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Old 12-22-2012, 01:38 AM   #1
antisun
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How long does it take to become "proficient" at playing guitar?

Currently, i've been playing maybe a month. In that time, i've managed to learn one song (Where dark and light don't differ by Immortal) and i've also been working on learning "standard" chords. Have about 7 of them down and i can change between most of them pretty easily. Anyways, my main question is how long does it usually take someone to actually have a decent grip on playing the guitar? I practice anywhere from 5-6 hours a day between semesters and about 2-3 hours all other times. I also should probably mention i have no difficulty with rhythm or timing.

Last edited by antisun : 12-22-2012 at 01:41 AM.
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Old 12-22-2012, 02:27 AM   #2
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There's not really an answer to this. It can take anywhere from a couple years to a couple decades. All I can really say is that it's not easy. Be prepared to put in several years of work.

How much you practice means nothing if you are not practicing properly. For instance, if you practice with poor technique, you will just be practicing to play with poor technique. 1 hour of focused practice with good technique is better than 5 hours of practice with bad technique.

You saying you have no difficulty with timing means absolutely nothing. Sooooo many people think they have good timing, but really they're way off. Play with a metronome. If you're ever off, even just a little bit, you need to work on it. The slightest difference in timing can make or break a gig.
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Old 12-22-2012, 02:32 AM   #3
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idk how it is for others, but after about 2-3 years, i became proficient. after about 4-5 years, i learned advanced techniques like sweeping, alternate picking, speed picking, etc. i'm on my 6th year now, learning sweep-tapping.

i hope this answers your question.
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Old 12-22-2012, 02:59 AM   #4
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It differs from person to person, whether or not you're practicing correctly, or efficiently. Some people just pick it up easier than others. I'm self taught, still teaching myself. It's a slow process, every once in a while a happen to befriend a "superior" guitarist and he ends up teaching me a sh*t load. The fastest way is to jam with people, play to a metronome, or drums, and have a practice routine. If you can switch chords easy, try singing and switching them. They should be second nature, you shouldnt have to think about where your fingers should go.

Also, Iron Maiden is a great place to learn techniques for metal, i.e. palm mutes, alternate picking, tapping, power chords, all that jazz
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Old 12-22-2012, 03:05 AM   #5
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Yeah, each person is a different machine. Your progress will only depend on what you listen to and choose to excel at. So if you are only listening to metal, your technique will only go as far as that as well as your songwriting ability. If you only listen to ugly metal, my sympathies.

To not have a problem with rhythm or timing within a month of playing, then you are God/Satan/Marduk/Krishna/Santa's gift to music. Delusion serves its purpose too.

To have 7 chords down in a month is stellar, and changing between them easily is a good thing indeed. Now you just have to know them and make some happy music with it to counteract the negative side effects of Immortal kids wielding swords and burning torches, etc etc. You might also need to learn some basics of progressions. This way you might be able to train your ear somewhat - ear training takes a while, like two or three weeks but you'll have it in three or four days max (according to your skill level). Sadly it took me years... hopefully you'll never have to endure that torment/timespan.

On a sidenote: asking how long it takes to get somewhere puts one into a competitive frame of mind. This causes things to be done quickly and smell like poo. Your progress will be different to every other person's progress - take it as it comes. Thats about all the smelly wisdom I can bestow right now.
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Old 12-22-2012, 04:45 AM   #6
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Like evolucian said, make happy music. I play a lot of metal, but I also play a bit of punk and some blues, and just random sh*t. If you center your learning process towards JUST metal you'll regret it later. I also feel it rounds you out as a player, and when you're writing you'll be able to add more emotions to your songs than just the typical angry dissonance :P
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Old 12-22-2012, 05:04 AM   #7
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Second on the rhythm thing, play with a decent drummer or a metronome and see if you have no problems. I didn't play with anyone else for about 6 months when I started and it was a shock to hear out of time I was when previously I thought my timing was fairly good.
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Old 12-22-2012, 05:34 AM   #8
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Depends on the person, depends on your definition of 'proficient'. I would say I'm proficient because for the style I'm playing (Metal like The Amity Affliction, A Day To Remember, some Bullet for My Valentine, etc.) I need to be able to play power chords in drop tunings, I need to be solid with my timing, and I need to be able to palm mute well. I learned that in a couple of hours worth of playing.
Difference is, I'm a trombonist and a bassist already. I already had a good grasp of timing, and when drop tunings are involved a power chord is essentially the same as playing 1 note on bass. I also happen to just be 'good' at learning musical instruments. So it really does depend on you, and don't worry about how long it will take you to get better.
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Old 12-22-2012, 06:07 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by stonedhippos
idk how it is for others, but after about 2-3 years, i became proficient. after about 4-5 years, i learned advanced techniques like sweeping, alternate picking, speed picking, etc. i'm on my 6th year now, learning sweep-tapping.

i hope this answers your question.



