How to stick to guitar when there's so much else to learn and do?

Hi there,
this might come off as a weird question or maybe even stupid, but I kinda struggle with the following issue. I am playing guitar for 2 years now, and thanks to Justin’s great lessons I have reached grade 3. Even though I settled down on guitar, finally, at the ripe age of 31 for many, many years I meddled with synthesizer and tired to make some songs with DAW. Although it never sticked for more than month, then I’d sell MIDI keyboard/synth, do nothing for year, and then repeat the cycle. Recently after watching one movie and hearing nice piano soundtrack, I got craving to try to buy synthesizer and try myself at piano (it has many other tones, aside piano, as well). So what is the problem you may ask?

The problem is that I worry I’d end up again just changing from one instrument to another and actually never master any. Jack of all trades, master of none thing. With usually chores and obligations of adult life I’m unsure I’d ever reach anything near mastery of guitar, let alone more instruments. I know I’m not old, and the usual trope “You’re never too old”, but I’m not any younger and if I play 30 more years to my mid 60es I’d like to be proficient at least in one instrument. It’s just a hobby and I do not intend on joining band and be next superstar, but I’d really love to be proficient and compose my own songs. If life lasts 1000 years, I’d have no issue jumping from guitar, to piano, to violins… I just don’t have enough time. On best of days I can afford 2 hours of practice a day. I can already feel that after meddling bit with piano, I’d like to try violin, than bagpipes… The amount of choice often makes me feel miserable (not only with instruments, but that’s not the topic). So perhaps my question would be:

How do you stick to guitar when you feel doing some other hobby instead or playing some other instrument? And I wonder if anyone of you tried playing piano after learning guitar? I heard that the real problem is separating hands (one of the reason I sold all that keyboards) and that piano is easy to start but gets harder later on, whilst guitar is harder to start but gets easier later (I also agree to it, as now in grade 3 I finally feel guitar isn’t anymore mental/physical struggle).

As end note, I must say I really admire musicians who can put so much dedication in craft and give up on other hobbies/stuff in life. Like, 8+ hours of practice on instrument for whole lifetime… That’s some serious determination and willpower.


It’s like everything in life, it’s about dedication and balance. If you enjoy playing guitar you will stick at it but you need to make sure that you allocate time for practice and playing. So to me it’s about setting a schedule if your juggling different hobbies. I don’t see any issues with learning guitar and piano at the same time, I’ve had a yearning for a while to do so myself (I even have a neighbour that teaches piano), I’m sure there is a lesson on the website where Justin advocates beginner piano?? If you can afford 2 hours a day practice then just do an hour for each instrument but remember to set and stick to a practice schedule.

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Try cyanoacrylate glue, aka superglue :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:
Joking, obviously.

Evidently, you have an inquisitive spirit. You’re curious. I don’t think that’s bad. I think that’s good.
Skills are transferable. Amd if you have fun and enjoy what you do, why stick with anything?
You can try other instruments too… Eventually, the “problem” will “converge” to a solution…
I think that you’ll be cycling through instruments depending your mood.

I want to learn mandolin too… And Cretan Lyra… The only thing stopping me is the investment… The other thing that’s stopping me is not a thing to begin with, if you see what I mean :joy:

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I did hear that mandolin is easier to learn than guitar

I have no answer to that and don’t think there is a straight forward answer.
Though there are some similarities to my own life. Not sure it will be of any help at all, but I will give you my view on it.

I have always been an explorer. Wanted to try it all. Learn everything.
At a point I realized that life was too short. I had to choose, but that didn’t come to me before in my mid 40’s.
I have throughout my life given my stuff away many times and sometimes regretted that later on, when I missed those items.

It’s nice to have instruments in the home. If you sell them when loosing interest or wanting to try something else, it will be hard to not get into those shifts.
Also if you have children or family or friends children to come by, then it is lovely to be able to provide some kind of inspiration to them.
If you had kept your instruments, I think it would show which way you would go, maybe show that you equally want to play all the instruments. Hard to say.
So in this sense and I was in your shoes and with my knowledge I have on myself now, I would keep the instruments and not sell any of it, unless you have several of same kind, then keep the best or what is liked and played on the most.

When I soon will get my keyboard and get everything set up nicely here, using DAW and doing some music stuff on the computer, I might tend to leave the guitar a little behind. I can’t know and I will not force anything upon myself. If I start forcing something upon myself, it is doomed to fail. Tried that enough times. Was always a failure. So I learned from my different experiences and now things are just flowing. Why and how, I have no clue, just happened like that. There is a natural flow now.

I go where the heart and feet carry me and try to embrace it all, as much as I possibly can.

My motto is: My back is where I came from, the front is where I am going.

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I was in a similar place about a year ago, when I finished Grade 2. Here’s what I suggest:

Pick the simplest song that you really want to learn, but don’t yet have the skills for. Then, start to learn that skill in the context of eventually learning the whole song. Hopefully, the missing skill will have a lesson for it in Grade 3, but that’s not the most important thing.

