How Long Does It Take To Learn Guitar?

learning guitar

This is probably one of the most common questions that people have at the beginning of their guitar journey, and in this article, we’re going to try to answer it for you.

In this lesson, you will learn:

  • 10 epic tips that maximize guitar progress.
  • How to easily learn guitar in under 2 years and what to expect.
  • 5 fundamentals of guitar that will give you the best start.

But really, how long does it take to learn guitar?

That’s a tough question to answer and honestly, the answer is different for every person.

Learning guitar can be an extremely liberating process. It’s scientifically proven that learning a musical instrument can improve mental health.

However, people are often put off by how long it can take to learn guitar. The reality is, learning an instrument can be a huge learning curve, you’ll have good days, bad days and although you’d probably love to become Jimi Hendrix after one week, it simply won’t happen.

If you want to learn guitar, you must know that it takes time, patience, and dedication, whether you’re a child or an adult. Although it may seem like we’re airing on the negative side, we’d argue that the pros of learning guitar definitely outweigh the cons.

You don’t have to be the best guitarist in the world, you just have to enjoy the learning process, take your time and most importantly, have fun.

Do you have what it takes to learn guitar? Let’s find out…

What Do I Need If I Want To Learn Guitar?

This is a great question, when your first start to learn guitar, you will need:

  • An electric or acoustic guitar.
  • An amp and lead. (You only need an amp and lead if you have an electric guitar.)
  • Guitar tuner.
  • Guitar picks.
  • Guitar strap.

Choosing The Best Guitar For You

Out of all the items above, choosing the guitar is the most important factor, the other items are important but can be easily changed if they aren’t right for you.

You must have a comfortable instrument that looks good, and most importantly inspires you to play.

When people learn guitar, they usually start on a nylon-string acoustic guitar. These guitars are great for a child as the strings are easy to play and the neck is wide, allowing beginner guitar players to easily move across the strings.

Although nylon-string guitars are a great choice for some guitar players, it doesn’t scream rock and roll. An electric guitar or steel-string guitar are better choices for beginners who want to rock.

If you wish to learn more about the best guitars for beginners, click here. (Insert link to ‘best kid guitar’ article).

How Long Does It Take To Learn Guitar: The First 3 Months

When you first start your process as a guitar player, you must focus on posture, guitar anatomy, how to fret notes, how to read guitar music, and learning your favorite songs.

  • Posture – When you learn guitar, you must have good posture. This will set you up for success when learning how to play guitar.
  • Sit on a decent chair – When you learn guitar, it’s often tempting to slouch on the sofa. However, this is the worst thing you can do. Aim to use a standard dinner table chair that allows you to sit with your back straight, your legs at a 90-degree angle, and your feet flat on the floor.
  • Place The Guitar On Your Right Thigh – If you play a right-hand guitar, aim to have the guitar on your right thigh. This will perfectly align the guitar and allow you to strum it easily. If you play a left-hand guitar, do the same thing but on your left thigh.
  • Guitar Anatomy – When you learn guitar, you must learn guitar anatomy. The guitar anatomy simply means the parts of the guitar such as the body, neck, frets, and strings.
  • Fretting Notes – If you learn guitar, you must also be able to fret notes correctly. From experience, this can be painful for some guitarists. However, don’t worry, your fingers soon toughen and it gets easier with practice.

How Long Does It Take To Learn Guitar – Learn Guitar Music

You’ve probably read that heading and ran for the hills, but we’re not diving into music theory just yet.

When we talk about guitar music, we’re simply referring to guitar tabs and chord boxes. These methods are much easier than reading standard notation and help you learn guitar.

If you’re unsure how to read guitar music, has produced an excellent article that helps with this.

How Long Does It Take To Learn Guitar – Learn Your Favorite Songs

When you learn how to play guitar, it’s important to focus on learning songs, not music theory. In your first 3 months of learning guitar, you should focus on songs that use 2-3 chords and riffs that use 1-2 strings.

When learning chords, try to use chord shapes that only use one or two fingers. These are much easier than full open chords and are easier to change between. As well as this, you should aim to strum with consistent downstrokes.

Here’s a list of great songs for beginners, hopefully, you’ll find one in there that makes you want to play guitar.

