Ask Tyler Preston: “How long does it take to learn guitar?”

Well hello my friendly friends! Tyler Preston back here with another lesson for you. Today, I’m going to answer a question for the Ask Tyler series, and today’s question is:

“Hey Tyler, how long does it take to learn guitar?”

So I’m just going to riff on this for a minute for you.

Now, I’m not going to tell you that’s a bad question to ask, because I get asked it all the time…

…And I totally get it, you know? A lot of folks look at great guitar players and say:

“Man, he’s so good at guitar! How long is it going to take for me to be able to play like that?”

You know what I’m talking about.

You look at guys like Joe Satriani, or Steve Vai, or Eric Clapton, or Jimi Hendrix— you know, whoever. Slash. Angus Young. Just name your guy. There’s a lot of guitar heroes to choose from!

So. How do you get that good? And how long is it going to take?

Well…

Realistically it only takes a couple of days to get started playing guitar…

BUT

…once you’ve gotten started, you’ve got the the cowboy chords down, you’re strumming a bit…

…well, after that, it’s going to take a lifetime to master.

Cause let’s be real: once you start, no one truly stops learning guitar.

All those guys I just named? They didn’t stop learning just because they got really good. They all continue (or continued, Hendrix RIP) to learn and evolve and grow as artists and develop better technique and new styles and branch out into different areas.

Bottom line, the answer to your question: “How long does it take to learn guitar?”

Somewhere between five minutes and five million years… give or take a millenia or two.

But you probably want more info than that. So let’s break it down.

How long does it take to become a beginner guitarist

As a beginner, you’re going to probably spend your first one to four weeks getting down your cowboy chords— all the major open chord shapes, maybe a couple minor chords. And as you do that, you’ll start working on coordinating your strumming hand with your fretting hand, learning the fundamentals of rhythm.

The basics of all that are going to take anywhere between one and four weeks. But really truly mastering those things will take you between two and six months.

So that’s the beginner stage. Once you have gotten over the hump of that, you’ll be up on the intermediate plateau… or nearly.

How long does it take to become an intermediate guitarist

 The big thing that separates beginning guitarists from intermediate guitarists is their ability to play barre chords. Once you learn those, you’ll be a full blown intermediate player, and you’ll be able to strum through just about any song out there. I’ve seen people knock that out in six months… and I’ve seen people spend years trying to master barre chords.

It all depends on how much focus and effort you put in. If you’re lazy, you’ll never make it. If you’re diligent, you can be there in a few weeks. It’s up to you.

But after that, once you’ve got all the open chords and the primary barre shapes under your fingers, you’re on your way to advance guitar styles, and it becomes less a question of specific things that you must learn, and more a question of: what style do you want to learn? 

How about advanced guitar?

There’s a myriad of specialized guitar styles out there, and it’s up to you where you want to go with it. You could learn heavy rock, high level fingerpicking, classical guitar, jazz… whatever. You name the genre, it can be studied and played at a high level, guaranteed.

Just remember: it only takes a day to learn guitar, but it takes a lifetime to master. So stick with it and good things will come.

Ok, that’s it for today’s post. Hope that answers your question, Anon!

If you have a question about guitar or songwriting for the Ask Tyler series, be sure to hit me up on Twitter @MrTyler Preston, or shoot me an email at tyler@tylerpreston.com — I will be happy to answer it in an upcoming post.

And until next time my friendly friends: good luck, have fun, and happy strumming!

Tyler Preston

Tyler Preston

National touring singer-songwriter & music teacher. I'm a country boy at heart, but I paid my dues singin' the blues. Find me on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.