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How Long Does It Take To Learn Guitar?

How Long Does It Take To Learn Guitar?

An average person could play a few basic chords in about a month, playing scales takes longer as there is more to learn. Hand strength and picking skills need time to develop, usually from 2 months to 1 year for the basics then 1-4 years to intermediate levels and then 4 years plus to master.

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Guitar technique Average time to learn the basics
Open chords1-2 months
Pentatonic scale 3-6 months
Bar chords3-7 months
Hammer on’s and Pull off’s4-5 months

I can still remember the fun of what it was like when I first started to learn the guitar, you want to sound like Marty Mcfly or Eddie Van Halen and many other greats but when that guitar is in front of you, you are faced with the daunting realization.

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“How do I make this work then?”

How long it takes to learn guitar will completely be down to you, if you are a person who puts in about 5 minutes of effort and expects to be a master then you are in for some cold reality.

Topic
1. What is the best time of day to learn guitar?
2. How long does it take to learn guitar chords
3. How good should I be at guitar after a year?
4. How good can you get at guitar in a year?
5. Can you master guitar in a year?
6. How good should I be at guitar after 2 years?
7. How long does it take to get really good at guitar?
8. How many hours guitar practice a day?
Summary
time clock
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com

1. What is the best time of day to learn guitar?

I get it we all have demands on our time, I defiantly had many demands on my time when I first started but the thing that helped me was finding a time that was regular most days and focus on learning the guitar for a least 40 minutes.

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The time that I managed to fit learning the guitar in to my day was my lunch break, I could then practice everyday and practicing for at least 40 minutes each time. This turned out to be a great boost to my ability to learn the guitar quickly.

If we look at the science behind how our brains learn you can easily see why. According to an article I read from inc.com they confirm that the brains best learning time during the day is generally between 10:00 am to 2:00 p.m. then again from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

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That shows my lunch time guitar learning fell into one of the best learning windows of the day, not only was it a time that I was free to learn the guitar but also a when my brain was actively able to learn most effectively.

That was why I was able to learn how to play the guitar at the fastest rate I possibly could by maximizing the best times to do it.

By using this approach I was able to learn basic chords in the first month and a few one finger tunes on the thick e string.

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This was great as it felt like I was unlocking the secrets of this simply made instrument that when mastered can do the most amazing things.

Using my lunch time guitar playing window with playing at home in the evenings and weekends I was able to go from this first video into way more complicated techniques and scale patterns

2. How long does it take to learn guitar chords

How long it takes to learn guitar chords depends on how much you are practicing. By practicing chords with the changes for about 40 min a day you could easily learn most guitar chords in 1 month with slow changes and maybe the muting of a string, but this will get better as hand strength improves.

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Most basic chords can be learned fairly quickly, the thing that takes the time is gaining the strength and stamina for playing them that is the problem.

E.g. Bar chords

on the other hand will take longer especially the dreaded F chord.

This really does hurt you hand, when I first learned some bar chords it was on a very cheap acoustic guitar, that guitar must have had the world’s toughest strings on it coupled with the fact the f chord is the hardest to do anyway and I had only been playing for 2 months, so my hand strength was still building up by then.

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The F chord requires on average between 21- 36lbs of pinch strength to make the chord ring out nicely, a word of caution before you attempt it. You should not press your guitar neck hard enough to damage your hand or the guitar but enough to play the chord.

Bar chords are some of the most difficult chords to play as you are pressing on all the strings with the side of your finger which does go against how hands normally operate and how a normal finger will grip or pinch things, luckily the human body is capable of adapting to overcome obstacles in time.

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The best way to help you learn chords and bar chords that will really help you improve would be by using songs that you know and like.

An example of a song that would be easy to play would be wild thing by the Troggs, this has just four chords A, E, D and G they are easy to learn and can help you learn to quickly changed between them.

3. How good should I be at guitar after a year?

An average player should be good enough after a year of practicing 2-4 days a week to be able to play basic chords smoothly in common progressions, including intros and rhythm sections to popular songs with the help of guitar tabs. At a year you should be working towards mastering a scale too.