You’ll learn a lot about how you view the skill-building process on guitar, which should give the info you need to answer your question.

Take Care,



I’m seriously flirting with the idea of getting one! I’ve no idea where I’d begin but I’ll let you know :wink:

First ask yourself deep down, do you actually want to stick with guitar, and get as good as you can at it? Or do you want to explore primarily?

If you want to stick to guitar - or really, it applies to anything - make it an automatic behaviour. A habit. Pick up the guitar every day, even if you don’t feel like it. Yes, of course you’ll need to work our practice routines etc when you have the inclination. But at the very least, pick up the guitar and play it even if you don’t feel like it.

The same applies for other long term behaviours (e.g. exercise). Don’t rely on daily motivation. Rely on daily action.


It is not about guitar.

It is about music.


This is a good way of looking at it, in my opinion. Guitar is my primary instrument, but I think it’s fun to explore other instruments, as well. I’m not terribly accomplished on many of them, but generally pick up enough to “get around” and maybe record some parts.

If your mojo ain’t working then there’s nothing you can do about it till it comes back.

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Thanks for all the answers! I do get the point, and it is indeed about music. It’s just a question of Jack-of-all-trades master of none. There is some stuff I’d love to play on guitar which require a great deal of skill (e.g. BRAVEHEART MEETS CLASSICAL GUITAR - YouTube) and similarly some awesome classical tunes on piano (eg. Johann Pachelbel - Canon in D \\ Jacob's Piano - YouTube) which require years and years of practice before being able to play proficiently. I could go on and on, and also as @Lefteris mentions learn from bagpipes to lyra, electric guitar, 7 string guitar, and so on and on… The problem is that despite seemingly infinite number of instruments, our life is sadly very limited. If we use 80 years as average age, I have 47 left to spend. The thing is that I also love other hobbies like hiking, camping, target shooting & plinking with pellet gun, gaming, reading, watching movies… On top of it is usual marriage & life stuff and sadly we all get 24 h per day. So it’s not so much about forcing myself to guitar, but rather wanting to get very good at few things rather than dispersing to many things to be just average in them.

As @jkahn said, deep inside I do want to gain deeper understanding of guitar as instrument and get as good as I can get. It’s just that I feel this certain feeling of missing out on playing wonderful music written for different instruments. I also do have this automatism that at certain time every day except weekends (which are family days) I do grab guitar and practice. Even when I do not feel like playing it, I do practice at least a bit.

Technically I could practice 1 hour guitar and 1 hour piano, but I am essentially halving the speed at which I would progress. Forgot to mention that I am already learning one new instrument for few months now, which is harmonica.

Learning any instrument is a task and a half. If you struggle with dedication on guitar I certainly would not advocate trying Violin. The biggest issue with Violin is leaning finger palcement. You have to be super accurate or the notes are just off !. I tried the Violin for a year with tuition and passed my ABRSM Grade1 but had to stop because of expence. Cant speak for the bagpipes though.

I played piano for years before guitar and loved it, still listen to piano now. :slight_smile: Piano is great to learn especially for studying music theory as I tnd to visualise the keyboard, which is a big help.

When I’m not in the mood for guitar, I put on guitar music which makes me feel like I need to get in gear and do my work. I know it will pay off in the end, it has before.

Oh, and theres no issue with not being masterful in any instrument, I would rather play a few instruments well the master just 1. !!!

You can have more than 1 hobby, just learn to moderate the time and concentrate on each when you do.

I have 2 real hobbies, I do 3d moddels on PC and learnign the Guitar now. :slight_smile:

Hope you find your path.



47 years is 411720 hours.
If you work for the next 35, 8 hours/day, 5 days/week, 47 weeks/year, that’s 65800 hours.
So you have 345920 hours for sleeping and activities. Sleeping 8 hours/day is 137240 which leaves you with 208680 hours for everything else.
If it’s true that one needs 10000 hours to become an expert at something, you can become an expert in 20 things and have 8680 hours to spare…


Well if you put it that way… :sweat_smile:

Except you forgot to calculate all tiny bits and pieces which take time during day. I don’t know if you have family, but those who are even just married know that there is difference with solo life and married life. Than you need to cook, eat, do chores, pay bills, dish washing, clothwashing… Sick days, days when you’re not doing anything but just resting, going to church, for us who do, etc. Your big numbers will shrink drastically. Add to that that many people, myself included, have very bad organizational skills and your magic numbers will shrink even further.

Anyhow I opted out of rat race of humanity long ago. I just don’t chase this YOLO lifestyles of learn more, do more, see more, buy more… And even if I don’t master one single thing aside guitar in all my God given remaining time I am perfectly ok. Will I feel as failure if I know less than most, that I saw less than most, that I experienced less than most? Nope, not one bit. I don’t participate in rat race. The feeling I got from most of replies is that many of people replying misunderstood me and are actually actively participating in rat race. My main issue is wanting to focus on less and be content with it, rather than wanting ever more and never be happy. It is hard nowadays when whole world motto is: “See more, experience more, YOLO, yadayada”. In a way I envy people living in medieval times, very simple, slow paced life. I now digressed but as my original question is I was hoping to find an answer how to resist and control myself from this urge to play another instrument and be happy and content with what I have, guitar.

