One of the most common questions we get asked is ‘how long does it take to learn guitar?’ It’s often posed by people who’ve had a lifelong interest or passion in learning to play the guitar but haven’t got the time, or in some situations, the dedication to set aside to learning it themselves.
Unfortunately, there’s no straightforward answer to this question and it can depend on numerous variables and talent isn’t always one of them. You can be as naturally gifted at playing the guitar, but if you’re lazy and skip over the basics then your guitar playing skills are going to suffer later down the road.
The answer to this question will also depend on what you consider ‘learning’ the guitar to be – do you want to just learn a few chords to impress your friends at a party or are you looking to become the next Jimi Hendrix?
Well whether you’re looking to master ‘Smoke On The Water’ or progress to perform epic guitar solos on stage, then we’ll be taking you through how long it will take you.
Hours Not Years
When it comes to learning an instrument, especially a guitar, the measurement of time to learn it should not be measured in hours and not months or years. Sure, you may hear a guitarist tell you that it took them 5 years to play as they do, but did that involve 5 hours of practice every day for 5 years or 5 hours of practice a week?
Someone who only practices for 30 minutes a day will take longer to master the art of guitar compared to someone who practices for 2-4 hours a day. Although there’s no black and white way of knowing how long it’ll take someone to learn the guitar – some people are more naturally musical than others and will learn quicker.
However, as a general idea, we’ve created a table below showing how long it would take you to learn the guitar to a certain level depending on how many practice hours you put in a day.
Hours Practiced Per Day
|Level of Playing||Hours Needed||30 mins||1 hour||2 hours||4 hours|
|Introductory||150||10 months||5 months||2.5 months||39 days|
|Beginner||300||20 months||10 months||5 months||2.5 months|
|Intermediate||1,500||8 years||4 years||2 years||12 months|
|Advanced||4,000||27 years||13.5 years||6.7 years||3.3 years|
|Expert (Teacher)||10,000||56 years||28 years||14 years||7 years|
|Master or Rockstar||10,000 20,000||100+ years||50 years||25 years||12 years|
Adhering to Malcolm Gladwell’s theory that it takes 10,000 plus hours of intense practice of an art or skill to become a master of something, it’ll take that and more to become rockstar level in guitar playing.
Many famous guitarists have got where they are because they’ve dedicated every minute of their spare time to fine-tuning and perfecting their guitar skills. Slash used to spend 12 hours a day when he was a beginner which is one prime example of how intense practice can lead to results.
Set Yourself Realistic Goals
Manifestation and dreaming can only take you so far, but you need to be realistic when setting yourself goals for learning the guitar.
If you work a typical 9-5, then chances are you won’t be able to become a master at playing the guitar within the next 10 years, unless you intend to spend every spare moment in the evenings and weekends jamming out.
However, if you’re a music student your prospects of being a great guitarist are higher as you can spend a large number of your days practicing and developing your skills.
Quality not Quantity
As much as time is essential to learning the guitar, if you’re not having quality sessions then you’re not going to get anywhere. If you’re determined to become an expert at playing the guitar, then you’ll need to focus during your practice sessions.
When setting time aside to practice, make sure you do it in a quiet room with no distractions like the TV. The more you focus, the more you’ll remember and the quicker you will learn. 30 minutes of focused practice is more beneficial than 2 hours of casually strumming some chords in front of your favorite television show.
If your teacher has given you a piece to learn in between lessons, spend the time actually understanding and executing the piece instead of rushing to learn it so you can move onto something more difficult.
Don’t force yourself to practice if you’re not in the mood. Some people may find a focussed jam a form of release from stress whereas others may find it difficult to focus on practicing after a tough day at work. Find out when you’re most focused and set a schedule for your practice sessions.
It’s easy to get caught up in the world of YouTube videos and catch yourself attempting to learn songs that are way beyond your skill level – just like the saying, don’t run before you can walk.
Learning and perfecting the basics will allow you to excel later on in your learning journey and will help you become a great guitar player rather than an average one.
YouTube does have a wide collection of instructional videos for introductory and beginner levels to guitar, so if you need some help regarding any chords and don’t always have a teacher on hand, then it’s a useful resource to turn to.
Learning an instrument is not easy (for some anyway) and you’ll find yourself overcoming a lot of hurdles along the way, but the key is to not give up and try to perceive through the difficult skills and the times where you feel you’re making no progress.
Try not to get discouraged and don’t compare yourself to others – everybody starts somewhere and even the best of the best both past and present struggled to change chords at some point in their lives.