How long does it take to learn guitar?

Have you ever wondered how long it takes to learn an instrument? Does age matter? What factors are involved? or How can I speed up my progress?


Jace snel

3/2/20235 min read

woman playing guitar\
woman playing guitar\

So, how long does it take to learn guitar?

There are a lot of factors that will determine how long it takes a student to learn guitar. However, on average 5-7 year old students can take 12 months to become proficient enough to play a song. 7-10 year olds can take as little as 3-6 months and teenagers and adults can learn their first song in just a few weeks. This implies that you regularly practice and see a guitar teacher weekly. What is the best way to learn? How often should you practice? Find out below!

What factors affect how long it takes to learn guitar?

The biggest one and the one I always have to emphasize is practice. The more time you spend playing, the better you get. It's pretty simple and it always works!

Having a guitar teacher is more useful in the early stages of learning. They are able to quickly correct little things on the fly and point out some things that really help speed up your progress. If you're looking to make progress quickly, one or two lessons a week in the first year can really help to speed up your progress. Learning isn't always easy and this can help to keep you accountable too!

Removing roadblocks. You want to make it easy to remember to practice, easy to access your guitar at home, have a tuner, a guitar that stays in reasonable tune, and a spare set of strings. This might seem obvious, but one of the biggest things that helped me when starting out was leaving my electric guitar on the couch. Any time I watched TV or sat down, it was there to pick up. Yet the electric, unplugged, is also not noisy enough to bother others in the house!

Then, of course, musical talent is real and does help! Good coordination and being able to hear pitch well are also helpful. This won't overcome the need to practice though!

What is the best way to learn?

Getting yourself or your kids a guitar teacher is the most obvious way. I had five different guitar teachers growing up. Some up to 40 minutes drive from home! From the bloke from the pub to a guy who looked way too much like Steve Vai, I remember them all well and they all taught me different things about music. Most schools these days have an instrument teacher who comes to the school which makes it a bit easier!

Find a good book for guitar. This can help with direction, it's great for self-taught or to have in conjunction with a guitar teacher. There are a lot of different books out there and I haven't used one personally for a long time however I do use a book written by a local Adelaide Hills teacher for some students. I plan on doing some reviews on guitar books in the future, so you can check back here or subscribe at the bottom of the page if you're interested.

Teaching your kids at home. If you have a bit of knowledge of the instrument you could try it out at home and see how it goes. I have noticed that kids don't usually like learning from their parents though, even when their parents are great at their instruments! Likely the best strategy would be to get a good Guitar beginners book, help your kids work through it, and encourage them to practice!

What about being self-taught?

There are a lot of online resources these days. Youtube is great for learning all kinds of things. I still use youtube as a quick way of learning a song by watching someone's hands live or a tutorial on how to play. Staying motivated is the hardest part of this method but also pacing your learning, which skills you need to master first, knowing what you will or won't be able to play by listening to the songs, etc.

However, I think it's a great method for someone who has a few years of guitar and is looking to push their knowledge. Don't get me wrong though, with dedication you can absolutely teach yourself. The internet has made it easier than ever. There are tabs for nearly any song out there these days! Some of the most famous guitarists claiming to be completely self-taught are Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, and Jack White. Which shows you what can be achieved with passion, dedication, and practice!

man wearing blue denim jeans playing white and black electric guitar sitting on black guitar amplifier
man wearing blue denim jeans playing white and black electric guitar sitting on black guitar amplifier
How often should I practice?

Well, this is a topic I will go into more depth in the future but for now, my recommendation is as often as you can. Every day is the best but in the beginning, your fingers will hurt and it will slow down kids especially (this does go away, I promise!). I would for love my students to practice 2-3 times a week for 15 minutes for younger students and 30 minutes for older students. Ideally, as teenagers, they would be practicing daily. As I said earlier - the more time you spend playing, the better you get. I have heard of famous guitarists who would practice 8-10 hours a day.

One of my favourite guitarists John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers has gone on record saying that in his early days, he practiced for 10 – 15 hours every day between the ages of 10 and 16 years of age.

All in all, the more the better but practicing smart is important too. You'll find some more great tips for improving your guitar practice coming soon!

Can I help my kids at home?

Yes! And that is what this website is all about. There are some great things you can do to help your kids get the best start at home. Here I have some great tips for parents and beginners alike.

Some I have covered here, such as removing roadblocks. So yes! You might even pick up a few things yourself along the way. A great thing to start on is learning how to read either basic music theory or guitar tabs, depending on the method your kids' teacher uses. You will be able to tell which based on if the music is written with numbers (tab/tablature) or with the classic dots or dots with lines (classical music theory/piano style).

So how long does it take to learn guitar? Well, as I mentioned earlier young kids can take a while to get a handle on it, but once you're a teenager, you should be able to learn your first couple of songs pretty quickly.

How long to get proficient enough to join a band?

So... It's probably a good year or two. Depending on how much you practice before you will be able to walk into a band.

Don't let that stop you from getting a group of mates together earlier though. It's a great way to learn faster. In general, it's important to focus on developing your skills, timing, and playing with other musicians as much as possible.

This will help you improve overall, and gain those essential skills for playing in a band. And remember, the most important thing is to have fun and enjoy the process of learning and playing music.

Chat with your kids' guitar teacher about how you can help your kids or you can always subscribe for more content like this.

Here are some other resources related to this article that may help!

Can a 5 year old learn the guitar?

What is the best beginner guitar for kids?