How Long Does It Take To Learn Guitar

11th September


Learning electric guitar – how long does it take?

How long does it take to learn guitar?Answering this frequently asked question is almost like answering “how long is a piece of string?”

There are so many variables involved that it is close to impossible to say how long it will take for any individual to get up to a certain level.

And also, what will it say to having learned something after all? Is this a level where you have the minimum of basics down – like knowing a few chords and being able to strum along to a simple song? Or, is it more like having mastered the task at hand?

If you are more thinking along the lines of having mastered the art of playing guitar then a likely answer to “how long does it take to learn guitar?” will be something along the lines of “all your life … and then some”.

Keep it real – keep it simple!

Some of the best things you can do to yourself is to keep things in perspective – I call this to keep it real. Such perspectives will include the realizations that A. Learning guitar takes an investment of time and effort, and that B. There are no short-cuts.

You will inevitably also be aware of the fact that it is easier to become good at anything when you start at a young age. Does this mean that you can not become proficient or learn guitar at all if you start at a later stage? Not at all! The only thing to remember is that it likely will take more efforts on your parts – again: remember to keep it real :-)

It should also be fairly obvious that the more concentrated effort you put into it (noodling around and just browsin for something to learn i not a concentrated effort), the better off you’ll be.

When you want to learn electric guitar (or any type of guitar for that matter), keeping it simple involves doing the steps which will ensure you get the most out of your time and efforts. This again revolves around the points discussed below.

Doing it all by yourself?

One of the most persistent myths is how “easy” it is to teach yourself guitar.  Is it possible? For some folks, absolutely. However, let us look at the flip side of the coin.

Is this really the best investment of your time and efforts to try and piece together this highly complex task on you own? I dare say no, not at all. Also, browsing through all the free stuff available online and picking up bits and pieces of information from friends here and there is no way to guarantee that you’ll avoid picking up bad habits and counter productive information along the way.

Furthermore, this “jumping about” and “take it as it comes” way of learning is lacking the all important structure which is needed if you want to make sure that you will succeed with the best possible result in the shortest amount of time.

Getting help – the easy and cost effective way

Make no mistake about it. The best and most efficient way, bar none, to help you reach your goals is to take lessons from a qualified and dedicated guitar teacher. However, this is also the most expensive route to take. You will also have to find someone who is somewhat on the same wavelength as yourself, someone you will trust, respect and like.

A good compromise is to take one of the better online courses available, such as Guitar Superstars, Next Level Guitar or Guitar Success. You will be amazed by the content these course have and how inexpensive they tend to be. This is a far, far better investment of time and energy than going through all the hoops to try and find some golden nuggets for free.

Setting your guitar playing goals

Another way of making sure you learn guitar with easy and efficiency is to set goals for yourself. From the perspective of learning how to play guitar, setting goals has two sides as I see it. One is how often and how you practice guitar. The other is what you intend to learn in a given period of time.

It is without a doubt far easier to achieve something when you have a clear goal of when you will have achieved it! Just ask any athlete. If you say to yourself that “by Christmas I shall have learned all the open style chords and the basic barre chords”, then chances are much better you will do just that. Just to remind you – please keep it real :-)

As far as practice schedule goes, you will again be best of by keeping it real as well as simple. Set a time which you know you can have as yours – 20 minutes, half an hour, one hour – close the door and make that a no interruption time! Work on the things you want to learn and keep at it. This is in essence the only way to become good at anything.

The tools of the trade

Having a properly adjusted guitar which is a breeze to play will ensure that you “stick to your guns” and don’t give up on your dream of learning the guitar. Far too many people give up simply because they forget the importance of having a good beginner electric guitar which has been set up properly. You can read more about the importance of a proper guitar set-up here.