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This is an average guide and your guitar learning progress will be helped and harmed by how much:

  • Effort put in
  • Time practicing with the guitar
  • The Learning resources that you have access to
  • Your drive and commitment to push yourself
  • The limits you think you have.

These factors will make a difference to how good you should be at guitar after a year and beyond.

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How long you have been playing your guitar for is the primary factor, you cannot compare yourself to another guitarist that has been playing for years every day when you have just started out.

If you can get past the 2 months mark and still want to try your best then you will be on the path to success, I did a lot of research in forums and various other sources and created the table below for an insight into how long most people try to learn guitar before quitting.

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Length of TimeThe average percentage of people who quit playing the guitar over time.
Within 1 month50%
Within 2 months75%
Within 6 months79%
Within 1 year85%
Within 2 years90%
After 2 yearsThe decline is very slow as these are the guitar players that have really got into it and tend to have hiatus’s rather than quit altogether.

Some people get back into playing the guitar for many reasons, maybe they have a dream their favorite guitar gets run over in the street or they meet another guitar player that gets them back into practicing again.

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Other reasons for this group to give up would be health reasons, which is a shame as they could have amassed a life time of knowledge and skills, this would be vital to pass on to future musicians before the knowledge is lost.

4. How good can you get at guitar in a year?

How good you can get in a year is down to the individuals learning materials and practicing time. The most you could realistically achieve would be:

  • Playing all basic chords
  • Playing 1 or 2 scales
  • Intros and rhythm sections to a maximum of 15 beginner songs.
  • Working on a solo or two played slowly
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This is just a guide but could be achieved by someone putting in the effort, it would take a great practice regime and lots of help from a tutor with good learning materials for someone to do any better than these results, it would be better to not stress yourself out and learn at a comfortable pace.

Most people could easily learn the basic chords smoothly in common progressions, maybe a bar chord or two while working towards learning a beginner friendly scale like the pentatonic scale.

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They could also know a few popular intros like deep purples smoke on the water or back in black by ACDC maybe even part of the rhythm section too.

These would be played at a slower speed than to the original musicians, who have clearly had years of practice and perform regularly.   

5. Can you master guitar in a year?

No! Mastering takes time, most guitar players will spend a lifetime trying to master the guitar. You can be very, very good in 1 year but mastering the guitar in a year is a very big ask. Learning with a good guitar teacher and practicing as much as you can will give you the best results in a year.

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Most guitar masters say they could never master the guitar fully, the guitar is a hard instrument to learn on when you are learning for the first time but it does get easier as time goes on.

If we look at some of the legends of rock and how long they were playing before they hit the big time we can get an idea of the average length of time it can take.

Pro GuitaristAge they started to learn the guitarThe Age the guitarist become professionalYears the pro guitar players spent learning guitar
Brian May 7 years old23 years old14 years
Eddie Van Halen10 years old 17 years old7 years
Jimi Hendrix15 years old24 years old9 years
Eric Clapton14 years old21 years old7 years
Jimmy Page12 years old22 years old10 years
Reference Wikipedia

As you can see the minimum amount of time the legends hit big was 7 years of learning and the longest was 14 years of learning. But Brain May did start the youngest out of all of them.

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This was just when the legends of rock hit big, many of the legends that are still with us still keep practicing even after all the touring and hit singles. They are continuing to master the guitar, even if you do master the guitar you will need to keep maintaining your abilities. 

According to https://www.learnupon.com/blog/ebbinghaus-forgetting-curve/

Learned skills without consciously reviewing them get forgotten by as much as 70% in 24 hours and 90% in the first week.

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As you can see the need to practice is so important, so much more if you want to become a master of the guitar.

Photo by Rene Asmussen on Pexels.com

6. How good should I be at guitar after 2 years?

You should be an intermediate guitar player by 2 years and at least aware of quite a few of these techniques, not all guitar techniques will be relevant to every guitarists styles but are worth having a go.

