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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Overcoming Stage Fright

24th May


Learning by doing

overcoming-stage-frightOne of the best ways to educate yourself in the complex art and skills of guitar playing is without a doubt to play with other musicians or perform in front of an audience.

When you interact with others, you learn to listen, adapt and improvise. You also get a better feel for rhythm and tempo, volume adjustments and playing for the song rather than to “impress” with your skills. The single most important guitar lesson is perhaps this: To understand the art of standing back – when not to play or what not to play :-)

Sure, you can accomplish quite a lot of these things while you play with others in your basement or garage, or in front of a few selected friends. However, there’s even more to gain from bringing your act to a live stage – either alone with your guitar or with a band or group.

Causes of stage fright

“Hang on just a second! Just the thought of performing gives me the shivers,” I can almost hear some of you shouting – and rightfully so. The thought of stepping up to the platform and delivering a speech, playing to a group of people, doing an audition or being on a live stage can be enough to send even the bravest amongst us for cover.

Is public speaking natural for an individual? Heck not – I dare say that fear of public speaking or entertaining is far more natural. Deep down, most of us (perhaps all of us) are flock animals. Only a select few amongst us is comfortable to take the spotlight like it’s second nature.

This fear of performing has basically two sides to it – the external and the internal. The external is the situation itself – the lack of control; the unfamiliar setting and the pressure to deliver the goods to a group of people you don’t know, the feeling of being measured and tested.

The internal is the set of physical, emotional and cognitive (though) processes which seems to give you the jitters – literally.

The belly of the beast?

First, Let’s look at the situation objectively. Is an audience there to  stare you down, laugh at your efforts, criticize your guitar playing, frown upon any bum notes, smile at your week guitar sound and talk about your “obvious beginner guitar skills”? Of course not! They are there to have a good time.

And you know what. Here’s a little “secret” which is also explained in one of the videos below. The audience wants to help you; they want you to succeed! Why is that? Simply because total failure is embarrassing to watch… So just go in there and play your guitar loud and proud! Apart from the occasional ignorant village idiot (there’s at least one in every crowd), people really want the best – for you as well as themselves.

And that punk who always seems to find some negative thing to say about your performance? Just smile or ignore him. He’s just an envious and jealous figure really not worthy of your energy.

Practice makes perfect

The more prepared you are, the better things usually works out. This goes with everything: From having spares of everything (strings, picks, effects, guitars, leads, fuses etc.) almost down to an extra guitar amp – to having a well rehearsed set under your skin.

It is vital to acknowledge that your not there to be impressive or to show off. If you do, then you forget to focusing on the two things that matters, 1. the task (your songs), and 2. the audience.

Stick to your game plan!

When you’re only focusing on the task at hand, which is to play the guitar just like you have down to a T, then everything else seems to fall into place almost like magic.

So again, forget about doing impressive new stuff or showing off your deadly guitar tapping skills while doing back flips. Your there to play electric guitar, remember? When you take care of the songs and lean on the things you have prepared, then things usually clicks into place.

What if everything bombs?

Another wise saying from the video below is to put things in perspective. It’s just music, you know. If things go wrong, then so what? Just smile, be cool about it and walk on.

As long as you care for doing your best and try to be there for the audience, then people will forgive even the most crazy mistakes. And you know what? Most people don’t realize it if you play something wrong anyhow.

Did you miss a beat, forget a verse, sing the wrong text, forget to come in a the right moment, even fall of the stage..? Don’t worry! One in a hundred (usually other musicians) will notice something wrong is going on. And here’s the best part: Those who notice, has been there themselves – they will definitely not make a scene about it.

The stress reactions – utilizing the energy

Many inexperienced performers has no clue as to what goes on in their body when they are about to perform. The jitters, shaking legs, sweating, needing to go to the bathroom, nausea, thundering heart… It’s all natural and designed to be!

In a nutshell, this is our evolution which has given us the fight or flight response. And here’s another kicker. We don’t perform better in spite of these seemingly weird things which goes on inside of us. Oh no, we perform better because of it!

This is an enormous pool of energy which is there to help you. Just acknowledge that these reactions are healthy, natural and beneficial. Then take the energy and run with it!  This is perhaps the best stage fright tips I can give you: To trust in this positive energy.

Make sure you watch the video down below about singing and breathing. It shows the importance of controlling your “nerves” and stage fright with the help of proper breathing technique. Good stuff!

Look – don’t look!

Another thing that a beginner live musician or other performer might be tempted to do, is to try (or want) to look at individuals in the audience. Some times an inexperienced performer may even be scared when he/she finds that you really don’t see them but they can see you, because of the stage light.

In either case, you forget that you need to to embrace the whole audience as an entity. By all means, dedicate or deliver your song to someone special but always perform it to everyone in the room!

If you can’t see the audience then just concentrate on your task – on playing the guitar and on the song. If you see anyone in the audience, just defocus (one of the videos below explains how). You can also move your eyes slowly all over the room, or look to the back of the room as if you want to draw everyone closer to the stage.

Don’t worry – be happy!

By working on your performance and taking in the various stage fright tips found on this page and the videos below, you should be one your way to overcoming stage fright even if it may seem as likely as winning the Oscar right now.

Remember, all performers have performance anxiety or stage fright to some extent. In essence, it’s all natural, all manageable and all good. After all, since we can’t get rid of stage fright all together, why not go with the flow and benefit from it? :-)

To wrap things up for you, here are a couple of good, to-the-point videos about dealing with stage fright and the fear of public speaking.

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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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