Getting Worse How?

I’ve been learning for around 8 months. I practice at least 5 days a week for 45min - hour. I seem to be getting worse. I’ve been trying to learn a 4 chord song for 2 months. It’s getting worse almost every time I try. I know some people are musically inclined but I’m beginning to think it’s just not possible.

I’ve been learning for about the same time as you and I’ve been there. Whenever I get to that point where I feel stuck or worse, I’m not playing as good as I did before I stop and play easier stuff for a week or 2. Learn a song that’s a little under where you’re at. Or try your hand at something completely different. If you are having difficulty learning some acoustic open chord songs then try your hand on some power chord ones or vice versa.

Point is just clear your head for a little while. You don’t want to burn out and quit all together. Guitar is just putting fingers at the right place and the right time. barring any serious hand-eye coordination issues, anyone can get a certain level of competence. At least that’s how I see it.


Chin up John, it takes a while.

Sometimes it feels like you’re not making progress and then all of a sudden two or three bits will just click together as one.

It can help to record some of your attempts along the way so that you can see or hear improvements along the way. As you learn, your ears will become more in tune as to what sounds good, this is progress in itself but you will be noticing more ‘imperfections’ in Your practice.

I found that my mindset changed somewhere along the route, I thought playing songs was the goal, or to be able to play at parties whatever. Although these are all realistic long term goals I became more at peace with my guitar practice when I started to just enjoy the process of learning. It’s just ‘me time’ when I give myself half hour or whatever to chill and wind down.
Sounds easy to say and I know sometimes it gets discouraging but being part of this community helps a lot with that.


I would argue that you aren’t getting worse, you are getting better!

As you learn, you also gain higher expectations of yourself and a better understanding of how it should sound, in tone, time and feeling.

I have worked on a few songs for over a year now and keep doing better and better, yet my understanding of how I want to play it keeps outpacing my ability a little.

I think that is good, if you can see that it means progress rather than getting discouraged.

Enjoy the process! Because it is endless!


Thanks for the encouragement. I’m gonna keep at it. I’m using Justin’s app so I’m not looking at my fretting hand while I’m playing so maybe that takes longer to master.

Hey John, sometimes learning a song using the app can make things a bit more difficult especially when there are more chords in the songs. Try breaking the song down first. Learn the structure and chord sequence of the song. Keep it simple and learn it in chunks e.g. intro, verse, bridge and chorus. Practice at first with just down strums on the beats. If you notice any difficulties with chord changes add some perfect fast changes to your practice session. At the same time practice the strumming pattern for the song on muted strings. Once you’re comfortable with that introduce the strumming pattern and practice at a reduced tempo increasing gradually until you get it up to the bpm of the song.

@11B I agree with this. What are the single aspects that you’re getting wrong? Identify them and try to work on each one of them individually. One of my biggest struggle has been (and still is) putting everything together. It takes time, don’t be too hard on yourself.

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It’s not that you’re getting worse, more like stuck (at least that’s how I experience it). It’s just difficult and sometimes impossible to force your way through it.

Relatively new to guitar as well (about 7 months) but from my experience with drumming (6 years), in situations like these it’s usually the mind that’s holding you back. I see it as follows:

  • if it’s because you can’t do something yet, drop the difficulty, speed, portion, etc. of the thing you’re practicing.
  • If you know you can or should be able to do it but it doesn’t work anymore, then take a break from it for 1 or 2 weeks.

Slight edit: there are also times were something doesn’t work on a specific day and works on the next. So the second point is really when it continues to not work for a bit.

Oh, this, so much this. What Silvia says.

Break down what’s not working.

Chord changes? Practice one minute changes. Focus on your weak changes for the chords in this song.
Rhythm? Practice the rhythm and timing in isolation.
Can’t remember the song? Print it out and play it just you, without the app.


It seems counter-intuitive, but every once in a great while, if I take a few days off, even a week, I actually play better when I come back to it.


Hi John, I’ve been learning for one year now and I went through the same doubts as you. I also had a simple 4 chord song, with the OF strumming pattern and I was playing it unperfectly for at least two months, as everything got even worse. My advice is to leave it for a while, take another song, another item to work on and come back later. Don’t even look at it for a while. Don’t get frustrated. Sometims it takes a little time to get things sorted. You’ll see, after a while some problems end in smoke.

Could be a stress, you know you were performing better and now trying to regain what you feel was “lost” by putting pressure on yourself. The problem it, it works quite opposite, the more you push when you are stressed, the worse is the outcome.

As many already suggested, you need to sever the “bad connection” and return after short break.

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Therem ight be something wrong with what you are doing and we can’t tell from here.

If you practice that much, it shows that you have pasison and persistence.
dare to take the step to a teacher, even if it is only for a few lessons.
He will probably point out the speed bump and with a slight course correction, that drive an passion goes in a better direction! (because remember; if you are just slightly off course, you will land far off target when you travel too long)

I think the time is now to bite the bullet and ask real feedback and guidance!
It would be a waste of your passion if it was only some small adjustments in habits and practice that make the difference!

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