We’ve all had the experience of feeling like a guitar god while practicing in our bedrooms, but when you get up on stage it’s an entirely different ball game.

Why did you butcher that solo that you’ve nailed at home? Why did that sweep picking riff feel super awkward? Why was your tone so bad?

There are many answers to this, and we’re going to take you through all of them, checklist-style, to talk about where you may be going wrong.

Nerves and Adrenaline

When it comes to your on-stage performance, these feeling are two sides of the same coin. Both of them can make you play poorly, they’re just different reasons for it.

Then can make you jittery, tighten your muscles and make your fingers hard to control, and easy way to mess up a technical section!

Both have similar solutions: remember to breathe! You can calm yourself by taking big, deep breaths.

Put your hand on your belly, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Do this 10 times.

You’ll find yourself thinking more clearly and your body will settle. Breathing isn’t just a cliche, it’s a biological coping mechanism that tells your body to chill out!

Your Strap Is Wrong

Think about where the guitar sits when you’re practicing at home. You’re likely sitting down, meaning your guitar is higher up on your torso.

If you go to play a show and hold your guitar really low (because we all know it looks cooooool) you’re putting your hands in a completely different position then they’re used to.

The angle of your pick changes, the position of your fretting hand changes, you can’t expect things to operate at optimal levels when you’re putting your hands in unfamiliar territory.

You can fix this in one of two ways: you can change your strap height to match your practice position, or vice versa.

Matching these two scenarios ensures that no matter where you’re playing, if you’re sitting or standing, your hands are right where they’re used to being, letting them shred without any hurdles in the way!

Your Tone Is… Different…

Here’s the thing…

Your tone may sound good at bedroom volumes, but when you turn it up it’s not going to sound the same. It’ll likely be much harsher in the high end and boomier in the low end.

This is science, it’s called the Fletcher-Munson curve. In short, humans are kinda weird. We hear things differently at different volumes. The tone of a sound can change depending on how loud it is.

See? Weird, right?

Even if you nail everything you’re playing, it might not be clearly audible through a muddy or harsh guitar tone.

The best way to compensate for this is to tweak your tone at a loud volume. Keep the tweaking restricted to those higher volumes and you’ll be much happier with your live tone!

Live and Learn

All of these things happen to the best of us, what’s important is that we learn from them.

Calm yourself, remember to practice the way you play live, and always make your tone when it’s loud!

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