Older guitar students - can 'old dogs' learn new tricks?

In the original JustinGuitar Forum, many ‘mature’ beginner guitarists would arrive with a measure of doubt.
Doubt that they could learn to play guitar.
Doubt that they were not making a mistake.
Doubt that anyone else of ‘mature years’ was doing anything as daft as they were in dreaming of becoming a guitar player.
And so a discussion started to test the waters of ‘who else is out there like me’?
Lo and behold … tens, dozens, scores, nay hundreds of old dogs made themselves known.
And so this topic carries the name and the spirit of that old Forum thread.
Are you an old dog learning some new tricks?
Come in, take off your hat and coat, sit by the fire, put your feet up and rest easy.
You’re in good company here.

Already in the kennel.

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Old dog trying new tricks here. Got my 12 string when I was 16. Played mainly in church until 21 and then it sat, only to come out of it’s case a couple times a year for decades. I bought a Gretsch hollow body in 2017, a few months before my 50th birthday. I found Justin’s course a year, maybe two later. I’m not as far along as I’d like to be but I am learning new tricks. I can play a few songs from memory which I never could do in my younger days.

So yeah, it may take a bit longer than in my youth, but this old dog is learning new tricks. Woof :wink:


I’m another “old dog” - 66 years old. I had all the best intentions of learning to play many years ago – I bought my first guitar in 1997. I took some private lessons from a few different instructors but didn’t get very far at all. As a result, my guitar sat in a closet for the better part of 20 years.

After retiring a few years ago, I decided it was time to get serious about learning to play. I happened to come across Justin’s website and signed up in November of 2019. I joined the old forum shortly after, in May of 2020. Through Justin’s excellent lessons, and with the advice and encouragement of the members of this community, I’ve learned way more than I ever thought possible, and have been enjoying the journey ever since.


In February 2018, at the ripe old age of 64, I started learning guitar and found JustinGuitar and the ‘old forum’ in March of the same year.
I had a brief go at learning as a teenager but that was all. I’ve always wanted to learn but somehow work, family commitments and life in general got in the way.

I can’t speak highly enough about Justin’s lessons and methodology. That combined with advice, support and encouragement from the friends I’ve made here on the old Forum, now the new Community, has enabled me to gain some skills which I intend to improve on for as long as I can.

Sairfingers’ Learning Log


Happy to chime in. I tried to learn 30 years ago and didn’t make it very far. Life was crazy busy then, single father looking after 4 kids, full time job, teachers obsessed with teaching scales and it all got too hard.

Just under 10 years ago, at the age of 53, I saw a friend progress quite quickly and decided to pick it up again. I could only remember that you hold your fingers close to the fret, couldn’t remember any chords at all.

Now I’m so thrilled I stuck with it and am having a ball with it. It’s now a lifestyle. Every day the guitar gets played and being relatively newly retired it’s getting often hours of attention each day. When I started 10 years ago I had a clear goal. Learn to play songs that people will sing along to.

Justin guitar is where I learned my first song, Blowin in the wind, the A E D easy version that used to be in his first songbook. Other lessons that made a huge difference were the one about timing your practice. That way the 15 minutes of practice wasn’t actually taken up with tuning your guitar, looking for your song notes, etc, but 15 minutes of actual practice.

At the start I could only play for 5 minutes at a time because my fingers hurt so bad. So I did that 3 times a day, typically while waiting for my cup of tea to steep, good thing I like it strong.

Other important lessons were using the index finger as an anchor to move between A E and D. I typically now play the A as a barre chord with just my index but that first anchor tip made a big difference. Another one was learning fast chord changes and making sure I could do 60 chord changes from A to D in a minute, then E to D and lastly E to A.

My wife has commented many times how glad she is that I decided to get serious about the guitar. It’s introduced us to many amazing people and experiences. I’ve now done 80+ open mics.

Playing and instrument has also been a help for me in dealing with the old black dog of depression. When I have a down day, I grab the guitar, start playing and invariably feel better, sometimes quite quickly.

If you are browsing this topic because you are thinking of picking up the guitar, or looking for inspiration, don’t let the time it takes to learn a guitar hold you back. That time is going to pass regardless so pick it up and get started. Based on my experience, you won’t regret it.


@Richard_close2u - your post completely captures my feelings. At age 53, I’ve decided to learn the guitar with zero previous experience. After 3 days of using Justin’s process, I now feel like maybe I’m not “daft” in dreaming to play at such a mature age. The other replies I’m seeing to your post are helping make me like this is actually going to happen. Thanks for starting this topic.


Just think of your age as a number not an anchor that is going to hold you back. If you have the passion and the patience you can do anything you set your mind to but boy does it help if you have a good mentor, teacher and support group, But hey that’s why we are all here.

My old Roadcase now Learning Log, shows what can be done. After 17 years in the wilderness I discovered Justin’s teaching method and after 8 years here, I am beginning to think I can finally call myself a guitarist.

If I can do it, so can you. Don’t let a number defeat you.

So as this thread (oops) topic has been reborn, like all you born-again-guitarist or those just starting out, I will resurrect my often used Jethro Tull quote (as your all probably old enough to remember them)

You are never to old to rock and roll
If you’re too young to die.


