How long does it really take to get good at guitar


jlew523
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jlew523
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11/28/2021 4:42 pm

Hello,

I have been playing guitar consistently for almost 3 years. While I'm definitely improving and learning a ton, especially through GT 1 & 2, beginning Rock 1 and learning the "Made Easy" selection of songs, I'm also fighting a bit of discouragement with my progress.

Silly as it may seem, I thought I'd be shredding insane solos, improvising and playing most of my favorite songs by ear by now.

Anybody have any tips to fight the current feelings I have? Does discouragement ever fade? How long does it take on average to be able to pick up the guitar and play relatively effortlessly? Five, Ten, Twenty years?

I usually spend about an hour a day practicing techniques, chords, and songs. I also have a full-time job, wife and 3 kids, so maybe that is also affecting my progress? Any insight from the community and instructors would be greatly appreciated! Thanks.


# 1
ddiddler
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ddiddler
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11/28/2021 7:41 pm

I think your just pretty normal. [br]think the expectations are what we all had and so is your reality[br]probably more unusual to just pick up the guitar and shred unless you've played other instruments.

18 months in and still picking my way round guitar tricks.

playing scales and noodling around. [br]chord changes just aren't quick or smooth enough to handle complete songs. [br]still hanging in and enjoying the very slow improvement and I've never set a time limit.

I just keep going

Dave


# 2
mjgodin
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mjgodin
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11/28/2021 8:03 pm

We've probably all felt that way at times. I just try to remind myself of what Anders says in one of his lessons and that is to enjoy the guitar player you are today not the player your trying to be tomorrow. We're our own worst enemy some time cause we compare our skills or lack thereof to someone else. Just keep plugging away and learn as much about the instrument you can. Above all keep it fun. [br][br]

Moe


# 3
jlew523
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jlew523
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11/28/2021 8:18 pm

Thank you both for your responses. Sometimes I can lose sight of the big picture. Your words are encouraging.


# 4
snojones
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snojones
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11/29/2021 3:28 pm

Hate to tell you this, but if you want to be the best guitarist you can be, it will take you the rest of your life.

Music is endless. There is no Finish Line. That fact, is what has kept me interested for decades. I will never run out of things to learn, as long as I keep playing I am growing as a musician. This makes me a better player all the time and that is facinating to me. Most of the good musicians I have known are much the same. Threre will always be more skills to develop, more songs to learn, more jamming chops to master. The people who get good never stop learning new stuff. There is no rocking chair at the end of this joruney where you are finished. If you want to get good at playing guitar, you will be learning for the rest of your life. The people who get good, do so by constant practice and the evolution it leads to.

It sounds like you have good practice habits, place your faith in those skills. Know that the fact that you are still leaning indicates you are on the right path. If you do it right...the learning never stops.

For me there was a place where I stopped thinking about where I wanted to be in the future and just enjoyed the place I was. Once I stopped wondering about how long it would be before I could play like Hendrix, or Page... It got a lot less frustrating. I know that I will never be as good a Beck or Bonomasa, but I am contiually growing as a musician and I really dig it!

In the long term, I would suggest that you try to focus on the journey, rather than some illusive destination. If you need to learn something quickly, playing the radio or the TV will better suit that goal. If you want to have a fufilling lifetime avocation, that will keep your attention with endless rewards, playing guitar could be for you. If playing guitar was easy, everybody would be a guitarist. My best advice to you would be Relax and Enjoy the Journey.... it is an increible and endless. Embace it and soar.


Captcha is a total pain in the........

# 5
JeffS65
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JeffS65
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11/29/2021 4:57 pm

Lots of great advice here and all of it valid. Each person is different and our history is different, natural skills vary and all that stuff. It's up to you to look at all this feedback and decide which really matches where you're at and how you feel.

My perspective comes from have played guitar since 1981. Many have seen me post my history a bit but by the late 80's I was playing speedy shredder stuff (no sweeping though...wasn't my bag enough to invest in the skill). I was in a couple of 'shredder' competitions and did ok, but enough to have been selected to even participate over a lot of other folks that submitted to be in the competition.

What does that mean? Not a single darned thing. Nothing. Nada. Sure, it's nice to know that someone thought I could play but it brought me no real actual joy beyond 'hey, cool, I guess I'm ok.'. But it was not really the fun of playing like playing actual music.

The point here is to not get too worried about how good you are. Sure, it's natural and we all want to progress but ultimately, it's playing music. Like Sno said, enjoy the journey. Enjoy the music.

Does that answer your question? Nope.

