Guitar: The Problem-Solving Instrument.
Since the 1960s, the guitar has become one of the most affordable and widely available instruments. Being so mobile, it is perhaps the only instrument you might find simultaneously in a concert hall and around a campfire. Advancements in music technology have only furthered the mainstream appeal of the guitar across multiple genres. Due to its global popularity, the guitar has become a cultural icon and remains so today.
To most people, the guitar looks like a simple instrument to learn.
An average guitar has six strings and twenty-one frets comprising 132 notes. A beginner guitarist often sets to work learning some basic strumming patterns and chords to get them started. As most pop songs use a minimum of 3 chords, the guitar is a perfect instrument to start on. Unlike a violin or piano, learning how to play the guitar has the advantage of having a more gradual learning curve. For this reason, the guitar is a very forgiving instrument and relies on the player to recall shapes and patterns over music theory. So far, the guitar sounds like the perfect instrument to learn. It requires minimal technique to get started; There are plenty of practical learning shortcuts; The nature of the guitar doesn't force the player to have extensive music theory knowledge to play simple songs.
But therein lies the problem.
In contrast to the piano or violin, the guitar is still a very young instrument on the timeline of music history. Both the piano and violin have been formally recognised as 'respectable concert instruments' for centuries. In that time, there have been strict developments for what is considered the 'correct technique' on each respective instrument. The history of how technique has been taught created a foundation for acceptable practice today. Earlier iterations of the guitar have often been associated with informal social entertainment. Until pioneers such as Andre Segovia championed the guitar into the concert hall, the modern guitar was never formally recognised in the same light as concert instruments.
As a seasoned guitar teacher, I have taught students that range from all skill levels and abilities. Over the years, I have noticed that guitar players often fall into many of the same knowledge gaps when they're looking to improve. I think the answer is quite simple as to why this is the case.
I believe that the greatest strength of the guitar is also its greatest weakness. Simply put, there is no single, correct method for learning how to play the guitar. This might be the instrument's greatest strength as some of history's most reputable guitar players have been significant innovators in developing technique and sound production.