The above might appeal to all our biker members who’ve been coming out of the woodwork recently.

@Richard_close2u If that’s flaggable - delete. But its only a self portrait :sunglasses:


Where is the time scale on this?
When should one be considered as old dog?
Or is the answer in the question?



I guess its all down to perspective and not necessarily age. Someone who is say 30 may consider themselves too old to learn to play guitar and someone retiring at 60 may just see it as an opportunity. Which goes back to my reply above “You are never too old” Simples.




I started learning guitar last year at 54yo after two months into lock down and got anything to do at home. My son played guitar when he was in high school, and he had 3 guitars left at home, one Washburn acoustic, one Epiphone electric, and one cheap Yahama electric, plus a big Line6 Spider Jam amp. He is now grown up and residing thousands of miles away, not playing guitar anymore (maybe one day he will pick up again I hope). When the lock down started, there was a shortage of supply of everything, so I gave away the Yamaha to someone who needed it, but then thought maybe I could learn also. After a few weeks searching around and learning some random stuff, I discovered Justin Guitar and that’s the best decision I have made. Besides the course itself, The Beginner Song App helped me hugely, in term of practicing, as well as getting over the lock down period - I literally played hundreds of songs in those months. The Strumming Technique course made me feel very confident when strumming almost any songs. These are the two tools I would strongly suggest for every beginner.

Now I am already 1.5 year into the guitar, currently at Grade 5/6 Blues, trying some simple pentatonic solo, and playing acoustic rhythm songs almost daily for fun. Life has changed completely during this one and half year, but I believe guitar will stay with me forever.

I am not very interested in singing, so I usually record guitar playing with the original singing, not possible to unload to YT due to copyright issue. Below is a rare case I sing along with guitar strumming which I recorded around 8 months ago, the video is about some other tricks I learned these years as an old dog. (I learned sailing when approaching 50, and standup paddle just before Covid)



I sure hope so! I bought myself a starter guitar in 2019 after turning 50, tried “learning” from videos suggested by YouTube but it was a real slog until I found good old JustinGuitar last year! I’ve learnt a lot, improved enough that I get complemented by my kids who are quite skilled at the violin and piano :smiley:

I’ve been taking it slow and also deviating from the path a little bit to spend time on the music theory and technique classes and a song that takes my fancy. I’m currently on Grade 2, module 11 (and 12 and 13, because I just had to try power chords and a basic 12 bar blues)…


Well, as a 60 yr. old noob, I plan on learning new tricks. I am currently at the beginning of the journey, doing finger exercises, basic notes, etc. I did do a crappy Smoke on the water riff today.

Never bought into the “cant teach an old dog new tricks” mantra. As long as this old dog wants to learn, you can teach me.


Age is but a number, provided you want to do it and are determined you will achieve some of what you want.
I started on here about 6 years ago, I had played on and off (more off than on!) for most of my life and never really achieved anything good, I couldn’t play very well at all!
Today, I’m coming up in just over a week to my 70th birthday and still learning. I have achieved more than I ever dreamed possible in those 6 years and would encourage anyone regardless of age that if you want to learn Guitar go for it, with one very big caveat - learn to play the guitar properly in a well structured manner NOT cherry pick a few tunes you fancy having a go at (possibly from YT tutorials); the right way will make you a rounded musician, the wrong way will make you…………….
I speak from experience, and know the difference between the two options, there is only one way that will give you the tools to play anything that you want to.
Good luck on your journeys folks, enjoy and have fun - I know that I am :+1::+1::+1:


Nice track that Toby, just reminded me how good JT used to be - never seen him playing guitar before, always been flute :joy:
One of my favs!



Saw them live a couple of times in the naughties, Sheffield and Doncaster. Still going strong and barking mad as ever.:rofl:

1 Like

70yr old beginner, struggling to get past 30 chord changes that sound ok, 2 months into learning, getting fed up but still determined to learn. I can see why many pack it in.


Eric Hi !

How many could you do 2 months ago ? And how many chords did you know ? Keep at it, sometimes you get stuck on a plateau and suddenly break through. Too early to toss in the towel,




As an older player/teacher/musicain, I’m convinced that age is not relevant. The most important thing is knowing how and what to practise and time spent doing it. The advantage of being young is that you have many hours free every day, but the advantage of being older is that you can afford to pay a good teacher who’ll make sure that you practice the right things.


Hi. Will be 63 this year and (re) starting my journey today. I currently have two acoustics from a previously failed restart. I had just discovered Justin back then but a busy work schedule, running, and other activities kept sidelining me from the guitar. 2022 starts a new year and a new effort. I’ve never considered age to be a deterent. As long as you have the desire age shouldn’t matter.

So I’m back to Justin finding new community digs, the newish NITSUJ course, amoung other bells and whistles. I’m not sure where to restart here. The app, the classic beginner course, or NITSUJ?
I did watch the first NITSUJ and I’m sort of digging the pace.

Any suggestions on which form of lessons I should start with? I’m off for a run now then will be putting new strings on one of the guitars. Lesson 1 starts today!

Thanks and I hope to be spending more time daily here.