The most common question I get from people interested in learning guitar is “how hard is it to learn guitar?”
And while the question is obviously subjective and depends on the individual, there are several things that you should consider if you’re interested in picking up the instrument.
So how hard is it to learn guitar? How hard it is to learn guitar will ultimately depend on how efficient your practice is, how much time and work you put in and what resources you use, whether it be an in person guitar teacher or online guitar lessons.
How difficult it is to learn guitar will also depend on your goals as a player. If you want to be the next John Petrucci, then it will be very difficult to get to that level. If you just want to be able to play chords to accompany your singing, then it is relatively easy to learn guitar.
While learning a musical instrument is always hard at first, the more you practice, the easier it will get. Compared to other instruments, such as piano and violin, learning guitar is relatively easy since learning music theory is not mandatory and there are an infinite amount of online resources teaching you how to play guitar due to how popular the instrument is.
In this article, we’ll be discussing exactly how hard it is to learn guitar if you’re a complete beginner.
We’ll talk about what elements of learning guitar make it extremely difficult as well as some reasons why many would consider learning guitar easy compared to other instruments.
Factors That Determine How Hard It Is to Learn Guitar
Whenever I talk to people who are interested in learning to play guitar, the most common question I get is “How hard is it to learn guitar?”
The truth is that it really depends from person to person.
For some, learning guitar could be one of the hardest things you ever do. For others, learning guitar could come very easily and naturally.
Here are several factors that you need to consider that will really determine how hard it is to learn guitar for you.
What Your Goals Are as a Guitar Player
As previously mentioned, your specific goals as a guitar player will determine how hard it is to learn guitar.
How good of a player do you want to be and what type of music will be playing?
Do you want to be the next John Petrucci who shreds on lead guitar?
If so, then it will definitely be difficult to get to that level of play. There’s no telling how long it will take before you can get to that point.
But that said, not everyone has the goal of becoming a guitar legend.
For many people, their goal is just to be able to play some simple chords on the guitar to accompany their singing.
Others just want to learn how to play some of their favorite songs to impress their friends (and there’s nothing wrong with that).
In this case, it is not nearly as hard to learn guitar. Depending on how diligent you are with your practice, you could learn all the chords you need within a few months.
What Resources You Use to Learn Guitar
How you actually go about learning how to play the guitar can play a HUGE role in how hard it is to learn.
There are a TON of resources out there teaching you how to play guitar due to how popular the instrument is.
And let me be the first to tell you; they are NOT all created equal.
Choosing the right teacher, website, or online guitar lesson service can have a HUGE impact on how hard it is to learn guitar.
If you find random lessons on YouTube with no structure, then it can make learning guitar a lot harder than it needs to be. Learning from people who aren’t qualified to teach can actually make you develop bad habits, which makes it more difficult to learn and progress in the long run.
On the other hand, if you have a teacher who understands your goals as a player, is entertaining, and inspires you to play, it can make the entire guitar learning experience much easier.
How Effectively You Practice
If you want to learn how to play guitar, practice is necessary. There’s no way around that.
Just like how not all guitar resources are created equal, not all guitar practice is created equal either.
Just because you put in the hours, does not mean that you’ll make any progress.
Having a structured and efficient practice routine will result in a much easier learning experience, allowing you to make more progress with less time spent.
Your Natural Talent and Musical Aptitude
The fact of the matter is that your natural talent does play a factor in how hard it is to learn the guitar.
People are different. For some people, learning guitar will not be very difficult and they will pick it up fairly quickly.
For others, learning to play guitar will be very hard and it’ll take a lot longer for it to click with them.
Here’s the deal.
I’m a firm believer that ANYONE can learn how to play the guitar. Whether you’re a 10 year old kid or a 50 year old adult, it’s never too late to start learning guitar.
That said, depending on your natural ability and aptitude for music, it’ll significantly affect how hard it is to learn guitar for you.
I’ve seen some players who have a natural ear for music who can hear a song one time and figure out how to play it on the fly.
Others will need to put in double the amount of time for half the results. And there’s NOTHING wrong with that. That’s just life.
Is Playing Guitar Easy?- Reasons Why Learning Guitar is NOT Hard
Despite what you may think, learning guitar can actually be easy when compared to other instruments such as piano.
While it’ll definitely take some time and practice if you’re just starting out, getting the hang of the fundamentals is pretty straightforward.
Here are some reasons why it is not hard to learn guitar.
Tons of Guitar Lesson and Tutorials Online
Do you know anyone who has mentioned that they want to learn guitar?
Guitar is one of the most popular instruments in the world. And as a result, there is a TON of resources readily available to aspiring guitar players.
Personally, I am a self-taught guitar player using only online resources.
If you have access to the internet, you can learn how to play the guitar relatively easily.
It doesn’t even need to be expensive either. You can use free guitar lesson websites such as Justin Guitar or free video lessons on YouTube.
If you’re looking for something more structured and comprehensive lessons, I would recommend the online guitar lesson service, Guitar Tricks which only costs $20 per month.
The cost of online guitar lessons is VERY low. There are an unlimited number of guitar learning resources out there.
As a result, if you really want to learn how to play guitar, it’s not that hard to get started today.
Knowing Only 3 Chords Can Go a Long Way
Another reason why learning guitar is not hard is that you really don’t need to know a lot to be functional.
Don’t get me wrong. There is definitely a TON to learn out there.
But depending on what your goals are as a guitar player, you might not need to know any of the more advanced techniques and tactics.
If you’re someone who is primarily a singer and just want to learn how to play the guitar for accompaniment, then you can get away with knowing just a few chords.
If you know your basic open major and minor chords, then you can play literally THOUSANDS of songs.
