I’ve heard this question a lot and I think it’s an interesting one. Partially because I think the typical answer is wrong. You hear the 10,000 hours rule. You need to spend 10,000 hours on something to master it. I don’t particularly agree with this idea. Especially since the quality of practice is different.
I also believe that mastering the guitar means something different to different people. First many people believe that master means you’ve learned all you can learn. If that’s the case, well you will never master the guitar completely. There is always another level.
For others they believe a certain player would be considered a master, so there is a bench mark for them. Be it playing like Joe Satriani or to play like Kirk Hammett, Although they are vastly different in skill level, someone out there probably considers them both masters of their craft.
Me personally, I’m not looking to master the guitar, I’m looking to play the guitar in the way I want. The purpose is to develop skills to serve me and certain skills may not be of value. Sight reading to a certain extent is not valuable to a rock guitarist, it can be a useful skill, but should not be your primary focus if you have yet to master other basic skills for the genre. Shredding and speed are not entirely necessary for certain types of music and many guitarists like Taylor Swift don’t want to play at that level. They have no interest in attaining that skillset and that’s fine.
So to a certain extent, mastering the guitar seems like another general goal to me. What you really want is to play at your desired level which you have, whether you realize it or not, a specific blue print of what that would look like. So again, your real job should be to figure out what that blue print is and then move towards it. If you can’t do certain things on the guitar that’s not a problem.
Taylor swifts music would sound ridiculous if she was shredding guitar all over it and I wouldn’t want to listen to it. You focus on the sound that draws you, if you want to shred and plan on using the skill set, great, use it. If you’re not planning on using it why even waste the time learning the skillset?
So, to answer the original question of how long will it take to master the guitar, well that depends on how you’re looking at the term master. It could take 3 years, if you’re just looking to put some chords together. If you’re looking to shred at 1000 bpm and to have total control over the fretboard and your chord knowledge perfected, it could be 10 years. If you’re looking at all the skills you could ever learn on the guitar, it may take your entire life and then some. Personally I wouldn’t care about mastery, I care more about your specific goal and what is mastery to you. That is, of course, just my opinion.
If you think I’m full of crap and disagree with my opinion, feel free to share. Email me at rochesterguitarlessons.com. Hate mail welcome.
About The Author:
Chris Glyde teaches guitar, voice, songwriting and a myriad of other classes. His passion lies in helping people realize how attainable their goals really are. If you’d like to take a look at the best guitar lessons in Rochester, click here.