The 3 Success-Killing Thoughts That Will Sabotage Your Guitar Playing – And How to Eliminate Them Forever

  • by Tom Boddison
  • 03 Jun, 2017
If there's one thing that makes THE difference to your guitar success, it's your mindset.

Your thinking defines your motivation, effort and practice approach - which are vital for being a great player.

If you wanna be an awesome player who makes people go "Wow! How did he do THAT?!", forget about practice for a moment and focus on your mindset.

Your Thoughts Are YOURS

Having the right guitar mindset isn't down to "talent" or "natural ability" - it's down to you!

Sure, external stuff has an impact, but what you think is down to your REACTION to outside events, not the events themselves.

If you're not getting much progress at the moment, for instance, you could take that two ways:

1) "I can't do it, this is rubbish! I'm fed up of practising"


2) "Hmm, turns out it takes longer than I thought to master this. I've learned something new about guitar that I didn't know before, which can help me reach my goals!"

Most people immediately think the first one, but the second is much more useful because you're focusing on what you can LEARN from the experience, rather than what went wrong. This is WAY more helpful, because you're turning it into a positive thing that can help you improve in the future.

YOU can control your thoughts and mindset. Your guitar results are down to you!

3 Results-Destroying Mindset Mistakes

Here are the three thoughts that almost EVERY guitar player has been guilty of:

1) "Guitar is really difficult"
2) "My heroes do stuff I could NEVER learn"
3) "I'm just not motivated enough"

In this article we'll cover the first one; the next two blog posts will go through the other points and why they could harm your playing.

"Guitar Is Really Difficult"

When you're learning something new, it can seem really hard. All the different topics to master, all the new skills... and don't even mention the hours of practice you have to put in!

But what if that wasn't true? What if it didn't have to be hard? What if there isn't really anything special going on?

In the grand scheme of things, the guitar is not a hard instrument. In fact, some classical musicians don't even consider it a "proper" instrument because it has frets, whereas the violin (and related instruments) doesn't. That makes the guitar much easier to play than the other instruments.
It even has markers to tell you which fret is which, and a nice, ergonomic neck that fits your hand perfectly. The strings are nicely spaced to facilitate picking, and the tension isn't too high so it's easy to bend and do vibrato.

With electric guitars you even get an amplifier that makes the sound louder for you, so you don't even have to pick hard! It's pretty awesome; the equipment does all the work for you.

The Guitar Is Just An Old Toy

String instruments have been around for ~2300 years, and in that time people have been constantly refining and redesigning them to make them easier to play. If something that's been refined for 2300 years isn't easy to use, then you're doing something wrong!

You see, the guitar is basically a glorified toy. It's my favourite toy (and probably yours, too!), and adults play with it, but it's still just a toy.

Instruments were created for people to relax after a hard day at work, not create extra stress and frustration. After all, you "play" the guitar - play! Just like children's building blocks or a toy train.

But... I thought it was hard! What about all those fancy pro guitarists?

But what about the pro's? Surely what  they do is difficult, isn't it? That's what all the magazines, interviews and reviews say...

Exactly -  "That's what all the magazines, interviews and reviews say" . Of course - because they're paid to do it! Record labels make billions off telling everyone they've found someone special. If they said "Hey, here's our mate Eddie who's pretty good at the guitar", they wouldn't make anywhere near as much money as if they said "It's Eddie Van Halen, the new VIRTUOSO revolutionary guitar player!"

No disrespect to Eddie there - he writes great music - but my point is this.  Pro players's skills are made to seem "impossible" because it makes money.  That's it.

It certainly takes a lot of dedication (more on that in the third article) to reach that level, but it is not   impossible. ANYONE can do it if they have the right mindset and put in the time.

If you only get one thing out of this article, let it be this:  THE GUITAR IS EASY. It's all about your approach.

But My Friends Say It's Difficult...

I have never met a single person who'd been playing an instrument for two years or less who didn't insist that it was the hardest instrument. From drummers to pianists to guitarists, everyone seems intent on proving that their instrument is the most difficult. Even advanced players often fall into this mindset trap.

So why do they do it? Two reasons: lack of other experience, and ego. If you've never played another instrument before then yours IS going to seem more difficult. New drummers  find that coordination is hard, and getting  dynamics right is a real challenge! Guitarists? Nah, they just move their fingers around a bit, don't they? That's GOTTA be easier!
If you've never played an instrument, you won't understand the hidden challenges within it so you'll assume your instrument must be harder.

What about ego? Unfortunately, lots of musicians tell people their instrument is hard because it makes them seem better. Being good at a hard thing is more impressive than being good at an easy thing! It's sad, but it's true. It's often subconscious - they don't realise that this is the underlying reason, but it gives them a feeling of "yeah, I must be awesome to play a really HARD instrument" so they keep saying it. I was guilty of this for a long time, so don't feel bad if you know it's you!

So Why Can't I Play Like A Pro?

After hearing all of this, most people say "huh, well if that's the case, why do I find it so difficult?"

Once again, it's all down to mindset. By believing "this is really hard", our brains subconsciously make it harder! I know that sounds mad, but it's true; whatever you focus on, you get. If you focus on it being hard then your brain will find evidence that it is, and make it even harder. If you focus on the fact that it's easy then you will automatically find reasons that it is, and you'll find everything much easier. Your brain doesn't try to find the truth, it tries to find evidence that it is already right. It's a flaw in the human mind, but it's one we can deal with by focusing on the right things. Mindset is king.
This doesn't mean that it doesn't take time to get good. Everyone has to practice, of course! What this DOES mean, though, is that the guitar is easy if you approach it in the right way. Driving 1000 miles in a car is pretty easy - millions of people around the world do it every year - but it still takes time. Enjoy the journey, and have fun playing with your favourite toy!

The Ultimate Message

If you assume it’s easy, your brain will find ways to make it easier. All by itself. So make it easy! It’s the belief of it being difficult that holds you back.

Remember to have fun,  and don't forget to sign up to the TomGuitar email newsletter to be notified the moment the next "Mindset" article comes out. You'll also get a load of free lessons, cool stuff and awesome tips - if you like guitars, you'll love it! Sign up here .

Share by: