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The guitar is an amazing instrument that many people love to play, and because of this, it may be the instrument that you are intent on learning. But, being unsure about its difficulty may be something that is holding you back from picking up your first guitar and learning how to play.
Is the guitar a hard instrument to learn? The guitar is a hard instrument to learn. In the beginning, you will be learning the most basic of the basics: how to put your fingers on the strings, how to strum, etc. As you learn more, though, it gets easier, and the joy you can get from playing is well worth the effort.
Don’t be discouraged because it is hard; learning how to play can be fun! If you know what you want to play, have a genuine love for guitar, and have a great teacher, learning guitar can be one of the greatest accomplishments that you will ever achieve.
I have been playing guitar since I was 8 years old and I am almost completely self-taught. I did have a little instruction from seasoned guitar players in the beginning but most of my learning has been done on my own. This is the way it goes for a lot of people. They learn the basics through some kind of formal instruction and then they continue to practice and develop on their own.
Learning the guitar is a lifelong journey. Any guitarist will tell you that they are always learning new things every time they pick up their instrument. Even the best ones learn new techniques and struggle through the learning process regularly. Understanding this will help to ease your mind when you encounter difficult techniques along the way.
Why the Guitar Is Hard to Learn
Picking up the guitar and trying to learn it for the first time can be intimidating. Some of the hardest aspects of learning the guitar are what you will be faced with at the start:
- Chords – Chords are fundamental to learning the guitar. Learning chords is a tough thing to do, though. Incorrect finger placement and angle will result in a chord that is dulled, or that sounds off. Switching between chords is also difficult at first, and it is something that must be practiced. A beginner will usually struggle to change chords without hitting the wrong strings. This takes time and a lot of practice and patience to learn.
- Strumming – Learning strumming patterns is difficult too. Keeping a tempo can be hard at first. Strumming also requires you to hit some strings while avoiding others, which is challenging for a beginner.
- Pain – There is some pain associated with learning the guitar. Calluses on your fingertips will become a normal part of life. You may also experience pain in your fingers as well as cramping while you are getting used to finger positions.
- Learning how to read music – Learning how to read music can be an important part of learning any type of instrument, and it can take a while to learn. In a way, you are learning the language of music to communicate effectively in it. While it isn’t necessary to learn to read music, it can be helpful.
- Practice self-doubt – The hardest aspect of the guitar is learning to get over your self-doubt. It can be discouraging at first when your guitar playing is less than stellar, and this may put you off of learning how to play the guitar. Don’t give up, though! If you want to play, it is well worth the beginning hurdles.
- No time to practice – Some also may feel as though they have no time to practice because of how busy their lives may be. But you don’t need to practice for hours on end to be a great guitarist. Even thirty minutes a day will help you progress in your guitar journey.
This can look intimidating. Do not be discouraged, though. All great guitarists had to go through the struggles of learning. You should also remember that among those great guitarists, most had a great teacher that helped them find success in their playing.
Finding the Right Teacher
Unless you are a savant at the guitar, you will probably want some kind of instruction when you are first getting started. A great teacher can help guide you through your guitar journey and make it much more achievable. In fact, one of the most important aspects of learning to play the guitar is finding the right teacher.
There are several options you have when looking for guitar lessons. Each option has both its advantages and disadvantages and the choice you make depends on how much you want to spend on lessons and how much free time you have.
Option 1: Free Online Resources
The first and cheapest option is learning through free online resources—many people on websites like YouTube post free guitar lessons. The lessons are over a wide range of things, such as scale progressions, basic chords, and lessons on various songs.
The biggest advantage to this option is that it is free. Other methods of learning guitar will cost money, and sometimes a lot of money.
The disadvantage is that your learning may be incomplete. When using YouTube to learn guitar, you will most likely be watching random beginner videos. While this is good, watching random videos may mean that you may miss out on important techniques that a more structured lesson plan would have taught you.
But, if you want to learn guitar without even having to strike a paycheck, this is still a great option to go with. Even randomized lessons are better than no lessons at all.
GuitarLessons on YouTube is one channel that stands out above the rest. While it is a free program, they have a very nice layout of lessons that goes over all the important things you need to know to start playing the guitar.
For those who are disciplined and do well learning on their own, this is a great way to begin to learn the guitar. In fact, I have learned a great deal this way and it can be a great resource when you are looking for a specific song that you would like to learn.
Option 2: Paid Online Resources
There are also a plethora of paid online lessons that you can take to learn the guitar.
These lessons will either be a monthly subscription, or a one-time payment, depending on the service you use. Some examples of subscription-based services are:
|Guitar Lessons||Price Per Month|
|Yousician||$9.99/1yr or 19.99/month|
|Guitar Tricks||$19.99/month $197.99/year|
|Fender Play||$9.99/month or $89.99/year|
|JustinGuitar||$9.99/month for 6 months|
Another great resource you can learn guitar is through websites like Udemy and Skillshare. Complete Guitar System – Beginner to Advanced by Erich Andreas is a phenomenal lesson package that includes 40 hours of lessons and many resources you can download and print in order to stay on track with what you are learning. This lesson is one payment of $120, and it often goes on sale.
Online lessons are a great resource if you have the money to spend on them. It has many advantages, such as being able to watch the lessons at your leisure and the ability to re-watch stuff you didn’t understand.
