We all make mistakes. It’s a part of life. But some mistakes can happen over and over again unless someone tells you to knock it off.
This is my tough love letter to you. In all my years of guitar playing and teaching, I see the same mistakes repeatedly, and these mistakes hold my students back and even permanently damages their guitar over time.
You don’t want that, do you?
These are the 4 most critical mistakes you must avoid.
#1 Using Thick Strings
As I’ve talked about before, guitar strings come in different thicknesses or gauges. Each has its own place and usefulness, but for the most part, you won’t need anything other than light or ultralight gauge.
Light and ultralight strings are easy to press down and respond better to fingerings. They may not get the exact sound you’re looking for, but you honestly won’t really notice unless you reach the expert or professional levels of play.
Even after 15 years of playing, light strings are still my go-to.
Many players go for medium or even heavy gauge strings because that’s what their idol uses. Then, when they can’t press down the strings like they want to, they give up. It makes a huge difference trust me.
#2 Never Or Rarely Changing Strings
I’m guilty of this to a certain extent, but you need to change your strings often. It’s bad for the guitar when strings lose their tension. The strings also become harder to play.
Depending on how much you play, you’ll need to change your strings typically between every 1-6 months. If you play most days, change it once per month.
Changing strings may seem hard, but it’s not (we’ll talk about this in another article). If you don’t feel up to it, just take it to a store, and they’ll do it for you. They may charge you a small fee, but it’s worth it. (Just make sure you call around to find a store with the best price; it doesn’t take long).
#3 Not Watching Your Environment
Humidity and temperature can wreck your guitar. I’ve seen amazingly high-quality (and expensive) guitars ruined more times than I can count from humidity especially.
Get a humidifier for your case or room if you don’t keep it in a case. 40-50% relative humidity is your mark to hit.
#4 Using The Wrong Type Of Strings
This one is a mistake I never considered until one of my adult students came to me after making it. I teach my students to change their own strings, but I show them how to do it the first time. One of my adult students brought me her guitar after changing the strings on her own for the first time.
She did it perfectly, but it had one major problem. She used nylon strings! Acoustic and electric guitars use steel strings. Classical guitars use nylon strings. They are two completely different types of guitars with different playstyles.
Using nylon strings isn’t good at all on standard acoustic or electric guitars. It’s terrible to use steel strings on a classical guitar.
Check with a musician or music store employee to see which kind you have and which strings you need. Don’t make this mistake or you could damage your guitar.
Note: The exception is with kids’ guitars, which often may use some nylon strings to help them learn easier.
Please keep these mistakes in mind and do your best to never commit them again. There are other things you may want to avoid with your guitar we won’t get into here. Guitar Tricks is a good resource for more on guitar setup and care.
Check out Guitar Tricks resources in their online program.