The “final piece of the puzzle” (if you learn on an electric guitar) is to have some sort of of practice amp or practice tool to plug into and maybe even jam along to. What is the best tools for your need? Hard to say for sure, but you can search more here for the best practice amp. Just be aware that you can also practice your guitar plugged into a smart phone, with software on your computer, through headphones and a multi-effects units, as well as with a practice amp.

Sounding off

Rather than asking “How long does it take to learn guitar?”, it may probably be a far better idea to ask yourself “How do I make sure I’ll stick to my guitar playing for the time it takes to learn it?”

Hopefully, you will have picked up some tips above. Still, in the end, I tend to believe the best answer to that is found within yourself. Just be certain about this simple fact: If you want it bad enough and you give it enough time and effort, you will achieve it!

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Guitar Questions and Answers 3

26th December


Your Guitar Questions Answered, Part 3

guitar question and answersYes friends, it’s indeed time for another round of our common guitar questions and answers.

Anyone keen on how to learn electric guitar as stress free as possible should definitely check them out!

As always, please feel free to leave your question in the comment field below or contact me. Remember, there are no stupid questions, just bad answers.

Fasten your seat belts, strap on your guitar and let’s get rocking!

Help choosing an electric guitar

Q: Can you help me pick out a good electric guitar? I’m all new to this…

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A: Any answer to a question like this one is basically down to a matter of personal preference. What might appeal to me doesn’t always go down at all with someone else.

However, if you stick to the better known guitar brands from reputable dealers, you are less likely to run into any major problems or regrets.

The best piece of advice I can give is this: Visit your nearest well equipped music store and try out as many instruments as possible. Also, you may want to ask friends and perhaps other musicians if you can try their guitar … just briefly to get a feel for how it sits, the weight and balance, the overall sound, etc.

Most people you don’t know will probably not let you play their instrument just like that. If so, then politely ask if they would do you a favor and very briefly demonstrate how it plays and sounds. Don’t forget to ask other players why they chose that particular guitar to begin with. Most guitar players are cool and they will try to help you if you just ask.

There are some basic, yet major differences between guitars. You have the guitars with single coil pickups (like the ones you’ll see on most Fenders) and then you have humbuckers (like most Gibson guitars are equipped with).

Then you have all sorts of combinations and add-ons – like scale/vibrating string length (longer, shorter), wood types, neck styles and neck angles, finishes, hardware and controls, vibrato system or hard-tail instruments, fret board wood types … on and on it goes :-)

It somehow boils down to this: Having both, I can assure you some of my cheap guitars plays just as well as very expensive ones. Just changing the pick-ups, hardware and electronics on a lower cost guitar these days, and then having it properly adjusted/set up, will most likely give you a whole lot of guitar for your hard earned cash.

Me, I play mostly my cheaper guitars live – somewhat modded, I should add. If you tried one of my second hand and quite cheap Teles or Strats, you might very well think they were ten times their actual price.

Fresh out of the box, most low-cost guitars may not sound or play like much. As much as anything, this is due to the fact that the better instruments come set up from the factory or shop for great playing comfort!

Can’t really hammer this down – do get some qualified help in a reputable store or by someone who knows what he/she is doing. Then, try out as many guitars as you possibly can.

Tips on how to become better at playing guitar

Q: Any specific tips on how I can become a better guitar player? I’m a little past the absolute beginner guitar level.

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A: One of the keys (pun intended) to mastering the guitar is to get the scales and patterns “under your skin”. You might for instance begin slowly to practice the major and pentatonic scales in all positions.

Gradually work up your speed as long as you can stay relaxed and get an even sound from all notes. If you make mistakes, then just back up and start over.

When you have a basic feel for the neck and how to position your fingers, you might want to learn what notes you are playing in all scales and positions on the fingerboard.

This will build a reference or frame to understand how you can transpose things which are working in one key to another key or to another song all together. Also, knowing the notes, scales, patterns, chords etc. makes it easy to  communicate properly with other musicians who don’t play guitar.

I tend to advice beginners at times to use a metronome, click or similar, to better learn timing and flow.

