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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Strumming Patterns

3rd August


Strumming patterns for guitar beginners

One of the very first things – if not the first thing – you want to wrap your hands around as you begin to learn electric guitar, is to understand and be comfortable with some basic guitar strumming patterns.

And sure enough, one of the most common questions you can come across on places such as Yahoo Answers, goes something along these lines: “Can someone please help me with the strumming pattern to … I can’t figure it out.” (included is one or more songs the asker wants you to explain).

Often times the same people have tried to decipher a guitar tab for the same song/s without getting any closer to nailing the fundamental strum pattern of the tune.

Before we go any further with our guitar strumming lessons, there are two things first to be aware of…

The problems with guitar tabs

Tabs (short for tablature) for guitar can be understand as a simplified notation system and a visual representation of the notes on the fretboard. When done correctly by someone with experience and knowledge, a tab can provide you with a good, basic overview of how to play a song.  So far so good.

However, there are at least to things which often creates problems for a beginner on guitar. One is the fact that guitar tabs many times have been written by people who doesn’t “quite” get it right. At times there are so many mistakes in the tabs you find, it is not even funny.

Another thing is that the tabs miss one very important thing, the rhythmical values – the element of time and timing. These are things which is integrated in proper musical notation.

In short, you will either need to learn how to pick up things and play by ear, and also learn proper musical notation. Tabs will only get you this far, and can in fact become a real stumbling block as you begin to explore the guitar.

You have to hear as well as see the strumming pattern!

The thing that often amazes me, is how some folks think they can fully explain a rhythmic figure in words – like down, down, up, up, down, up. Seriously, how do you explain rhythm in words? It will fail miserably … unless of course it is accompanied by the proper visual and auditory representation (sight and sound) from a video or guitar teacher :-)

Picking up a basic strumming lesson

Here are some things to get you on your way to learn guitar strumming.  First pick a song which has clear sound as well as picture. It should also be pretty straight forward, slow to mid tempo, without too many instruments and complicated vocal arrangements and rhythm or tempo changes.

Now, let us assume you have learned the guitar chords to the song and can play them effortlessly. Without being concerned at all about chords or notes, begin to listen to the rhythm and how the main rhythm guitar is being strummed. Now, while you mute the strings with your fretting hand, use your pick and try to follow that rhythm! Just remember, no notes, just the pick making rhythmic figures across the strings…

If you are uncertain or confused at this point, then simply watch the great, first video below from the good folks at Next Level Guitar – it’s very informative and to the point. Oh, and even though some of this stuff is played on an acoustic, it is equally important and may just as well be done on an electric guitar :-)

Now, as you tag along, you may begin to notice how there are certain accents or rhythmic shifts- places where the chord or notes seems to be hit a little harder? For instance (in a basic 4/4 song pattern), is the first beat being more accented? This is very common… Again you will notice how this may be done in the below video.

Here are more informative and easy to follow guitar strumming lessons form the good folks at Next Level Guitar, remember to check them out when you have the time! There really is a huge amount of good, solid stuff to be picked up there.

More guitar strumming tips

Some other points to remember is to use the arm more than the wrist when you do basic strumming patterns. However, you need to be loose in the wrist so that you also involve the wrist in the strumming! If your arm and your wrist is rigid, then your strum patterns will be stiff and rigid too…

If you begin to be tired as you play along, then just take a short brake  and shake loose. It helps to let your arms hang down while you shake your hands and fingers lightly for a period of time. Remember also to do some fingers and hand stretching exercises form time to time!

The pick should be held firmly, but not overly tight, between your thumb and first finger. Too tight and you become rigid and tired fast – too loose and you’ll likely drop the pick and also have problems driving that steady rhythm home. Like everything else, this is a matter of practice over a period of time.

Like one of the above videos mention, you will eventually need to learn how to dampen the strings. Both hands can dampen the strings in various ways, including also palm muting. String damping techniques is used amongst other things to create accents and variations, and thereby interest, to your guitar strumming.

Keep it simple! Remember, some of the patterns used to strum a guitar in certain song can be very complex and have many shifts and variations. Don’t be afraid to keep things more basic and to simplify things if you get overwhelmed or confused!

Happy strumming and humming :-)

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