Hi thanks for taking a look at my question, I just started to take online lessons and I am 98% really happy with them so far I have been messing about with guitars for years playing chords and singing mostly but I decided this time around i was going to get super serial with it and learn some theory and solo/lead guitar. 

The problem i am having  (the flaw in most online/distance learning courses) is that without tutor feedback i have no idea if i am progressing well. I also don't really know if my technique is on point or going to give me massive problems when it comes to playing legato riffs up and down the fretboard. 

For example I have had a lesson on the minor pentatonic scale which culminated in a fairly simple riff to learn. literally one power chord and a series of four notes on the scale starting with a small bend. I can play it... badly at about quarter of the speed it should be played. obviously even a simple riff will take time to master but how long? I feel like if i mastered it in a week i would be happy but if i took a year I would give up way before i got it right lol

I feel like i'm asking how long is a piece of string here but there must be a kind of rough estimate to how long most people take to learn something like this? Its just so i can kind of judge how well i'm doing so i can decide if i should quit online lessons and find a tutor to fix whatever i might be doing wrong.

Thanks again,

Everyone has different progress rates . Spend your time practicing, not worrying about the right way or wrong way.

My approach to guitar was to practice a riff or pattern obsessively until I got it - even if that meant practicing the same thing for 2 hours or more per day. Eventually you get it and you move on. As a beginner, the last thing you meed to worry about is how much time something takes - let it take as much time as you need.

The secret to getting good at guitar is practicing enormous amounts - i m talking 2 to 4 hours per day minimum, at least for a few years . Find a way to make that happen and you will be great, regardless of what you practice.

A trick is to combine practicing boring repeteitive things while watching movies etc - you can get extra hours in that way without getting bored.

It is not possible to predict one's progress with the guitar no matter what the plan or schedule; it simply does not develop in that way. It is like a potted plant - all you can do is provide light and water... you can't force it to grow, you can only present the best environment for that to happen.

Lead soloing requires a lot of time and a lot of effort, but the one thing it needs most is the development of your internal judgement of quality. A soloing lead player is doing a lot of things, but the main thing going on is an internal assessment of what is being played. This means hearing an idea in one's mind, playing that idea and listening to it, and comparing the result with the original idea - all by listening to the sound in advance in one's head and listening to the sound that comes out of the instrument. This process is also exactly how one learns to lead solo in the first place in order that the whole enterprise becomes transparent, natural, intuitive, and effortless.

The reason I went deep into the nature of lead soloing is that it is not about what you called "judge how well i'm doing". Both learning to play lead and playing it on stage are absolutely bound up in a continuous process of judging how well one is doing... but it is note by note, phrase by phrase, song by song. What you meant by "judge how well i'm doing" was more of a general judge of your present development, but there really is no such thing. You are thinking of it as a snap shot, but in reality it is all movies; judgement is not a single external grade of your condition; it is a continuous internal realization of how you play and hear the music.

This is why you will hear advice to disregard worrying about how long things take. Forget about the external, grade, condition, progress things. Those mean nothing with respect to the internal processes and their methods of development of judgement. Your musical judgement is a thing you can't force to grow, but you can present it the best environment for that to happen. The most important aspect of that environment is that you love playing the guitar.
Quote by reverb66
I'm pretty sure the Bible requires that you play through a tube amp in Texas.
Well, after playing for about 8-9 months, I myself still suck, but not nearly as much as I sucked at the beginning, but more so than I originally thought.

The hardest part is there doesn't seem to be much reward in the beginning, frustration starts to set in, you don't seem to be getting anywhere and its really easy at this point to throw your arms up in the air and say, "well I tried". If I was you I would forget about any time frame, counting the days is going to make it miserable, like watch the clock at the end of the day. Get some beginner books, don't go to the next page (lesson) without being able to do whatever the lesson is perfectly, if your going to do it do it right.

Good luck and stay on it.
Flying in a blue dream
Firstly thanks for replying to my question :Thumbsup: I kind of disagree with some of whats being said because music certainly can be taught to a schedule, there is a music academy near to where i live that turns out professional standard musicians every year (I wish i had that kinda money/time) I worked there (just on reception sadly) for a summer a few years back and their classes were just like most. They had theory and practical sessions and rehearsed in their own time, they had assessments through the term and exams to pass and i met some very well trained and talented  young people there. I appreciate that finding your own sound/style/tone might take time but theres no reason learning to play an instrument or music theory shouldnt be done to a schedule. 

