Like anything in life that is worth something, sometimes an investment in time is required. Learning to play the guitar is one of those “somethings”.
Many people who set out to learn to play the guitar usually give up too soon. This is normally a result of not having a plan or goals set in order to improve.
So how long does it take to learn the guitar?
5000 hours is where most are considered “expert” players. But the truth is, you never really stop learning the guitar as the instrument is very broad. And so when a person decides to begin playing the guitar, it is very important to have a plan and goals. Without the proper milestones set in place, learning the guitar can become confusing.
Rough Timeline To An Advanced Player
To give you an example of what you can expect if you set goals and go all in, we have created a rough progress chart.
This chart reflects the stages you will experience as you progress. Starting out usually requires around 30 hours to figure out how to get started, so make sure to give yourself time for this.
You will need time to set your goals and research, make sure this is included in your plan, it isn’t just about practicing scales. You will need a guitar and materials to work on!
|Level||HOURS To Advance||Daily Practice (Hours)||Days Per Week||Realistic Commitment|
|Beginner 1||64||1||4||4 Months|
|Beginner 2||80||1||5||4 Months|
|Beginner 3||160||2||5||4 months|
|Advanced Beginner||240||2||5||6 Months|
|Intermediate 1||240||2||5||6 Months|
|Intermediate 2||288||2||6||6 Months|
|Intermediate 3||288||2||6||6 Months|
|Advanced Intermediate||288||2||6||6 Months|
Beginner 1: Your biggest challenge will be sore fingers. This will determine how many days you can play during the week.
Beginner 2: A couple of chords memorized. Biggest challenge is switching between them quickly. More practice time may be possible as your fingers are less sore.
Beginner 3: Chords are easier and more accurate. Learned some song parts and are comfortable with the guitar. Researching new material will begin to become part of learning around this point. More enjoyment here should mean more daily practice time.
Advanced Beginner: After a year of playing, this is where a player will get serious or not. Learning song sections and playing rhythm parts are more than possible. Setting goals has become second nature but more time will be required to advance.
Intermediate 1: With nearly 600 hours of practice, an intermediate player will have good rhythm capabilities and will now know enough theory to have memorized some scales. Early soloing skills will begin to form around this time.
Intermediate 2: Songs are becoming easier to play. You will begin to recognize notes in songs by listening to them. Songwriting and an increase in practice time will follow as you begin to get serious about playing guitar. Solo skills will create a hunger for the guitar.
Intermediate 3: Scales and soloing begin to get strong with some decent speed and accuracy. Experimenting with different keys and string tuning will begin to take place as a familiarity with standard tuning has developed.
Advanced Intermediate: You have become a very good player with some great skill. But you still marvel at how some players play so smooth and so quickly almost without thinking. Your not there yet but you are on your way!
Obviously your plan should look similar to ours with the difference of play time and scheduling. If you noticed we broke it up into segments.
This is because we believe in setting goals and reaching milestones and you should too. But this is a skill that also needs to be learned.
Once it is however, it will greatly help you learn almost anything.
Learn Guitar By First Setting Goals
No matter what it is you are trying to accomplish, it’s always best to do things in stages. Learning to play guitar is no different.
Try to do it any other way and you will become overwhelmed and very quickly. This will only lead you to quit before things get good.
And because beginning is probably the most difficult, we need to set some goals and strategies.
So why do you want to play the guitar?
This is different for everyone and is something you really should think about.
- Maybe you are simply looking for a new pastime?
- You have an artist that you love and want to play like them?
- You want to start a band?
- Perhaps it’s to become a professional musician?
Whatever your reason, you will need some long term goals to stay motivated and to keep improving.
Explore Your Reason For Wanting To Learn The Guitar
So take a second and think about what it is that is motivating you to learn the guitar. Most players know exactly why it is they want to learn to play.
Think about it.
Now lets explore this reason, this will help you figure out what some of your goals should be. Having goals will help measure your level of progress which in turn will keep you motivated to continue.
It will also set a road map and the amount of time it will take you to reach your main goal. We will explore that shortly.
Let’s look at an example beginner.
Scott wants to learn the guitar because he wants to pick up a new pastime and play a few songs from his favorite artist.
He has a couple of hours per day to spend learning to play the guitar.
Most of the songs he wants to play are pretty basic and consist of some basic chords.
But there is one song with a solo he loves and would like to play one day.
Set Your First Goals
Now with Scott, his goals will be quite similar to most people because these are goals most people should set. Only you can really determine your goals and what you will need to see as you progress.
But In Scott’s case some of his goals might be:
- Practice at least one hour per day for 6 weeks.
- Research and select a favorite song that has easy parts to learn
- Select and practice your first chords.
- See considerable progress with chords in 4 weeks.
