One of the most common questions that potential beginner guitar players have about the process is, how long does it take to learn guitar?
The answer to that question depends on a few factors:
- Your personal definition of being a “guitar player”
- The level of advancement or competency you wish to achieve
- How much time you have to dedicate to the craft
- The goals you want to achieve
- The tools available to you for learning
- Baseline of musical knowledge
Even with those parameters defined, it is difficult to accurately pinpoint the moment you have learned guitar. For some people the moment they are able to play through a song is their version of success. For others, it might be learning all the chords or mastering the scales.
While pinpointing an exact timeline for how long it takes to learn the guitar is impossible, what can be done is provide some tips on how to learn the guitar as quickly and effectively as possible. That will help you understand which tips you can implement into your lifestyle and understand better how long it will take you, personally, to learn to play guitar.
Outline your personal goals for learning guitar is the best way to start. According to research, you are 42% more likely to reach your goals if you write them down.
Tips for Learning the Guitar Quickly
Start with 10-15 Minutes of Practice a Day
After you bring home that beautiful guitar, it can be wildly tempting to want to play for hours. You might even think that dedicating hours every day is the fastest way to learn to play guitar.
This is an unfortunate, and common, rookie mistake.
Guitars have metal strings. Rubbing your fingertips against metal strings will quickly cause soreness. A little bit of soreness is normal, but if your first few sessions of practice last an hour or more — you will find yourself in serious pain. Instead of diving into the pain, take a more modest approach that will serve you in the long run.
Start with just 10 to 15 minutes everyday. This will help you slowly build up calluses (tough layers of skin) on your fingers. You will learn to love those calluses as they start to protect you from the harsh guitar strings.
In addition to conditioning your finger tips, a shorter practice time will help the muscles in your hands to gain strength. There aren’t many movements in everyday life that mimic playing a guitar. Shorter, consistent practices will help you avoid soreness or carpal tunnels symptoms that can come from overuse. Sore fingers and muscles could be a delay your guitar learning process. Worse case scenario it deters you from wanting to continue at all.
Lastly, short practices are often easier to fit into your schedule. Instead of trying to find hours to practice each week, finding 10 to 15 minutes every day will help you get to your goal of learning guitar faster. You will be surprised to see how quickly your skills develop in just a couple weeks if you dedicated a few minutes every day.
Schedule Time Each Week
Finding time to practice every single day may not be feasible for your personal schedule, it is still important to dedicate specific time for practicing. Whatever time or duration you decide, put it into your planner or calendar and keep the promise to yourself. Learning to play guitar is important to you, so consider that practice time just like a work appointment that you can’t break.
Practicing one hour a week will allow you to be able to learn basic chords and simple songs within a a few months time.
One of the best ways to learn guitar quickly is to find accountability. Accountability usually comes in the form of:
- A Mentor
- A Partner
Having another person, especially a teacher, will help motivate you to practice.
A seasoned professional can also provide tips and instruction to help you learn quicker.
Here’s a great video breading these tips down:
Breakdown of Timeline to Learn Guitar
While results will still vary from person to person, there are some general guidelines you can expect when learning guitar. After you have built up your fingers calluses and strength, extending daily practice to 30 minutes a day is a practical amount. If you practice 30 minutes each day, it is reasonable to expect the following results according to this timeline:
1 to 2 Months. Within the first couple months of regular practice, you will have learned the basic guitar chords to a level of comfort. With these basic chords, you will be able to play a wide variety of basic songs. You should be comfortable with basic strumming patterns. If you choose to learn it, you could also begin to learn a few beginner plucking patterns.
6 Months. By month six, your basic skills will be more solidified. Added to your skill set will be basic lead guitar skills like hammer-ons and pull-ons. You will be able to play a bit more complex strumming patterns.
1 to 2 Years. After a couple years of playing, you should be comfortable playing a wide variety of songs and styles. Basic skills will come easy and you will feel confident in learning new material. With continued practice, this can be where you move into mastery of more complex skills like barre chords, soloing techniques, and improvising.
3 to 5 years. After this amount of time and practice, you should be able to play nearly anything you desire. Learning new songs will be easy for your. If you want to, you should be able to feel comfortable with playing lead guitar and soloing at this point.
10 to 20 Years. Congratulations! You can officially call yourself an expert at guitar after consistently practicing for over 10 years. Improvising, soloing, and complex strumming patterns will come easily to you at this phase.
Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.