How Hard Is It to Learn Guitar? 3-Steps to Find Out!

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You are dreaming about being a guitar hero? But you hesitate… Do I have what it takes? Am I too young or old? Do I have enough time? 

I have good news for you: you can absolutely learn the guitar! Everyone can! Only the time period varies. And you can actually learn the basics quite easily if you are not scared about little practice…But you probably want to learn more than just the basics? You want to really learn to play the guitar! But how hard is it really? 

This post gives you a quick answer. It also gives you my 3-step process that helps you to find out how hard learning the guitar is for you.  

How hard is it to learn guitar? (quick answer): Learning guitar takes a real effort. And at first, it can be a little bit frustrating. But after learning the basics playing becomes easier and easier and you will be happy that you started. Everyone can learn to play the guitar, only the time period it takes varies.

photo reveals owner of guitaristnextdoor.com

Author: Teemu Suomala

I first grabbed guitar in 2009. I started this website in January 2020 because I couldn’t do window installation anymore due to my health problems. I also noticed that most guitar websites don’t do a really good job, so I decided to just go for it! I got lucky and managed to get awesome people to help me with my website. I also got lucky because I have you visiting my website right now. Thank you. I do all this for you guys. If you have any recommendations, tips, or feedback, just leave a comment, I would love to chat with you. I have been fortunate to produce content for several large guitar websites, such as Songsterr, Musicnotes, GuitarGuitar, and Ultimate Guitar. I spend my spare time exercising and hanging out with my wife and crazy dog(I guess that went the right way…).


Infographic reveals how hard is it to learn guitar


How Hard is it to Learn Guitar?

There are 3 main questions that determine how hard is it for you:

  1. How consistent you are with the practice?
  2. Can you maintain motivation easily?
  3. Are you musically talented?

Let’s find out how you can find answers to these questions!  This method doesn’t give you the exact time, but it gives you estimates about the time period.

Note: I have been playing guitar for over 13 years, but under example sections, I’m acting like I’m wondering if I should start guitar playing.

Let’s get started!

How Consistent You Are With The Practice?

photo displays guitar player practicing

This Ted Nugent Quote leads us in the right direction:

Practice, practice, practice. Practice until you get a guitar welt on your chest…if it makes you feel good, don’t stop until you see the blood from your fingers. Then you’ll know you’re on to something!

Ted Nugent

By any means, don’t let that quote discourage you. It should do the opposite. Those words from a professional guitar player show us that you can learn how to play if you show real effort! You don’t have to be gifted or talented.

And practice can be fun. Think about this: 

  • You can learn and play your favorite songs
  • You can play real music
  • You develop a real skill
  • You can make your own music
  • You can play to your friends and family

But can you be consistent with the practice?

Look at your life and your past. What hobbies do you have? Did you practice hard with those hobbies? Are you still practicing? Does your job/school include practice? How is it going?

My example answer:  I’ve practiced Ice hockey for hours and hours. That’s a good sign. But I don’t have many other hobbies…maybe video games but I don’t really practice, I just play for fun. In school, if the matter didn’t interest me, practice was hard for me. But if I was interested, I  trained. I’m almost 100% sure that I can be consistent if I’m motivated.  My short answer is YES, I can be consistent with practice.

Now, ask those questions above from yourself!

If you answer yes. That’s a good sign. There is a high chance that you can be consistent with the guitar. And that surely shortens your learning journey!

If you don’t have any hobbies to compare, I’ll say this: now you have a perfect opportunity to get one!

But what if you answered no? Maybe you have practiced something for short periods of time but it didn’t last…

That can be an obstacle but don’t let it stop you. If you really want to learn how to play, you can change your ‘’not so consistent practice’’- past to your advance. At least you know that you have a tiny weakness. You just need to make practicing easy and fun for you.

How? 

I have a couple of tips for you:

  • make a practice schedule
  • make practice sessions short (20-30min)
  • ask your friend or family member to remind you
  • learn your favorite songs
  • make your guitar easy to access(don’t put it into the case at the end of the closet)
  • set a reminder to your phone
  • reward yourself after a successful practice

 These tips will help you to practice, practice, practice. And practice will make you a great guitar player!  But there is one huge thing which makes you really want to practice…and that thing is motivation.

How Easy it is For You to Maintain Motivation?

We all get motivated with all sorts of stuff for short periods of time. But the key to learning something is to show up in those days that you don’t naturally feel motivated.