  • Songbird by Oasis. (2 chords – G & Em).
  • Lively Up Yourself by Bob Marley. (2 chords – D & G).
  • Horse With No Name by America. (2 chords – Em & D).
  • Smoke On The Water by Deep Purple. (1 string riff).
  • Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes. (1 string riff).
  • I’ve Gotta Feeling by The Black Eyed Peas. (1 string riff).

How Long Does It Take To Learn Guitar: Months 3-6

After you’re comfortable with the above concepts, it’s time to move forward with new songs, new chord shapes, and strumming.

In your first 3 – 6 months as a guitar student, you should focus on open chords. You should be able to play the following chord shapes during this timeline:

  • A major, A minor, C major, D major, D minor, E minor, E major & G major.

Even though this seems like a small list, you would be surprised at how many songs you can play with just these chords. As a student, your main goal when learning these chords is to change comfortably between them.

At this point in the timeline, you should be playing songs that have 3 or 4 chords. Here’s a list of some of our favorite songs:

  • Stand by Me by Ben E. King – G, Em, C & D.
  • Budapest by George Ezra – G, C & D.
  • Three Little Birds by Bob Marley – A, D & E.
  • Good Riddance by Green Day – G, C, D & Em.
  • I’m Yours by Jason Mraz – G, C, D & Em.
  • Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door by Bob Dylan – G, C, D & Am.
  • Driver’s License by Olivia Rodrigo – G, Em, C & D.
  • Watermelon Sugar by Harry Styles – Dm, Am, C & G.

When you learn to play the guitar, one of the most important things to do is to learn a song that you love. Learning a new song will give you lots of confidence and allow you to revel in the learning process.

How Long Does It Take To Learn Guitar – Months 6-18

At this point in your guitar-playing timeline, you should now focus on more complex chords such as F major, B minor, and B major.

These chords are slightly trickier but compliment the chords that you learned in months 3-6.

As guitar students, one of your guitar goals when learning guitar should be to play your favorite songs that use over 4 chords. These songs should have sections that use different chords and strumming patterns.

In addition, now would be a good time to start learning basic guitar scales in your practice sessions. A few good scales to start with are:

  • A minor pentatonic & E minor pentatonic.
  • G major scale and C major scale.

As a general rule, start to become familiar with these scales in your practice and begin to improvise in your own jam sessions.

How Long Does It Take To Learn Guitar – 2+ Years 

If you’ve made it this far in your guitar journey timeline, congratulations! You are now a fully-fledged guitar player and musician.

At this point, you should now be able to play barre chords. Barre chords are one of the hardest things that you will ever do on the guitar, however, they are well worth persevering with in your practice sessions.

Barre chords open up a whole new world of possibilities as a guitar player and will turbo-charge your musicianship skills.

You should continue to practice minor pentatonic and major scales but should be able to play them in different keys.

Once you become comfortable with the above concepts, you should begin to blend lead guitar and rhythm to enhance your skills as a musician.

Finally, as you start to gain confidence playing guitar, a fantastic thing you can do is go to jam sessions, open mic nights, and even start gigging in pubs and clubs with other musicians.

This is one of the best things you can do as a guitar player and it’s guaranteed to increase your guitar progress.

10 Tips That Will Maximise Your Guitar Progress

As guitar learners, it can be easy to feel defeated and unmotivated.

This is especially prevalent in the early years of playing guitar and can often lead to guitarists wanting to give up and not continue.

Believe it or not, there are lots of simple things that you can do that will maximize your progress and help you along your guitar journey. Here are some tips and tricks that are guaranteed to make you feel like a guitar deity.

#1 – Pick a guitar that inspires you to play 

When you first learn to play guitar, the hardest thing to do is practice. An extremely easy way to fix this is to pick a guitar that inspires you to play.

For example, if the music you love is AC/DC and Guns and Roses, there’s no point learning on an acoustic guitar as it won’t make you feel or sound like your heroes.

The same goes the other way, if you love artists like Ed Sheeran and James Taylor, as their music is predominantly acoustic-based, learning on electric is the wrong thing to do.

By picking an instrument that makes you want to play, this will make you want to practice regularly and will make it fun.

