When you start smoking meat, you often have the urge to get super fancy right away. You want to use advanced techniques and you certainly want to use a super complicated rub. A rub that will take the meat up to the next level with an intricate and complex flavor profile.
A complex rub is all fine and good for an experienced bbq’er but as a beginner, let’s keep it simple. Start off with a simple salt and pepper rub. Boring I know but this will do something great for you. It will let you concentrate on getting the smoke right. It will help you learn the balance between too little smoke and too much.
Once you master the smoke, you can add in the flavor but learning how much smoke to use is important. For example, I love mesquite wood and I use it on chicken and brisket. It can be a difficult wood to deal with however. Too much mesquite and you can ruin your smoke. It will become bitter and very un-tasty. A strong rub could mask some of this and not let you realize the mistake that you made. You might think the problem was the rub and not the use of too much smoke.
In conclusion, keep it simple at first until you master the heat and the smoke. Only then should you start getting fancier on your way to bbq mastery.