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You have a busy life, but you want to learn guitar! One question you may have had: If you dedicated your time to practicing the guitar for 3 solid months, could you learn the guitar? Well, it all depends on how you define learn.
In 3 months time, you can pick up many of the fundamentals of the guitar but you are unlikely to master them for many more months, even years. You will be able to strum several songs you recognize and be able to pluck out some scales, as well as learning the fundamental chord shapes, and other basic guitar skills.
So what does this mean? Would you be good enough to perform on stage in just 3 months? Read on to find out.
What Can You Learn In 3 Months?
You probably already know you can’t become a master at the guitar if you only practice for 3 months but you would be amazed at what you can learn.
The following are examples of techniques that you can learn in 3 months of consistent practice:
- Basics of guitar posture
- Basic finger picking technique
- How to use a pick (also called a plectrum)
- Fundamental strumming patterns
- All the open chords
- How to read and play songs with open chord positions
- Standard Pentatonic scales
- How to play 20 to 30 real songs
- Travis picking pattern
- Bar chords for the first few frets
- How to tune your guitar normally and with harmonics
Your mileage may vary because it all depends on what you focus on. If you decide to focus on learning songs you will learn way more songs in 20 or 30 songs but you may not learn all of the different techniques that I’ve listed above.
I found a tremendously awesome example of someone who recorded themselves after 3 months of practice.
I would say that the clarity that this person played with is exceptional for the amount of time they played the guitar. It shows, though, that even new players to the instrument can learn a lot quickly if they are intensely focused during practice time.
I have learned this even in my own life. I have played the guitar rather casually for years of my life, and I tried to focus on the guitar for just a month and I found that practicing in focused way for just a month’s time made a tremendous difference in my playing. I picked up skills I had always wanted to pick up for years. Literally!
So if you focus in this way in just a month’s time for even as much as an hour a day, you can make huge progress.
What Won’t You Have In 3 Months
It seems unfair to say that if you practice something diligently for 3 months that you still are a total beginner. To many experienced guitarists, however, this is how they would feel if they were asked about their skills in their first 3 months of playing. This is because 3 months is only enough to pick up the basic techniques that really allow the guitar to start being fun, but there are still many things that you’re missing.
Perhaps one of the most important things that you will be missing after only 3 months of practice is a strong sense of rhythm. You may be able to keep a basic beat but one of the fundamental functions of the guitar is being able to lock into the rhythm and that takes many more months of practice perhaps or even years.
Fortunately any experience with other instruments will transfer over as far as being able to keep a steady rhythm. If you’ve spent some time playing piano or drums, you’ll be better equipped for staying on tempo!
Another thing that you should count on taking a long time is getting a clean sound from all of your notes. It is very common for beginners notes to buzz as they play chords or pick out notes. It takes a long time to get that muscle memory to make sure all the fingers are in the right places at all times so that all of your notes come out cleanly.
Limited Playing Style
After only 3 months of practice you will definitely have a nice repertoire of songs but it won’t be very extensive–plus you are probably only locked into a few styles of music–in other words, you haven’t unlocked the full potential of the guitar for the thousands of different types of songs that are out there. This is truly a lifelong journey as the guitar is such a flexible and dynamic instrument. How many genres of music do you know of that feature a guitar?
Takes Forever to Learn a New Song
You may also notice that after only 3 months of practice it takes a long time for you to learn a new song–perhaps even taking up to several hours for a tricky song with hard chords. Even longer if you try and learn some of the solos! And even longer to really get a hang of the song and feel comfortable playing it.
This amount of time goes down as you learn more and more songs as you recognize patterns–but in the beginning months be prepared to take forever to learn a new song.
Limited Strumming Patterns
You may also notice that your strumming patterns begin to all sound the same. There’s definitely some strumming patterns that are a lot easier than others and it may take you a long time to get some of the more difficult strumming patterns and for those all to be very solid in their rhythm
One thing that you will likely not have by the end of 3 months is knowing and understanding the entire fretboard. The guitar is a complex instrument and while learning the patterns is straightforward after the initial learning curve it takes a lot of time and practice to really feel and understand the fretboard and understand the chord positioning, patterns, and shapes.
Furthermore you will probably only have an understanding of some of the basic barre chords. It takes a lot of practice to be able to play barre chords so that every note can be heard cleanly without notes being muted or buzzing–furthermore, understanding all the chords that you can play with barre chords takes a decent while to get the hang of. Some barre shapes are extremely difficult, to boot.
How Long Does It Take To Learn Guitar
So, with all this talk about what you can or probably can not do in 3 months time, how long does it really take to learn the guitar?
The thing is, it really has to do with your goals. If you are playing for your own enjoyment and only are learning so you can have a fulfilling and fun hobby, then you may learn all you want to know in 3 months of focused practice!
If you want to perform in any capacity, then the expectations shift quite a bit.
You really can learn a lot about the guitar in 3 months and even more in 6 months but you really get to the point where you can play comfortably in a band it may take even a couple years to where you are capable of picking up any song and playing it confidently.
The amount of time required is not so much the amount of time, though, as much as the amount of quality time practicing the guitar.
So, in summary, if your goal was to learn a couple of your favorite songs then you may already be done! You have successfully learned how to play guitar.
If your goal however is to gain a deep appreciation and level of skill with the guitar then you have a longer road ahead of you.
Is It Too Late To Learn The Guitar?
One of the fears of older learners is that it’s too late to get any good at the guitar when you start playing at an older age–thinking that the “pros” start when they are 5 years old, etc.
This is true that many of the guitarists that we know about started when they were young, but that doesn’t mean that they are the only ones who should try.
You have an incredible advantage as an adult learner, hopefully by the time you read this you have learned how to accomplish difficult goals without immediate rewards–this is such a key skill to learn that will help you as you learn the guitar.
So, no, you are not too old, even if you are 60, you can learn an incredible amount in just a few months of focused practice.