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Playing guitar looks like it’s so much fun, and it is! But you might be wondering if just anybody can play the guitar and make it sound good, or if it’s only for those with the “musical knack”.
If you define good as proficient, then virtually everyone can learn all the basic competencies of the guitar to be considered good at the guitar. With regular practice, anyone can play multiple styles of music and hundreds of songs.
These are broad statements, but are they true? Can anyone really “get good” at the guitar or is that a myth made up to placate someone so they don’t feel bad?
Read on to find out.
Can Really Anyone Get Any Good At the Guitar?
I think before we talk more about this, let’s talk about what “good” means.
If you define good as world-class--then no. Not everyone can get that level of good. Not even everybody who practices for 6 hours a day can get to that level of good.
But, if you define good as in being able to play the main guitar riff in Led Zepplin’s “Babe I’m Gonna Leave you”, or the guitar solo in Starship Trooper by the band Yes, then yes!
Unless someone has a physical impediment preventing hand coordination, then yes, these goals are totally possible.
What Does It Take To Get Good At Guitar?
Now, if you were trying to answer this question, I’m sure you would say PRACTICE.
Well… there you go, that’s actually what I would say, too.
But, I’d go a step further – the biggest mistake many guitarists make is trying to learn how to play without any structure and just try to play songs that they like.
What ends up happening, is that over a long period of time, you pick up 10-20 songs that you play over and over again and then people at parties ask you to play a song, but you continue to drone the same songs you know over and over again.
Trust me… this is where I’ve spent most of my time.
The secret to progressing on the guitar is focused practice.
I experienced this when I decided to practice the guitar for an hour a day for just a month and I found that I made tremendous progress:
I’d been stuck and plateaued at the guitar for years--with just one month of focused practice, I picked up basic skills I’ve wanted for literally years.
Best Way To Learn Guitar
So, if you want to progress as quickly as possible, it’s best to find a structured way to practice and to practice regularly (daily is best).
Does this mean watching a whole bunch of random YouTube videos?
Well… not really.
The problem with many YouTube channels is that they are often about subjects that are more interesting and not necessarily as important. Furthermore, YouTube is not structured like a course, and so it’s really easy to get sucked into rabbit hole after rabbit hole… almost literally--there was a video on my feed the other day about a rabbit come to think of it.
Anyway, what I’m saying is that YouTube is not as organized as you need it to be.
For that reason, I recommend either getting a guitar teacher, buying an online course, or getting a guitar book.
Yes, a book! You might think that books are so last century, but not so! Music is very audio-centric, but there is a lot to see and to study, and perhaps the best part about a guitar book is that you are guided step-by-step through the learning process. This is absolutely essential for learning the guitar. Otherwise, you’ll jump around to a million different topics and not make real progress.
The Truth: Can Just Anyone Get Good At the Guitar?
The truth is… no. While I firmly believe that an average human being has the physical and mental capability to get really good at guitar, not everyone has the grit and determination to stick with something even when it’s hard and challenging--which is the hallmark of a musician.
Truly, you need to give any musician you know a high five or something because by definition, they have patience, and they know how to work hard. It’s not always fun to play a challenging instrument, but it can be intensely rewarding.
How Long Does It Take to Get Good At Guitar?
If we define “good” as being able to play dozens of songs with 90-95% accuracy, then it may take you up to 18 months to 2 years of consistent practice.
If we define “good” as only 80% accuracy for the songs you play, then that may be only 6 months to a year.
Perfecting your technique is the most challenging and time consuming part about practicing the guitar. To learn the basics of a song may take you an hour, but to perfect it may take a month. And of course, it depends on the song.
If we define “good” as being able to play perfectly--good enough for a studio recording? Then you may be looking at least at 5 years of constant practice.
As you might expect, I’m only projecting these numbers based on my own experience learning the guitar and from others who play--so be prepared for wild inaccuracies. If that feels like a long time – remember, you can make huge progress in a short amount of time if you practice with focus and you practice mindfully.
Make sure to check the following section about how much you can learn in 3 months below--that should give you a better idea of what you can achieve in that time.
Is The Guitar Hard To Learn?
Perhaps one reason why you might be wondering if just anyone can get good at the guitar is because you heard the guitar is hard to learn.
To this I would agree. Most people would agree that guitar is a very challenging instrument to learn. I think that you might agree that just about everyone can get pretty good at the kazoo (Amazon if you don’t remember what a kazoo is). But guitar? That’s a different issue, right?
And yes, it is! Guitar indeed is an especially challenging instrument for several reasons:
- The guitar is physically challenging to play--You have to work up finger and hand grip strength and flexibility to be able to even play the notes cleanly
- You are doing something completely different with your left and right hands simultaneously. This isn’t even all true for piano!
- The fretboard is not the most intuitive note layout for many people (it’s hard to win against the piano in a intuitive note layout contest)
- The guitar has many advanced techniques that can take months to get the hang of.
And there’s even more reasons why guitar is difficult to play… if you want to see what you could be getting yourself into, check out my article here on the subject.
Can You Learn Guitar In 3 Months?
You may not be able to “get good” at the guitar in just 3 months, but you can learn many of the basics in only 3 months.
Don’t believe me? Check out this guy on YouTube. He made this level of practice after only 3 months.
Incredible right? His progress I’d say is exceptional, but you might surprise yourself with your own progress if you learn to focus on a goal.
A lot of what you can accomplish is based on who or what you learn from and how much time you dedicate to learning the guitar each day. If you’d like to learn more about the time commitment and what you’ll need to do, check out my article here.