Can we discuss the quality of feedback on recordings? IMHO it has become too positive

I remember joining the community back in early 2022 and being amazed at this community of guitar learners on Justin’s site. I stumbled here shortly after the old Disqus comments were turned off.

My favourite section was AVOYP - learners of all levels posting videos, and getting feedback and tips on their playing. Some reasonably early stage learners through to people that had achievable but beyond-me playing, through to semi-pros.

After watching a LOT of videos, I posted my first video and got some inspiring feedback. Some positive stuff. A few “attaboys”. Lots of tips. I was strumming over the neck. Posture, the way my fingers were picking the strings. My terrible singing at the time (lol…). All done in a constructive way.

For the most part, a spade was called a spade. Politely and encouragingly.

Over the past few months I’ve observed a tendency for more and more feedback to be effusively positive.

Now when a recording is outrageously good, that makes sense (and some of the recordings here are). But I don’t think it’s a good trend for when a recording has some very clear flaws, or there are playing tips for the person sharing. This is a guitar learning site, right?

Positive feedback for everything has the effect of devaluing the feedback overall. What separates good playing from poor playing when the feedback is the same? Of course, keeping in mind the level that someone is at.

Personally I take the view that I try to look for constructive feedback in each video I watch. Positive stuff. Constructive improvements. I could name the other members that do the same. However I feel the pendulum has swung too far towards positivity, even when it’s not warranted (toxic positivity, if anyone’s aware of that term).

Be polite. Don’t be mean. Be encouraging. Those are all good. Being positive about everything? Not as useful as genuine feedback IMHO.



Brave Jk… :smile:
Totally understand you, but very glad you are taking on this one and not me :blush:
Also don’t forget that some players here have given constructive criticism and again and again but nothing happened with it, I can remember this being referred to a while back, I’m curious what will come out of this.
Good luck answering and where possible I’ll cover you in the back :sunglasses: :innocent:


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I would in favour of a ‘roast me’ section approach but not sure it would work on here?

Record yourself and listen back in a week, you’ll know…

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I have a habit of saying my thoughts even when it might not be the wisest thing to do :roll_eyes:

lol, not roast me. I just think the comments were different 18 months ago. I listen back to myself 5 minutes after recording and hear the flaws… old recordings I cringe at.

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I once read in a comment from Brian @brianlarsen to David @DavidP that he asked for a section where people post and the criticism didn’t have to be so sweet and that there was on the old forum, but David didn’t think that was necessary. did i get that right guys?..
But I would also be very much in favor of such a section :smiley:

Gosh, I’ve never had that problem with myself :roll_eyes:
only others around me do :joy:

I’m glad you’re cranking it up :sunglasses:


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It is a good question to ask and continue to consider, JK. Not the first time it has been raised and I expect it will not be the last.

Personally I often find it quite difficult to be really specific, to focus in on something that is either a mistake or bad habit and that is level appropriate. When I do then I will try to offer that feedback in a way that is most helpful. Without that I tend to be more inclined to be generally encouraging and single out things I think are good.

I am no expert, don’t have the scientific research to refer to, be do believe that research into learning suggests people will learn more from highlighting genuine positives and being encouraging than receiving feedback that focuses predominantly on issues that need to be addressed.

That said, becoming effusive in encouragement and not pointing out things that a learner needs to address is also not serving the learner’s best interests.

I think we’ve all had that experience … at least those brave enough to go back and listen to such old recordings. And given that you may cringe now, back then it may be that there really wasn’t anything constructive to say at times, other than to keep working and keep improving. Maybe a tip on something to focus on to help improvement, a stretch.

As I say, I think finding the balance can be challenging. Good to raise the topic, though I can’t say that I have noticed this. And I hope I’ve not become either effusively positive or blind to things that I ought to share based on my sense of the person’s level.

You are right, Rogier. There was a section in which people could post recordings of work in progress and receive critique, even suggestions. My recollection that this was not specifically about the technqiue and playing but more creative critique focused on arrangements, chord progressions, mix, lyrics, etc. Also my recollection is that it was not especially active.

And I think AVOYP serves well enough to allow constructive feedback focused on issues that need attention. Notwithstanding the observations that JK has made.


As a beginner I really want to know how I am doing, good or bad, I can take it.

Others may not, so you need to be careful how constructive criticism is put, as you don’t want to dent a persons enthusiasm.

I have not posted up many AVOYP but I think I have always included some text on where I am not getting things right, which the community have generally agreed with, but they have also pointed out things I had not noticed.

There is naturally a wide range of abilities by the people who post AVOYP and in making comments you need to understand how far along the journey they are.

Just my take on things.


