7 Myths About Learning the Guitar
Coming in right behind the piano, the guitar is the second most popular instrument in the world. This obviously means a lot of people are familiar with the instrument and probably knows someone who plays or is learning to. With as common place this instrument is in our culture, there are sure to be plenty of misconceptions about it. Here are 7 of the most common myths that I constantly see and hear about the guitar.
You’re Too Old to Learn
This is one I hear all the time. The truth is you are never too old to begin playing any instrument. If fact, there are plenty of people who turn to music when they retire, it is a great way to use up newly found free time. I think this myth comes from the concept of kids being able to pick up skills quicker than adults. And this is actually true, generally speaking. However, every individual learns at different speeds no matter the age. So, using the “I’m too old” excuse is not a good reason to avoid learning the guitar.
You Should Learn on an Acoustic
It seems that when most people plan to learn guitar, they immediately think an acoustic is what everyone learns on. While there is nothing wrong with learning on an acoustic, it is by no means a must to start out on. The main argument I’ve heard for starting on an acoustic is that your fingers will get stronger quicker. While this is pretty much the truth, I still disagree with defaulting to one. If you want to play loud distorted guitar, you should start on the electric. Really, just opt to start on whatever inspires you the most. This inspiration will translate into practice, which is far more valuable than anything else when you are first learning.
You Have to have an Amp to Learn Electric Guitar
A guitar amp is something a lot of beginning students will forget about when purchasing their first electric. And if you have a limited budget (as most beginners) you may not be able to afford a decent amp and guitar at first. Luckily enough, just for learning you can get away with playing the electric unplugged. While it won’t be nearly as loud as an acoustic, you can still hear it well enough to get by. Also, a lot of your first chords and scales can be practiced without using your picking/strumming hand at all. A big part of early guitar practice comes down to getting muscle memory in your fretting hand. With that said, having an amp is a pretty awesome thing, just don’t let not having one keep you from starting out.
Hands Are Too Big or Too Small
Anyone who has taught the guitar to any number of students has no doubt heard this complaint before. Nearly everyone seems to think that their fingers are too fat or that their hand is too small. In actuality the guitar is not made for a specific hand profile. Yes, there is definitely some truth in that having longer fingers or a wider palm can help with certain techniques and fingerings. Yet, with the majority of things you’ll learn as a beginner, you will be on a level playing field as most other beginning guitarists. Don’t let yourself use your hands as justification for not practicing.
You Can’t Get Good at Guitar Off of YouTube
The main entities spreading this rumor are guitar lesson services that want your business. Now, I will say that services like this do typically offer some great tools for learning, but they are still not being truthful about YouTube. Nowadays there is SO much amazing content on YouTube it’s to the extent that you can get a great guitar education from it. Especially with guys like Tim Pierce on the platform, you can really learn a lot. In the past it was harder to find constantly good content, but now it is easier than ever. And I do want to clarify that sitting down with a really good teacher in person is always going to have an advantage over online learning. But there sure is a lot of money to be saved from doing everything on the internet.
I Don’t Have Rhythm So I Can’t Play
Okay this one has a little bit more truth in it than some of the others on this list, but it’s still false. Yes, learning to play guitar (or any instrument) well does require a good sense of rhythm. However, you can absolutely learn rhythm, it just takes work. Learning to feel and play in time is something that can be very hard to teach. This reality is a large part of why I think a lot of people feel it is impossible to learn to do. However, there are plenty of people who have done it and you can too. The requirement for learning rhythm is being willing to put in a lot of time doing a repetitive thing. So, while it’s a very learnable skill, it will typically take some time and dedication.
You Have to Read Sheet Music to Play Guitar
Guitar is actually pretty unique in this sense, but a lot of people never learn how to read a staff. Traditional music theory and reading sheet music are not required to learn how to play this instrument. But there are some styles that you would typically start learning this stuff. For genres like jazz or classical, guitar players do tend to learn on a staff and think about notes like most other instrumentalists would. But for more contemporary blues, pop and rock many guitar players never learn the traditional side of music. It is a little much to dive into, but just know there are systems and basic chords that can get you to playing your favorite chart-toppers relatively quick on the guitar.