When to set a aside a song

I have been working on House of the Rising Sun on and off for about a year. It is taking so long to get it together and I am frustrated. It isn’t’ fun to play anymore and I am thinking about setting it aside. I normally try to persevere through to learn to song until I can sing and play the whole song. I am seriously thinking of stopping this song and starting another song. Then I think that I should push through and keep going.


Hi Daphne,
If it doesn’t give you pleasure for a while (I don’t play something I don’t like for a day) you should definitely stop this song and quickly learn another one,…we all do this because we want fun,.
I’m a big proponent of biting through the sour apple,…but because I like a challenge,…so it’s not really an sour apple than??? :roll_eyes:,…anyway,… perseverance is good,…but just asking the question is answering it in this case…, i think,…there are billions of songs,…choose another song,

Have FUN :sunglasses:


I agree with Roger; I’d set that song aside for now. You can always come back to it later.

What about the song has been giving you problems? While you have it set aside you might be able to practice things that will help when you return to it.


Hi Daphne, I had the same with “Hallelujah” Fingerstyle version. I played this song to death for 3 months. As I thought I got it to 95%, it got worse again. I can’t hear it anymore. I don’t want to play it anymore. Sigh… I needed a pause, as other songs progressed in the same period but were neglected. I was possessed to get it till christmas. So what? I setted it aside for the moment. There are so many other songs to work on. I’ll pick it up again, when I feel the time is right…


That’s the song which spilled my joy years ago when I started learning guitar :grimacing: I would say yes definitely put it on a bench and try something that will bring smile to your face and perhaps something that has similar chords so you can practice those tricky changes in lesser degree.

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I agree with all of the above.

There’s definitely a school of thought that is that we must go on at all costs or its failure but I don’t subscribe to that. I feel that I have done in the past and it’s only lead to me putting down my guitar.

Perhaps if anything you’ve persisted with this one too long if that feeling of frustration has set in and you’re not enjoying it any more. It’s a tricky balance between giving in too easily and just beating your head against a wall!!!

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You’ve answered your own question Daphne. :smiley:

If the chords are the problem there’s always a different approach, try this and see if it’s easier to cope with:

If you want to play with the track true to key, it’s capo on 5th fret.


Hello Daphne, this song will be waiting for you. There is no need to work on it at the moment, if all you get back is frustration.
I’m absolutely certain, that there are other songs, that can bring back the joy to your practice.
And as Jason has recommended:

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Pretty much has already be said, so I’ll just add my opinion as well: that’s totally fine to set a song aside…you’ll see for yourself all the pros of doing it when you’ll get back to this song :blush:

One year on one song.
Holy cow!
Park it and park it now.
Move on, nothing to see here.

Check out Nicole’s recent topic : Just wanted to share my joy 🤩

What is not yet together?

The chord formations?
The chord changes?
The changes at tempo?
The 6/8 time signature?
The strumming?
Or the picking?
If picking, the fact that The Animals version plays the 6/8 in a slightly different way where the beats are not all even eighths?
Playing and singing it together?
Just singing it?

Stop thinking, just do.
Put it aside.
That is torture.

Develop your wider skills as @J.W.C mentions and have fun with thousands of other songs.

Learn songs (plural).



Other than agreeing with other posters about setting it aside to come back later, it may be useful, for next time, to pick a song that maybe you can’t play yet, but is achievable.

For me, being able to play a song is not the end of that song, it is the beginning. I would not pick a song if I identify one section of it is clearly beyond my ability and I do not have the confidence to be able to play it in, say, 2 weeks. Since progression is not linear if I do not see myself playing it in the near future, then I do not know when I could play it. So I’ll set it aside and pick one that is closer to my ability.

That does not mean I do not work on a song for more than 2 weeks. Once I learn a song, I record it, listen back section by section, and see what I do not like. Then I practice improving how it sounds until I’m convinced that I did my best and can’t do much better without significantly improving my skills. Then I record my best version and put it aside to re-visit at least a few months later.


