I have asked this question to myself many times over the last 6 months. Having just achieved a milestone and completed an online beginner course I thought it would be useful to provide an answer for those of you feeling the frustration.
Learning guitar has many obstacles to overcome, none more so than when you first start. Your fingers are uncomfortable from the cheese wire-like strings. Your hands ache from the shapes they have to make to form chords or play notes. Then getting a simple chord like an A, D or E to sound right can feel near impossible as the strings buzz even though you have practiced that chord what feels like hundreds of times.
The frustration is real. I know this first hand from learning guitar online and have written about the best ways to beat the frustration here 11 Tips To Beat Guitar Learning Frustration. However, today I want to put that aside for a minute and give you confidence that learning guitar does get easier.
So does learning guitar get easier? Learning the guitar gets easier if you have a structured path and practice regularly. By the end of the first month, your fingers will have adapted and you will be able to play a few simple songs. After 6 months of learning guitar, it will be easier as you will have enough knowledge to learn hundreds of songs.
Now let’s breakdown why and how it gets easier and then how long it will take and finally how you can learn guitar quickly and effectively without breaking the bank and your soul!
Why Learning Guitar Gets Easier
When you first pick up a guitar it feels awkward and everything is new from the shape of the guitar to the strings, the finger shapes, and hand positions.
Once the first two weeks of pain have passed (read our article here, if you struggle with finger pain during this period) and you have built up calluses then you will be ready to start enjoying the process of learning.
This is where it is important to follow a structured learning path. Traditionally people learned in person with a guitar teacher and whilst this is still an excellent way of learning, online is equally good.
The problem is that many people get trapped in the YouTube cycle of learning songs that may not be a good choice for the level they are at and it can become increasingly frustrating.
Let me explain.
When you first start learning guitar it is important to build a habit, confidence and a solid foundation. This means that you need to have a practice schedule and know what to start learning first. If you try to learn something overly complex with no idea on how to learn it then it is more likely you will find it frustrating and demotivating and maybe it explains why you are here reading this.
By choosing a structured path then you will be fed the appropriate morsels of guitar knowledge but also in a bite-sized format. Can you tell I am writing this before I have had my breakfast? stick with me though.
You then know what to work on and as you work on these areas you will also be given songs to learn where you can implement this new-found knowledge and skill.
As you work through these stages of a structured path all your guitar knowledge compounds, just like Dave Ramsey’s 401k, and before you realize it you will have a wealth of knowledge that can be applied to many paths of the guitar.
This will be your foundation that will then launch your guitar playing down whatever path you choose to follow.
Here is a brief overview of the skills and understanding that a structured learning path has given me after 5 months of learning (this excludes the songs learned):
|Stage 1||Chords: D, A, E, |
4 Bar Strumming
|Stage 2||Chords: Am, Em, Dm|
Playing with a metronome
|Stage 3||Chords: G, C|
Names of open strings
|Stage 4||Chords: G7, C7, B7, Fmaj7|
|Stage 5||Chords: A7, D7, E7|
The Note Circle
|Stage 6||Chords: F, |
Using a capo
Picking individual strings
|Stage 7||Chords: Asus4, Asus 2, Dsus4, Dsus2, Esus4|
Notes in open position
|Stage 8||G Chord variations|
12 Bar Blues style
|Stage 9||Chords: D/F#, G/B, C/G|
Power chord shifts and palm mutes
Applied fingerstyle patterns
12 Bar Blues variations
Minor pentatonic pattern
Basic blues improvisation
Consolidation phase (final 10 songs you can see in my video further below)
If you are thinking, ‘Ok, I get that I need to have a structured path but how long will it take to get to a point where it is easier?!!’ Then read on as I explain how many hours you will need to put in and what you expect to be able to play with approximately 6 months of learning.
How Long Does It Take To Learn Guitar?
The first thing we need to establish is that we all have different goals with the guitar. Some of us want to learn rhythm guitar, some of us want to shred the fretboard playing the lead guitar. Some of us want to be able to just play at home as a way of relaxing and having fun whilst others may have ambitions of playing in front of a crowd.
As mentioned previously, a structured path can really accelerate your learning, which hopefully I can further demonstrate to you next. In the video below I had been playing for about 20 hours (4 weeks of learning for me) and this is from a person who had no prior musical experience.
Within these 4 weeks, I had learned to play about 7 simple songs, was working on one complex song, and was on Stage 4 of the Justin Guitar Beginner course.
The course had taught me the following by the close of Stage 4:
- A, D, E, Am, Em, Dm, G, C, G7, C7, B7, FMaj7
- Names of the open strings
- Playing along with a song
- Playing with a metronome
- Basic ear training
- Basic finger workout
- Some simple strumming patterns
- Simple dynamics
I am not saying all this because my progress was fast or slow but because you can cram a lot in if you are diligent and have a structure to your learning.
Whatever your guitar goals there is a basic level, a foundation if you like, that can be reached within 100 to 200 hours. The sad truth, however, is that 90% of those learning guitar quit in the first 6 months. If only they knew that the 6-month point was the sweet spot.
If you get to this 6 month point then you will find learning the guitar so much easier. I can say this because I have tracked my learning from the start. In this video below I had just reached a big milestone of completing the Justin Guitar Beginner course. I had played around 4 – 6 hours a week for 5 months, so let’s say 120 to 130 hours.
Hopefully, you can see some improvement from the first video! I still see a lot of flaws but also a lot of learning in chord shapes, fingerpicking and strumming.
If all this seems like a long time then you need to understand that to develop a foundation in guitar takes time, like any new hobby, and if you want to have years of enjoyment you need to put in the hard yards at the start to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
If you want to see a full breakdown of what can be achieved based upon the amount of time required to go from ‘zero’ to ‘hero’ then read our post here How Long Does It Take To Learn Guitar?. We talk about the ‘6 Stages’ of learning guitar and the amount of time it will take to get there.
I purposely benchmark my learning hours against the information in that blog post as I did a lot of research when putting it together. So far my hours logged against the experience I have gained are pretty accurate, so it is well worth checking out.
Is It Too Late To Learn Guitar?
If you are feeling the frustration learning guitar and questioning whether you are just too old for your fingers and brain to get to grips with what is needed then think again.
I am learning at the age of 40 and there are many out there learning later in life, just visit the Justin Guitar Community. In fact, my blog is aimed heavily at those learning later in life.
There are great benefits to learning guitar later in life rather than when you are young. Don’t know what they are? Then read my blog post here 17 Reasons Why You’re Never Too Old To Learn Guitar
How To Learn Guitar Efficiently
Learning guitar is not a race but you also don’t want to get caught up following paths that won’t give you any ‘easy wins’ to help build your confidence and your guitar playing habit.
My one and only tip here would be this:
Pick one structured form of learning, stick with it, don’t deviate from it and give it a minimum of 200 hours of your time.
If you have done that and still feel that learning has not got easier, then please come back here and tell me why. Tell me what you used to learn, how regular you were with practice and the approximate time spent on each practice session.
Best Place To Learn Guitar Online For 100% Free
This is simple, it is where I learned to play guitar.