How Much Time It Takes To Learn Guitar
Ever wondered how much time it takes to learn guitar? That all depends on your goals. People who usually ask this are impatient for results but the MOST important thing when learning guitar is to have fun, don’t worry about trying to get results fast. If you try to rush the journey sure you will get improve quicker, but you will completely miss out on all the fun. You will also get very impatient.
If you are asking “how much time it takes to learn guitar”, ask yourself “Am I asking this because I’m impatient?” As a fellow went to a Zen master and said,
Student: "If I work very hard, how soon can I be enlightened?"
The Zen master looked him up and down and said, "Ten years."
The fellow said, "No, listen, I mean if I really work at it, how long — "
The Zen master cut him off. "I'm sorry. I misjudged. Twenty years."
"Wait!" Said the young man, "You don't understand! I'm — "
"Thirty years," said the Zen master.
To answer your question “how much time it takes to learn guitar” it really depends on your goals. If you want to become a guitar shredder who can play crazy sweeps it will probably take you five years. That’s assuming you spend at least a few hours per day practising and not noodling around on the guitar. Setting goals is another crucial task. You need to know where you’re going but you don’t need to be specific.
If you want to play as fast as Micheal Angelo Batio you can just learn his stuff and eventually get up the tempo that he is playing at. If your goal is to just play songs with basic chords with no solos, then it might take up to 6 months. Learning on your own will be painful and will require A LOT of trial and error to find out what works and what doesn’t work.
Save yourself the pain of working it out yourself and get a guitar teacher. You may be thinking “it’s too expensive” but in reality, it’s not. The amount of time your teacher will save you and get you out of bad habits and keep you on track will make it MORE than worth it. The other thing is that they have been there and done what you want to do.
Think of a guitar teacher as your own accurate GPS which takes you from point A to point B DIRECTLY.
As you can see from this chart, if you learn by yourself this is the struggle that you will face. Not to say that you won’t face any struggles if you have a teacher but it will be MUCH easier. The logic makes sense, if you have never been there how do you expect to know how to get there?
Down below here is what you can expect to accomplish in certain time frames. Remember that everyone's situation is different and this is not a 100% true representation. You can either achieve much more or much less, depending on how determined you are and what you’re learning.
- 1-2 months: You should be able to learn and play easy songs on guitar aswell switching between chords fast. You should be able to bend strings, but you won’t take good vibrato by this stage.
- 3-6 months: At this point, you should be able to play more advanced guitar riffs such as Enter Sandman, and even some basic fingerpicking songs like Nothing Else Matters. You may even be able to play arpeggios but not sweep or get them to a decent speed.
- 1 year: At this stage, you should be able to start playing easy solo’s. Metallica solos are great solo’s to play. Easy ones such as “The Unforgiven” shouldn’t be too much of a challenge. Remember that your vibrato might not be the best but you should be able to nail the notes.
- 2 years: At the 2-year mark, you should be able to play intermediate guitar solos such as the Enter Sandman solo and the Holier than thou solo.
- 2-3 years: This is where you would have gotten more advanced. If you have spent a large chunk of your time learning songs, you should be able to play some advanced stuff but you will still need quite some practice to nail certain solos. At this stage, Megadeth solos are a great challenge. The phrasing is interesting and complex, but it will take your ability to another letter.
- 5-6 years: At this stage you should be pretty advanced, being able to play advanced solo’s from bands like Pantera, Megadeth and so on. Remember that even if you have spent years playing the guitar, it won’t make a difference if you didn’t put serious dedication. Assuming that you at least put in a few hours per day, you really should see some progress on this stage.
If you have been working on your guitar improvisation for the last 5-6 years you should be an expert at improvising.
- 10 years: At this point, you should be a master if you have been learning theory all these years and you should have your fretboard pinned down well. Same goes for improvisation, learning complex solos and more. You should have it all down solidly.
Hopefully, this has answered your question on “how much time it takes to learn guitar”. If you have been playing the guitar for a long time and you haven’t been seeing results, there are two possible reasons as to why and these are:
1. You haven’t been practicing enough. How much time have you been putting in every day? If you put in ten minutes a day (I’m guessing it’s just noodling around) it’s no surprise that you’re not seeing results. As the old saying goes, “the more you put in, the more you get out.” The guitar is no exception.
2. You are practicing the wrong things – If you are trying to learn something complex like being a good improviser on guitar then there are a few things that you must learn. The problem is that you won’t realize what you need to learn because no one tells you. For example, if you want to become a good improviser you will need to learn the following things:
· Learn to follow chords
· Learn where the notes on the guitar are (this alone can take years!)
· Learn to hit those notes at the right time
· Have the ability to play with your ear and what comes to your mind
· Know what you’re playing
There is much more, but that is an example. You would think that the internet would be a good place to find what you need to learn but this is not the case for some reason. That is just one reason why there will never be a better way to learn then to be taught by a teacher.
At the start, your journey may be frustrating because can’t get your fingers in the place you want or you keep making mistakes. This is fine just remember that it is part of the process! Learning the guitar takes a lot of hard work but if you are passionate and absolutely love the instrument this won’t be much of an issue for you.
Bonus advice! | There are aspects that you may not like, for example, learning theory or learning songs by ear can be notoriously boring but it comes with many benefits. Don’t do the shortcut solution. I used to think that by learning guitar by tabs was smart because I didn’t have to figure it out myself, someone already did it for me.
This is true from an “I only want to learn songs” point of view, but if you had goals like mine to become a great improviser, THEN you will regret when you realize how much valuable ear training you missed out on.
The best that I can give you is to set goals as soon as possible. If you have some big ambitions but you are happy with playing the few songs that you have learned to play, don’t get complacent. It’s easy to noodle around and just play a few songs that you have learned but as the years go on, you will look back and realize all the progress that you could have made.
There is no rush but set some goals now and work slowly towards them so you can look back in the future and be proud of the progress that you have made on your journey.