For me, I started with the ability to kinda play naturally. I didn't much struggle like many did. It wasn't like magic but mostly I started kinda loose. I didn't stare at the instrument intimidated and with each mistake, worried and tensing up with frustration. About year five (1986), my playing jumped leaps and bounds. But the coincided with a few good players around me and a little more knowledge of the fretboard. Magical! Ha!

That 'looseness' is part of my skill and my secret to getting better. I use that to play bass, drums and even a little mandolin.

When I read your post, it sounds very disciplined and that's not at all a bad thing. Honestly, I would have been a better guitar player faster than five years had I had any discipline.

But there is a point to my 'lack if discipline'. You're tracking your ability like it's on a project board (in a way I suppose). You're measuring progress which is not bad. However, you may be boxing yourself in too much.

My suggestion?

Start spending a lot of time learning songs you love. A lot of time. You've been playing for three years and still working on 'made easy' songs. My first two songs I (mostly, sorta) learned within my first year of playing were Rush-Fly by Night and Led Zep-Black Dog (which to this day, I still have to pay attention when I play...). They were way above my ability but I was too ignorant to know better. So I learned them.

Start digging in to songs. The greatest guitar players spent a lot of time playing and learning songs. Your skill will jump leaps and bounds. You start to learn not just the theory or skill but how things are applied and the various things that make up song and musical vocabulary.

Doing so may try your patience a little but therein lies the point of what I said above; I kinda didn't care if I messed up. To be clear, I did care enough to keep on practicing something that I couldn't get down right away. I just didn't get frustrated about it. Fly by Night came pretty quickly because it's largely familiar chords with a little work on the descending riff. Black Dog took time. Still does. But because I don't see making a mistake as a bad thing, I just keep on messing about until it pops.

So > songs.


# 6
jlew523
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jlew523
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11/29/2021 5:08 pm

Thanks so much for the constructive feedback. I will definitely apply your suggestions moving forward. Sometimes I forget that it's a journey and not necessarily a destination.


# 7
rickcatania
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rickcatania
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11/29/2021 7:17 pm

I share your frustration. I have been playing for four years now. I am 60 years old. I want to get better and I am improving, but it is a painstakingly slow process - Worse than watching grass grow! I also cannot listen to a song and play it without looking up the chords to the song. But my ability to to start playing new songs has become easier. That much I have noticed. An hour a day is a lot. I sometimes play for only a few minutes a day, and sometimes I can go for a couple of hours. Like you, family time gets in the way of my progress, and I feel guilty picking up and playing the guitar when I feel like I am neglecting my family time, so I will put down the guitar. I really wish I had started playing when I was much younger. I am sure that I would have progressed much more quickly. Best advice I have is to practice the hard parts to songs. The easy parts will always be easy.


# 8
JeffS65
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JeffS65
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11/30/2021 9:28 pm
Originally Posted by: rickcatania

I also cannot listen to a song and play it without looking up the chords to the song.

One quick tip is to actually hum the meoldy or riff and try to replicate it. And skip the 'distortion' we add when were trying to explain a riff to someone! You know that thing we do when you try to remind a person of a song by guitar riff and we growl it? Don't do that thing. True humming of the meody or progression. It helps get the sounds in your head. Saure, it takes time to convert that to the fretboard. To be honest, after my decades of playing, I'm still not all that great at it. I'm ok but could be way better. So I use this tip regularly. It'll take time to translate but it helps.


# 9
DraconusJLM
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DraconusJLM
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12/01/2021 9:16 pm

I've been playing for decades, on and off, and still can't shred.

Admittedly, I started out as a 'folkie' and didn't get into playing electric more seriously until around 10 or so years ago.


I wish this forum had a "block user" feature. Possibly I'm not the only one......

# 10
rockandroll99918
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rockandroll99918
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12/06/2021 10:04 am
Originally Posted by: ddiddler

I think your just pretty normal. [br]think the expectations are what we all had and so is your reality[br]probably more unusual to just pick up the guitar and shred unless you've played other instruments.

18 months in and still picking my way round guitar tricks.

playing scales and noodling around. [br]chord changes just aren't quick or smooth enough to handle complete songs. [br]still hanging in and enjoying the very slow improvement and I've never set a time limit.

I just keep going

Dave

Thankyou for providing useful information.


# 11
matonanjin2
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matonanjin2
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12/07/2021 4:33 pm
Originally Posted by: jlew523

How long does it take on average to be able to pick up the guitar and play relatively effortlessly? Five, Ten, Twenty years?

You asked this weeks ago and have received several answers. While I am sure all of them were intended to be helpful, and probably were, none of them anwerred your question specifically.

The answer is: 5 years 7 months and 14 days.

You're welcome.


