Is Learning Guitar Hard?


grayscaled photo of boy learning guitar

You’ve no doubt seen the artists playing guitar like it is the easiest thing in the world, and like it’s never been hard for them. Sliding up and down the neck, soloing for hours and effortlessly knowing what to play. 

Sometimes, playing the guitar may look so easy. You may ask yourself, really? Is learning guitar hard?

The short answer is yes, and noIf you love the process you will progress easilyLearning in the right way will get you there, but it learning the guitar can still be a long journey and parts of it will be hard even if you’re quite talented.

Still, earning guitar is a rewarding and fun hobby to pursue. Not only is musical training very beneficial for your brain, but playing guitar can be a great social experience. So, why might learning guitar be hard? Let’s look at the answer in different ways…

Is Learning Guitar Hard Physically?

Anyone can do air guitar for hours on end, prancing around their room like Angus Young from AC/DC or like Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock. Many of those air guitarists transition onto a real guitar at some point and find it to be a whole world of difference, but that’s obvious.

The noise a guitar makes is made by six strings—attached to the neck and body of the guitar—being plucked and vibrating. By pushing your fingers down onto the strings, the length of the vibrating string is shortened, making the note higher in pitch.

For beginners this pushing or squeezing sensation is painful, as the fingers are soft. Guitarists that have been playing for a while develop much harder skin on the end of their fingers, known as callouses.

Getting used to the sensation of pushing the strings against the fretboard can be difficult, but with practice is easily achievable.

Is Learning Guitar Hard Mentally?

You may find the physical side of playing guitar comes naturally to you. You might have strong fingers already and the ability to control them without too much effort.

But, along with learning how to play guitar physically, learning some of your favorite songs is important. Many websites have what are called ‘guitar tabs’, that show you how to play songs. Each fret is assigned a number, and the numbers appear in a way you can read them and work out the rhythm.

YouTube is also an amazing source of knowledge relating to guitar. Teachers post their lessons online, helping you with fretting, finger exercises, and anything else you might need. There is also a strong guitar community on YouTube, who discuss music and anything relating to guitar.

Is Learning Guitar Hard On The Wallet?

Of course, buying a guitar and maybe even an amplifier will set you back a fair bit. Some beginner guitar and amplifier combinations can be, at the cheapest, around $100. There is no real upper limit to guitar prices though, with some classical guitars being worth over $100,000. Here’s some ways to make learning guitar less hard on you financially though:

  1. Buy Second Hand

Looking on second hand websites such as eBay or Craigslist, you can find some real bargains. People often sell their first guitar once they make an upgrade. Likewise, amplifiers are often sold in the same way, once people move out of their parent’s basement and buy a huge stack of speakers!

As well as looking online, your local guitar shop may have some second hand or cheaper guitars on sale. Go in and make sure to play them first. Make sure you like how the guitar feels before you buy it. Ask for advice if you’re not sure, the staff are there to assist you.

The Ultimate Acoustic Guitar Maintenance & Buyer’s Guide has everything you need to know about buying guitars new or secondhand.

2. Find the Right Lessons and Teachers

Is Learning Guitar Even Worth It? (... x
Is Learning Guitar Even Worth It? (The TRUTH)

Lessons can be expensive. As a teacher myself I charge $20 for an hour, once a week. The lessons included guidance on learning the songs the student chooses, as well as homework for them to work on before the next lesson.

Lessons can usually be found cheaper online, where teachers video call you over the internet and give you advice that way. This way, I find, is harder to do because there is not always the best connection between the two of you, and the teacher can’t always see if you’re making a mistake.

My advice would be to try both ways. You might find a great teacher who teaches in person and likes the same music you do. Or you might find someone online who is cheaper and that works fine too.

You can check out some of my favorite lessons, courses and teachers here.

Two Ways to Make Learning Guitar Less Hard

Hopefully at this point it’s clear: If you put your mind to it, learning guitar is always going to be challenging, but entirely possible. Speaking for myself, when I first started learning guitar I would spend each evening after school playing guitar. I was fixated. So…

  1. Just play

Rather than sitting down to definitely Practice, get your guitar out to just play it and see what you come up with. Noodling—that’s playing randomly without really thinking about it— is a great way to get good at guitar. Get the guitar out while you watch TV or a movie. 

2. Join a band

“Dude, let’s start a band.” There is no fun like playing your favorite songs in a band made up of your friends. Believe me, try it out. Your band members will push you to get better and better at your instrument while you all learn some of your favorite songs. Bands are great, as they push all member to keep progressing and learning their instruments.

Ready to Get Better at Guitar, Faster?

Whenever you’re ready to take your guitar playing to the next level, check out my favorite resources below:

Best Strings

Elixir Nanoweb Acoustic Guitar Strings

  • Unique polymer coating allows strings to last for months or years at a time, making for an exceptional value.
  • Provide the perfect mix of boom, range, twang, and brightness that acoustic music is known for.

Best Guitar

Martin D-18

  • Beloved by everyone from Paul Simon to Gordon Lightfoot, the D-18 is one of Martin’s most legendary guitars ever.
  • An excellent, premier quality acoustic guitar for bluegrass, country, folk, rock and more. This is what I play myself.

Free Guide

Chords, Tabs & Lessons for 100 Songs

  • This free guide from Acoustic World gives you chords, tabs, and video lesson for the 100 best songs to learn on guitar.
  • I spent hours putting this together all by myself to help you get better at guitar, faster!

Free Book

Fingerpicking vs Flatpicking Guitar

  • Learn which picking style is right for YOU by exploring examples, history, and popular players of each style.
  • Discover essential techniques and pros and cons of each approach.

Corbin Buff

Corbin has played guitar for over a decade, and started writing about it on Acoustic World in an effort to help others. He lives and writes in western Montana.

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