The next thing is i am in no hurry, its taken me years just to get to where i am now and im not in a rush to get in a band this is purely for my own enjoyment, I love music and just want to be able to play more completely not just strum away chords all the time. (but it will be awesome to jam with my friends and shock them with some improv shredding from out of nowhere! lol) The only reason I want a sense of time is that I learn better and am more motivated when I have a target to work towards, If i miss a target by a bit then im not worried but if 90% of people nail a b minor pentatonic lick after 2 weeks and im still trying to figure it out 2 months later then something is wrong and i might need to ask for help (again those time scales were pulled out of nowhere i have no idea how long most people would learn it by) 

Many thanks,

 Get some beginner books, don't go to the next page (lesson) without being able to do whatever the lesson is perfectly, if your going to do it do it right.

Good luck and stay on it.

This is the kinda thing i was looking for too, Ive not been playing for a while so my fingers are getting sore fast with the string bending (i might have to resort to 8's if they dont toughen up soon lol) the theory i can race through but the practical licks are what is setting the pace. Once i got the idea of the pentatonic lick even though I couldn't play it well i started to look at the next lessons but I think what you're saying is right, playing this lick well will set me up for the next lesson and if i suck at this one im only going to suck worse at the next ones lol

Many thanks,

Oh my, it's always interesting when people who don't know but think they do, disagree with those who do know.. We seem to disagree about the developmental process of learning to play the guitar. Let's try to take a look in the nicest way...

With a join date of 2006, I suppose you started the guitar more than 10 years ago, yet your present example trouble is playing a chord and four note minor pent lick badly at one quarter speed. What is the likelihood that you might know something about the developmental process of learning to play the guitar?

You "kind of disagree with some of whats being said" points to what was said by me offering help from my experience which started almost 50 years ago, self teaching myself lead guitar first from day one, and through that learning how natural it was to construct any possible chords as needed. I've played over 10,000 hours on stage, currently play in two jazz bands, and get referred and called to sit in with others or do recording studio sessions. I'm not a dedicated full time professional, never have been; I just love playing. What is the likelihood that I might know something about the developmental process of learning to play the guitar?

Hope this helps you reconsider the idea that "music certainly can be taught to a schedule". 
Quote by reverb66
I'm pretty sure the Bible requires that you play through a tube amp in Texas.
I kind of hoped i could avoid this, and i tried to word my question purposely to avoid this kind of response. I'm sorry if i offended you, and although your reply was unbelievably condescending i'll overlook it as I'm trying to learn here not get into arguments. I would just like to respond to one thing though...

" With a join date of 2006, I suppose you started the guitar more than 10 years ago, yet your present example trouble is playing a chord and four note minor pent lick badly at one quarter speed. What is the likelihood that you might know something about the developmental process of learning to play the guitar?"

I have played guitar somewhat for much longer than ten years actually but I only ever played for fun/social reasons and just played chords to sing over. In fact, non-guitarists think i'm pretty good lol I haven't been trying to play a B minor pentatonic lick for that time in fact its only been a few days since i started the course I kind of thought i made that clear but apparently not.

You fail to address ANY of the comments i made about the academy which is a three million pound facility (at least it was circa 2001 its probably much larger now) that has been running for at least 20 years and churns out more amazingly talented people each year? I dont see how if what you say is true that the place can still be running?

" What is the likelihood that I might know something about the developmental process of learning to play the guitar? "
Everyone learns best in a slightly different way, the way you learned guitar is clearly not the only way to learn, you know everything there is to know about the way YOU learned to play that is all you can really claim.
But back to the music school and tutors, they all operate on a syllabus, my daughter is learning music and her course is set out as a term by term basis which once again implies that everything in term one will be learned by term two and if you break that down further the term is divided into weeks which means there is a logical progression through the term.

I still agree that finding your own style or tone etc probably takes a lot longer but I think that is a different thing from simply learning to play. 

The only thing this has done is prove to me that if i want to learn as efficiently as possible then i probably need to get a tutor and forget the online course because you cannot compensate for feedback and constructive criticism.

Many thanks,

You sound like an earnest and thoughtful person so I won't bug you. If you do seek a tutor I hope you find a good one that grasps the old mystery that music can be learned but not taught...
Quote by reverb66
I'm pretty sure the Bible requires that you play through a tube amp in Texas.
We all have different learning styles.  (google 'learning styles quiz', or something similar and you may be able to find a test that reveals yours!)

If you are feeling that you need real-life feedback from a more experienced musician, then seek one out!  No sense floating around when you know what you have to do to move toward your goal.

As with all fine arts, guitar takes a lot of TIME.  Time on the strings, but also a little time away from the instruments as well.  Create a little distance, doing other things you enjoy, and when you pick up your guitar again you may just find more has sunk in than you thought
Your online guitar teacher should educate you on how to identify flaws in your playing by yourself. you cannot rely all your life on someone pointing it out to you. So each time you learn something new you should always learn how to understand whether you play it good or not. This one of the most powerful abilities that will allow you to progress really quick. 
Best thing to do is record yourself playing and check whether you play tight (on time), if playing is clean (no excess noise from not muted strings), bending is in tune, note articulated loud and clear. Pay attention to excess tension in your body. Each technique or exercise will have something particular to them that you will have to pay attention to.
ConRock There ARE ways you can assess yourself.