You wouldn’t believe how many classics consist of only basic 2 or 3 chord progressions.
Here is a list of famous songs that only require you to know 3 chords.
If you’re just going to be learning some basic chords, then learning how to play guitar is not that hard at all.
You’ll just need to learn the finger positions for the chords and practice switching between them. You can be a pro at this within a couple of months.
Learning Music Theory is Not Required
Believe it or not, many of the best guitarists in history didn’t know music theory at all.
In fact, Jimi Hendrix couldn’t even read a single note and was still one of the best guitar players in history.
One thing that makes learning to play guitar easy compared to other instruments is that you can become a excellent player without knowing how to read music or understanding music theory.
Now compare that to other instruments, such as a piano and violin. There is not a single professional piano player out there who doesn’t understand music theory. It’s an essential skill for anyone learning how to play these types of instruments.
Since it’s not mandatory for guitar players, you could argue that learning how to play guitar is much easier than other instruments.
Is Playing Guitar Difficult? – Reasons Why Guitar IS Hard to Learn
While there are some aspects of playing guitar that are not that hard to learn, there are definitely some aspects that make it fairly difficult for new players
Here are some reasons for why it is hard to learn guitar.
If you’re a beginner, there are actually some physical barriers that could make it harder to learn guitar for some.
First, the size of the guitar could make it difficult if you’re someone who is young or is trying to get your child to start learning guitar.
Just the act of holding a guitar in a comfortable position can be difficult due to how long the instrument is. If your body is not big enough, then you’ll have difficulty resting the curves of the guitar on your lap and around your arm.
Unlike an instrument like piano, where you can start learning as young as 3 years old, many children under the age of 5 will have a hard time holding the guitar in a natural position.
Another thing to consider is the size of your hands. Since the frets on a guitar are fairly spaced out, if you have smaller hands, then it can be much more difficult to play guitar in general.
You’ll really need to improve your finger strength and dexterity to be able to stretch your fingers far enough to reach certain notes.
Another thing that you’ll need to consider is that it’s actually painful to press down on the metal strings when you’re first starting out.
You’ll need to build up finger strength, dexterity and calluses on your fingers before you can effectively play guitar without feeling pain. This is something that’s often overlooked by new players, but definitely makes it harder to learn guitar.
Synchronizing Left and Right Hand
Another aspect that makes learning to play the guitar hard is the fact that you’ll need to learn how to synchronize your left and right hand.
This is especially difficult for beginners who are learning to play guitar for the first time.
Your picking hand and your fretting hand are doing completely different motions. This is different from the piano because while both your hands are playing different things, they’re still doing the same motion.
Learning how to fret the notes on one hand and strum the string on the other are two entirely different skills that you need to learn.
Then putting them both together to actually play the notes is a whole other skill in and of itself.
Understanding the Fretboard
Simply put, there are a LOT of frets on a guitar. On a standard guitar, there are 22 or 24 frets with 6 strings, meaning 144 different possible notes to hit.
And when you’re first starting out, it feels like they’re in completely random order with no rhyme or reason, which makes learning guitar very hard at first.
It requires a significant amount of time and trial and error to understand where all the notes are located on the fretboard and to recognize the patterns and positions.
A TON of Techniques You Need to Learn
When you get to the point where you’re playing songs, there will be a ton of different techniques you’ll need to get proficient at.
This includes, alternate picking, finger picking, sweep picking, legato, barre chords, etc. The list goes on and on.
Each individual technique requires dedicated practice. Some of the more advanced techniques, such as sweep picking could take years of practice before you’re proficient at it.
I have been playing guitar for 10 years and still have trouble sweep picking with sufficient speed.
The fact that there are hundreds of different micro techniques that you’ll need to learn throughout your guitar playing journey makes learning guitar very hard.
There are so many intricate aspects of learning guitar that you’ll always need to learn something new no matter how long you have been playing.
The Tone is in the Fingers
When it comes to playing guitar, it’s not what you play, but rather how you play it.
The idea that the tone is in the fingers essentially means that there are many intricacies when in terms of how you play the notes that significantly change how the song sounds.
This concept is very hard for new players to understand.
You could play all of the notes of a song correctly from a technical aspect and still sound completely lifeless and expressionless like a robot.
On the other hand, players like Jimi Hendrix can play something that technically is pretty sloppy, but sounds amazing simply because of the “feel” he puts into it.
One way to help understand this idea of the tone being in the fingers is by looking at several different famous guitar players, such as Slash, John Pretrucci, Eric Clapton, Steve Vai and many more.
When you hear their music, you can tell it’s them. There are certain distinct characteristics to their play style that make them easily distinguishable no matter what they’re actually playing.
This is an advanced guitar skill that is extremely hard to learn or be taught. It simply requires a lot of experience to develop your own sound and style.
How Long Does it Take to Learn Guitar?
So we’ve answered the question, “how hard is it to learn guitar?”
But by now, you’re probably wondering how long it will actually take you to learn the guitar.
Weeks? Months? Years?
Again, it’s a complicated question and really depends on you and your goals as a guitar player.
If you’re just someone who wants to learn how to play songs and chords to accompany your singing, you could effectively learn how to play guitar in a few months.
If you want to become a professional guitar player, then it could take 10 years or more.
Check out this article on how long it takes to learn guitar,which gives a breakdown of what you should expect after playing guitar for a certain amount of time.
To wrap things up, learning a new instrument is always hard at first.
However, if you put in the hard work and dedication, you’ll find that learning guitar is actually not that hard compared to other instruments.
If you’re interested in learning guitar, there are a ton of online resources out there that can get you from zero to hero relatively quickly.
If you’re interested in learning how to play guitar online from the comfort of your own home, check out