My teacher taught me alternatte picking on day one.
4th year here, no longer recieving lessons, stopped like 2 years ago.
Pretty comfortable playing lead or rhythm, also a proficient slide player, not really interested in metal techniques though, can play basic fingerpicking but never put much time into it either.

All that's after 4 years, but I guess it depends.
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Old 12-22-2012, 07:56 AM   #10
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It depends on what you want to be able to play. I would consider myself as a decent rhythm guitarist and I have been playing for three years. But when did I become a decent rhythm guitarist? I don't know. But I started playing in a band when I had been playing for a bit over a year. I like playing rhythm guitar but I would also want to be a better lead guitarist (I can play other artists' solos well, as long as they aren't too fast, but coming up with my own solos that sound good is a bit harder).

If you just want to be able to play your favorite songs (without solos), it doesn't take that long. But you shouldn't really worry about it. Just learn the basic major and minor chords and barre chords and after that you can play most of the classic rock riffs. Just play, it will come over time.
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Old 12-22-2012, 10:12 AM   #11
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the more time you spend wondering how far you are from being good enough, the more likely you're gonna fall into a trap of thinking you're a lot better than you are. just focus on doing as well as you possibly can and learning as much as you can handle without getting burnt out, and enjoy yourself.

by the time you get to a level where you're content with your playing enough where you're able to play music you enjoy without making little mistakes, you'll be over worrying about whether you're good enough. that's a lot further than most guitarists get even after a few years, though, and that's typically because of a lack of dedication and an inability to accept and adjust mistakes.
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Old 12-22-2012, 11:48 AM   #12
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Learning guitar is not a check in the box. If you're serious about it, prepare to spend the rest of your life trying to master it. Learning an instrument is more of an evolutionary process than a series of ladders for which one is to climb. Heard Slash say this: "No one can truly mimic another one's guitar solo, because the original guitarist who it is attributed to has their own personal stamp on it". Learning guitar is not like 'Call of Duty' where one continually ranks up, it is a maturing process that takes place over time and is unique to each individual.

Don't get into the habit of thinking you're exceptional, especially after just one month..are you friggin' kidding me? This mindset will hinder you from making the progress you would really wish to make, or from putting in the hard work to really improve and become "good". The best way to bring yourself down to reality is to watch youtube videos of various bands and study their technique and fluidness and then see how yours pales in comparison. The better I become, the more my eyes open to how truly great the 'professionals' are. They're there to remind me that I still have a long ways to go if I every wish to play at their level. You need to allow yourself to be knocked down a peg or two, because this is what will keep you humble and in the end yield much greater results for yourself.

At the end of the day, it really isn't a race. Those who have been doing this for years understand that. Those who love the instrument, aren't really concerned with how they look compared to their peers. They just play for the sheer enjoyment and satisfaction it brings them. If this isn't your driving focus, then you'll never be very good. That's reality.
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Old 12-22-2012, 04:25 PM   #13
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The problem with this question is that "proficient" is a complicated thing. It's always changing. You may have room to grow for years.

Last night I sat down at a little impromptu jam sessions with a some pros at a friends house. The first jam, I was, let's say 80% happy with myself - where I feel in control of what I'm adding, reacting dynamically, not getting in the way of what they're doing while still adding.

Later, the best two of them sat down and started another jam. I put my guitar done. I knew that I couldn't accomplish my goal of contributing without getting in the way of what they were doing - it was that amazing.

And there's no shame in that. Both of these guys have written or performed music that you have probably heard.

So let me ask you: am I "proficient?"

I'm probably (at least) five years ahead of where you are. But when you're playing music, it's all about the next thing, the thing you can't do so well: so for you it's a few more chords, but when you get that down it'll be barre chords. And when you get those down it'll be basic improv. and when you get that down it'll be, I don't know, little fill licks or more complex improve or your ear or who knows.

But even beyond that: that first song you learned? I bet you play it much better today than you did when you first learned it. Your chord changes are smoother. Your rhythm is better, etc.

There isn't going to be some magical point where you are suddenly proficient. Rather, each day you'll get a little better, discover new things you can do that you couldn't do before, and new things that you never thought of that you need to learn how to do, now.
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Old 12-22-2012, 04:50 PM   #14
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It depends what you want to play. Also bear in mind how a player like Jimi Hendrix or even Chuck Berry were considered guitar heroes of their time but these days they wouldn't be sniffed at in this era of two handed tapping and shred and speed.
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Old 12-22-2012, 05:01 PM   #15
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^ Not quite... Hendrix would still be awesome. Joe Bonamassa would cry, Jeff Beck would give up, Clapton would have less fans, the earth would tremble.

