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How Long Does It Take To Learn To Play The Guitar?

You may have seen a cool guitar solo somewhere and thought to start to venture into the musical world. 

Now that your interest is piqued to learn how to play, you might be wondering “how long does it take to learn guitar?”

While we’d love to tell you that in just a few short weeks you can go from zero to Jimi Hendrix, that’s not the case.

But don’t be discouraged. Guitar playing is much more about deliberate practice than it is about pure talent.

Every person progresses at a different rate, and has differing amounts of time they can dedicate to their craft, so keep that in mind.

With all our years of teaching, we have found that there is a general timeline for what you can expect when it comes to progressing.

Keep in mind, this is a timeline for practising a total of 1-2 hours a week. If you practice more, you can expect faster results and if it’s less you can stretch out this timeline.

The key to success for our students is making practice fun. Pick songs and types of music you actually enjoy playing.

GAME-CHANGING TIP: Only practice songs you love. (This make a big difference.)

When you enjoy what you’re learning, you practice more. You look forward to practice. You’re excited about practicing!

That will keep you going through the hard times when you need to do certain sections over and over again to get them right.

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How long does it take to learn guitar: Your first 1 to 3 months

Now that we’ve discussed the importance of goal setting, tips to finding your starter guitar, and what to keep in mind when you start learning the guitar, we’ll break down what you should keep in mind when it comes to a timeline of progression.

Focus your first 3 months on basic open chords such as Em, A, Am, E, Dsus2, Cmaj7 and G.

You’ll progress faster with the use of stepping stone chords.

Stepping stone chords give guitar learners the ability to start learning chords fast. This will give you a boost of confidence as you quickly work your way through a lot of chords and enjoy a sense of progression.

One thing you need to know as a beginner is that for the most part, there are a variety of ways to play different chords. There are easier and harder ways, both of which you should try to learn.

During your first three months you’ll also be getting a feel for rhythm and strumming. If you have never played music before on any kind of instrument or even playing with something electronic such as Guitar Hero, this might be a learning curve for you.

However, if you have basic rhythm or have a tempo-keeper, such as a metronome, then this will just be a matter of refinement.

It’s not easy to strum and hit the right strings every time, but with enough practice throughout these first three months you’ll be able to get this down.

How long does it take to learn guitar: Your first 3 to 6 months

The three to six month period is where people who truly want to learn the guitar will get weeded out from people who just thought it looked like something cool but aren’t fully committed.

In the beginning, it’s easy to be excited and think you’re going to learn in a matter of weeks. By this point, you realize your strengths and limitations. The finger calluses have set in and you are starting to get a good idea of the basics.

This is where you should progress to be able to play more open chords like C, D, and E.

These chords are used in a lot of songs and will give you the ability to span beyond the handful of songs and chords you know.

How long does it take to learn guitar: Your first 6 to 18 months

After six months, you should start to feel comfortable and know your way around a guitar. You might not be busting out amazing solos quite yet, but you’ve mastered the basic chords and you feel comfortable playing.

Maybe at this point you’ve even dared to pull out your guitar and play in front of people.

You should have the chords already mentioned pretty much nailed down along with the more complex open chords such as F, Dm, Bb.

This is a great time to begin exploring scales and lead guitar. They complement your chord work perfectly.

How long does it take to learn guitar: Your first 2+ years

After two years you should be tackling barre chords. This is the biggest challenge a guitar learner faces, but the reward on the other side is huge. The whole fretboard opens up to you!

You’ll be able to learn new songs with ease, create your own if you desire, and play any chord.

Whilst it’s possible to learn all of these things within 6 months, depending on how much time you want to dedicate to practicing throughout your week, after 2 years it’s similar to like learning a bike; You’ll be able to pick it up again even if you quit for a long time.

Just like studying for a big test, it’s best to do practice early and often as opposed to trying to cram it all in during one extended day.

This also keeps it light and fun when you practice. The last thing you want is for your guitar playing to feel like a nagging chore. NO! That’s not what this is about. This is about doing something you love, connecting with music, connecting with your spiritual side and expressing yourself.

You should view your guitar learning as a fun and lifelong journey. Not a chore. And not something to rush.

Tune up every time, even if you don’t think the guitar needs it

If you tune it before you play, every time, you guarantee the guitar will sound it’s best.

Why does this matter?

  • Well, in the early days you won’t have a developed musical ear and often won’t be able to tell when the guitar is slightly out of tune.
  • So what happens is, slowly and in creeping increments, the guitar gets far out of tune and you sound awful when you play. Which is deflating.

Tune up, every time!

Final Thoughts

If you want to learn guitar setting goals for yourself is a great way to stay motivated. Small goals such as learning a new chord or playing a new song feels more rewarding when you achieve them. Remember, do not set too many at once including challenging chords as well as a song all at once as it will overwhelm you.

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