10 Problems Beginners Might Face When Buying a New Guitar (And How to Fix Them)

Commonly, beginners face different problems when buying a new guitar. It can range from the guitar itself, up to the manner of playing with the stringed instrument.

It is easy to fix when you have a clear picture of what the problem is. Recognize if you have these problems that beginners might face when buying a new guitar.

1. Impulse buying the wrong guitar

Buying a brand new guitar is an exciting experience for every aspiring musician. However, this can lead to buying the wrong guitar. If you are a beginner who doesn’t know what to look out for, you can buy out an instrument impulsively without checking for the things that you need for playing. 

Charles from Guitar Junky said, there are different kinds of guitars for the right purposes, and the excitement in buying one can mask out your primary intentions. It is better to bring an experienced guitarist when you are about to buy your first guitar. 

If you can’t bring him or her when you will buy, have a consultation with a professional or seasoned player who knows the things you will look out for in your first instrument. It is also great to ask around the personnel in the store as they know the products and guitars more.

2. Using the wrong strings / not changing the strings

Beginners usually encounter having problems with the wrong strings once they start to play more frequently. When there is a need for changing the strings, beginners usually just buy out the least or the most expensive one, not knowing if the string is right for the particular guitar that they have. It is advisable not to use steel strings on a classical guitar. It is best to voice out the type of guitar you have and knowing if the strings sold in stores are perfect for your instrument. Beginners usually don’t change strings until they are broken. It is recommended to change strings every 6-8 months to avoid wearing out your guitar prematurely.

3. Difficulty playing some chords

It is quite common to have some level of difficulty when trying out new chords. As a beginner, it is vital to have enough practice and to be patient with yourself as you are learning something new. However, beginners can still have difficulty in playing some chords even with the right finger positioning. This can sometimes be due to the wrong handling of the guitar itself. Putting yourself at an ergonomic disadvantage while playing the guitar can turn out to be awkward when playing out some chords. Check your trunk, hand, and arm positioning while playing, and try making adjustments to be more comfortable in playing some chords.

4. Guitar not staying in tune

When the guitar has the right intonation, it still won’t stay in tune if the strings keep slipping out. The problem can be easy to detect if you first recognize if you play too hard or just gently on your guitar. First, check the nut for any jagged or sharp spots because the string could be caught up. If you play a bit rough, it is best to invest in a high-standard tuning peg or a premium-quality tremolo system.

5. A peeling pickguard

Some pickguards are weakly attached to the body, and this could be a good thing because a peeling pickguard is easy to remedy. Once it starts pulling off, never try to put it back on immediately. It is best to peel it off carefully until all of the pickguards are detached. Clean out the surface first and then gently put it back on with a tougher adhesive. Always consult the manufacturer to use the right binding agent to avoid damage to your guitar.

6. Songs don’t play smooth

A reason why songs don’t play smoothly is that the chords are not shifted in a very fluid manner. Most beginners have difficulty in changing chords right away. This is rational at their level. And this can get better over time, as one practices more every day. Try to keep playing the same rhythm with the strumming hand, even when your other hand is still not on the chord. This will let the song have a more steady pace, so it will play smoother along the way.

7. Wrong action height

The action height is the height of the string above each guitar fret. The common scenario is that most action heights are set on high. Beginners will likely experience difficulties in pushing down the fret. Beginners don’t notice this immediately because the high action height can only be apparent at a certain part of the guitar neck or another. It is easy to adjust the action height. Take off the string and use sandpaper to lightly shave down the area where the string is quite high. Reinstall everything and string it up to play anew. Another alternative is to check out recommendations such as these beginner acoustic guitars listed here.

8. Buzzing frets

A common beginner problem that usually persists if not addressed right away is that the frets are buzzing when they are playing out some chords. This is because the player is not squeezing the strings enough, not putting enough pressure on the fret, and if one finger accidentally or unknowingly touches the string above or below. It is vital to recognize what is the root cause of the buzzing, to know if you will focus your adjustments on the hand or the finger grip. You can also pluck the chords individually first, rather than strumming it out right away.