So while these are some basic goals, you can see that this can determine how long it will take a person to learn to play the guitar.
Well let’s break it down
Set Time To Practice
Scott has recognized that he can afford to practice 2 hours per day but knows that some days maybe only one hour is possible.
This will have a huge impact on how long it will take him to learn to play the guitar.
So he has made sure to make this a goal. Making sure to devote the time to play is probably the biggest goal on the list!
If you sporadically just pick up the guitar here and there a couple times per week, it is going to take a lot longer to learn.
And chances are, you will not reach any of the other goals, if you continue to play at all.
Research Your Material
A bit of research will be required to figure out what you want to play.
For some people that want to learn on their own, this is more possible than ever!
Finding one of your favorite songs is the best way to start because you will enjoy learning.
Every advancement you make will motivate you to keep going as you get better and better at the song parts.
But this will take some research because you will need to start with a song that is a bit easier and consists of some basic chords.
Every artist has a song like this, you just need to figure out what they are.
Thanks to the internet, this is very easy as there are many players who have documented this somewhere online.
Once you have found the chords for a song part, it’s time to learn them. There are some great chord charts available all over the internet.
This can help you to learn which fingers are used and on which strings for the chords.
Then it’s just a matter of practicing them to get your mind, fingers and strumming on the same page.
For the first few months, you are going to just work on the chords and slowly put them together.
Eventually you will begin to get it and the song you selected will come together. This is where your motivation will kick in and keep pushing you forward.
But stick to your goals, if you try and add more to this you will become overwhelmed. Just keep working on the one goal until you get it.
Then once you feel pretty comfortable with the chords. Reassess your goals.
Don’t compare yourself to others either, you will get there if you work at it!
How Long Does It Take To Learn Guitar?
Now that you have some goals set, it’s time to look at how long this will take.
Not only are you excited to get going, there is also an impatience to learn to play the songs you love.
These first few months are where those who are not really committed are going to quit. There are many people who think the guitar would be great to learn and looks cool.
But they just don’t have it in them to push through the first 4 months.
It’s about commitment and perspective at this point, so it’s important not to get impatient. There is a long road ahead of you, maybe a lifetime of guitar playing.
There will be some frustrating moments, but the rewards from your labors will be well worth it!
But this is going to come down to your investment in time. The more time you put in, the faster you will improve.
The First 4 Months
Investing 4 hours per week of practice will have earned you 64 hours at the end of 4 months.
The first 4 months will consist of many learning curves. Not only do you want to begin practicing your chords and sticking to your goals, you need to learn the guitar itself!
Learning how to hold it and tune it are also things you will need to know and will come with time.
In the first month, your biggest hurdle will be getting comfortable with the guitar. Some bad habits can be formed at this point that you want to be aware of depending on your guitar and the hand you strum with.
Holding The Guitar
With your guitar in your lap:
Make sure to stabilize your guitar with your strumming arm without putting all your weight onto the instrument.
You don’t want to hunch over it.
If it’s an acoustic guitar you should have your arm on top of it. However if it’s an electric guitar, your arm should rest on the front of the guitar tucked into your body.
Sit upright and keep the instrument from leaning back towards you.
The idea here is to keep the guitar vertical while allowing your strumming arm to feel comfortable and free to strum while still supporting the guitar.
If at any point your fretting hand becomes in charge of supporting the guitar, you need to readjust.
Tuning The Guitar
Every time you sit down to play the guitar, you should check your tuning.
Part of staying motivated to play will consist of having a guitar that is in tune.
There are many good tuners on the market that can help with this.
Clip on tuners are probably the best way to get started as they are relatively cheap and easy to use.
But you may as well get used to a tuner as even the best players still rely on them.
Chords And Strumming
As you practice chords, there are a number of things that will begin to develop. Strumming will be a struggle as you get used to the rhythm of plucking the right strings.
Because your eyes will normally be on your fretting hand, the strumming arm will struggle to get the feel for the strings.
This is a normal progression with anyone who begins playing the guitar.
Just keep at it. While it will feel frustrating at times that you are not hitting the right strings, you will get it!
Don’t let it get to you.
This arm will have to learn by feel and not sight. Guitar players normally do not look at their strumming hand, so just keep practicing this.
At The End Of 4 Months
Your outcome at the end of four months will depend on the amount of time played.
If you were able to stick to your plan, then that’s a success on its own! Look for your milestones here and reassess your goals.
If you stuck to your plan then your goals should be very close if not totally obtained.
The fact that you made it to the 4 month mark and didn’t quit is the goal you should have been hoping to obtain!
Many people will not make it to this point and will have sold off their guitars by now.
