Missing the strings

Hi, well as I’ve said, I’ve no musical knowledge, so I thought it best to do the music theory course, even though I am at beginner stage.

It’s really interesting, even though I don’t yet understand how things fit together.

Anyway, at present, I am learning Pattern 1 of the Major Scale.

I am getting on quite well, surprisingly, a bit a day.

I’m at the point where I can, from memory, go through to A and back up to
A on the G string whilst saying out loud the note names.

‘I’m pretty amazed about this by the way’.

It’s slow, but it’s a good start I feel.

Anyway, the reason I am writing is that whilst my left hand is just about getting through, my right hand is messing it up for me.

I keep missing the strings, it’s so frustrating.

I was wondering if I am doing something fundamentally wrong.

So looking for any advice to help rectify this issue.

Thank you

Hi Paul,
Glad you’re moving forward and having fun, that’s the most important thing.
And no, as far as I’m concerned, it’s not at all strange that your right hand lags behind in terms of accuracy, it’s still a thing that I have to pay close attention to (and I play a lot :grimacing:), my picking hand’s speed also lags behind my fretting hand… I still walk through many scales in different ways every day,because coordination between both hands can be practiced very well with scales…certainly because I like it, but also certainly to improve my precision… go slow and a bit slower is the advice if you practice precision …practice perfect goes well here :sunglasses:


Yes Paul , you’re doing something fundamentally wrong. You’re expecting too much too early!
But I suppose we are all guilty of that.
Good advice already, keep it slow and accurate. Accuracy is far, far more important than speed. The speed will come with time and practice.

When you’re picking notes, you don’t want the big arm movements that you use for strumming. Keep the pick close to the strings. Small movements. Pick just past the string. Definitely not past the next string.
You can experiment and play around with it. Play the scale with all down picks. Play it with all ups. Play it with down and ups. All the time keeping the pick close to the strings and small movements.


Hi Paul, to add to the already provided input, and I think people hold different views here, are you using your pinky on your fretting hand to anchor / brace against the guitar body for single string chord work? I found this helped me a lot for scale work for accuracy early on. In parallel though, working on non-anchored picking is also very worthwhile.

:scream: :scream: :scream: that would hurt… :joy:

Picking hand you mean? I hope :smile:


I think you may have solved a problem for me Rogier, I wondered why my picking was so hard! :slight_smile:

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When learning a new (to me) scale, I find that it seems to help if I initially focus on the fretting hand until I have the pattern “under the fingers” and fairly well memorized. Then it’s easier to switch focus to the picking hand & concentrate more on the correct strings & timing… not sure if this is the BEST way or not, but it seems to work for me.
Any way you go about it, it’s new and therefore a bit frustrating to mess it up but as with just about everything else in this wonderful struggle we call learning guitar, it comes with time & consistently practicing!
Good luck,


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Hi Paul,

I struggle with accuracy a great deal. I have been using scales and playing riffs/song sections with single-note picking as practice.

I have noticed that if I am not VERY certain of the next steps in my brain, I need to go slow so I have time to sort out mentally what is coming. Once that becomes reasonably autonomous, my accuracy takes a large leap in accuracy or I get a large step in speed, but not both. After that, I am still trying to find the trigger for me to make the next step to get speed and accuracy simultaneously acceptable.

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The major scale is thought in grade 3 of the theory coarse and a little in grade 2 of the beginner course and covered in grade 3 of the beginner course.

May I ask why you are learning the major scale how for thought the beginner course grade 1 are you?

In a way yes your are. Your taking Grade 3 theory and still at the beginning of your journey. You fingers haven’t had a chance to learn grade 1 and you’re expecting them to do grade 3 exercises.

According to you introduction post you’ve been playing for 7 says. You’re setting yourself up to fail. It’s better you start the Beginner Course and teach your finger how to play way before you get into theory.

For the most part, I agree with @stitch Try to be patient, Paul, and take it one step at a time.

Justin’s Beginner Grade 1 lessons are very well structured and there are surely very good reasons, why he teaches things in a certain order and introduces scales only in Beginner Grade 2.

And here I have to say I agree with @BurnsRhythm I think, it’s really good that you are questioning why things are as they are at the beginning of your guitar journey already.

I have done the same, since music lessons have failed me a long time ago in school - and I have to say, I am intrigued and it’s fascinating. Like you @Polcho , I am also somewhere in Theory Grade 3 and like you, I have also been experimenting with playing scales. Experimenting was fun, a lot of fun even. But that’s where I have stopped investing time in this for now. I noticed that I cannot play scales as well as I would like to, and I realized that I should get better at fundamental skills first, before hoping to improve new and potentially more interesting aspects of guitar playing.

So, in summary: There is nothing wrong at all with being inquisitive and experimenting with things outside of the Beginner Grade 1 course. Yet, I would strongly suggest, not making such additional issues, such as scales, your number one priority right now :slightly_smiling_face:

Hi Stitch, yes, I decided to buy the theory course, mainly because the advert suggested it would be beneficial.
It gave no indication in terms of where one should be in terms of grade etc.
I see what you mean though.
On the up side, one thing lead to another, and I’m well on the way to knowing where the notes are on the neck now, which I think will help me in the long run.

I’m about to start grade 1 module 5.

I’m determined to work slowly, through the course, I just want to be sure I can do each module properly before I move on.

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Paul, I don’t think there is a hard and fast criteria to match the PMT (Practical Music Theory) with the first three grades.

My thinking would be to work on both concurrently and it may serve as a reasonable idea to work towards completing grade 2 of the guitar learning, consilidating that, and completing level 3 of the PMT to be well positioned to move on with grade 3.

And at that point you’d be in a good position to set your approach and pace to progress with grade 3 and level 4 of PMT.

Over the last 6 months or so I’ve completed grades 1 + 2 of the Guitar course whilst also finishing up to Module 4.3 of the PMT course. They seem to have gone hand in hand very well, but I’m now suffering from a bit of information overload so I’m going to give myself a couple of months to consolidate it all before moving on with grade 3.


Hi Poncho, I do an exercise that has really helped me with hitting the correct strings.
Around the 5th fret I start on the thickest string 6th and pluck it with the 1st finger fretted, on the same string fret the 6th fret then the 7th and then the 8th. Then come back down to the 7th. Using fingers 1,2,3 and 4 respectively.
Next skip the 5th string and do the same procedure on the 4th.
Following that I go to the fifth string repeating the procedure all the way to the 1st string and then return effectively skipping a string every time.
If you want I could write it out in tab format for you, just let me know .