Check how many shredders covered Hendrix's songs... and still never came close. Malmsteen came super close once... then widdled too much and wasn't close anymore. This common era now still shy's away from tapping abuse (points finger at Michael Fath and some other boys with mullets).... speed - bleh

Shreddy bitchy Malmsteen - gone
Permed mullet Vinnie Mooore - gone
Horseface Vai - reliving some glory days with G3 but will never have the Whitesnake/Roth glory days again. Stuck to writing on the bollocks of a donkey.
Mullet squad (Michael Fath, Reb Beach, Warren DeMartini, George Lynch) - M.I.A.

Don't know who they are? Excepting the first two, I hesitate with the trashy third. The rest were all your tappers and speed meisters who were well known... liked to use the word "mode" and each had more nookie than all of us on this here forum put together.

Last edited by evolucian : 12-22-2012 at 05:18 PM.
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Old 12-22-2012, 05:09 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HotspurJr
The problem with this question is that "proficient" is a complicated thing. It's always changing. You may have room to grow for years.

Last night I sat down at a little impromptu jam sessions with a some pros at a friends house. The first jam, I was, let's say 80% happy with myself - where I feel in control of what I'm adding, reacting dynamically, not getting in the way of what they're doing while still adding.

Later, the best two of them sat down and started another jam. I put my guitar done. I knew that I couldn't accomplish my goal of contributing without getting in the way of what they were doing - it was that amazing.

And there's no shame in that. Both of these guys have written or performed music that you have probably heard.

So let me ask you: am I "proficient?"

I'm probably (at least) five years ahead of where you are. But when you're playing music, it's all about the next thing, the thing you can't do so well: so for you it's a few more chords, but when you get that down it'll be barre chords. And when you get those down it'll be basic improv. and when you get that down it'll be, I don't know, little fill licks or more complex improve or your ear or who knows.

But even beyond that: that first song you learned? I bet you play it much better today than you did when you first learned it. Your chord changes are smoother. Your rhythm is better, etc.

There isn't going to be some magical point where you are suddenly proficient. Rather, each day you'll get a little better, discover new things you can do that you couldn't do before, and new things that you never thought of that you need to learn how to do, now.


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Old 12-26-2012, 05:14 AM   #17
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idk how it is for others, but after about 2-3 years, Moncler Jacket Outlet
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Old 12-26-2012, 05:37 AM   #18
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^ Not quite... Hendrix would still be awesome. Joe Bonamassa would cry, Jeff Beck would give up, Clapton would have less fans, the earth would tremble.

Check how many shredders covered Hendrix's songs... and still never came close. Malmsteen came super close once... then widdled too much and wasn't close anymore. This common era now still shy's away from tapping abuse (points finger at Michael Fath and some other boys with mullets).... speed - bleh

Shreddy bitchy Malmsteen - gone
Permed mullet Vinnie Mooore - gone
Horseface Vai - reliving some glory days with G3 but will never have the Whitesnake/Roth glory days again. Stuck to writing on the bollocks of a donkey.
Mullet squad (Michael Fath, Reb Beach, Warren DeMartini, George Lynch) - M.I.A.

Don't know who they are? Excepting the first two, I hesitate with the trashy third. The rest were all your tappers and speed meisters who were well known... liked to use the word "mode" and each had more nookie than all of us on this here forum put together.

I have way more respect for Vai than I probably should, because he has a more thorough and intuitive knowledge of Frank Zappa's music than I likely ever will.
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Old 12-26-2012, 06:37 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by evolucian
^ Not quite... Hendrix would still be awesome. Joe Bonamassa would cry, Jeff Beck would give up, Clapton would have less fans, the earth would tremble.

Check how many shredders covered Hendrix's songs... and still never came close. Malmsteen came super close once... then widdled too much and wasn't close anymore. This common era now still shy's away from tapping abuse (points finger at Michael Fath and some other boys with mullets).... speed - bleh

Shreddy bitchy Malmsteen - gone
Permed mullet Vinnie Mooore - gone
Horseface Vai - reliving some glory days with G3 but will never have the Whitesnake/Roth glory days again. Stuck to writing on the bollocks of a donkey.
Mullet squad (Michael Fath, Reb Beach, Warren DeMartini, George Lynch) - M.I.A.

Don't know who they are? Excepting the first two, I hesitate with the trashy third. The rest were all your tappers and speed meisters who were well known... liked to use the word "mode" and each had more nookie than all of us on this here forum put together.


Dude...what the **** is wrong with you?
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Old 12-26-2012, 06:47 AM   #20
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hahahahaha evo omg ily

also, shawn lane totally did justice to hendrix. and this is from a guy who can't fucking stand the JF/shred guitar aesthetic
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