[u]Guitars:[/u] 2014 PRS Santana, 2013 PRS Paul's, 2009 PRS Hollowbody, 1972 Gibson ES-325, 2012 Fender Strat American Standard, 2012 Yamaha Pacifica, Martin M-36, Martin 000-15M, Seagull S6 Classic[br][u]Amps:[/u] Fender Blues Junior III, Boss Eband JS-10, Line 6 POD 500X, Quilter Microblock 45

# 12
john of MT
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john of MT
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12/09/2021 6:19 pm
Originally Posted by: matonanjin2
Originally Posted by: jlew523

How long does it take on average to be able to pick up the guitar and play relatively effortlessly? Five, Ten, Twenty years?

You asked this weeks ago and have received several answers. While I am sure all of them were intended to be helpful, and probably were, none of them anwerred your question specifically.

The answer is: 5 years 7 months and 14 days.

You're welcome.

But matonanjin2 is a very fast learner...


"It takes a lot of devotion and work, or maybe I should say play, because if you love it, that's what it amounts to. I haven't found any shortcuts, and I've been looking for a long time."
-- Chet Atkins
# 13
Jersey Red
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Jersey Red
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12/09/2021 9:54 pm

Hey Jlew,

The first time I attempted to learn guiar I was round 22 years old. I paid for lessons at the local music store and basically went nowhere. I didn't understand what was in the lesson books, the instructor had no passion for educating, and I quickly became disillusioned with the idea and sold my guitar.

Last year at the age of 61 I decided to try again. Now I'm retired, have more time ( and less $$ ).

By this point in my life I am disabled, have carpal tunnel, nerve damage, & arthirits in both arms & hands. I know I have ADHD which makes it difficult at best to learn and comprend, yet alone play, guitar. I just signed up for my second tour on Guitar Tricks because it works well for me.

I struggle daily with the ability to repeat even simple lessons, or recall what I did learn days before.

My personal journey in guitar is often frustrating and empty due to my challenges, but when I pick up my Les Paul and try and push and I do not give in....I love it.

I never will be able to play the way I would love to, but everyone has a different road in their studies. For some it all comes easy, for some, well.........

If not for Guitar Tricks I never would have gotten as far as I have been able to come.

" And the days that I keep my graditude higher than my expectations......Well I have really good days"


# 14
jlew523
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jlew523
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12/10/2021 12:10 pm

To everyone that has responded, thank you so much for taking interest in my post. Your insight has been extremely helpful in getting me through the slump I was in. I have changed my perception of guitar playing proficiency as a destination, and understand now that it is indeed a journey. I shed my expectations, and have decided to just enjoy the journey. Thanks again! and happy strumming!


# 15
snojones
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snojones
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12/10/2021 9:06 pm

I guess I missed part of your question. I have been playing for decades and I expect to get good any day now.


Captcha is a total pain in the........

# 16
matonanjin2
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matonanjin2
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12/10/2021 9:12 pm
Originally Posted by: john of MT

But matonanjin2 is a very fast learner...

Nothing could be further from the truth!


[u]Guitars:[/u] 2014 PRS Santana, 2013 PRS Paul's, 2009 PRS Hollowbody, 1972 Gibson ES-325, 2012 Fender Strat American Standard, 2012 Yamaha Pacifica, Martin M-36, Martin 000-15M, Seagull S6 Classic[br][u]Amps:[/u] Fender Blues Junior III, Boss Eband JS-10, Line 6 POD 500X, Quilter Microblock 45

# 17
W3
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W3
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12/11/2021 1:54 pm

I've been playing for many years and I think back to a teacher I had years back. I asked him what I needed to do to become really rockin and rollin. He said first thing, quit yer job. I realized he was talking about a commitment I wasn't willing to follow through with. It made me respect the guitar that much more because we'll be growing and learning our whole lives and still have more to learn. It's one of the few things in life where there's no real destination. So enjoy the journey!


# 18
jreyn1
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jreyn1
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12/14/2021 9:45 am

Don't get discouraged, I have been playing guitar for 47 years and even though my progress and playing kind of went up and down like a roller coaster I found that until I started playing every single day, from the time I get out of work after a hot shower for two to four hours in my home studio, my playing started to climb to heights I never imagined. [br]simple answer is KEEP PLAYING!!!


# 19
Mick Sebastian
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Mick Sebastian
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12/24/2021 9:42 pm

I've played for what seems to be centuries, and I fall into the same hole as what you describe. You practice for endless hours yet your ear doesnt seem to catch the subtle improvements your'e actually making.

Try this as a test...set your guitars down for a couple of days and then go back to them and play. I think you'll be amazed at what you hear. You'll actually hear the improvements and then you'll know you've made progress. Its all very encouraging...


# 20

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