Hi Serhat,
For me personally the bar is much higher than 2 weeks,…I start more songs than I finished ,…and when I get really stuck at a certain part I stop and continue with the next song ,… and every now and then (as indicated by more people) I come back ,…and quite often as if by magic in a clear sky that difficult piece suddenly succeeds due to further acquired skills ,…
But the teacher may correct me if for more novice players (I often still see myself as a beginner) such a short horizon is good ,…Come in Richard if needed, :blush:

Hey Rogier, of course, I’m not saying it should be universally two weeks, just an indication.

To clarify, it is not for 2 weeks to learn the song, it is for being able to do a certain section. For e.g. let’s say the second verse has a riff that I can do at 70 bpm but not 80 yet. I will pick up that song because I can probably go from 70 to 80 bpm for that riff in 2 weeks.

But I will not start learning Metallica’s Master of Puppets solo because I know that it would take me months, if not years of practice to be able to start playing it. So I’ll park it until later.

Hope that makes sense.

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Several possible scenario’s:

  • park it and revisit when you feel ready
  • freeze it until who knows; you might have gotten out enough already
  • dump it, it won’t bring joy anymore

There is always a chance to revisit something but it looks like for now you had enough.
I have a bunch of songs that fall in one of above categories!

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Hi Serhat,
A bit,…but I’m going to assume that beginner guitarists don’t start with Master of puppets or Tears in Heaven (as I did with the latter ,… don’t do that :see_no_evil: :blush:, ) ,…here we have a Grade system which is a good indicator ,…But that also varies from person to person and from hand to hand,…if I start something which should be about at a level I’ve done before I just start , and if I succeed it’s fantastic ,… if it really doesn’t work I will continue ,…I myself can often not estimate it and a lot takes 5 weeks or more,(and i have time on my side :wink:) …what seems easy can be hell and vice versa,…

Especially when Justin utters the dreaded words “relative easy”… :scream:


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When I hit a point with a song that requires me to learn a technique that is significantly “over my head” enough that I need to learn the technique first before applying it to the song, I’ll either:

  • Put the song “on the shelf” until I build the skills to play the song as my learning progresses
  • Add a 5-minute practice item to my routine to teach myself the skill

For me, a recent example of this is “LaGrange” by ZZ Top. I learned the basic riff, but soon realized that I wasn’t going to get it to sound like the original until I learned Hybrid Picking. Since this is a pretty complex skill to learn and I have more immediate things to work on (I’m on Grade 3, Module 17), I chose to stop working on “LaGrange” until I choose to learn Hybrid Picking.

I replaced “LaGrange” with “Jesus Just Left Chicago” by ZZ Top. I have already learned most of the techniques required to play this song (12-bar Blues, Shuffle Rhythm, G Shape Explorer, C shape Explorer, etc.) but I need to practice applying the techniques I already know to this song, plus learn a few variations on techniques I’ve already “mastered”. In short, it’s a more easily achieved goal.

IMHO, you’ve really gotta love a song to be willing to put all the effort into learning how to play it well. If the effort is so high that it becomes overwhelmingly frustrating and therefore not fun, then moving on to something else just makes sense.

Justin did a lesson where he talks about the different levels of songs you learn: https://www.justinguitar.com/guitar-lessons/3-types-of-songs-you-should-practice-pc-001

In the context of this lesson, I moved “LaGrange” from “developers” to “dreamers” and added “Jesus Just Left Chicago” to “developers”

It sounds like you need to move “House of the Rising Sun” onto your “dreamers” list and come back to it later.


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@roger_holland That makes sense. Let me rephrase:

If it is “I can see myself doing this with a lot of practice”, I’ll make an attempt. If it is “whoa how in the world is that even possible” then I’ll save that for later.

Or sometimes, I’ll pick it up but simplify that part to my level.

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@Fast-Eddie Is it the riff at the very start of the song? If so, is not that just finger-picking?

I think this is one of the most-accurate lessons for it and it teaches that part with finger-picking. Hope it helps: (removed)

Edit: I removed the link as I understand it is against forum rules but just want to say that I’ve seen lessons aiming at teaching the song note for note reached it with finger-picking. If that’s something you’d be happy with, I think you can get it exactly like the original that way.

Hi Justin has a good lesson on La grange , then it is not usual for us to send people to other teachers,