9. Using the wrong cleaning agents

The wrong cleaning agents on the guitar are also one of the common mistakes that beginners face. It is understandable how one is extra-protective of a new instrument. A common mistake is using household products to keep the new guitar shiny and well-polished. Some household cleaners have strong chemicals that do more harm than good for your guitar. Remember that there is a specific cleaner for your stringed instrument. Consult the store where you bought your guitar and clean it regularly with the recommended cleaning agent.

10. Buying unnecessary accessories

One of the things that make playing the guitar a tad bit more expensive is buying out unnecessary accessories. Beginners are usually overwhelmed with the new instrument that they have, that they tend to look at the bigger picture without focusing more on learning the necessary skills first. 

Accessories like an amp for electric and acoustic-electric guitars are bought just for fun, without even acknowledging it there is a need for one. This is an additional expense you don’t want to commit. Before buying an amp, consider if you will need it in the future, and how often you will be using it. You can try plugging your guitar into a computer when practicing and recording, to avoid needless costs.

Common guitar problems are easily avoided when you know what to anticipate. Beginners encounter these problems, but know that the struggle is temporary and that learning the guitar has its ups and downs. Finding the root of the problem can go a long way, and fixing it can greatly improve your guitar playing skills.

GUEST POST: The Two Types of Music in Film—and How to Leverage Them

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The Two Types of Music in Film—and How to Leverage Them

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The Two Types of Music in Film—and How to Leverage Them

Whether you’ve realized it or not, you’ve sat through two different types of music in all sorts of media. From music videos to commercials to business presentations to Hollywood films, all of them use either one type or the other.

Think you know what I’m talking about already? I’ll give you a hint: it has nothing to do with instruments or genre. It’s not royalty-free and licensed music either. No, these two types are much more comprehensive than that. And you’re going to want to know what they are so you can use music as effectively as possible in your videos. Read More …

GUEST POST: Floyd Rose Freak-Out!

floydOk Kids, this one is a cinch, but because I’m a detail freak I’m going to explain why it is so easy. For those with ADHD scroll straight to The Solution.

The Problem

You are a tech/muso/bandmate etc and are dealing with setting the intonation on floyd rose for the first time. Here’s the deal: the mighty Rose is a great tool that isn’t as hard to set up as rumoured. There are some things that actually make it easier to be consistent than other types of tremolo systems. Read More …

GUEST POST: Ormsby’s Amazing Synchronicity

944993_10152738785495618_448022147_nThere have been many times I’ve felt as though something, someone, has been looking over me as I build or repair an important instrument. The whole Randy Rhoads Tribute bass was an example (one day I’ll tell the stories, they literally freak some people out), but another happened today. I’m doing some work on a vintage guitar, restoring, and relicing (paint touch ups, and cracking, aging, etc) it to its former glory. Unfortunately the owner passed away, but his wife wants it back the way it should be (it had some heavy mods that didn’t do it many favours).  Read More …

Gear Porn by Dave Leslie: Grubisa Merlin

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Hey there, Sports Fans. This is the first instalment of a column that I hope will be a regular occurrence around these parts. It basically entails me, Dave, chatting and sometimes waxing lyrical/nostalgic about the equipment that myself (and Suze, if you’re interested) have been playing/using/abusing during the last 20 or so years of Baby Animals (and maybe even the 17 years before that…).

Those of you who know me know that I’m a self-confessed ‘gear-head.’ I have been fortunate to have acquired some really nice stuff and I really enjoy discussing equipment, what it does, how it sounds, how it looks and most importantly, the way it makes music… Read More …

Guest Post: Maintaining Your Acoustic Guitar

By Alexander Briones

Understanding the basics of acoustic guitar maintenance is as important as knowing which guitar to buy. Even the most beautiful acoustic guitar will end up becoming a lump of twisted wood if not properly cared for. Here are some tips to keep your guitar safe and functioning properly.