The biggest disadvantage of this is the money that it will cost you. Many of these lessons could put a big dent in your wallet. But, you do get what you pay for, and these lessons are often very all-encompassing and great for those serious about learning guitar.
Option 3: In-Person Lessons
You also have the option to take in-person lessons. In-person lessons, for many, may be inconvenient. You can’t do them on your own leisure, and they can cost $40-$70 per hour. You should also know that they will often be as in-depth as the paid online lessons.
But, in-person lessons have one great advantage: the teacher sitting in front of you. When you are one-on-one, the teacher can hear mistakes you are making and correct them, if they see you are struggling with something they can create a lesson plan that will help you overcome that struggle. That one-on-one interaction that an in-person teacher brings can take your playing to the next level.
You won’t get this kind of feedback by using an online system. While you can learn all that you need to learn using an online program, having a person in front of you that can see exactly what you are doing is a huge help when trying to learn an instrument. Not everyone learns the same or has the same hangups so a teacher will be able to discern your challenges and help you overcome them.
Electric or Acoustic?
So, you have your heart set on playing the guitar, but now you have to choose whether to buy an electric or acoustic guitar. Well, there are advantages and disadvantages to both.
- Acoustic guitar – Very easy to transport, just put it in your guitar case and go. It is harder to play than the electric guitar, though, due to heavier strings that are higher off the fretboard. But, they are often cheaper as all you need to start is the guitar.
- Electric guitars – Electric guitars are hard to transport as you need to bring the amplifier and power chords along with you. It is easier to play though due to lighter strings and a smaller size, which makes it more comfortable when practicing. It is often more expensive, though, as it requires more gear such as an amplifier and the accompanying power chords to set it all up.
This website is all about acoustic instruments so naturally, I would steer a beginner towards an acoustic guitar. I believe this type of guitar will give you the most benefit. If you can learn on an acoustic guitar, an electric should be a walk in the park if you decide to pick one up in the future.
As a beginner, your focus should be on learning to play the guitar. An acoustic instrument provides the best way to do this. If you choose an electric guitar, you will also have to learn about all of the extra gear needed to make the electric guitar work. My opinion is that you should start on an acoustic and then move to an electric after you have learned the basics.
Tips For Making Learning The Guitar Easier
Mastering the guitar is a challenging undertaking and there is no getting around it. The main way that you will become proficient is to practice a lot. There are a few other things you can do to help speed up the process and stay on track. Here are some tips that I have for someone wanting to make the process as easy as possible.
Get your guitar set up properly.
This is a crucial step for a beginner because it’s important to have a guitar set up properly or it will be more difficult to play. During a guitar setup, the string height (action) will be adjusted. This may be done by using a combination of techniques. The truss rod, bridge height, and nut height are common areas that can affect the action.
These adjustments should be done by a professional or someone who has experience doing this. If you are a beginner, you probably don’t want to be making these kinds of adjustments right off the bat.
Having a guitar set up can make the difference in an instrument that is a pleasure to play versus one that just makes the process more difficult.
Don’t get ahead of yourself.
It’s human nature to want to learn as quickly as possible. As a beginner, you may be tempted to skip right to the part that you would “rather” learn. Instead of doing this, you must focus on mastering the basics. Don’t get ahead of yourself and try to do advanced techniques because this may only serve to frustrate you.
Stick with the basics and follow the progression from beginner to intermediate and advanced. Stick with beginner techniques until you have mastered them before moving on.
Playing a musical instrument can be a challenge and as a beginner, you need to summon all the patience you can find. Sometimes your fingers just won’t work the way your brain is thinking. This type of muscle memory takes time and lots of practice.
You have to be patient during this process and know that difficulties in learning are all part of the process. Anyone who has ever learned the guitar has had to go through this process.
If you want to improve your craft, you have to consistently practice. If you practice a few days and then forget about it for a couple of weeks, you are not going to retain the skills that you have learned. You need to consistently play even if it’s a small amount of time each day.
This will help you to retain what you have learned and it will also help you get through the initial pains of learning the guitar. This includes painful fingertips from pushing the strings down as well as the pain from having to stretch your fingers so much.
No matter what you do in life, in order to achieve success, you need to set goals. The same can be said for learning the guitar. You need to write down clear goals of what you want to achieve with this instrument. Do you want to be able to strum a few chords and sing some songs or do you want to be the next guitar prodigy that becomes a household name?
Whatever it is, set goals with target dates to achieve it. This will help you stay on track with your training and allow you to become the guitarist that you dream of being. Set achievable goals to help you with your progress and then work towards achieving them.
While the basics of learning the guitar can be fairly easy to learn, the guitar is a difficult instrument to master. This is why amazing guitarists are looked upon with such admiration. It takes a lot of practice and playing to achieve a level of proficiency comparable to these guitarists.
It can be easy to get discouraged when you first begin learning to play. It may seem that you will never reach the level of proficiency since you will find yourself stumbling over the most simple of techniques. Don’t give up though and remember that anyone who has ever learned to play the guitar has had to go through the same thing.
Everyone learns at a different pace and by using different methods. If you are serious about learning, I would suggest finding a good teacher who can get you going on the right track. Throw yourself into it wholeheartedly and start on your guitar journey! You won’t regret it.