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5 Common Reasons to Quit Playing Guitar… And What You Can Do to Stick With It

playing guitar

Don’t let the title fool you, we’re not encouraging you to quit guitar. In fact, we want to help you stick with it. Oftentimes when people decide to learn an instrument, they end up quitting before they realize their full potential. Here, Irvine, CA guitar instructor Douglas F.  breaks down five of the most common reasons people quit playing guitar, and what you can do to overcome your excuses.

In everyday encounters, it’s surprisingly common to hear “I used to play guitar, but…” after someone finds out that I play or teach guitar. What follows is a slew of excuses that I’ve compiled and compressed into the top five reasons for quitting guitar.

You may have heard these excuses, and maybe even used a few yourself. When you’re feeling discouraged, here’s what you can do to push past your rut and stick with it!

Self Doubt

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Lack of skill as a beginner is one of the most common reasons that people drop the guitar for good. In my opinion, this excuse makes the least amount of sense.

With any new skill, why would anyone expect to be great without preparation and practice? This is nothing but a combination of self-doubt and classic learning frustration.

In conversations like this, I like to share my personal experience: When I first started, I was not very good (AT ALL) at guitar, drums, or bass.

The  truth is, no one is born a musician; all it takes is the genuine desire to learn. This should not be confused with natural ability and the amount of time you have played guitar.

Lack of Time / Time Management

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If you can devote 20 focused minutes to playing guitar every day, you’re on your way to greatness.

Comparing the amount of time you’ve played guitar to others is useless. People watch me play guitar and think that since I have played for about 10 years, it must take that long to play comfortably.

Wrong; in fact, the amount of time you have played is pretty much irrelevant. Before starting with a new student, I often ask how long they’ve played guitar. I’ve learned over the years that the answer to this questions has very little correlation to the student’s ability level. I’ve had students bumping out John Mayer songs after only a few months, and people who have tinkered around with guitar for 55 years and never decided to learn more than three songs.

Here’s a tip: Try recording yourself  so you can hear how much you’ve improved. You’ll be surprised, if you’re learning the right way, you’ll notice that you sound and feel better every single time you pick up your guitar.

Learning Guitar is Challenging

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If you have this excuse, you’re not learning the right way. Learning and practicing should be fun the whole time – I promise this is actually possible.

Stop memorizing– make habits instead.

Don’t let memorization stress you out! Don’t bother memorizing chord structures, song structures, scales, when you can pull them up on devices, print them out, or get that chord poster they have in every music store. You don’t need to know scales to learn songs, and if you’re learning scales before songs- please fire your instructor today.
Don’t waste your time and brain power. The habits will slide themselves into your playing- just like they do best. You will easily memorize things like chord shapes quicker than you may expect, because guitar playing is all about muscle memory!

Boredom / Loss of Interest

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To me, this just screams that you aren’t having fun; probably for very justifiable reasons. Here are some of the reasons this may be..

Once you consider playing guitar as “homework” or feel dreadful about practicing, you know something is wrong! In a lot of cases, music instructors will choose the  music for their students, when it should be the complete opposite. A good instructor will know how to take your favorites song, and create a way for you to play it at your skill level.

Music is about the feeling you get when you play, there will never be a good reason to play music you don’t enjoy: so stop playing the songs that bore you and find something you want to dance around to!

If you dread playing a certain song because it’s too difficult, then that’s another story. Play something that gets you grooving and hungry for more, and then go back to learning the difficult song.

Unrealistic Expectations

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You have to remember that the musicians you look up to were also in your shoes at one point.
In fact, they are still learning more, all the time!

Change your mentality: What’s your goal, anyway? Is it to be able to play comfortably within a couple months? Could “being a guitar player” simply mean playing a song you really like? Learning just one song is a much more realistic goal than setting out to become a rock god who can awe a crowd with a high-speed guitar solo.

Set mini goals for yourself!

Every day is a new chance to play guitar in a totally new mentality. Rock out and have fun!

Remember, It’s never too late to learn to play guitar, so if you’ve put it down, don’t be afraid to pick it back up and give it another go!

Douglas FPost Author: Douglas F.
Douglas teaches guitar, drums, and music theory in Irvine, CA. He studied music theory at North Carolina State University, and has been playing guitar and drums for over 10 years. Learn more about Douglas here!

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5 replies
  1. Kalpak Gupta
    Kalpak Gupta says:

    Those are excellent points. The 20 minutes per day advice is motivating and easy to follow. I too had left playing guitar, but there’s been a constant itch without it. I’ll start playing again from today. Thanks!

    • Brittany Myers
      Brittany Myers says:

      Hello Kalpak,

      We’re glad you’ve found motivation in the article. We’re happy you’re going to continue making time for what you love!

  2. Alicia W.
    Alicia W. says:

    I really wish 12 year old me had this article drilled into my mind, or even just gently encouraged by my instructor. I gave up and now I’m 23 dusting off my fret board.

    Thanks for putting the excuses to rest!

  3. Marc
    Marc says:

    The most demotivating is to see 10yolds playing like geniuses( ex Andrei Cerbu on youtube). When you are old the brain functions much slower and it’s way harder to cope. it’s a fact. Also the fingers are less flexible. Those are physical barriers unknown to kids. I started to play when I was 14 but my teacher was crap so I stopped after a few months sadly. It’s also huge luck to have a good teacher.

  4. Pat
    Pat says:

    I’m in the same boat. Played in high school and then life got in the way and was very easy to put down the guitar. 5 years ago I started playing again and it felt great. Recently I’ve been in a fog and can’t motivate myself keep pushing. Its nice to hear or read that this is a temporary and normal stage. THANKS !!


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