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Martin D45 in case

When buying an acoustic guitar, you should automatically be thinking of its proper guitar case. Getting the right guitar case for your guitar is the most important maintenance investment that you will ever make. It will serve as your guitar’s home, keeping it safe from impact, stress, heat and humidity. A great case will save you from a lot of unnecessary future repair expenses. Many quality acoustic guitars come with a guitar case, if it doesn’t, then it is imperative that you talk to the dealer to find a suitable case. Your guitar has to fit perfectly into the case and its neck should have good support.

Read More …

GUEST POST: Some Common Performance Pitfalls [RhythmStrummer.com]

I think one of the most enjoyable parts of music is playing for an appreciative audience. Whether that is for a supportive spouse, a few friends, or some strangers at a coffee shop, playing for others beats sitting on the couch and playing alone. The music takes on a different quality when you are offering something up for other people to enjoy. I personally find that I am much more satisfied as a player when I am able to give something back to a listener as opposed to playing only by myself.

Venturing out to play music in public is a pretty daunting thing. Going from your living room couch where your only audience is your dog or cat, to a coffee shop or pub with strangers watching can be unnerving to some. Lets look at some things to keep in mind when taking the leap.

Always try to start in a friendly venue. Don’t go try to get a gig at the rough biker bar across town. I recommend open mics and things like song circles at music stores. At a song circle everyone goes around, picking a song and starting it, with everyone else joining in. So that means you are going to have to start a tune and sing it front of people. Some folks may be able to just jump straight to playing on stage, but others may not, so this is a good option.

I like open mics because they are often oriented towards the beginning performer. That means the audience is supportive, and you can go on stage worrying less about messing up. Participants usually play one to three tunes, depending on the size of the open mic. This can be a good time to work on stage banter as well. For me talking before and after the songs is more nerve wracking than actually playing them. That’s the fun part.

One thought I always try to keep in the front of my mind is that the audience is there to support me. They want the musician on stage to succeed, and they want to have a good time. It always pains me to see a musician go up on stage, and start of by saying, “Here is a song of mine, I hope I don’t mess it up”, or “I hope you like this next song of mine.” In my opinion statements like that put the audience in a negative or judging mindset before you have even started your piece. You don’t want them thinking anything except how they are going love and enjoy this piece of music you are about to play.

There are a few kind of mental pitfalls that can befall the performing musician, and its good to be mindful of them. They are especially prevalent in instrumental music.

One is the syndrome of perpetually speeding up, like a snowball tumbling down a mountainside. The performer comes on that phrase that they know gives them trouble, they get tense, speed up, and pretty soon are going faster and faster. Often times they are not aware this is going on. One way to avoid this is to be diligent about practicing with a metronome at home, making sure that you don’t speed up at tough passages. This will make it less likely that you will speed up during performance.

Another thing that can happen is the dreaded mental blank. You are playing along, sounding great, all of a sudden you forget where the tune goes next. Hopefully you can fumble through, or else you have to stop, crack a joke, and hope the audience understands. One way to avoid this is to always concentrate on what you are playing at the present. Don’t think about what you are going to play next, or what some members of the audience might think of your music. Just be in the moment.

I know when I started performing more I often stressed about what to say between tunes. Some audience interaction is required after all. A good place to start can be just to talk about the tune you are about to play. Since it can be a bit formulaic to start each time by saying “This next tune is about….” it can help to frame the story about a personal experience, or who you learned the tune from. I have found that good performers will take note of what works well during a gig, and recycle the same stories or jokes.

Hopefully you can use these tips to make the leap to playing on stage. Performing can be a very gratifying activity, and I always encourage folks to take the leap if its something they want to do.

About the Author

Anton Emery is the Community Manager of http://www.RhythmStrummer.com. This site offers easy guitar songs for adult learners in a fun & patient atmosphere, taught by teachers who care. Students learn songs & technique lessons across a variety of genres, including Folk, Country, and Classic Rock- all with NO advertising.