Staying motivated can make you pick up the guitar every day and play it for hours. On the other hand, a lack of motivation can break your game and your beautiful guitar will gather dust in a corner.

Again, look at your past. Ask yourself: Can you maintain motivation easily? What motivates you? What kills your motivation?

My example answers: I have some problems with motivation. Sometimes I can maintain it, but sometimes it just vanishes. Learning something new motivates me. Watching someone who is already really good works too. Lack of progress and being stuck for long periods of time kills my motivation. Staying motivated is definitely my weak spot.

If you are easily motivated….Amazing! That makes the progress a lot easier. You have one more reason to start playing.

Not so easily motivated guy/gal?

There has to be something that motivates you. Something motivates you to read this text. What is that?

Do you want to impress someone? Great! That’s the right spot! Or do you love catchy guitar riffs and solos and want to learn to play those? Amazing! Start from something easy and start jamming, that’s your motivation pill.

Find your why and keep it in your mind!

I have a couple of ‘’stay-motivated’’ tips for you:

  • don’t set the expectations too high
  • start guitar playing with someone else(powerful)
  • pick some of your easy to play favorite songs and learn those first
  • listen to music that you want to learn
  • set reasonable goals
  • when you reach a goal, reward yourself
  • try to learn something new often as possible

Now you are on the right track! And there are tons of more ways to motivate yourself. You can use the internet to find more, for example, YouTube has great videos about motivation.

But something can make your learning progress faster and motivate you at the same time…being musically talented can do just that!

Are You Musically Talented?

photo displays a person who seems to have real musical talent

First, don’t worry too much about this. Your focus needs to be on practicing and developing your skill.

Musical talent is a nice bonus that can speed up your progress. But it can also make you skip practicing and trust your natural abilities too much(aka. being lazy).

But as I said, it is a nice bonus. And before starting with guitar it is smart to find out if you have some natural musical abilities. Let’s begin.

Note: Knowledge about music and natural musical talent are two different things. Both can help you but now we are trying to find indications about your natural musical talent.

Do You Got Rhythm? 

According to Google and Oxford dictionary, ‘’rhythm’’ is ‘’a strong, regular repeated pattern of movement or sound.’’ And music includes rhythm and ‘’regular repeated pattern of sound’’. 

But can you keep up with the rhythm and the beat even if the backing track stops? Take this quick test to find out! After the test come back and find out more about your musical talent level.

My example results: I took the test a couple of times and the results were around 850/1000. I have some musical experience but still, my results weren’t over 900. I’m definitely not an expert in rhythm but I have some talent.

My wife(she doesn’t play anything) also took the test a couple of times and her results were around 720/1000. My wife has some natural ability to keep up with the rhythm. 

Any result above 600 shows that you can quite easily keep up with the simple rhythm. And that makes learning guitar a little bit easier. You can use the pick and fingers easier at the right time when playing the guitar.

If your results are below 600, don’t worry. With practice, you can make your rhythm game natural for you.

Can You Stay In Tune?

If you can stay in tune and are able to find the right notes from the fretboard, you are one step closer to mastering the guitar. Can you do that?

If you hum or sign, can you stay in tune? How you can determine this? Try some of these:

  • ask someone to listen and give feedback for you(a little bit scary, but be brave my friend)
  • pick a song and record you humming or singing the melody and compare recording to the original(focus on staying in tune)
  • there are some apps which help you to learn how to sing. Those apps give you feedback about staying in tune. (Apple: SingTrue. Android: Learn to sing – Sing Sharp)
  • This video can help you to find out if you have a musical ear(it helps a lot with staying in tune):

YouTube video

My example results: I asked my wife to listen when I signed a part of the familiar song. The melody of that song is simple. My wife didn’t spot any big mistakes. So I can stay in tune with easy and familiar melody. I was also able to pick the right melody in the musical ear test.

I’m trying to not sound like a broken record…if you can stay in tune, excellent! Reaching guitar hero level is a little bit easier for you. If you had problems with staying in tune, don’t worry. There is a secret fix to your problem…that fix is, you guessed it, practice!

Yes, even if your natural musical talent level is low as a chair without legs, you can learn to play guitar. Maybe you need to practice more than musically talented people, but compensate for your lack of natural talent with hard work and you will be rocking in no time!

What Were Your Answers?

My example answers/thoughts for all questions mentioned: I found out that I can be consistent with practice if I have motivation. But finding and maintaining that motivation is sometimes a problem for me. I surely need to find ways to motivate myself. I have some natural musical talent. These were not ”the perfect” answers , but I’m going to start (continue*) guitar playing no matter what!

