December 4, 2021

How Hard is it to Learn To Play the Guitar?

The short answer is: it depends. The long answer is: let’s ask some other questions first. Are you trying to be the next Jimi Hendrix? Or do you want to strum some tunes just for fun, no strings attached? Is there any time for practice? Do you have two left hands? Are you afraid of pain? Do you fret a lot? Take your pick and stay tuned.

If you are a complete beginner, know that there are three “cornerstones” on which the fine art of guitar playing resides. They are the efficiency of practice, the time you have available, and resources for learning.

Personal music teacher

If you are naturally talented, have a lot of spare time, and can hire a personal music teacher, it’s going to be a lot easier. If you are limited by your funds to free Youtube lessons and have only half an hour between going to work and playing Mario Kart, you’ll still learn to strum, but it will be much easier for you to quit.

The goals you set for yourself also determine the learning experience. Memorizing some chords to play along while you impress your neighbors with singing your favorite screamo hits might take a month. Becoming a world-class player might take you a lifetime. Setting small realistic goals at first and practicing regularly will help you to stay on track and not quit.

Musician playing acoustic guitar

Whether you hire a personal teacher or not, having a structured practice routine (just like having a gym routine) will allow you to make progress and not dash around in panic. Choosing the right teacher or online music course can determine the outcome of your learning from the start. Ask around. Look for recommendations and honest reviews.

Your musical aptitude and natural talent matter a lot when it comes to learning the guitar. Pretty much anyone can learn it at any age, and it’s always possible to compensate for a lack of talent with training. Having an ear for music and deft hands makes playing the guitar a breeze. Most of us though fall in the middle category of “a little talented, a little lazy.”

Several reasons that make learning the guitar easy:

  • The guitar is probably the most popular musical instrument in the world.
  • There’s an endless goldmine of great educational resources available for free.
  • Even paid online courses cost very little.
  • Most people can teach themselves to play the guitar without an instructor.
  • Learning basic open major and minor chords will allow you to play pretty much anything.
  • Most famous songs require three basic chords or less!
  • You don’t have to learn music theory (Jimi Hendrix couldn’t read a single note to save his life).

Start playing

Several reasons that make learning the guitar a waking nightmare:

  • The size of the guitar makes holding it hard for younger children and some adults.
  • Short fingers and small hands make fretting strings a challenge.
  • You will have to work on your finger strength and dexterity. A LOT.
  • Most beginners feel pain when pressing down on metal strings. Strings will often cut your fingers and cause blisters.
  • Synchronizing your hands is hard since both of them are doing different motions.
  • Fretting is one skill, strumming is another skill, being able to fret and strum simultaneously is a third skill!
  • It takes a lot of time and trial and error to learn all the frets on the guitar (there are 24 frets and 6 strings)
  • There are several picking techniques (barre, legato, fingerpicking, etc.) that you have to learn. Many guitar players have trouble with some picking techniques even after years of playing
  • Developing your sound style is very hard. The tone is literally in your fingers. The amount of pressure you put on the strings, your personal playing quirks can change the sound completely.

musician playing the guitar

How long does it take to learn the guitar? A few months to learn some chords and amuse your friends. 10 years or more to become a professional player.

Most people can master the basics of playing the guitar relatively easily. Becoming a good player, on the other hand, is very challenging.