What are some of the biggest mistakes you see beginner guitar players make when learning: a) basic guitar chords and b) barre chords.
a. Every individual is different, but a common issue is striking all the notes well. To do it well requires coordination of both hands. My friend, Bob, was learning to play and he seemed tense when he played. It affected his ability to strike all the notes. I noticed a common problem with his playing. His fretting hand elbow was not close to his body. This throws off the alignment of the wrist with the guitar neck. By adjusting his elbow, he was able to grip the chords more easily and play relaxed. This helped him correct the issue in his playing.
b. Beginners often struggle with three barre chord issues. 1. They omit the higher notes of the chord. This usually means that they play a power chord instead (with the three lowest notes). Since power chords are not major or minor, the chord loses its chord quality (major or minor). 2. Another common problem is that the barre does not hold down all the strings well enough. Sometimes the fleshy part of the finger fails to press the string enough. When this happens, the string is muted. I had this problem when I started. It was usually the 3rd of the chord too! 3. A third problem is when the barred finger isn’t properly applied. Most barre chords use the index finger on its side rather than flat. When you play with it flat, you pull your elbow from the body and struggle to fret all the notes. When it is rolled partially on its side, your elbow is close to the body and your fingers can fret the notes more easily.
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I was wondering if you may consider that terminal mistakes are made before they actually play the guitar. Potential young musicians are excited, uniformed usually and have a burning desire to try guitar which is always a wonderful thing but they do not buy an instrument that they can advance with and which will inspire them. I have played now for 50+years anything with strings on it and I see the young family man come in with his child and often make all the same mistakes common to all. I won’t blame the sales guys but people need to really understand what they are buying and that getting the wrong instrument could mean a quick end to their childs future guitar life journey. We have all been through the ringer with this same process so I help as many with as much knowledge as I can without overwhelming them. Lets all try to save them from buying a boat paddle from the start.
The difficult part for a beginner to play guitar is the switching to one chord to another. The usual technique is to start to play easy guitar chords and play it constantly until you get the grip before moving on to the next set of chords.