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Old 02-28-2013, 05:02 AM   #1
Speedkills85
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How long does it take to become a good guitarist?

Hi, this is my first post and I am looking for some advice on what direction to take in order to become a good player. How long does it take before one can be considered a good player? I know it's different for everybody but I mean a rough estimate of when that happens for the average person. Let me tell you some things about me and what I am doing at the moment. I started first practicing back in 2008 for a couple of months. I was able to memorize and play chords like A,C,E,D,G and I could play basic bits of very simple songs. I ended up giving up because I felt I was making little progress. Admittedly even though I did devote time, my practicing was very unstructured and I didn't really have a clear goal in mind. I also lacked direction and just practiced what I already knew over and over, not really doing anything new.

Sometime in the begging of January I just felt compelled to practice the guitar again and I have been back at it. I have been practicing since that time every single day and I aim for at least two hours per day. I enjoy it and could practice for much longer periods if I am able. In that time I think I have been able to do what I did before much easier and have learned different things along the way. I can sorta play the F chord whereas before I would not even attempt it. I've also gotten better at playing the G chord, it's a lot smoother than before. This chromatic scale exercise thing I used to do I believe I am more coordinated and faster at it than before. I printed out a lot of the different scales like Pentatonic, Major, Diatonic etc. in all the different keys. I try to break my routine up to where I spend half of it on different scales and the other half on chords, progressions, etc. So a typical day for me is I will warm up by doing a chromatic scale exercise and then I will practice like a couple of different scales in the Key of C. The rest of the time I spend switching from the Chords I know.

I am a big heavy metal fan. I have an appreciation for other styles but Metal is my #1. I like everything from Power metal to Black metal. As a player I would mostly be interested in this style and express myself through it. I like bands like Pantera, Megadeth, Nevermore, Dream Theater etc.

My goal: I would like to resemble a guitarist that is precise and has a good knack for riffs. More of a rhythm player than lead. I have a friend who also plays guitar, he has played for many years, since 2001/2002. It doesn't make sense at this moment, but as I progress he's someone I could jam with. He's also mentioned willing to start a band if I could learn, so that is one extra motivation.

Thank you for reading and taking the time to respond. Means a lot and is appreciated.
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Old 02-28-2013, 06:44 AM   #2
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A couple of things:

Getting "good" entirely depends on: your definition of 'good' and the quality of your practice as well as the quantity. It's no good spending hours a day just grinding away at the same stuff you can already do: you need to focus on getting your technique right and making sure you play everything as cleanly and precisely as possible.

Second... there is no time when you shouldn't jam with someone. If you can play enough chords to run through a standard 12-bar blues or a really simple vi-vii-I progression then there is literally no reason not to jam with someone. Trust me, the more time you spend playing with actual musicians the better you will be.


That said... almost everything in your post is just noise. None of that really means anything much when it comes to practice and becoming a good player. The important thing is that you spend time practicing and playing music, although I feel like I can't stress that second part enough. Spend as much of your time as humanly possible playing actual music; without that experience you'll never be a decent musician.

Finally: work on your ears. Your ears are your most important tool when it comes to music, without a decent ear (which you can practice) you'll never be any good either. Spend time transcribing melodies and chords, both from external sources like songs and from in your mind: spend time thinking of melodies away from the guitar and then figure out how to play them.
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Old 02-28-2013, 06:46 AM   #3
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Hi there,

Well done for getting back into guitar. Frustratingly, there isn't really a precise answer to your question, simply because what everyone considers 'good' is different. What many people find is that their own definition of 'good' continues to change as they progress.

The other issue is that it's not necessarily just a question of the number of hours of practice you can clock up - though of course practice is essential. As well as playing for pleasure we all need to work towards goals, be it learning new chords, improving our technique, etc.

It sounds like you've made a good start already. If you haven't got a teacher yet then you should really consider getting one. Apart from itself, having to face someone each week is great motivation in the weeks when we are feeling not so motivated :-)
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Old 02-28-2013, 07:08 AM   #4
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I'll leave this thread open as you may have specific questions, but if it turns into a bunch of people just saying "there is no time", then i'll have to close it. That's actually the first thing you need to stop worrying about - things take as long as they take, you can't start trying to fit learning guitar into a timeframe or start getting bogged down in crap like thinking you're not as good as you "should be" or are "supposed to be" because there's no such thing.