It is considered important (at least I think so) to understand the structure of the songs that you play along to. What key is it in; any intro; how many verses; where’s the chorus; does it have a bridge, is it transposed from one key to another, time signatures etc?

You might want to try to play a song in another key. Why not slow it down or speed it up a little (or a lot). It is quite surprising how the overall feel changes when you change the tempo!

You should definitely learn the chord positions are all over the fretboard. Doing inversions – playing a chord on say the three or four lower strings as opposed to other strings – or playing higher or lower on the neck … how does the same chord or pattern sound and feel?

A capo is something you might want to try. It sure changes the feel and sound of your guitar! If you are adventurous, you might even try to change to an alternate (open) tuning, G or D (or A, E) are the most common ones.

Also try out playing both with your fingers as well as a pick – again, way different sound and feel :-)

Interacting (playing) with others will always be beneficial, in particular if they are better than yourself and the chemistry is good. You’ll quickly begin to pick up new stuff in addition to learn interaction, how to listen to time shifts, how other musicians are playing on and off your own ideas, how to stay in the groove and much more. Important for sure!

Oh, and let us not forget, lots of practice and then practice some more :-)

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Guitar Questions and Answers 2

18th December


More Guitar Questions And Answers

guitar question and answersYes ladies and gentlemen – boys and girls … it’s time for another round of the guitar playing stuff that may help you on your quest to learn electric guitar sooner rather than later. So, since you’re probably in a hurry to be rockin’ and rollin’, let’s dive right into it!

If you have any guitar or learning guitar question, please feel free to leave your question in the comment field below or contact me; don’t be shy!

Changing guitar strings – how often?

Q: How often do you recommend I’d change to a new set of strings? When they break? What’s this thing about new strings anyway?

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A: In general, you would commonly want to change your strings as often as you can afford … unless you like a duller, more lifeless sound (which some players actually do).

Before discussing this issue further, I’d like to point out that classical (nylon) guitar strings differ slightly from nickel or bronze strings (electric or acoustic). The three treble, unwound nylon strings on a classical guitar is usually changed less frequently than the wound ones.

As for electric or steel string guitars you normally change the whole set at a time. The exception is when you break a string prematurely. If you play hard and/or the guitar is not properly set up, you may find  the high E and B strings snaps at frequent intervals.

Why would you want new strings? Well first and foremost they simply play better and sound far better.

They also tend to be better in tune (the intonation is more correct), as there’s inevitably some build up of sweat, dirt and grime on older strings – even if you clean them on regular intervals. This makes the older strings vibrate more unevenly, leaving the intonation slightly off.

As for keeping your strings last longer, you should clean the strings with a dry, clean piece of cloth after each session – don’t forget the fingerboard also!

A dirty fretboard will kill the sound of your new strings fast. The grime will simply stick on those new strings you just put on … bad idea.

Proper guitar care and maintenance is so important!

You may also use coated strings since they stay bright for a longer period of time than non-coated ones. The downside is that these guitar strings are quite a bit more expensive.

So how long can you keep the strings on? Apart from the sound, tuning and the dirt issue, it is no direct sin to keep them on for months at a time! But let me put it this way – there’s a reason why some pro guitar players change their strings as often as every other day…

…And no, that is not to impress the musos :-)

Any advice on staying motivated?

Q: These days I get easily distracted or bored with the guitar playing. Any tips on how to stay motivated?

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A: First of all I would sincerely urge you to hang in there. Don’t give up! You will most likely beat yourself at a later stage if you quit.

Eventually, everyone goes through one or more of these phases – it’s  inevitable in my experience. If you keep at it, the “flow” and inspiration will kick back in sooner or later.

One piece of advice is to sit back and listen to some of your favorite artists and players. Me, I like to try and figure out the guitar parts … keeps things fresh and interesting. How do they do this or that? How do they get that sound?

