How Long Does it Take to Learn Guitar

This link was originally posted by another Community member, but after reading this article and comparing it to my experience starting from Module 0 and working all the way thru the end of Grade 3 (Module 22), I can attest that the amount of practice time listed in this article is reasonable.

Some people may take longer, some may take less time, but this article accurately describes the amount of time and effort you should be prepared to put into this journey.

I really think that reading this at the beginning of your guitar journey will help you persevere when progress seems so hard to achieve:

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The only thing I don’t like about articles like this is they never mention what professional guitar players are. Professional guitar players are people who get paid to play not how well they play. Jimmy Page and Bob Dylan are both professional guitar players but the skill levels are very far apart. 99% of people taking up the guitar can reach Dylans level in just a few years and that’s where they stop and a lot quit because they don’t want to put in the time it takes to get to Page’s level.
Yet there is noting wrong with singer/song writer level. It’s actually what most people want to hear at a party.

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One of the issues with this is defining what practice actually is. I’ve been playing guitar for over 40 years (on and off … quite a lot of off!) but most of that hasn’t been real practice, it’s been stumming the same chords to the same songs. Your practice has to push you if you are to improve - something I’m working on these days :slight_smile:

Forty two :smiley:

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Actually, the author of this article does. He freely admits his categories are arbitrary, but he defines “professional”: Can teach almost any player, and can perform comfortably in at least one style. Most would describe this as mastery.

And “master” would be: World-class musician, guitar deity, or frightening demon.

So, Dylan might be considered “professional” (or perhaps 1 step lower, “expert”) and Page “master”.

Actually No he doesn’t. The definitions of a Professional is someone who gets paid for what they so. It has nothing to do with how good they are at that profession. For example any athlete who is paid is a professional athlete. Even the ones who sit on the bench and don get to play.

This has nothing to do with being a professional or skill level. Any one who can play 1 chord can teach it to someone else.

There are millions of people on the planet that can perform comfortably. Just go to any jam. This doesn’t make them professionals.

They are both Professional Musicians. They make their living being paid for what they do. The word professional is always used in the wrong way in these type of articles.

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I posted that, and I’ve posted it a few times over the past couple of years in threads where people were agonising over when they’ll be “good”. If someone only picks up a guitar 3 times a week for 20 minutes - probably never.

I like the article because it shows the sheer volume of effort over time that’s involved, and the massive difference in practice hours between every day, an hour (or 2) a day and just picking it up a few times a week.

Yes there can be debates about the terminology used eg “professional” but the principle is a sound one.

I found the article right at the beginning of playing when I was wondering how long it would take to get good :wink:

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Most of your guitar hero’s spent almost every hour from a very early age playing. Many come from musical homes where they grew up understanding theory and being immersed in music.

As. Jk says unless your putting in a lot of hours in active targeted practice and learning your not going to get there.

As for professional that just means.you get paid.

I would argue Dylan and Page are professional musicians who both play guitar.

There are plenty of better guitarists out there who don’t get paid.

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I struggle with such questions as “How long will it take me to learn X”

Many years ago I was trying to decide on whether to undertake studies to enable a change in career. Another friend at the same time was going through the same consideration. We were told it would take 3 years and my friend gave up on the idea and complained that it was too long of a time.

18 months later I was halfway there and he was still complaining about the job he was in.

How long something takes in my view isn’t as important as one thinks because that time goes by regardless.

After 3 years I had completed the course and it changed my life for the better in many ways. My friend was still pondering how he could get out of the job he was in. The 3 years still passed for him but with no result because for him the important question was “How long does it take”

Clearly there are cases where the length of time something takes matters. I just did some basic research on how long it takes to become an astrophysicist holding a faculty job at a major research university and the answer was 20 to 30 years. So if I wanted to do that at my current age of 65, the length of time does matter.

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The obvious counter points here is at what point is learning finished, this is utterly arbitrary as no decent musician is ever finished growing.

More importantly is what are your goals and is what you are doing going to achieve them

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I was just thinking along the same lines Rob. The title doesn’t really click with me as your always learning something new. I also feel that it comes down to, like you say, targeted practice. Like everything in life some folk have that ability to learn things quicker than others.

Is this the answer to life, the universe, and everything?

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Only Stephen Fry knows for sure!

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Pretty much :smiley:
In this case weeks if you’re a prodigy, months if you work hard, years if you’re like me :laughing:

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:laughing:
yep, I think it might be that many years for me… I’ll get there eventually :grin:

I feel that when you look at their chart and read the descriptions that as a rule of thumb the numbers are in the right ball park.

Sure there’s a lot of factors that will tweak the number up or down (eg age when starting, quality of practice, motivation levels etc) but it’s a fairly reasonable starting point

I dont really like that kind a chart cause it puts pressure on beginners
A beginner cant and must not do X hours of guitar a day …
It’s not only a matter of hours but also a matter of how you use your practice time and doing it right
Playing 10h of bad habits wont make anyone a better player

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I’d argue the opposite. I think a lot of beginners fall by the wayside because they expect to get good faster than is realistic and then become disillusioned. It would be far worse if the numbers on the chart were really low.

There’s certainly plenty of nuances to it, you can faff about with a guitar for a lot of hours and never really learn anything if you don’t have structure.

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I am alway (of course) of a mixed mind about this kind of information.

It brings me to wondering why we choose to start playing, what are our goals and if we really have thought about it much.

The take home from the article for me is that, like any complex and open ended skill, the more you practice it, the better you get and the better you practice it, the more you get from each moment practicing.

But…this “how long to be come good” is a double edged sword. It can help to be aware that we aren’t becoming virtuosos in a span of a few years. We should have a concept of what we are getting ourselves into.

I am sure a large portion of those who give up early do so because of the sudden realization that it isn’t as easy as they expected. Even many of us who still push on went through a “come to Jeff Beck” stage of self examination.

On the other hand, having a goal such as “to be a master guitarist” may be unrealistic and also quite daunting. The idea that I may or should be at a certain level after a certain time is a pressure that may push away from the real main goals.

I feel that in any skill, guitar (instrument) but also art, sport, you name it, having a goal to “be great” or achieve mastery is short sighted and misses the point. It sets you up for failure and fails to carry the passion. What are you going to do when you get there? Mechanically continue your greatness? That isn’t living. That is a job.

These activities are life, they are growing, being. They are processes and the learning is loving the process. Eventually, if we apply ourselves and keep at it, we become better. Some will be professional, some even masters. Most will not, but we will learn and grow and enjoy this part of living and if we don’t, we will probably let it go and move on.

To me, the goal is to grow, to continue to learn and improve and to enjoy music and my personal interaction with it as I do.

Anyway, morning philosophy from Jamolay…:roll_eyes:

FWIW, I disagree with “professional” and “master” in the progression of learning. Professional is a playing for money. People can do that at almost any skill level. Some professionals are not good at guitar, others amazing. What they are good at is finding ways to make a living at what they are able to do. Masters, in my mind, are pretty special. They have whatever it takes to go beyond simply learning and time to become something more. Maybe it is their drive, talent, unique approach, but it is beyond the norm and rare. I hope nobody is practicing with the expressed motivation to someday be a master. They likely will be disappointed.

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