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Thread: How long does it take to learn guitar?

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  1. #1
    Groovemastah DanF's Avatar
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    Lightbulb How long does it take to learn guitar?

    Hey Everyone,

    I've been thinking about posting something like this for awhile, I think that on the internet there is a misconception about playing guitar that I've never seen addressed. That is, I see people ask "How long will it take until I'm good [don't suck..etc.]?"

    Well as funny as it sounds I spoke with a couple of guys in town that I know who are very good players and I kind of feel like I'm approaching it -- I feel like I've got all the pieces together now and if I can just put them together I'll be rocking. By the way, when I say "play well" I mean with good time/feel, correct notes, able to execute relatively difficult passages well, able to pick up music by ear -- the whole package.

    So how long did it take? The consensus among us was that it's about 3.5 or 4 years. I see these responses like "You can learn to play in 6 months but it will take a lifetime to master" that is A) Using a very generous definition of playing and B) An utterly useless generality ("a lifetime"). Your experience may be different and I encourage other good players to chime in but I want this to be a shot of confidence for you guys starting out etc. It gets better but you have to have faith and realize that it takes a long time.

    I'll finish with one of my favorite old sayings: "A long perilous road tests the horse, a long perilous journey tests the man."

    Good luck guys!

    -Dan
    "In improvised music you easily can tell who is a guitar player and who is a musician." - Maarten (fellow IBMer)

  2. #2
    Till I came here
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    As I have been attempting to teach myself for almost 20 years and have not gotten above beginner I thank you for this thread. I should say that I have only taken guitar seriously in the last 2 years. I think it depends on the drive you have to learn the guitar. If you want it you can get it much quicker. Of course if you have a teacher it accelerates the process. Also playing with others that are better than you. I have not had the luxury of either. I have tried to find a teacher recently and was turned down. I live in a rural area and teachers are hard to come by. So the jist of this is that If you want it bad enough you can get it. The time it takes is up to you. IMHO

  3. #3
    Till I came here
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    Did my last post sound as though I was looking for sympathy? If so it was not my intention. As I read it I began to wonder. My situation is a result of many things. It is not to be taken as normal. I am working harder than ever to become a better guitarist. And I know it will come. Sorry if anyone misunderstood. I love this place!

  4. #4
    fan of the G string curiousgeorge's Avatar
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    The length of time to "get good" is relative to the amount of time glued to the instrument as well as the level of natural physical and mental talent. I know guys that were excellent after a couple of years. They could play any Satch or Metallica tune note-for-note and could improvise like crazy. This is when they were teenagers back in high school, too! It took me a little longer, even though I spent the same hours after school practicing my *** off and playing in bands all over the place. I think a lot of guitar players think too far ahead when they play a passage. They tend to ready themeselves for the next set of licks before concentrating on making the notes "in the now" count. You've got to play in the moment and that is one of the most important things I've learned. It's good to be aware of what's coming up, but you should be very aware of every note under your fingers as well.

  5. #5
    Latin Wedding Band Los Boleros's Avatar
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    This sounds like a good question for Voodoo Child!

    The reason you see the types of answers like "it takes a lifre time to ......" is that the closer we get, the farther we want to go. When you first pick up a guitar you think short term goals. If I could just learn Purple Haze i would be happy Obviously when you get there, there is always a new obstacle or should I say challenge. Some times our progress is better gaged by the people around us. The real answer to this question lies in your heart. How badly do you want it. Some people just kinda pick up the guitar not really wanting it that badly but the more they learn, the more addicting it gets. Always raising the bar. If you really want it bad, then practicing should be pretty fun in itself. The bottom line is that we should try and set our oun personal goals and before setting new goals, ask yourself, did I get to this goal yet. If you did, (and you probably did) Then you are getting pretty good
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  6. #6
    IbreatheMusic Author Bizarro's Avatar
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    There are many factors. I separate it into two completely different topics.
    1. How long does it take to play proficiently?
    This depends. I was a rocker starting out, and I was able to gain chops in about 6 months to a year. After that I could tackle most Metallica, Van Halen, Ozzy, etc, with reasonable results. Not perfect, but not bad either. Learning classical, fingerstyle, and jazz chord work took a lot longer!
    2. How long does it take to become a musician?
    Depends, I was always musically inclined as a kid, from the time I was a baby if you believe my mom! I was good at some aspects and horrible at others. Ear training takes a great deal of time to develop.

