How fast can you learn to play the guitar

How long does it take to be able to play the guitar?

Learn guitar. What is important?

From the first note to the guitar virtuoso

(Image: © shutterstock / By: Dmytro Zinkevych)

When can I finally play the guitar properly? As strange as this question may sound, I've been asked it many times and, as you can imagine, it's not that easy to answer. However, it is still possible if you first clarify what "being able to play the guitar" actually means for the student. On the other hand, this also includes the question of how much time the aspirant is willing to invest in his hobby.

As you can see, there are no simple answers to complex questions like these and therefore we want to try to approach this topic in a more differentiated manner. So much can already be revealed that the answer has to be: "It depends!"

From the first chord to the rock star - Quick Facts

Practicing is not just practicing
Progress in practice depends not only on the time invested, but also on seriousness and working towards a goal. Anyone who plans to earn a living with the guitar has to practice considerably more and more focused than the future hobby guitarist.

Learn guitar with a teacher or self-taught?
The guitar is one of those instruments that one can work on to a certain degree without a teacher. However, wrong postures and playing postures almost always creep in without instruction, which slow down progress and which are very difficult to correct.

How important is talent?
Of course, it is an advantage if the prerequisites for making music were born in the cradle, but even the most talented guitar student will not crack without sweat. On the other hand, there are almost no limits for those who devote themselves to the guitar with discipline and diligence.

1. How much time do you have to spend learning to play the guitar?

The primary question that should be asked is: How much time am I ready, or am I organizationally available, to occupy myself with my instrument? It is not only the duration that counts, but also the quality and continuity of the practice units.

Those who are not ready to work on themselves for at least five days a week will find it difficult to make progress. Regular practice over the week is certainly more effective than practicing for an hour once a week and then not touching the instrument for the rest of the day. The form of practice should also be well-structured and result-oriented, i.e. what is called "deliberate practice" in technical terms, i.e., target-oriented practice.

Especially at the beginning, the term talent keeps circulating through people's heads, which unfortunately is often treated as a counterweight to practice. In a nutshell: Proper practice will always win over talent, if there is such a thing at all.

You can find more on this topic here:

2. Learn guitar with or without a teacher?

Anyone who has never played an instrument and has otherwise had little contact with music practice should not be afraid to choose an instrument teacher in order to achieve maximum progress. On the one hand, you learn how to practice correctly, you get direct feedback and most importantly: The material is divided into easy-to-digest bites that can be easily mastered by the student and neither over- nor under-demanding.

Anyone who already plays an instrument will possibly get by without permanent lessons, but should at least take a few hours at the beginning to learn the optimal body and hand posture, because the wrong technique can extremely slow down progress and the relearning will be the same later more laborious.

3. Why should one set goals?

Before you decide to learn an instrument, you should ask yourself: What do I actually want? Are you interested in playing a few songs around the campfire? Do you want to start your own band? Do you just want to play for yourselves? Do you want to play on a semi-professional or even professional level?

Even if learning the guitar for each of these areas looks identical at the beginning, the campfire guitarist will certainly achieve his goal with less effort than the budding professional, and the content will also differ from a certain point.

Sooner or later you should be clear about where the train should go, because then you will set your priorities differently and you can also draw a higher level of motivation from your goals for yourself.

4. How long do I have to practice before I am a good guitarist?

If you ask any semi-advanced musician how long it takes to master his instrument, he will answer: for a lifetime!

For example, Malcolm Gladwell speaks in his book "Outliers", based on a study by Anders Ericsson, of the 10,000 hour rule, which says that it takes this amount of time to practice to become a real "master" of any discipline. That's 2 hours 45 minutes every day for ten years!

Exact prognoses are obviously always difficult, but it is still possible to pinpoint certain intermediate stops, provided that the recommended practice effort is adhered to.

Here are a few very rough guidelines that could apply for young people to adults if you start with acoustic guitar and want to switch to electric guitar (large individual differences are of course conceivable):

  • 1-3 months:
    • First song accompaniment with a handful of chords is possible; first strumming and picking patterns are no longer a problem.
  • 6 months:
    • Most of the chords should have been learned and the barrée variants will gradually begin to sound; the selection of playable songs increases immensely.
  • 1 year:
    • All chords, including barre forms, are seated; various forms of accompaniment are available, all "campfire songs" can be implemented without any problems; Switching to the electric guitar is possible.
  • 2 years:
    • Improvisation in the pentatonic scale is no longer a problem; Electric guitar techniques were learned rudimentary, playing in a band is conceivable.
  • From 5 years:
    • The common scales sit; a solid foundation of technique, theory and ear training was created; most of the songs are playable.