Stuck in a rut

I’ve made some good progress on guitar in the last couple of years but lately I’ve lost direction.
I don’t seem to be able to apply myself the way I used to.
I’ll get into a blues composition, only to learn half of it and start on something else. Then I’ll start to transcribe a rock song, only to quit after the first few bars.
I’ll move between theory subjects that don’t seem to have any relevance to my own playing and learning new songs is almost impossible as I keep drifting onto something else!
I was asked to play at a recent New year party and really struggled for ideas.
I ended playing a couple of easy back pocket songs but it made me realise just how much I need to apply myself this year.
I think a lot of it has to do with the sheer amount of information coming at me from all sources on the internet.
I’m inclined to unplug it all and just spend time with my guitar.
Does anyone else have the same issues.


Yes that’s what killed it for me during my first guitar spell. I would say recognising your weaknesses and working on them is the first step. Then a good practice schedule that will keep your practice structured and interesting - 10 mins fingerpicking, 10 mins playing around with major scale to BT, 5 mins bending, 5 mins vibrato etc etc. From theory I would say if you get the idea - don’t move on! Contemplate on it a little bit, play around with stuff and try to discover possibilities.

If you feel you keep using same licks and bobs again and again - learn a new song you love at the minute back to back! That’s really important to me IMO as this is famous vocabulary Justin talks about which you can use later on. Also don’t pick songs too difficult as they will take ages to learn and you might be getting bored or discouraged which is not the point.


Thanks Adi
I think you’re right. I need to get focussed and that’s certainly what’s been missing. Far too much noodling and information overload.

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that resonates with me. I’ve been playing for 47y minus 20 hiatus and was ear / pent / whatever for decades. Getting deeper is daunting when I see the vast amounts of knowledge existing in the fog (self induced).

For me, I actually started using the dashboard practice planner and logger recently, not every day but enough to have something on hand to go to when not centered on what to play/practice in the moment.

The real benefit here was making the conscious decision to do this forced me to closely examine what things I need to develop instead of it floating about in the mist of my mind…

This is key for me and I’m liking whats going on. So much to learn but I’ve been digging for a couple of years now so many concepts are gelling and that allows me to not overload by tackling several things at once, combined.

For example, CAGED and how it fits with the scale patterns, how it fits with diatonic chords, how it fits with arpeggios. All of this can be combined to help make the ‘study’ more interesting and musical.

Soon I will be tackling chord substitutions and common cadences in maj and min so the combining or “adding” to what you know and developing it is really a methodology of life long learning.

If you have not seen it, check out the Rut Busters videos on JG, very enlightening.

edit: oh yeah, blues !

also: check this out:

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Thanks for this Brian
I’ll check that lesson out. It’s not one I’ve come across.
Pleased to hear you’re progressing with your playing.
It is certainly a daunting proposition which is why a structure is necessary. It’s just been so difficult to avoid flitting around with the wealth of information that keeps flooding in.
I will definitely start a practice programme and try and keep disciplined.

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Your not alone Jason, this has happened to me a couple of times since finishing the old BC and IM some years back.

Brian makes a good suggestion recommending the Rut Buster series, as does Adi in creating a practice schedule. Keeping a written list, in what ever format, focuses your mind in your areas of practice.

I’d also recommend taking a look at these two lessons if you’ve not seen them already.





Note that there is also a “Rut Buster” series that is very good as it follows a 1 to 1 teaching with Justin and Mr. Anderton.

It also goes on with ~10 private recorded lessons.

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Definitely rings a bell Jason.

I found playing in the open mics focused my attention. Can’t play half a song live?

That’s my format for now, learning a song through before moving on. Some are taking ages so just make sure you pick ones you like.

Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t stick to a schedule, I lost track of the lessons a while back and just dip in and out when required.

If you’re taking input from all over, that’s not a bad thing in itself, you’re soaking all that knowledge up, it will come in handy once you’re back to it.

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Some real good advice here. I was thinking of the “how to structure practice” lesson, looks like @TheMadman_tobyjenner already linked it!

In my head… I try to think of learning, practicing, and playing as different things and treat them differently. Oh yeah, and guitar entertainment too. Maybe that might help:

  • Watching guitar videos online without guitar in hand = entertainment
  • Watching guitar videos with guitar in hand, trying to play it, pausing and rewinding = learning
  • Running through practice routine or practicing stuff I’m developing with (either from memory, sheet or guitar pro) = practicing
  • Playing easy stuff from memory or sheets = playing

Absolutely! I had the same issue for awhile, and I describe it as, “my brain learns it faster than my fingers” LOL!

What has helped me is to find a handful of songs I want to learn that each have 2-5 techniques that are new/challenging in each. Now, when I get bored/frustrated, I can switch to a different technique and/or song, but whatever I work on is moving me forward towards my goal of learning the songs.

I also suggest checking out this lesson:



Thank you everyone for all of the sound advice. It really is very much appreciated. I have taken it all on board and I already feel more focused.
It’s nice to know I’m not alone in the struggle.

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I find myself stuck making no progress quite often. The best thing to do is take a breath, give yourself credit for what you have accomplished, and try again. There is never a shortage of people telling you what can’t be done. Those are people that failed and failure love’s company. You can succeed against all odds. This is not exactly related to guitar, but my wife shared this with me the other day.

I posted a video here the other day and only 1 response. My first thought was is it that awful ? :rofl: No, just people are busy and worst case I just need to work harder. Putting in that practice time is a struggle, but we all have to find a way. Hang in there.



I blame it all on the mid winter blues…( yo, there is a song there I think). Short days a cloudy weather always leave me unmotivated to do anything except shovel snow. All this will go away and practice and song learning and technique struggles will all vanish I’m sure.
On a side note. I bet the people who rejected those writers are still crying about a lost opportunity. ooops.


I wanted to mention very clever user name by the way. I try but still can’t play the “Summer of 69” Bryan Adams song, even after my fingers bled lol.

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Yup, been about 2 weeks straight of total overcast and rain here in Nova Scotia, and I’m seeing it in my motivation to practice.


Thank you Jeff. That’s an amazing set of facts! There will certainly be no shortage of effort I can assure you. I’m also a great believer in anything is possible.
I think it’s just that I’ve been taking in board so much information I’ve got lost in the dust!
These past few days I’ve stopped with the input and I’m concentrating solely on output.
Thanks again

I was actually born in the summer of 69 so it wasn’t much of a stretch to come up with the name. Great tune but not one I’ve really tried to play.
My time seems to be drawn to blues music and folk fingerstyle. Oh and a contemporary repertoire to keep my mates happy :joy:

Nova Scotia looks amazing. I’d like to travel there among other places.
Before I get too old to do so.

I got through the same doldrums by doing my repetitive learning as a warmup at the start of my practice/play session. Gets me focused and fingers loosened up. Then I dig into a few songs on my play list and apply my warmup to those songs. This allows me to explore variations to songs that I am very familiar with. Once I get bored with the playlist I add a new one. Rinse and repeat. Making it fun kicks the doldrums out the door.

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Oh, it is…especially in July, August, and September!

This time of year…not so much.

Kind of in limbo right now with all the rain. Can’t even do winter stuff. No snow, and the lakes have not frozen yet. Hiking and mountain biking on the ice are some of my favourite winter activities.

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