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How Copying Your Favorite Guitarist Harms Your Guitar Playing

Copying your favorite guitar players does not necessarily make you a better guitarist. Some great guitar players use inferior techniques even when they are proven to be inefficient.

Question: “Tom Hess, so why should I play any differently than my favorite guitarist? If it works for him, it must work for me… right?”

While some guitarists are able to play well using inefficient technique, this doesn’t mean you should do the same. Copying inefficient playing habits from them harms your guitar playing and keeps you from reaching your musical goals as fast as possible.

Here are a few things guitarists do that harm your guitar playing when you copy them:

Wrapping Your Thumb Around Neck While Playing

A lot of popular guitar players keep their thumb wrapped around the back of the neck while they are playing. Copying this prevents you from being able to play scales, arpeggios or licks that require stretching to play frets that are far apart. This also puts a lot of unnecessary strain on your fretting hand/wrist. Instead of wrapping your thumb around the neck, keep it around the middle of the back of the neck.

Wearing Your Guitar Very Low

It is popular among guitarists to wear their guitar low while standing. Playing guitar very low while standing makes it more difficult to play accurately. This occurs because you are unable to keep your thumb below the top of the neck. It forces you to bend your wrist, neck and back in ways that can lead to injury over time. By simply raising your guitar, you make it easier to reach notes and play accurately with less stress on your body.

This approach can also be practiced while sitting down. Simply sit with your guitar strap on to get used to how it feels. This way, when you play standing up it is easy to do because you are already used to the feeling of where the guitar sits around your shoulders.

Exclusively Using Alternate Picking

Some great guitar players exclusively use alternate picking in their music. Copying this prevents you from playing fast and clean by wasting tons of movement. Learning how to use directional picking saves a ton of movement in your picking motion and makes playing fast and clean feel effortless. Directional picking uses either alternate picking or sweep picking to reach the next note in the shortest possible path.