How Long Does It Take to Learn Guitar?

How Long Does It Take to Learn Guitar?

The guitar is one of the most popular and celebrated instruments worldwide. It evokes tremendous style and widespread emotion. Its appeal spans numerous genres making it a cornerstone in all types of music, including folk, blues, pop, rock and more.

Aspiring guitarists often ask, "How long does it take to learn to play the guitar?" Unfortunately, there isn't a definitive answer since the learning process is different for everyone. The answer is different for everyone, but a dedicated student could learn basic proficiency within several months to a year. There are a range of factors that influence the time it will take to learn the guitar.

Factors Influencing the Time It Takes to Learn How to Play the Guitar

  • Practice Frequency and Duration—Consistency is the key to learning how to play the guitar fast. If you regularly and consistently practice, you will develop crucial skills to make you an effective guitar player. Short, daily practice sessions are much better than longer, sporadic sessions because they reinforce muscle memory and help build a solid foundation.
  • Quality of Instruction—Having the right teachers and learning resources will significantly influence how quickly you progress in learning how to play the guitar. Comprehensive online resources and skilled teachers provide the proper guidance, help you fix mistakes, and create structured lessons suited to a student's learning style. Great teachers also provide regular feedback. Self-assessment is also critical to helping a student learn and improve.
  • Musical Background – a musical background will make it easier for a student to grasp key concepts when learning to play the guitar. The guitar student may already understand basic music theory and know how to read music, which reduces the time it will take to improve. Beginners without a musical background can still make tremendous progress as long as they are dedicated to mastering their craft. Already knowing how to play other instruments provides transferable skills like rhythmic patterns, chord structure, and other factors that will help speed up the learning process.
  • Learning Goals – your chosen learning path is important to determine how long it will take to learn how to play the guitar. Becoming proficient is much different than mastering the instrument. Playing basic chords and songs could be something you'll learn to do within months. Mastering complex solos and different genres will take years of dedicated practice and study.

Average Timelines for Learning to Play the Guitar

The average novice guitar player will learn the names and functions of the guitar parts within a few weeks. Once they begin playing the guitar, they'll begin to develop finger strength and dexterity while learning basic chords including D, C, G, A, E along with some minor chords including Am, Dm and Em.

The goal within a couple of months is to master strumming and basic rhythms. You'll practice strumming patterns while developing your sense of rhythm. You'll even learn to combine basic chords and play simple songs if you master the chords mentioned above since there are many popular songs that use those chords.

Around the six-month mark, the novice guitarist will begin expanding their repertoire by learning to play complete songs while adding more chords including barre chords. Those learning to play rock and pop songs can even add power cords to their repertoire. By this stage, you can even develop fingerpicking techniques with practice.

After one year of learning and practice, the guitarist can advance from becoming a beginner-level player to learning more advanced techniques including lead and note/melody playing. These include advanced techniques such as scales, riffs, pull-offs, slides and hammer-ons. You'll explore more complex chord progressions and begin working on soloing and basic improvisation.

Moving into year two and beyond it's best to focus on proficiency, technical skill and specialisation. You can learn specific techniques, including advanced picking, fingerstyle and tapping. You can also develop a better understanding of music theory and learn advanced improvisation and soloing.

Learning to play guitar is a lifelong journey and everyone progresses at their own speed. Average estimates vary widely amongst guitar players. This is especially true if the guitarist doesn't have any musical background to begin with.

Stages of Learning

  • Beginner Stage – includes learning basic chords, fundamental techniques and learning to play simple songs.
  • Intermediate stage – guitarists will expand their chords, develop new techniques, learn music theory and scales and play a diverse song repertoire
  • Advanced stage – guitarists will learn advanced techniques, master music theory, develop their specialization and style and continue on their journey to lifelong learning

Tips for Accelerating Progress

  1. Consistent practice
  2. Set specific goals
  3. Use a metronome
  4. Focus on technique
  5. Diversify your repertoire
  6. Learn music theory
  7. Train your ear
  8. Record yourself
  9. Take breaks to avoid fatigue
  10. Play with others
  11. Invest in quality gear
  12. Stay patient and enjoy the process


Do not get discouraged when first learning how to play guitar. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question and everybody progresses at their own speed. It takes consistent practice and dedication to become a good guitar player. Only then will you master your craft.

Remember to enjoy the journey of learning how to play guitar. This will help you progress faster and feel satisfied as you master this new skill. Don't worry about how long it takes and focus instead on the thrill of mastering a new skill.
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