You can't force this, you can't rush it and if you do you'll just fall flat on your face. Be patient, be objective about your progress and don't be afraid to be self-critical.
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Old 02-28-2013, 10:27 AM   #5
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If you can get a couple hours of focused practice in 5+ days per week, you'll probably get to Decent-ness in a couple years.

A few tips that have helped me

1) Technique is extremely important. Music sucks when playing the instrument is a chore in itself, and poor technique reduces even great musical ideas to a series flubs. I see a lot of adult-beginners who want to "focus on the music", but end up being unable to articulate their musical ideas.

2) Don't try to tackle a project start to finish in one sitting. Pick one little thing at a time and spend 15-30 minutes doing something you know you can finish. The sense of accomplishment is much greater, and you'll make actual progress instead of simply discovering your hang ups.

3) Be thorough. Understand what you're doing in terms of melody, harmony, and rhythm. Remember there is a difference between knowing how to play something, being able to play it, and just playing it. Don't settle for the first two.
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Old 02-28-2013, 10:36 AM   #6
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as far as time, hrs, not years. You should be pretty decent by 1000 hrs, quite advanced at 5000 and amazingly great at 10,000 if you practice right. 3 hrs a day is around 1000 hrs a yr.


so in perspective, if you play less than an hr a day, it'll take you yrs to even get anywhere decent. If you play 5 hrs a day you can be amazing (technically anyways) in 6 or 7 years.

Last edited by Tempoe : 02-28-2013 at 10:42 AM.
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Old 02-28-2013, 12:56 PM   #7
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I used to be obsessed with being a good metal guitarist. As my technique improved i could play most riffs i always dreamed of playing. Along the way i discovered some other genres that seemed to draw my attention. I realized that i only focused on one style so long that i never really grew as a guitarist. I also realized that playing guitar and actually enjoying the music i make is way more beneficial than doing chromatic exercises or other scale runs - in terms of technique and creativity. Im not a master, but i'm satisfied with my guitar playing skill, because i can express my creativity in my playing. Once you are at that point where you don't care so much about technique and rather about the music you hear from your guitar, your skill will improve way faster.
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Old 02-28-2013, 12:59 PM   #8
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10,000 hours.
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Old 02-28-2013, 02:57 PM   #9
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10,000 hours.

Oh Cmon it takes at least 12,000

Yeah when I tell people I have been playing for 11 Years they will fire back and say either Really? you look like you've been playing for 2 seconds or 25 years! Its all perspective. I'm never satisfied with my playing, so therefore i practice as much as im able to get to "where" i want to be. Some pick it up quick some don't the key is we are all different and learn at a different pace. It doesnt make you better or worse then anybody.

Take your time and enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be fun and exciting not a showdown.
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Old 02-28-2013, 03:40 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bburritt1
Oh Cmon it takes at least 12,000


Studies indicate that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to physically master a skill. Roughly 3.5 years of 8 hours a day, every day of the week.
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Old 03-01-2013, 05:38 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zaphod_Beeblebr
Studies indicate that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to physically master a skill. Roughly 3.5 years of 8 hours a day, every day of the week.


I was going to mention this but I thought it might start an argument :-)

Personally I find the 10,000 hours thing quite convincing. There's a good book called 'Bounce' y Matthew Syed which does a pretty good job of dispelling the 'natural' talent myth. He uses Mozart as one of his case studies.
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Old 03-01-2013, 07:52 AM   #12
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How long is a piece of string? I guess the issue is that as you develop, you keep setting the bar higher and higher, so you never feel like you've reached your goal of 'being a good guitarist'. But this is a good thing, because as soon as you think you've learnt it all, progress goes out the window!
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Old 03-01-2013, 07:24 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Zaphod_Beeblebr
Studies indicate that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to physically master a skill. Roughly 3.5 years of 8 hours a day, every day of the week.

