but you don't like it.
All of your effort hasn't paid off, so you are ready to quit.

Advanced Player Problems

The big one for advanced player is that they may be set in their ways. They have got to a certain point, had some success, and then coasted. Just kept at it and forgot what really improving feels like. You just want to stay in the good part and not have to do all of the work like you did before.

  1. Lost the thrill of learning music.
  2. You think you have it all figured out
  3. Stopped practicing.

if you are experiencing any of this it's time for action.

Guitar Assessment - Stuck in a Guitar Rut

My guess is that you are setting your own course, and that's OK. The problem is that it's not so easy to do when you don't have a good idea where you have been and where you need to go.

We don't think about these things much. It's easier to focus on playing a few new songs than taking a good look in the mirror.

Let's take a good hard look in the mirror today and take the self guitar assessment. It's very easy, only three parts, and works for all players.

Write this down - Make it real, that is the most important part. You need something that you can see in the future when you are unsure of the road ahead.

Your history

When you started and anything you can remember about why you wanted to play in the first place. Remind yourself why you wanted to do this in the first place.

The skill path you took. Did you start with songs and then backtrack? Chords, songs, scales, rhythm. How did you build the foundation of your playing to date.

Record yourself. Video if you can.

Give it a few days. Sit down, watch your playing and create two columns.


  1. What you liked 
  2. What you didn't like

Be Critical

That's it. A snapshot of where you are right now as a player, from your own point of view. You can now see where the holes in your foundation may be.

Read what you didn't like about your playing and look at your history to see if you have addressed this part of your playing before. If not - You now know where you stand.
Very easy and very effective.

Putting What You Know Into Practice - Stuck in a Guitar Rut

Now that you have taken your assessment, you have some very important information. Let's use this to start moving forward. We are going to start small.. this week.

Chart out what you are going to practice this week. If you know that you need to work on something but don't know what to do, set aside that first few days for research.

Find some content or someone who has knowledge about this. Ask for help. You can always ask me. [email protected]. Id be happy to point you in the right direction.
round this week out with this as well.

Just being able to play something doesn't mean you are playing it well Make a list of chords, scales, rhythms, and songs that you already play. 

As you set up your practice times, split them into two. Half of your time on what we found in the assessment. The other half refining what you have already learned.

Making this a routine will guarantee that you are heading toward being a very solid player, you stay out of the guitar rut, and you bypass the frustrations that may make you second guess your commitment to guitar.


Your information is kept safe. It's never shared with third parties.