If you were able to play at least 3-4 hours per week, you should see:
- Fingers tips no longer hurt
- Holding the guitar is easier and more natural
- Improved strumming
- Chosen chords have becoming easier
- Chords added to original list
- Chords are memorized
- Can play song parts with less pauses between chords
From 4 To 8 Months Learning the Guitar
So by the 4 month mark, things will look a lot different! Now, you have reached some goals, made new ones and reached them as well.
Playing the guitar feels more comfortable and is becoming fun and exciting as you can now play songs.
The fret board doesn’t feel quite as intimidating and is starting to make sense.
One thing to make sure you keep is your practice schedule. From here on, picking up the guitar to practice is very important.
You are at a place where the next big leap in progress will make a big substantial impact in your abilities.
Strumming and your ability to pluck strings cleanly will be of great importance.
While at this point you will still be working on chords, look into new techniques and tips on strumming. As the chords you begin to work on get harder, your ability to strum should not be overlooked.
There are many great teachers online that can offer tips and patterns. With some practice these patterns can take your strumming to a new level.
Somewhere between the 6 and 8 month mark, it should be time to look into scales.
While chords can put together some of your favorite songs, there will be lead parts that you will want to play.
If one day you decide to write your own music, then scales and lead guitar parts will be necessary.
Not only will learning scales be important to the music you play, but it will also improve your fretting accuracy and speed.
Chords will be a piece of cake once you begin learning scales and working your way up and down the fret board.
Learn Guitar Maintenance
Now that you have had some major guitar tuning experience, you may have already changed your strings at least once!
Playing the guitar will also mean guitar maintenance!
Learning to change your guitar strings and tune the guitar is of great importance. This is a skill you will need to know otherwise you will be paying someone a lot of money to do so!
While it seems like rocket science at the start, there are some great videos and information on the internet to help.
At some point you are going to have to do it.
Now is a great time to start, and don’t forget to give your guitar a good cleaning too.
At The End Of 8 Months
Now things are getting fun!
At this point, chords are becoming much easier and the harder ones seem obtainable!
You’re slowly learning scales and getting faster on the fret board. You might even have started to write your own song or parts of a song!
A few things to keep in mind however:
- Continue to keep your practice schedule
- Don’t overwhelm yourself with new things to learn, keep your goals and focus
- Continue to set new goals and reach them
It is very easy to get ahead of yourself when things are starting to come together. Make sure to set goals and stick to them! You don’t want to take on too much at one time!
Your First Year Learning To Play The Guitar
Before you know it, a year will have passed and, if you kept your practice schedule, your playing skills will have come a long way.
One year of playing the guitar to a consistent schedule will net some great rewards!
And if you have been practicing with an online course, you will have learned some great scales and solos.
A year of playing the guitar has solidified your interest in the art. No one does anything this long only to drop it later.
Even if you take a short break, or even a long break, your skills will remain when you come back to it.
And so, now is a great time to look into the quality of your instrument and gear!
While we always suggest starting with the best instrument you can afford, it isn’t always possible.
But at this point, you are going to need some professional equipment to really begin honing your skills.
As your needs and wants change with your progression, your equipment will need to as well.
And so if you haven’t taken the plunge into a really high quality guitar, now is the time.
The First Year Playing Guitar And Beyond
Your time investment at this point is well worth it. You know exactly how to progress as a guitar player as you go into the next year.
Throughout year two and into year 3, you will watch your skill level go from an intermediate guitar player to a more advanced player.
Your goal setting skills are now honed in and your new life long skill will entertain not only you but many people.
We don’t know what your goals are for wanting to pick up the guitar, but it is an amazing skill to learn.
If you ask anyone who has learned the guitar they will all tell you of their first few months as they are unforgettable.
The struggle is real, but watch them play and you will see the heart and soul expressed through their passion.
Playing the guitar really can be life changing, and who knows where it might take you!
How many hours a day should you practice guitar?
When you are just starting out, 30 minutes should be your goal per day. This is because your fingers will become sore until you develop calluses and muscle strength.You don’t want to force yourself through the pain as it may discourage you to practice.
But a solid 30 minutes per day will help to progress. After that, you will naturally set your own schedule.
How quickly can you learn guitar?
After 4 months, you should be able to play some basic songs and chords. It will be at this point that you should feel comfortable enough to play around other people. But remember, this all depends on your practice schedule.
Can I learn guitar in 2 months?
It is possible to learn how to play in 2 months. Devoting time to practice, and access to a good course can really help speed up learning. But keep your expectations low as you will not be playing solos after 2 months.
Playing guitar is a journey. It is something you begin knowing that it will require time and patience to obtain.
And so i would recommend giving yourself at least 4 months to see some real results.
Any sooner and you will just be frustrating yourself which will only lead to quitting too soon.