Like anything in life that is worth something, normally an investment in time is required. Learning to play the guitar is one of those things. Many people who set out to learn 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 guitar?
With a dedicated schedule of hard work, you can expect to be playing songs for beginners in 2-3 months. Between months 3-6 you should be playing more slightly more technical guitar parts and somewhat more advanced songs.
5000 hours is where most are considered “expert” players. But the truth is, you never really stop learning, 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 guitar can become confusing.
In this article, we are going to look at how to set yourself up for success!
On Average, How Long Does it Take to Learn Guitar?
On average, it will take you 6 months to get to a point that you can confidently play easier songs. The first few months will require strengthening and muscle memory building exercise.
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 of learning guitar and what you will experience as you progress. Starting out usually requires around 20 – 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, and this will take some time to sort out!
|Level||Daily Rehearsal||Days Per Week||Realistic Commitment|
|Research Phase||2 Hrs||5||2 – 3 Weeks|
|Beginner||30 Mins||4 – 6||6 – 8 Months|
|Advanced Beginner||1 Hr||5||6 – 8 Months|
|Intermediate||2 hrs||5 – 6||1 Year|
|Advanced Intermediate||2 hrs||5 – 7||1 – 2 Years|
The chart is broken down into levels and the time investment required to reach the next level. This is what it normally takes to learn guitar for most people. You can do this by yourself or with a guitar teacher, but having instruction will save time on research.
Guitar Progress Timeline
As you can see from the chart above, learning guitar requires a bit of a time commitment. While it is one of the easier instruments to learn, it still requires work. Each stage will present new difficulties and successes as you work through a rough timeline.
Each stage will also require you to learn advanced techniques as you move from beginner to a more advanced level.
- 1-3 Months: Your biggest challenge at first will be sore fingers. This will determine how many days you can play during the week and how much time each session. As you begin to form calluses, your fingers will begin to strengthen.
- 3-6 Months: At around the 4-month mark, you should have a few chords memorized. The biggest challenge is switching between them quickly. More play time may be possible as your fingers are less sore. By the 6th month, chords are becoming easier and more accurate. You should have learned some song parts and are comfortable with the guitar.
- 6-8 Months: in this period, you will be playing a few songs and are getting more accurate with chord progressions. Your fingers are getting stronger and the fretboard notes are becoming more familiar. If you are still playing and haven’t lost interest yet, you will do well moving into the next phase.
- 8-12 Months: After 8 months of learning guitar, things are becoming fun! You are able to perform more complex techniques and play songs. Between 8 and 12 months, however, things will seem to plateau. You have had so many new things to learn that the rewards were more frequent. But between this point you will notice them slow down.
- 1-2 Years : With one year of play time, an intermediate player will have good rhythm capabilities and will know enough theory to have memorized some scales. Early soloing skills will begin to form around this time. Difficult songs are becoming easier to play. You are becoming an intermediate player and should have more advanced learning plans.
- Advanced Intermediate: After 2 plus years, you have become a very good player with some great skill. But you still marvel at how some people are so smooth and are so quick, almost without thinking. You are 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 with almost anything when it comes to learning guitar. In order to truly become a master, you will need nearly 10,000 hours of play time.
How Long Does It Take To Learn Electric Guitar?
One of the most popular kind of instrument to learn is the electric guitar. There is so much that it has to offer that can really be an amazing experience. There are many things that you can do on electric guitar that cannot be done on any other type as easily.
Playing searing leads is something that just can’t be done easily on any other platform. And some of the sounds that are possible with an electric are also pretty unique. Most beginners are eager to start with the electric guitar and play their favorite songs!
Truth is, the electric guitar is no different from an acoustic when it comes to the time needed for learning. The biggest hurdles are finger muscles, calluses and coordination. It will still take 6-8 months to learn to play easy songs on the electric guitar.
How Long Does It Take To Learn To Solo On Guitar?
This is a tough question, as there is a long of technique that is needed even to play the simplest of leads. Learning to solo is high on the list of why a person wants to learn guitar. We all have a favorite guitar hero who can shred!
But getting to this point comes down to how badly you want to learn to do it! While we looked at a timeline that can give you an idea of how long it will take to learn guitar, you can speed it up. If you can do more practice and find a good guitar teacher, you can get there faster.
By yourself, you can learn to play basic solos in 8-12 months on a regular practice routine. If you push harder, you can probably do it in 6-8 months. But these are real basic solos!
When learning how to solo, there are a lot of things to understand first. Scales, tabs and technique are needed just to get started. When you get a good grasp on these 3 things, you can begin to learn to play solos.
Why Learn 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 play.
Think about it.
Now let’s explore this reason, this will help you figure out what some of your goals should be. Having them 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 to spend learning to play the guitar each day. Most of the songs he wants to work on are pretty basic and consist of some simple chords.
But there is one song with a solo he loves and would like to learn to play over time.
Learn Faster By 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.
Set Your First Short Term Goals
Now with Scott, his goals will be quite similar to most people because these are what most people 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:
- Play at least one hour daily for 6 weeks.
- Research and select a favorite song that has easy parts to learn
- Select and work on 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
Make a Schedule
Scott has recognized that he can afford 2 hours per day, but knows that sometimes 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 playing is probably the biggest goal on the list!
If you sporadically just pick up the guitar here and there, maybe a couple of 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.
Start Practicing Consistently
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 you put in, the faster you will improve.
The First 4 Months Learning Guitar
Investing 4 hours per week 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 figure out 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 instrument. 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 Instrument
With your guitar in your lap:
Make sure to stabilize your instrument with your strumming arm without putting all your weight onto the instrument. You don’t want to hunch over it. The size needs to be right for you.
If it’s an acoustic guitar, you should have your arm on top of it. However, if it’s an electric, your arm should rest on the front of the instrument tucked into your body.
Sit upright and keep the instrument from leaning back towards you.
The idea here is to keep the instrument 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.
Chords And Strumming
As you work on 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:
- Fingertips 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 fewer pauses between chords
From 4 To 8 Months Learning 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.
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 schedule. From here on, picking up the guitar to play 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 time invested, 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.
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 some kind of maintenance!
Learning to change your guitar strings and tune the instrument 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 up with your regular 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
Before you know it, a year will have passed and, if you kept to your schedule, your playing skills will have come a long way.
One year of practicing 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.
After the First Year
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 more advanced. Your goal setting skills are now honed in and your new lifelong skill will entertain not only you but many people.
We don’t know what your goals are for wanting to learn guitar, but it is an amazing skill and great hobby. 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!
Frequently Asked Questions
If you still have questions, you may find more great answers below to help you along.
Is it Hard to Learn Guitar?
While guitar is normally called an easier instrument to learn, it does require some time and work. It is hard, by no means is it easy like some instruments. But there are harder ones, for sure.
The length of time it requires to learn the guitar all depends on how much you work at it. If you have a solid plan, you will progress faster. But if you start off with creating goals and working hard at it, you will go very far.
So if you are going to learn this instrument, you will want to take it serious. This way, you will end up reaching your goals while becoming the player you always wanted to be!
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 perform around other people. But remember, this all depends on your play schedule.
Can I learn guitar in 2 months?
It is possible to learn how to play in 2 months. Devoting time to playing, 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.
Can you learn guitar in a year?
Yes, after one year of learning guitar, you should be able to confidently play songs and have a good understanding of chords and notes. It is at this point that you will reach a plateau, as you have learned most of the basics.
From this point on, you will need to choose to continue to build skill in each of the things you have learned. Just remember to set goals as you work on advanced techniques.