1/ Record yourself and a click track. This doesn't "lie" :-)

2/' Listen back at your timing and note accuracy

3/  Does what you hear please you?  (noise-free, emotion coming across ...).  Be your own worst critic.

4/ Repeat as you increase the tempo.

A very useful practice approach at any given moment is 

a) observing what you're doing (recording as above, plus observe any particular mechanical issues you may have, such as excessive movement, fingers too high off frets, a given finger arriving persistently late.  Any persistent places where you get lost.  Too much tension.  Missing strings with pick. ....).

b) from your observations, prioritise what needs working on the most, and give that the most time, this session (and carry forward as needed).  This is an on-going, evolving process.

As for how long it takes to develop a given skill, this is very hard to say, especially as the techniques become harder.  You haven't said what the target tempo is,no how many notes per click are involved, noir whether this is legato, or all picked.  So ...

I'd say for a pentatonic lick, with only a few notes, you're looking a somewhere between 4-6 sessions at most, to get up say around 80 bpm using 1/16th notes (4 notes per click). 

The way to do this is practicing at a ridiculously slow tempo (e.g. at around 40 bpm, using 1/4 notes (1 note per click),  

This method allows the brain to accurately build the appropriate pathways, and mental maps of movements involved.  If you practice without this slow period, then it is possible that the brain builds inaccurate representations  (so I always advise this, and always do this myself with new techniques, or revisiting old techniques)

At the end of a session, have a short burst (a minute) of playing at some speed you think is hard, and see what happens, but I wouldn't do this for the first 3 sessions (and I wouldn't spent too long on each session ... just long enough so you feel your playing is entirely under your control, or maybe 1 hr tops (initially)).

You have to be realistic though (refer back above ... as long as your working to improve, THAT is your practice goal FOR THAT session.  The ultimate speed is a guiding distant goal, not to be too concerned with).  You just need to be very observant, very critical.

Honestly, if you can afford one or two sessions with a teacher (preferably face to face), I can't recommend that enough, to advise on technique, and point out things to avoid, and spot any bad habits you may have.  Once you know what this should be, you can check yourself without a teacher.

As for PlusPaul ... he's offering some very solid advice.  Music is about sound, about sounding good.  Everything else is secondary.  

Obviously you need enough mechanical skills to play what you want, but it's a very bad idea to fixate on that, and not give enough attention to the sounds you make, the sounds you hear, and building familiarity and recognition over time with sounds (e.g. chord type, or recognising how melody relates to the key it's in). 

So, it's a very good idea to try and imagine at least some of what you want to play first, and translate that to guitar (e.g. you can do this by listening to/making up various pentatonic licks, say in Am, and then try and recall one's sound in your head, knowing you're in Am.  Even if what you hear is a correct lick, but you got the key wrong ... big deal to start ... that doesn't really matter.  The reason is that music is about relationships between sounds ... not about the absolute pitches involved.  If you can hear that some note is 3 semitones higher than some other, not knowing what either note is, then that's wonderful.

I'd temper Paul's advice by adding that for many people it's very unlikely the sound recognition aspect, and sound internalisation aspect, will develop very quickly.  But I bet you can think of a song and hear it your head with no problem at all.  We all can.  It's just that normally, we haven't categorised the sounds, and figured how they map to instrument.  That's where some decent ear training will help a lot ... that starts to unlock everything, and then you start to re-apply those learnings to tunes you hear, and so it builds.  

Personally I associate sounds I've got to grips with, with visual cues, and with mechanical cues.
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Nov 28, 2017,
ConRock First ask your teacher to make a program with you, you are right saying that professional music school follow programs but those are for students who spend lots of hours each day playing their instrument. So first thing make a program with your teacher, 1 year program and month program, that’s the best way to remain focus i always do that with my students and it work. 

Then it’s very personal, how much time do you have? a couple of hours, half day or all the day? we are not all the same i finished the conservatory in 8 years instead of 10 but there are musicians who made it in 5 or 6 years, we are not all the same and if you keep studying you will notice that sometimes you will feel like you are not improving, it’s exactly the opposite if you keep play that is the moment you will make a big step, it takes time to consolidate things.

Then it depend even from you teacher, a good musician is not always a good teacher

Think always at the sound, that is the first thing, PlusPaul gave you good tips and so @Jerrykramstoy

Then if i am allowed.. It’s a mind trick, everything you have to play just sing it with the voice and sing it inside you, take a metronome or keep the tempo with your feet and play the exercise or the song inside you, that is a great thing to develop a good timing, a good ear and to resolve some mechanical problem. In other words if you can think it you can play it.