Challenging yourself and going outside of the box is another way to stay on your toes. Why not try out a new, open tuning or slap on a capo? Try to approach the way you pick or play – swap your pick for your fingers or vice versa. Personally, just for the fun of it, try to teach myself a totally new way of playing guitar … something I’m not comfortable with at that point

You know, even as simple and “boring” as putting on a fresh set of strings can bring back that old love affair – breathing new life in old trusty (that’s your guitar in case you wondered :)

Some day, further down the line, you may be thrilled you kept at it – learning how to play. Or, you may be very unhappy with the fact that you quit. It’s totally up to you.

Do take a rest and lower your ambitions for a shorter period of time. Just don’t give up!

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Guitar Questions and Answers

9th December


Hello Fellow Guitar Player!

In this section I will try try my best to answer various guitar related questions I have received over the years.

This is often times questions related to learning how to play guitar. However, there will also be the odd question about guitars in general, such as guitar maintenance and repair.

Do you have a question? Do feel free to contact me, or post it in the comment box below!

learning-guitar

OK, let’s dive into some guitar related Q and A, shall we?

An Easy Way to Learn to Play Electric Guitar

Q: I’m a teenager and have very little experience with guitar playing. I just want to know how to play a couple of notes.. Can you help?

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A: If your on a budget, the easiest way is probably to have a guitar playing friend showing you some simple tricks and tips. I will guess you even know a guitar playing teacher at your school or perhaps a relative which can help you out for free.

There are also quite a good number of beginner guitar videos to be found on YouTube…

I will have to advice you that you will be far better off if you can afford some qualified instruction. It is quite common to pick up bad habits, and these habits is always harder to correct later on. Do it proper, right from the start and you will be on your way in no time!

Maybe you have someone who can help you find (or borrow) a beginner guitar book or DVD, or better still buy one of the many good online guitar courses?

Without a doubt , the best (and subsequently most expensive) is to be have a private guitar tutor.

My best advice is perhaps to never give up and do your best with what you have. Remember, some truly great guitar slingers are self taught :-)

Sore finger tips and callouses

Q: Any tips about ways to build callouses?

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A: Perhaps the best tip in my opinion, is to make a commitment to yourself  – telling yourself that you’re going to stick with it until you’ve learned how to play the guitar. Like anything else, this takes time.

Then, you should consider how to set a schedule for regular practice. I always recommend that – when ever possible, you practice at the same time every time. It is very important to get into the habit of practicing!

It is never wise to practice playing guitar in long passes without rest. 30 to 40 minutes and then a short break tends to produce better results.

Remember to have some reachable goals for your playing. When you have found exactly what you want to learn — which licks, styles, songs etc.) it is just a matter of practicing those until you have them nailed.

Above anything else, do make sure you’re having fun and that you’re playing the type of stuff you really dig yourself.

As for your question about sore fingertips and callouses – these things will be fixed over time with regular playing. You will remember to take regular brakes, right?

You might consider using a guitar capo on say the second fret. This will make your guitar easier to play when you’re starting out.

Another useful tip is to have your instrument looked at by a qualified person to figure out if it might benefit from some minor adjustments. A better playing comfort will be helpful both in the shorter and longer perspective!

Help with guitar teacher

Q: Help, my guitar teacher has my doing scales and stuff, and I only want to learn how to write songs!

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A: Have you taken the time to explain to your guitar teacher what it is that you really want to learn?

Often times we assume that people really ought to know what we want. However, no one are mind readers – at least not as far as I know. So you definitely want to sit down and map out a plan of what it is that YOU want and need.

If there is no such communication between teacher and student, then the teacher will begin showing you stuff he/she knows will be beneficial to you in the long run, chords, scales … that kind of stuff.

Again – you must be absolutely clear about your goals! If you want to learn how to write songs, say so! Others want simply to learn a particular style of playing, some folks want to join a band. There are many reasons why people want to learn electric or acoustic guitar and your teacher should definitely be made aware of them.

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