How long does it take to get good at guitar?

Im often asked how long it takes to get good at guitar by absolute beginners or people in their early intermediate stage. They are full of ambition but are often not progressing as fast as they would like and are seeking reassurance so that I can give them an attainable figure. It might seem like a simple question but the answer itself can be more complex as you begin to factor in your own individual goals, what you define as good and what you are hoping to achieve.


Most people automatically set a duration in year values and believe it takes several years to get good at guitar. I would challenge you to change your measurement to hours invested instead as it can give you a more accurate indication of the time you need to be putting in.

Let’s do some simple math and set up a hypothetical scenario where it takes 100 hours to get good at guitar.

If you practice for 30 minutes a week it will take you 4
years to reach this goal.
If you practice for 60 minutes a week it will take you 2
years to reach this goal.
If you practice 120 minutes a week it will take you 1 year
to reach this goal.
If you practice 30 minutes a day it will take you 7 months
to reach this goal.
If you practice for an hour a day it will take you 3.5 months
to reach this goal.
If you practice for two hours a day it will take you 2
months to reach this goal.

I hope it is now clear why it is not fair to put a year value on the amount of time it takes to get good at guitar. I hope it’s also now obvious why some people progress very quickly while others drag on their journey for years. It’s all relevant to the hours that you invest, not the years you’ve been playing. You also need to assume all of the practice you are doing is efficient and that you’re not wasting time when you are meant to be practicing. Below are three different categories that most guitar players fall under and an estimate of how many hours one needs to invest in order to be ‘good’.

Hobby Player = 100 Hours
A hobby player is someone who is interested in learning what they need to play their favorite songs and have fun while they are doing it. These guys aren’t interested in being the best players in the world and just need to learn the skills that will get them through basic repertoire. Depending on your commitment to practice you can become a good hobby player in as little as 6 months or as long as 4 years.

Casual Musician = 1000 Hours
This sort of player’s goals go beyond learning their favorite repertoire usually involve writing their own music, playing gigs and potentially participating in musical projects around their full time work. Casual musicians normally have a great technical skill than the hobby player and are more accomplished musicians. If you practice an hour a day it can take as little as 3.5 years to get to this point not including all the compounding benefits of playing with other people and composing your own music.

Professional Musician = 10,000 Hours
Professional Musicians are those whose primary source of income is from their musical projects. Their skill level is the result of countless hours being poured into their craft and it takes years of effort to reach this point. There is no shortcuts to this path other than putting in the time so if you have professional aspirations you want to be looking at 3 hours of concentrated, efficient practice every day, and even then it will still take you 10 years. Don’t be put off by the huge numbers though,10,000 hours is a figure for the final mastery of guitar and something professional guitarists like Steve Vai, Guthrie Govan and Joe Satriani are still working towards achieving. You can also start playing professionally well before reaching this milestone.

 

Hopefully you now have a better idea on how long it will take you to become ‘good’ at guitar. Take a moment to reflect on what level you are trying to attain and what kind of musician you are trying to become as this will give you a better idea of the time you need to be putting in. Once you have a goal in mind it’s up to you to put in the time to make it happen.

 

About the Author
Michael is a progressive rock guitarists from Melbourne, Australia. He is the owner of Melbourne Guitar Academy and has helped hundreds of students reach their guitar playing goals.

Whether you’ve got casual or professional ambitions, contact Michael for the best guitar lessons in Melbourne and improve ten times faster than traditional approaches.