If:

  • you can be consistent with the practice 
  • you can easily stay motivated and show up consistently
  • you have some natural musical talent

Learning guitar is easier for you than for most of us. Start playing if you really want!

If:

  • you have been lazy with the practice before, 
  • you lose motivation in couple seconds
  • you are not talented

Learning the guitar will be a little bit harder for you than for most of us. But still, if you really want to learn the guitar, you can do it. Absolutely.

These answers give you some estimates about ‘’how hard is it for you?’’, and help you decide whether the guitar is a good hobby for you.

How Long Does it Take to Learn Guitar?

It depends on what you mean by’’ learning the guitar’’. Do you just want to learn the basics? Do you want to be pretty good? Or do you want to master the guitar?

I wrote an fun article about this topic recently, it also includes a guitar mastery calculator, check it out if you want!

This is a tough question to answer, but I can give you some estimates…

1. Learn the basics of guitar

The basics include: some scales, basic chords, some songs, and getting used to the guitar with both hands. You can usually learn this stuff in 1-4 months depending on how hard you practice. 

2. Beginner skill level

This takes usually 5-12 months. You are familiar with the guitar, you learn new songs and other stuff consistently, and are making progress fast. You know the most common chords and can play several simple songs.

3. Intermediate skill level

At this level, you start to be pretty comfortable with the guitar. You know the different scales and chords and how to connect these together to play music. You can also play faster and harder stuff too. Reaching this level takes usually 1-3 years of practice(unless you practice a lot).

4. Advanced skill level

You are really comfortable with the guitar. You can improvise great riffs and solos with the guitar. Almost nothing is too hard for you and people really enjoy listening to you.

This skill level usually requires 5-10 years of dedicated practice. Of course, you can learn everything faster if you practice a lot, or it could take even a longer time if you are not so consistent with the practice.

That’s it! These are my educated estimates based on my 13-year experience. Things vary a lot between different people because so many things affect how fast you can learn. But you can absolutely learn to play guitar if you practice enough. No question about it.

Conclusion

The guitar is an amazing and versatile instrument. I would recommend learning guitar for everyone who is willing to practice. And this is the key: if you practice, you are going to learn

Sometimes it’s hard, learning a real skill is always hard at some point. But when you can play your favorite songs easily, you’ll 100% agree that it was all worth it.

I hope that going through this blog post gave you an idea about how hard is it to learn guitar. And if this post helped decide whether you are going to start your guitar journey or not. That’s awesome! 

I hope that you are going to start the guitar playing, then we are in the same boat! And if that’s the case here are other helpful blog posts for you:

I wish you all the best, keep playing, practicing, and having fun with the guitar no matter what!

Teemu”Started Guitar Journey 13-Years Ago” Suomala


Here’s Our Favorite Gear Right Now!

Our Favorite Guitars:

Consider all links in this post to be affiliate links. If you purchase, at no additional cost to you, we may earn a small commission. It helps us to keep the lights on, thanks! 🙂

Electric guitars:

For beginners and tight-budget guitarists, Ibanez GRX70QA was the winner after hours of testing. If you are a metalhead, Jackson JS22 Dinky is our favorite.

If you have more room on your budget, Yamaha Pacifica 112V gives you a great bang for your buck, and Fender Player Telecaster HH will serve intermediate Players well.

Our favorite Electric guitar of 2021 was the PRS SE Custom 24-08. It gives so much versatility, comfort, and good tones that it’s impossible to ignore.

Acoustic guitars:

For beginners, Yamaha FG800 is our go-to guitar. It offers more than any other guitar in the same price range.

For intermediate and beginners with bigger wallets, Gretsch G5024E Rancher offers so clear and detailed tones, plus easy playability that I had to include it here.

Seagull S6 Original is the best acoustic around the $500 mark. It has the construction, sound, and feel that many more expensive guitars don’t achieve.

Our Favorite Amps:

For beginners, Fender Mustang LT25 offers the most. It’s versatile, sounds good, and is simple to use.

For most home players, Boss Katana 50MKii is the amp that serves you in any situation. From country to metal.

If you are searching for a tube amp for home use, Blackstar HT-5R MKii is my go-to option because it sounds so good, and you can adjust the wattage(power).

When it comes to acoustic guitar amps, Fender Acoustasonic 40 will serve most people really well. But our favorite is Fishman Loudbox Mini BT. It offers a professional level tone and volume with a price most people can afford.

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