Well im slow...so it took me an extra 2,000 to get where im at....sue me!
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Old 03-01-2013, 08:28 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bburritt1
Well im slow...so it took me an extra 2,000 to get where im at....sue me!


Well being entirely accurate, 10,000 is apparently the upper bound, 7,000 is the lower bound.

Statistically speaking, anyway, there's probably caveats about standard deviations and outliers and so on...
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Old 03-02-2013, 01:28 AM   #15
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I will say that if you seriously practice 2 hours a day (meditative practice. If you aren't 100% focused on it then you aren't going to store it in your memory as clearly or quickly) then by 2 a year and a half you'll be good enough to law down some nice licks and riffs and stuff.
I also like to balance the way I practice into three different groups that I created for myself. They are: The Body, the Spirit, and the Mind.

The Spirit is the sound to create, the emotion to convey. The Mind is how to play it on the instrument, and the Body is being able to play it perfectly when I want to. I haven't played for too long but I have trained my ear well so I can pick out melodies rather quickly. I did this with solfeggio and transcription. I have not yet mastered the ability to completely play a melody on the guitar yet - not as much a lack of knowing how to, but my Body cannot yet autopilot the moves so that I can just think about the sounds.

So as you can see, I need to work on my Body. I do not have a balance.
You need a balance. If you can practice thoroughly and keep these balanced, Im sure you will meet your goals faster than you originally thought.

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Old 03-02-2013, 01:51 AM   #16
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Hey,
I agree that the title was probably too generic. Of course "good" is highly subjective. I guess what I should've said was how long does it roughly take before one is able to tackle music by like Megadeth and Dream Theater. I don't care about being the next Vai or something I just want to be able to play the songs from my favorites and also be able to create my own if I desired too.

I know my original post was long, thanks for bearing with me, but I had wanted to include everything in there like what I am currently doing and what my goals are. I figured these are things that would probably be asked in order to find out more. Also it eliminates the need to make more posts about it. I've read all the posts so far, they are appreciated.
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Old 03-02-2013, 06:00 AM   #17
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Again, how long isn't a concern. It's not a question anyone can answer and it doesn't benefit you to start worrying about how long you have to "get good".
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Old 03-02-2013, 11:57 AM   #18
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Again, how long isn't a concern. It's not a question anyone can answer and it doesn't benefit you to start worrying about how long you have to "get good".

Agreed sir! Just practice when you can and for as long as you feel is necessary. 2 hours at a time is max. Your brain can only handle so much at one time. Or do what i call productive jamming. Try to learn a couple scales and master them all over the neck. Once you can do them all over the neck take a break. Go over them one more time as a refresh then continue with scales or chords. And just keep doing this forever basically because your going to find new scales, chords and chord progressions to keep your brain challenged and keep it exciting.

Then as you learn these fundamentals your own music will spawn much easier than you could ever imagine. And that is the most exciting part of learning any instrument.
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Old 03-04-2013, 02:45 PM   #19
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I like seeing peoples routines for practice/playing and techniques and such. Thanks lol.

Oh by the way I'm a year in, I'm nowhere as "good" as I want to be before I die! I play hours a day... I don't even count anymore, I feel like you should just play. Time flies that way. I know it ranges from 2-6 hours a day. I have lots of time on my hands, and I'm on mid-Winter break.

Just keep at it, everything that seems hard, keep attacking slowly and you'll get it. At least that's the way it goes for me, holla!

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Old 03-04-2013, 04:20 PM   #20
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Oh by the way I'm a year in, I'm nowhere as "good" as I want to be before I die! I play hours a day... I don't even count anymore, I feel like you should just play. Time flies that way. I know it ranges from 2-6 hours a day. I have lots of time on my hands, and I'm on mid-Winter break.


No one ever is dude, you just keep finding knew things you wish you knew or new stuff you want to be able to do. There really is no destination when it comes to this; it's all journey.

Wish I had that kind of time to practice any more as well, I used to play 8-10 hours a day easily... damn real life taking over!
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