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I must say that those who want it (as indicated in the introduction of AVOYP) and ask specific questions are always served according to their wishes now that I think about it and there is a group that does ask about it but then doesn’t participate much and there is a group that always forgets to say “be as critical as possible without mincing words” (like me)… maybe the current AVOYP covers everything for almost everyone and this is the best way for many, but a separate section JK is that what you want? I would like that myself and see added value in it for myself…
I think it also gives a good insight for others who are new to which you can sometimes be a little more critical and how you can give and receive certain criticism…or something…I’ll stop for now and leave it to the others about,but I think I totally understand JK and a slight change would benefit a lot of players,but the AVOYP is doing pretty well and hence my proposal to set up a …Thickskins section… :joy:

But David, if it doesn’t happen I will never complain about it and I will continue to play quietly and will ask for feedback more clearly…(Admittedly JK has explicitly asked for this quite often and received very little :thinking: )

Have fun Girls and boys :sunglasses:

Hi JK,

good food for thought in your opening and the thread so far. I somehow noticed the same, both for reading through feedback, but also when I’m providing feedback sometimes, so I feel a little guilty here. :sweat_smile:

But you have some points, because being effusively positive (toxic positive, if you will), is not helpful at all, because it levels pretty much everything and devalues the truely outstanding performances (which we have). Further, especially for beginners, it is not helpful for further development, avoiding bad habits etc., when nobody makes them/us aware of these things. Actually, it’s even dangerous as those things might manifest and will be harder to fix in the future.

I think, I heard something about how to provide feedback in a way, that you should point out what was good as well as things to be improved (if any, but most times for learners there are things to improve) in a respectful and constructive way. So the receiver is not discouraged, but knows where to put some focus on in the due course of learning.

But this is sometimes easier said than done, as a) people are different and some might get discouraged even by constructive critiscism and b) sometimes we don’t know the level the poster is at, so it’s hard to put it into context and c) if someone is way beyond my level, I probably can’t offer anything, d) some people just won’t listen anyhow and do their thing or take only the bits they like and ignore the rest. This is quite discouraging for the peeps offering feedback/tips/help as well…

Not so easy and I’m not sure whether we truely need an extra section in AVOYP, as actually that’s what we have it for. We even have a save space for early beginners, which is great!

I like the good vibes going on here and they shall remain. Good vibes include constructive critics IMHO. So, at least for me, I will try to live up to that a little more again. :slight_smile:

For those who wanna get roasted: exposure on social media might serve your desire. :crazy_face: :rofl:

Just my 2 cents - or more 2 euros/dollars considering the lengthy post (sorry, not sorry :wink:).

Cheers - Lisa


Hi @jkahn

first of all, kudos for rising that topic.

It was a while ago that I noticed that there is no “critique” section anymore. We didn"t migrate it from the old forum, probably because of lack of use.

It’s in that spirit, you had an “easy going AVOYP” section and a critique section and expectations were managed accordingly.

Since we we don’t have that anymore, the as-you-so-well-described “pat on the back” section is the only thing around.

I never made a big point of this but in a very implicit matter, I wanted to show the usefulness of constructive feedback by trying to include some things that could improve, that would benefit from something or that could be spiced up. I always thought I would lead by example but I never had the effect I wanted. “I wanted” and it seemed the Community had no strong opinion on the matter.

I noticed that I was usually outnumbered by “great stuff!'” posts so I was always very wary not to come across as pretentious. Without a face and intonation, I could be slamming somebody’s motivation without me knowing and yet I’ve kept this up. Most act out of respect and genuinely admire the skills of others.

Is an extra section necessary?
Don’t know. I think not.
We could manage expecations by just nothing that we seek constructive feedback by explicitely saying so. I’d gladly comply and provide what I think could improve next to what I liked (like I usually do though)

Some just need some recognition for what they post and that is fine too. They don’t need to add aything :wink:


I always aim for “constructive” feedback. Say what is good and also where some potential improvement is required. I think the challenge is that we have a broad span of learners here and those most likely to comment are those that are probably at a similar level and earlier in the process than some of us. It’s more difficult I think in those instances to provide “constructive” feedback (as they may be at a similar level) so it tends to be “encouraging” feedback focusing on the positives only.

I don’t listen to as much as I used to and I don’t provide as much feedback as I used to. It’s quite difficult when you’ve been playing for a long time to be quite so engaged. I try when I can but it’s certainly a lot less than many here…and of course there may not really be that many that can offer the sort of constructive feedback you are looking for. In those instance maybe a lesson or two with someone like Lieven or Close is a better approach.


