Tips & Tutorials | June 26, 2024

A Beginner’s Guide to Overcoming Guitar Fears

Welcome back to the Martin blog! Today, we're tackling another important topic: the fears that often come with learning to play the acoustic guitar. 

It's completely natural to have some fears when picking up a new instrument – especially when you need to play that instrument in front of a crowd – but understanding these fears and knowing how to overcome them can make your musical journey a lot more enjoyable. If you haven't yet, be sure to check out our first post on overcoming beginner frustrations

So, let’s dive into the ten most common fears beginner guitar players experience and how you can help yourself, or someone you know, tackle them. 

Ten Common Fears & How to Overcome Them 

Never Improving: One of the biggest fears beginners face is the worry that they’ll never improve, no matter how much they practice. This fear can be discouraging, but it’s important to remember that improvement takes time and consistency. Set realistic goals and celebrate your progress, no matter how small. Remember, every great guitarist started where you are now. And start with the simple stuff. It’s safe to say you won’t be shredding like Joe Bonamassa or Billy Strings right out of the gate. Using resources like the Martin Lesson Room can also help you learn at your own pace and stay motivated. 

Being Judged by Others: It’s natural to worry about what others think, especially when you’re just starting out. The fear of being judged can be intimidating but try to focus on your own growth rather than others’ opinions. Most people are supportive and understand the challenges of learning an instrument. Play for yourself first, and the confidence will come. Sharing your journey with fellow beginners can also provide encouragement and a sense of community. Finding that support and playing for your own fulfillment goes a long way. 

Public Performance Anxiety: Performing in front of others can be nerve-wracking, especially for beginners. The fear of public performance is common – even the pros get nervous. But it can be overcome with practice and preparation. Start by playing for family and friends, gradually increasing your audience size as you become more comfortable playing in front of strangers. Also practice playing how you’d play live on stage, whether it’s standing or sitting, stage left or right, in front of a mic, etc. Once playing your songs becomes second nature, it’ll relieve a lot of that anxiety. Remember, everyone gets stage fright at some point. 

Stage Fright: Speaking of stage fright, it’s something that can affect even the most seasoned performers. The fear of performing in front of an audience is common, from intimate rooms to arenas, but there are ways to manage it. Practice performing regularly, even if it’s just for a small group of friends. You can also use relaxation techniques like deep breathing or visualization to calm your nerves before stepping on stage. Confidence builds with experience, and each performance will become a little easier. The more you play, the easier it gets. And in the end, you’re playing music, so make sure to have fun. 

Making Mistakes: No one likes making mistakes, but they're an essential part of learning. The fear of making mistakes can hold you back, but it's important to embrace them as learning opportunities. Every error you make is a step towards improving your skills. Focus on the progress you’re making rather than striving for perfection. Practice is the best time to make mistakes, and learning from those mistakes will only help you when it comes to playing in front of a crowd. Recording yourself can also help you identify areas for improvement and track your growth over time. 

Not Reaching Potential: Many beginners fear they won’t reach their full potential as guitarists. This fear can be paralyzing, but it’s important to remember that potential is a journey, not a destination. Set achievable goals and work towards them incrementally. Seek feedback from experienced players and consider taking lessons to refine your technique. There’s always something new to learn. Even the most experienced players can learn a new technique or chase a new tone to expand their guitar knowledge. Study your favorite players’ favorite players and listen to different genres to pick up something new. 

Losing Interest: It's common to worry about losing interest in playing guitar over time. To keep your passion alive, vary your practice routine and explore different styles of music. Set new challenges for yourself and take breaks when needed to avoid burnout. Joining a community of musicians or taking part in group lessons can also keep you motivated and engaged. Form a band, jam with friends, and play along to your favorite records. Remember, music should be fun and fulfilling! 

Damaging the Guitar: The fear of damaging your guitar is understandable, especially if it's a brand new or valuable one. To overcome this fear, learn how to properly care for your guitar. Use a quality case, keep it in a stable environment, and learn basic maintenance skills. Understanding how to care for your guitar will give you confidence and ensure it stays in great condition for years to come. We have plenty of tips and tutorials on our blog and YouTube channel, and your local authorized Martin service center will be happy to answer any questions you might have. It’s inevitable that your guitar will pick up some scratches, dings, and dents over its lifetime – all things that make your guitar uniquely yours. 

Not Being Taken Seriously: As a beginner, you might fear that more experienced musicians won’t take you seriously. This fear can be discouraging but remember that every musician was once a beginner. Surround yourself with supportive people who encourage your growth. Show your dedication through consistent practice and a willingness to learn. In time, your skills will speak for themselves, earning you the respect of fellow musicians. 

Never Finding "My Sound": Finding your unique sound is a journey that evolves over time. The fear of never finding it can be daunting but remember that experimentation is key. Try different playing styles, techniques, and equipment to discover what resonates with you. Martin offers a wide range of guitars, strings, and accessories suited to various styles, helping you explore and develop your unique sound. Whether it’s shredding on an SC or fingerpicking a 000, make sure you don’t rush the process. Enjoy the exploration. 

More from Martin 

While learning to play the guitar can be challenging, it’s also incredibly rewarding. By addressing the above fears head-on and staying committed to your practice routine, you can overcome any obstacle and continue progressing on your musical journey. 

Martin guitars, especially our X Series, Junior Series, and Little Martin Series, are great for beginners, providing plenty of comfort, playability, and tone. Learn more about buying your first Martin in our first episode of Pro Tips here, find plenty more tips and tutorials on our blog, and check out our full lineup of guitars here

And don’t forget to sign up for Backstage to access the Martin Lesson Room, an exclusive online space powered by the innovative learning tools of TrueFire. 

Stay patient, stay motivated, and most importantly, keep playing!