#2 – Tune your guitar before your practice session

It doesn’t matter how many guitar skills you have, if your guitar is out of tune, you’re going to sound bad.

Before you start playing, make sure that the first thing you do is tune your guitar.

Not sure what guitar tuner to buy? Check out this article. (Insert best guitar tuner article here).

#3 – Keep your guitar out of its case

Even though this is a simple concept, leaving your guitar out of its case can dramatically improve your progress when you learn guitar.

It’s no secret that every person has a huge amount of things to do each week, whether it’s cleaning the house, going to work or exercising.

So when you want to learn guitar, you have to take out some of the obstacles. By keeping the guitar out of its case and in clear sight, it enables you to get playing as quickly as possible.

#4 – Have a dedicated practice space

As guitar learners, one of the biggest obstacles that you will face is having to practice. One of the things that can hold you back is not having a dedicated practice space.

If you’re constantly trying to find a place to sit down and learn guitar, it can take the wind out of your sails and demotivate you.

You don’t need a huge music studio to do this, all you need is:

  • A small corner in a room somewhere in your home.
  • A small table to keep your accessories on. (Tuner, picks, capos, etc).
  • A music stand.
  • A guitar stand to keep your guitar on.
  • A decent chair or stool.

Having all of this in place will give you the best chance of making the most progress when you learn guitar.

#5 – Have a practice schedule

Going by the Malcolm Gladwell 10,000-hour rule, many would argue that you have to practice 10,000 hours to become a master at anything. However, this simply isn’t realistic for the average person.

As guitarists, we can actually structure our time by having a set practice schedule.

You don’t need to put in hours and hours of practice each week to get good at guitar, you just have to be consistent.

When setting a practice schedule, it’s important to be pragmatic about how much time you can dedicate to the guitar each week. Try doing this:

  • Look at your week and fill in your regular commitments such as work, school, etc.
  • Find some gaps in your schedule where you can fit in a practice session.

It’s important to be realistic when you do this, most people can’t do 3 hours of practice a day, but what is achievable is maybe 10-20 minutes. It’s much better to do a small amount of practice than none at all.

#6 – Use a practice diary.

One of the things that everybody should use as a guitar player is a practice diary. Not only can this help monitor your progress it can also help motivate you on those days where you don’t feel like doing guitar practice.

In your diary, you should write the following things:

  • What you practiced that day.
  • What went well and what could’ve gone better.
  • What you’re going to do in your next practice session to improve things.

By engaging in this process, you ensure that you are moving forward in your guitar journey smoothly and quickly.

#7 – Set guitar goals

As guitarists, it’s important to set goals. We can split these into long, medium, and short-term goals. For example, let’s say you wanted to learn barre chords. You may split your goals up like this:

  • Long-term goal – To play major bar chords on the low E and A strings by next year.
  • Medium-term goal – To be able to play major bar chords on the E and A strings in six months.
  • Short-term goal – To be able to play major bar chords on the E string in one month.

By going through this process, you’re able to monitor your progress and make huge strides in your playing.

#8 – Practice little and often

It’s a common myth that you have to practice for hours and hours of guitar playing to become great. This simply isn’t true.

When learning anything, it is far more productive to practice little and often.

For example, it’s far better to do 10-15 minute practice sessions than 3 hours one day than none over the next two.

Learning guitar is all about muscle memory, so consistent practice will be far more effective in the long run.

#9 – Use a timer

Using a timer is a great way of becoming more productive. It keeps you focused and engaged as a guitar learner. In your next practice session, try this.

  • Set a small achievable goal. E.g learning a new chord or scale.
  • Set a timer for 15 minutes.
  • See if you can achieve that goal within the time limit.

This is a great challenge and can really keep you focused. As people, we can rarely focus for longer than 20-25 minutes, after this point we get distracted.

By setting a timer for a short period of time it will help keep you focused and engaged.

#10 – Get a guitar teacher

A common question that people ask is, “Do I need a guitar teacher?”. The answer is always, yes. Nothing can replace a decent guitar teacher. Having a good guitar teacher will:

  • Keep you from making mistakes in your guitar playing and have good technique.
  • Keep you on the correct musical timeline.
  • Allow you to make progress quickly.

If you want to find a decent guitar teacher, it’s always worth asking at your local music store or searching online.

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