Great topic JK and thank you for raising it. As much as we all like a pat on the back we are ultimately here to become better guitar players and musicians and to have as much fun as we can on that journey. I too cringe when I look back at old videos I have posted but I still look at them and read old comments to identify areas that I can improve on. I have added skills now that I didn’t have when posting some old videos so to look back and be willing to be self critical as well as willing to accept feedback from others will only help me improve as a musician.
We should all be cognizant of the fact that this is a welcoming and supportive community and not a toxic environment as other forms of social media are , and any advice / feedback / criticism etc is meant in a positive and helpful way to aid us on our guitar journey.


I think there are a few regulars here who make the effort to watch/listen to most if not all AVOYP videos, and provide constructive criticism, in the nicest possible way. After posting a couple of videos myself, I’m starting to recognise who those people are, and I particularly value their comments.

But unmitigated praise is good too! :joy:


You’ve addressed the ‘elephant in the room’ JK but a difficult one to get right.

We all want positive feedback of course but you’re quite right. Awesome, terrific and similar superlatives should be reserved for stuff that really merits those descriptions. But we all have different ideas as to what merits what. Someone just starting out is in awe of someone who can play a song that contains barre F.

The others are correct. This subject has been raised in the past and it’s a difficult one.
With a few notable exceptions, none of us here are experts so we should temper our observations and comments accordingly.

I can only speak for myself of course. My rule of thumb is -
Is there an element of the song that I think I could play better and that I can see/hear would improve the song. If so then I might suggest how that element might be improved. I’m not comfortable commenting on something that I can’t do myself.
Is there a technique that I’ve learned and could pass on.
Is there a helpful link to a lesson or resource that I can post.

Clearly though, if someone has posted an AVoYP and is fairly early on in the learning process there is no point suggesting things that they haven’t reached yet in the course. In that case simple encouragement is what is required.

I also think it helps if you ‘know’ the person and have a Community ‘relationship’ with them. You are far more likely to make suggestions and constructive criticism knowing they will be accepted in the spirit in which they were given.


Good topic @jkahn.

And a lot in here that I would agree with. However, talking from my own point of view as a newbie with limited guitar skills (and there are probably many on this site that rightly or wrongly put themselves in this category) I find it hard to make constructive criticisms or offer advice as I think there are many on this site far more qualified that those of us in the above group.

So, when I watch an AVOYP or similar I feel that if it sounds good or great to me then I’m happy to say so and leave my comments as the “positive and encouraging” ones whilst those more qualified offer the tips and criticisms.

It may be that there are just more of this kind of follower in the forum now and so this type of comment outweighs the true constructive criticisms.

On a side, I have had some good feedback on here on many topics and am, and always will be happy to hear constructive criticisms.

Just a thought.


:rofl: guilty.

I find the shit sandwich approach works. Say something nice, constructive criticism, then end with something nice.

It can be hard work navigating the online social etiquette, I get miffed with the whole thing sometimes. Just people offering their opinion…

Just stating the type of feedback you’re after when you post is maybe one way.

#roastme #I’lldomyownthinganyway


its the facebook mentality……every picture posted is “beautiful”

Its a difficult to get right, as each person is different and will have different needs for feedback.

My view that if the poster asks for constructive feedback on thier playing, then be honest which parts are good and which parts can be improved.

However I think talling everyone their playing is brillant is not healthy and its better to offer each other encouragement.

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Those of us who still think of ourselves as beginners are not always going to feel in a position to critique someone else’s playing. Sometimes you know it sounds awful but you can’t a put a finger on why that is, so you don’t say anything.

But if it’s good, well, even someone who can’t play at all can tell when something is good, so we can all chip in on those videos!

So, even without making a conscious effort to “Be Nice”, we’re going to end up with more positive comments than helpful critiques because we’re students, not teachers.

I suspect that @jkahn 's message is triggered by the fact that he has reached a level of skill that’s beyond our ability (as a collective) to helpfully advise on improvements. If he wants fewer positive messages he needs to be less good. :slight_smile:


We need to learn to self-assess if we are trying to find our own voice on the instrument. This will cut against the grain a bit, but if you are playing a song in line with recordings or lessons, you need to compare your playing with the content you are copying and what other students are doing with the same courseware. We say not to do it, but everyone does it, and should continue to do it. Do a search on the song you are working on and see how/what others are doing with it.

Take the positive comments and “critiques” with grace and thankfulness. You should know what your goals are – you know what sounds and feels good to you and what needs improvement.

Speaking frankly here, some of the constructive criticism comes from players that aren’t good enough to offer instructional comments. I put myself in that category (when it comes to AVoYP postings). Start a Youtube channel, list and share your videos with a wide audience and hang out with really good players, you will find out quickly what is what. If you are a good or interesting player you will pick up subscribers and get decent watch numbers. You are as good as your numbers say (which should only serve to keep you practicing and getting better). Ultimately you get what you give though on this and other message boards.