    Chops come and go. Right now they're not so great for speed metal, but my chord work and bluesy styles (SRV) are solid. The musician part of me continues to grow even if my chops are rusty, which is probably true for everyone.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Los Boleros
    This sounds like a good question for Voodoo Child!
    Some people just kinda pick up the guitar not really wanting it that badly but the more they learn, the more addicting it gets. Always raising the bar. If you really want it bad, then practicing should be pretty fun in itself.
    yeah that sounds like me xD i started at my school, an alternative school, not many people go to it i got sent there cuz i was bad in school cuz of a bad day basicly...

    anyways, i went to that school for a whole year i got into rock climbing then that teacher left cuz his wife had to go to school for DR. stuff or get training or something.

    well the next year, a new teacher that worked there for a while started an intrest group. it was called intro to guitar it was a class of about um 10 people. i hatet the acoustic guitars but i stuck with it sort of. the acoustic guitar wasnt as interesting sounding as electric distortion, but i got used to it and well i just messed arround fingering randome stuff putting together what ever i thought sounded good, loved nylon so much i need to get myself some of those strings... it hurt less then steel strings, so i kept at least messing arround and i pretty much do that now all the time... i can at least use all my fingers none of them are allways just sitting there uselessly

    well i still hate steel string acoustic style but i like it better, i mean its not totaly atroshiouse to me anymore iv come to start likeing it actualy. still need to kill my feeling in my fingers.

    anyways now im looking for information

  8. #8
    A music theory guy...
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    Quote Originally Posted by ignorant
    As I have been attempting to teach myself for almost 20 years and have not gotten above beginner I thank you for this thread. I should say that I have only taken guitar seriously in the last 2 years. I think it depends on the drive you have to learn the guitar. If you want it you can get it much quicker. Of course if you have a teacher it accelerates the process. Also playing with others that are better than you. I have not had the luxury of either. I have tried to find a teacher recently and was turned down. I live in a rural area and teachers are hard to come by. So the jist of this is that If you want it bad enough you can get it. The time it takes is up to you. IMHO
    He speaks the truth. I "want it" badly. The first time I touched a guitar was 4 or 5 months ago, and I started looking into theory as well. Now I completely understand guitar, and I can have an intellectual discussion with those people on the music theory forum.

    Keep on Truckin'
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  9. #9
    bitter old fool Jed's Avatar
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    The first time I touched a guitar was 4 or 5 months ago, and I started looking into theory as well. Now I completely understand guitar, and I can have an intellectual discussion with those people on the music theory forum.
    (( shakes head and mumbles unintelligibly ))

  10. #10
    Bedroom metalurgist LaughingSkull's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reign of Praine
    Now I completely understand guitar, and I can have an intellectual discussion with those people on the music theory forum.
    Finally somebody does!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Iprogdrummer View Post
    Um....Somebody turned you down for lessons?!!? Just sayin.....(?)
    You can take online lessons now & from some really great players/teachers!

  12. #12
    It really depends on the effort that you put into your practicing. If you don't put much effort, you won't get much result.


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  13. #13
    Carrots!! All_Ľour_Bass's Avatar
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    Amount of effort and what you define as 'good'.

    For example you could take about a year and be able to play some simple rock tunes or between 1 and 2 for some more 'involved' rock tunes.

    But if you goal is something technical and precise like this:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9RJXWxth5g

    It's gonna take lots of time and effort and practice and EVERYTHING ELSE.
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    Be different.

    Do it for the OATMEAL.

  14. #14
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    it can take a long time, I've been playing for a year and getting shown up by people who have been playing about half as long as i have, its a matter of practice.

  15. #15
    Modally Challenged!!!! mattblack850's Avatar
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    There's a fairly simple equation to this:-

    You get out of it what you put in!!!!
    Plus or minus a certain amount of natural musicality and dexterousness!!

    Some have a natural ear, some have naturally spreadable fingers, some of us don't. But certain aspects CAN BE LEARNED, no matter how hard they seem in the beginning. I have larger than average hands (being 6' 6", what'd you expect!), but I know people that can stretch way farther on the fretboard, in the same way that I know people that can hammer-on/off a lot faster than me, but with perciverence and practice I am getting not just quicker but more accurate, which was half the battle, than I was.Hope this gives a bit of encouragement.

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