If you’ve never picked up a guitar in your life, but you started practicing today, how long would it take to learn? Can you learn the guitar in only a year, or do you need to commit to years of lessons? Furthermore, how much do you have to practice?
We teach hundreds of guitar lessons in Greenville, SC each year, and we’d love to share some of what we’ve learned with you. If you have any questions about how to get started, how you can purchase lesson passes, or anything else, please get in touch.
Is It Possible To Learn Guitar In a Year?
Yes, it is - but we should clarify what we mean by “learn.” If you want to play the guitar like Carlos Santana, sorry, it will take longer than a year. But here’s the good news - many, if not most, professional guitarists are not virtuosos (or even “advanced,” believe it or not).
Try this: make a list of all the songs you’d like to play on the guitar, and paste them into row one of a spreadsheet (Google Sheets is fine). Then, search online for lead sheets (chord charts) for each song. Paste a link to the guitar lead sheet in row 2 on your spreadsheet.
Then, take note of each chord you need to learn for each song on your sheet, according to the lead sheet. Put the letter names of those chords (E minor, C major, G7, etc.) in the rows next to their corresponding song.
Now you’re ready to practice! Simply start learning where to place your fingers for each of the chords in your spreadsheet, and start applying them to the songs you’d like to learn (just read the guitar tabs after you’ve learned the chords).
To learn the guitar chords, all you have to do is buy a method or Google “how to play ‘x’ chord on the guitar.”
If you practice the material above every day, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to read chords and play a significant list of songs in a year. You may even progress to using a capo, playing bar chords, palm muting, and other techniques.
How Long Does It Take To Learn Guitar More Thoroughly?
If you want to play difficult guitar solos, classical guitar music, or improvise, you’ll need to devote more time to the guitar. You will reach your goals much faster if you enroll in guitar lessons, to be honest. A teacher can guide you through learning music theory, scales, and modes (necessary concepts to reading music well or improvising).
Realistically, you won’t cross the threshold into genuinely intermediate playing until you’ve practiced for 700+ hours; you can accelerate this by practicing hard. True experts on the guitar have practiced for well beyond 10,000 hours, in most cases.
Don’t let this discourage you! If you work hard, you will be playing tunes and accompanying songs with chords after your first year. The good news is that you can progress so much further than that - it’s a long term journey.
How Much Should You Practice Guitar Every Day?
When you are just starting out, your fingers will get sore fairly quickly. You don’t want to develop blisters and bleed all over your fingerboard, so practice your chords and scales for only a few minutes at a time. You can counteract the soreness by studying; practice notes and chords in your head, then transfer them to the guitar after you know the chords.
You will want to commit to at least 30 minutes of daily practice when you are a beginner. As you start practicing more advanced concepts, if you want to maintain your level of progress, you’ll want to practice for 45-60 minutes per day.
Here’s an important rule of thumb: break your practice sessions into chunks, like 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening. It will help the knowledge sink in, it will save your fingers a bit, and you will be more focused.
Is It Ever Too Late To Learn The Guitar?
No, you can learn the guitar at almost any stage in life. It has a fairly low barrier to entry, and you don’t need to have lofty goals to enjoy making music on the guitar.
Unlike the violin, which requires hours and hours of practice just to produce a palatable sound, the guitar has a pleasant tone right out of the gate. You simply have to place your fingers on the correct frets and strum. Then, you can layer on more advanced concepts from there.
If you or your child would like to start playing an instrument, please get in touch! We offer piano lessons in Greenville in addition to guitar lessons, and you can take violin lessons, singing lessons, and more. We have age-appropriate lesson configurations for everyone, and we would be happy to speak with you.