  • Open chords and Barr chords
  • Pentatonic scales
  • Minor scales
  • Major scale
  • Sweep pick
  • Alternate picking
  • Pedal point
  • E string chugging
  • Root fourths, fifths and sixths
  • Learning the circle of fifths and how they are relative
  • Rake and shake
  • Grace notes
  • 12 bar blues shuffles
  • Shredding
  • Slides
  • Hammer On’s and pull offs
  • Harmonics
  • Dyads
  • Triads
  • String bending
  • Palm muting
  • Pinch harmonics
  • Finger picking
  • Tapping
  • Whammy bar drives
  • Staccato
  • Arpeggios
  • Double stops
  • Pick starching
  • Volume swells
  • Using a capo
  • Using different tunings
  • Changing between different keys while following scale patterns
  • Playing intros
  • Playing rhythm sections
  • Playing solos at your own pace
  • String changes
  • Guitar set up and intonation
  • Pickup height adjustment
  • Using effects pedals
  • Using a Looper
  • Playing in time 
  • Music theory
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If you can confidentially use half of these techniques to a high standard within 2 years you are doing really well, super high achievers will be working towards learning all of them and using one/ two or more techniques at a time.

Easy examples.

  • Alternate picking the pentatonic scale
  • Using slides when changing between different keys.
  • Hammering on a root 5th while whammy bar driving
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There is many more combinations you can choose from when you have a good knowledge of the many guitar and electric guitar techniques.

Many of the guitar techniques available may not suit your style of music, if you just enjoy open chord songs around the campfire you will be focusing just on some of the guitar techniques listed.

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You will more than likely focused on developing your knowledge around how to play popular songs way more than scales and other more than the individually expressive styles. 

Marshall g30r cd and g10 mk2 guitar amps
Marshall g30r cd and g10 mk2 guitar amps

7. How long does it take to get really good at guitar?

If you regularly practice with good learning materials you should be at an advanced intermediate level within 4-6 years, usually when a guitar player masters the current style they are using it’s time to learn some new styles/techniques always practicing to get really good at playing the guitar.

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When you try different styles and techniques you will very quickly see how you can insert them into your normal playing to give it a bit extra flare or expression.

Because that’s what the guitar really is an instrument of expression, used to communicate allsorts of thoughts and feelings from the musician into music.

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The guitar players that really understand this can really turn the simplest riffs into something special.

How they press on the strings, the amount of attack they use, the pauses, the timing, how they bend notes are all so open to expression.

Making the guitar one of the best instruments to learn.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

8. How many hours guitar practice a day?

1 hour at a time with a good breaks in between, no more than 2 hours per day while you are in your first 6 months, you will see no benefit for the extra effort put in vs the first 1-2 hours. If you can manage a minimum of 5 hours a week with good learning materials you will be able to progress.

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This is a great guide for any beginner, within the first 6 months your fingers need to gain calluses on the finger tips, allowing you to play for longer and longer periods of time. There is no special requirements to make your fingertips callus up, just good old fashioned hard work playing the guitar.

During this time the muscles in your fingers and hands will stretch, get stronger and hand dexterity will improve.

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Hand dexterity exercises can help if your calluses have had enough playing the guitar for one day. These are simple exercises almost everyone can do.

Hand exercises to help guitar players.
1Light stretching of the fingers and wrists
2Squeezing an anti-stress ball for 10 seconds a time for 20 minutes.
3With a flat hand lift a different finger each time and hold it for 10 seconds 
4With a flat hand press one finger at a time and hold for 10 seconds
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If you are no sure if these exercises are best for you consult a physician before attempting them.

There are some other great tips on my beginner’s tips page.  

Summary

My guitar technique timeline
1The first month I had got the basic guitar chords and some simple tunes.
2By month 3 I was playing basic chords songs like the Troggs wild thing.
3By month 4 I had written my first song
4By month 5 I had written my second song
5By month 6 I was tackling crazy trains intro.
6By month 9 I was perfecting my knowledge of the blues scale and being able to flow to any part up and down in any key.
7By 1 year I was able to create new riffs of my own
8By 14 months 3rd song
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This is my progress in the first 14 months I was learning to play the guitar. Everyone learns at their own pace so as long as you keep trying and practice as often as you can you will progress.

I found that creating YouTube videos of my progress really helped me to see that I was moving forward 

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2 responses to “How Long Does It Take To Learn Guitar?”

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