I like Tom Waits way of looking at it :smiley:

Waits’ blunted fingers are swayback and have a knowingness on the keyboard that he tries to confuse. “Your hands are like dogs,” he says, “going to the same places they’ve been. You have to be careful when playing is no longer in the mind but in the fingers, going to happy places. You have to break them of their habits or you don’t explore, you only play what is confident and pleasing. I’m learning to break those habits by playing instruments I know absolutely nothing about, like a bassoon or a waterphone(4).”
The waterphone is from Waits’ collection of exotic instruments. It looks like two pizza pans welded face together with a length of rope-wrapped muffler pipe fitted to the center. Varying lengths of steel rods are staggered around the edges. When water is poured down the muffler pipe into the pizza pans you rop the rods with a mullet or draw a bow across them to achieve deep-sea, science-fiction-movie sounds.
“Play it,” says Waits. “There are no experts or beginners.” He says you pick up the instrument and you are in the same place as everyone else. "I love the places in music where you don’t bring your ego to the process. You just shake hands with your instrument. Sometimes music will like you better if you are more innocent, it will want to stay around longer. I’m disorganized and I lose some lyrics, and I think, ‘Well, maybe I was supposed to lose the lyrics so I have to write another.’ That’s why I love to bring in new instruments I found somewhere, I love ghosts in the machine. You lose things…


I didn’t forget anything.
You mentioned 6 hobbies, that leaves you 14 other things to become expert at, only I highly doubt you’d spend 10000 hours hiking or camping. And you can play an instrument while camping… And you don’t wash your clothes by hand like they did 60 years ago.

I don’t think any of us here are hermits so, we all know and sympathise because we all go through the same. Some even have kids and they play at night, at the expense of their sleeping time.

Anyway, my point is, there’s plenty of time. If we all are healthy (physically and mentally) it is up to us how to spend it… Or invest it…

As for the rat race… It seems to me (and no offence meant) that it is you who are trying to talk yourself out of. You seem paticularly stressed over the unknown number of years you have ahead of you (and I really do wish you many more than 47) but at the same time you say you love the more laid back lifestyle of the people 1000 years ago, who did not have dishwashers or washing machines and had to grow their own food… If they were not actual slaves (but we all are even today…)
I mean, I think there’s something flawed in that reasoning.
Just live your life rather than stressing out over such things.

Ok, lets say that you don’t stick to the guitar… Or you stick to it and you don’t try something else? So what?
You really live only once so… Just do whatever feels right at the given moment in your life…

Lots of good points raised though for me to think as well :wink::hugs:


That is a cool and amazing Tom Waits story!

But Tom and I are at very different places in our musical journey.

How I am trying to look at it, is that I want to be closer to, attached to or involved with music. Maybe some day to create it, but I am happy if that doesn’t happen.

Before guitar, I was an “audiophile”. I built and bought amplifiers, DACs and speakers. I listened to music and fretted about the quality. This fed my electronics itch, but how many amplifiers do you need?

After a while, this got a bit unexciting. It seems very passive in its relationship to music. I finally realized that getting closer to music was not going to be attained by finding ever more subtle improvements to passive listening.

So finally I decided to play, as that really bring a you a lot closer. What to play was an issue, I really like piano, violin, cello, electronic keyboards, clarinets, the list goes on.

I chose guitar, knowing I had to pick something I was interested enough in, but also seemed manageable and realistic. Guitars sound great, are very versatile, there are great varieties of guitar, they are portable, they don’t sound like 8 million banshees at the early levels, there is a lot of education and community support, they lend themselves easily to a wide variety of musical genres, they don’t take up a lot of space, they don’t (have to) break the bank. The list goes on.

We all make our own choices, but I feel that choosing one thing to start on is helpful. If I get good enough at playing and understanding music, then I would consider branching out. Right now it feels like adding a completely different instrument would impair my journey. When I am at Tom Waits level, all rails are off, though.


Joshua (@Jamolay) a bit off topic, would it be ok to message you for an electronics issue I have in trying to debug a pedal kit I’ve built?

Haha, we all have our different paths :smiley:
Apart from the seemingly ubiquitous ‘I’ve always loved music,’ I found some music-related expression by choosing playlists for a weekly radio I did for a local station.
I agree though, nothing really compares to plucking a string, hearing a sound you have created and putting whatever meaning you want into that.
I’m happy with my choices, and would make the same again, but I think a keyboard would have allowed me to squeeze more pleasing product out of my abilities, but then I would have missed out on the social aspect of this community, which has been (and is) as important as the guitar learning bit :smiley: