Is Guitar Hard to Learn? [Solved]

According to Fender, 90% of people who pick up the guitar will quit within the first three months. Playing guitar seems like a fun and enriching experience and it is! Although, it is a musical instrument and requires hours of practice and work. But just how much work are we talking about? Let’s find out hard the guitar is to learn.

Is guitar hard to learn? Yes, the guitar is hard to learn because of the complex motor function development needed, physical limitations and constraints like callus formation, the time commitment involved with the guitar, choice overload, and negative comparisons against skilled guitarists that constrict learning ambition.

Continue reading to find out how long it will take to become proficient at guitar and the five reasons the guitar is so hard to learn as well as potential solutions to these issues.

Is Guitar Hard to Learn

How Long Does it Take to Learn Guitar?

To learn guitar, it will take 200 to 900 hours of practice to reach and get past the beginner stage. From there, 2500 to 5000 hours of practice will be necessary to become an advanced guitarist.

Please see the below table to see how long it takes to learn guitar by each skill level, on average.

LevelHours of Practice / Playing
Basic Guitar1-200 Hours
Beginner200-900 Hours
Intermediate900-2,500 Hours
Advanced2,500-5,000 Hours
Expert5,000-10,000 Hours
Master Guitarist10,000+ Hours

Is Guitar Hard to Learn?

The guitar is hard to learn because of:

  1. Complex Motor Function Development
  2. Physical Limitations and Constraints
  3. Time Commitment
  4. Choice Overload
  5. Inevitable Negative Comparison

Although the guitar is hard to learn, it is extremely worth it. All the pain, questioning and time put in eventually pays off and you are left with a skill that is highly motivating and fun for yourself.

Do not let the below reasons discourage you from playing guitar, instead use them as a way to understand and realize that all new guitar players go through them.

Instead of going into the struggles of guitar theory, string skipping, note layouts, the complexity of chord patterns, etc. let’s discuss overarching complications that make the guitar difficult to learn and how you can solve some of these complications.

Why Learning Guitar is So Hard [5 Reasons and Solutions]

Let’s dive into the five reasons playing guitar is so hard.

1. Complex Motor Functions

Playing guitar is like chewing gum and walking x 1000. The coordination needed just on your fretting hand to press down the correct notes at the correct time and doing so rapidly if needed can be a daunting task. Combine that with the other hands need to perform a certain strumming pattern in time and you have a complex motor function needed to play guitar.

This is what most beginners cite as their most challenging task when learning the guitar and what makes the guitar so hard to learn.

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Especially if the beginner has never played a musical instrument before and this is their first time performing two different motor functions at the same time (in a musical sense).

Strumming, keeping time, and avoiding certain strings if necessary takes practice. Fretting notes, ensuring no fret buzz, bending and hammer-ons take practice. Combining the two requires precision and rhythmic development that improves over time. This improvement requires countless hours of practice.


The solution to this complication that makes guitar so hard to learn is cut and dry. It simply takes practice and patience. Patience to understand that it will take time to combine the two motor functions and allow your mind to adapt to the differing movements.

Instead of only practicing songs that utilize strumming and note fretting (all songs), I encourage you to look up exercises that specifically target these movements together. A video I like is linked here. This video focuses on strumming but also incorporates chords to help with that familiarity.

2. Physical Limitations

When you are first starting to play guitar. You will notice real physical limitations that make it hard to play and make it harder to play longer. This inability to play longer and practice more can become frustrating, especially if you have an insatiable appetite to get better fast.

So what are the physical constraints that make playing guitar hard? Well, there are two. One that every guitarist experiences and another that is more niche.

The physical limitation that all guitar players experience in the beginning and occasionally later on if they gave the guitar up, is the dreaded finger pain. At this point, you likely knew where this was going but fingertip pain is one of the most common issues that ex-guitarists cite for quitting. The pain can become a nuisance, especially when they throb after and ache the next day.

We are pressing down and sliding on steel strings with non-callused fingertips. It takes time for your skin to react to this new harsh environment and start building tougher skin to combat it. If you want to learn more about callus formation and how to ease the process, check out this article on guitar calluses.

The second and more niche physical limitation pertains to younger players. When you are young, typically your hands are smaller. An average-sized guitar neck is not one size fits all. I started playing guitar young and with small hands. I found it difficult to shape different chords and I was not able to wrap my thumb over the low E string as my guitar heroes do. This became frustrating and made the guitar harder to learn.


The solution to the above physical limitations is not completely cut and dry. Every guitarist has to go through the initiation of callus formation. Although, there are ways to facilitate the process.

The first way is to moisturize your hands after playing guitar. Dry skin is the enemy of calluses forming because it can result in fresh calluses peeling off. Plus any cracks in your fingertips as a result of dry skin can curb your guitar playing for days. In the beginning, you want to play as often as you can and beat up your fingertips. But not to the point where they bleed or bruise. Consistency is essential to eventually easing the physical limitation of finger pain.

Another way to facilitate fingertip pain is by learning guitar on an electric. Electric guitars have lower actions than acoustic guitars and are easier to fret the strings. Because the strings are lower to the fretboard, you do not have to press down as hard as you do with an acoustic.

There is no real solution to the physical limitation of smaller hands. You cannot stretch your hands or fingers to make it easier to play….yet. The only solution is to buy a guitar neck that is smaller than average. Although, I recommend learning the best you can on an average-sized guitar neck and just trusting in yourself that you will adapt over time. If you are young, your hands will grow and this will not remain an issue.

3. Time Commitment

When learning a new skill, incorporating the time necessary to learn that skill can be difficult. The guitar is no exception. The guitar is not an easy instrument to learn and requires a lot of dedicated practice time to become proficient.

Not only that, but it requires consistent practice. Practicing just once a week when an instructor comes is not sufficient and will become difficult to progress. Not many new guitarists are willing to put in the time required to learn the guitar, which is why 90% of people quit within 3 months.

If you have a full-time job then this becomes more difficult as other hobbies you have may need to take the back seat in terms of time allocation. It takes dedicated time and commitment to become proficient at guitar which is why this is a major factor in what makes the guitar hard to learn.


I wish the solution could be to add an extra hour to the 24 hours day. Although, we all dream. Instead, the solution to this is time management. The majority of people will have some time to practice guitar each day if priorities are measured in terms of time allocation. This does not go for all, full-time med students and those who work multiple jobs will have a tougher time finding time to block off for guitar.

Create a list of everything (non-life-sustaining) you usually do during the day and rate its priority. Now see how much time you spend doing those tasks throughout the day. If being on your phone is low on the priority list but is highest on time spent, then adjustments need to be made.

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Cut off time spent for low-priority tasks/activities and re-allocate that time to more important tasks like practicing guitar.

Create a schedule for each day. Write out exactly when and for how long you will practice guitar and stick to it. This is what I still do after many years of playing guitar. It took a couple of weeks for it to stick, but when it does, you feel extremely accomplished and confident in your practice time.

4. Choice Overload

The fourth reason the guitar is so hard to learn is because of choice overload. Almost every guitarist on YouTube offers a course, which is great. Although, this can be overwhelming for beginner guitarists and constricts their learning. Constricting because they will continue flipping between different courses, creating an unstructured path to learning the guitar.

The constant thought of “well this YouTuber is better at SRV style guitar, but this one has great acoustic chops, except this one fingerpicks like a harp player” leads to choice overload and an unclear path of who to learn from.

After searching through the different content creators for a wide array of instruments, guitar overwhelmingly has the most amount of content creators offering courses and tutorials. As mentioned above, this is both good and bad.


The solution to this is simple. STOP SEARCHING. This is something I have to tell myself about once every two months. Stop searching for the best course, stop searching for a better blues song to learn, and stop searching for a better guitar. We are always after what is better that we forget to utilize what we have.

Find an instructor that you relate to and enjoy (Paul Davids for me) and stick to their course the entire way through. Avoid spending an inadequate amount of time trying to find the “next thing to learn” on YouTube and dial in on a course that goes over everything you’ll need to know to get started. The time saved from endless “best online course” searches will be spent practicing and progressing.

For guitars, try to find one or two that you feel comfortable with and stick with them. Over time you will become increasingly comfortable with these guitars and will not feel as much of a need to replace them. Tone hunters often buy a new guitar every other month without realizing that a lot of the tone is in their hands. Stevie Ray Vaughan was once handed a cheap Squier guitar and he still sounded like Stevie Ray Vaughan. New gear is not always the answer.

5. Comparison is Inevitable

Comparison is a big piece of what makes guitar mentally hard to learn. Comparison is the thief of joy. And the comparison is an issue that every guitarist faces sometime or throughout their guitar journey. It relates to everything.

If you started playing guitar with a friend, it is easy to get jealous and discouraged if they are progressing faster than you. The constant-ness of social media shows you a baby playing Stevie Ray Vaughan meanwhile you are 25 and can only play a G chord. You see other guitarists on YouTube and TikTok playing along to your favorite songs but when you try them it sounds nothing like it.

Thoughts and comparisons like the ones above can cause a new guitarist and even an intermediate guitarist to flat-out quit. It is mentally taxing to see other guitarists living out what you want to do. And then thinking of the time they put in to get there can be overwhelming.


The solution is a mental shift. A shift away from comparing yourself against others you see in person or on the internet.

The videos that guitarists post online are perfected skills that took years to develop behind the scenes. The development of these skills went through the same process that beginners are currently going through.

It is normal to be jealous of where their skills are currently, but enjoying and realizing that the guitar learning process will eventually get you to that level is extremely satisfying when that mental shift is implemented. Every learned song gets you closer to the guitarists you are comparing yourself against.

Avoid “comparing and competing” with other guitarists online and instead appreciate how their skill is driving you to become a better guitarist.

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