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How Long To Go From Beginner To Intermediate Level Guitarist?


Doctor Morbius

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I realize there are no hard set rules for a timeline. I also understand that there are many factors that will affect one's ability to progress, such as lessons from a good instructor, one's natural talent and daily time spent practicing. However, in a non-scientific way please post how long it took for you to go from the first day you picked up a guitar to being an intermediate skilled level guitarist.

 

I've been playing for 3 years as of the end of February and still consider myself well within the beginner level. I can see it easily taking another 3 to 5 years to become what I would define as an intermediate level guitarist. I've only taken lessons for a few months and learn from repetition as most people do. And I consider myself to be somewhat of a slow learner when it comes to music. Also, having picked up a guitar for the first time at age 46 certainly hasn't helped.

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I can't say how long it takes, but I found that putting on your favorite music and playing along to song after song after song goes a long way to getting better. You enjoy the music, so the practice time isn't really a chore.

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i guess it depends on waht you consider an intermediate guitarist.

 

I don't like to think of myself as a beginner, but I'm not sure I put myself as an intermediate guitarist. I play mostly solo acoustic stuff that I can sing and play by myself, so I'm mostly just a rhythm player. But I can sing and play almost any kind of rhythm.

 

I've never tried to learn scales (although I'm starting to work on it a little bit)

 

Woudl I still be considered a beginner by most?

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It's a constant process, you never stop learning I think you are not a beginner anymore once you have mastered tuning, basic chords, and can switch effortlessly between them, and have developed a decent sense of time and rhythm. After that it is all just building on the basics.

 

I've been playing for 35 years and still have not achieved the level that I want to, granted in that time I've been on 4 albums, 5 tours and travelled all over the world.

 

I took formal lessons in the 70's, grew up playing in bands all through the 80's and 90's, haven't done much since 2000 and my skills have suffered.

 

I tell people I suck, which isn't exactly true but I am not as good as I was 10 years ago (I've had surgery on both wrists a couple of times).

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Kinda hard to say because everyone has a different idea of what a beginner is. I've been playing for 20 years, but there are players who have been playing for just a few years that can blow me out of the water.

 

I think its a matter how dedicated you are to your instrument. I love playing but never had the desire or drive to practice for hours a day (although I do play daily). Most great guitarists got that way because they spent most of their teenage years holed up in their room, mastering their instrument. What you can accomplish in 2 years might take me or other 5.

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I started playing at the ripe old age of 14. By the time I was 16, I was able to hold my own as a rhythm guitarist in a cover band full of older kids. I really didn't do much homework when I was that age, all I did was listen to music and play guitar (as someone else mentioned earlier, trying to play along). I didn't even have an amp for the first year or so that I played, so it never annoyed my parents.

 

When I was 22, I joined the Air Force. I had a friend who lived in the dorms that was very interested in playing guitar, but he had never tried. He bought one and I taught him some simple things such as the typical "cowboy" chords and power chords. In about a year, he was able to write his own songs and rock out with a solid rhythm.

 

Personally, I think it's pretty easy to become an "intermediate" level rhythm player if you have a good ear and a good sense of rhythm. Unfortunately, I plateaued early and never really progressed as life got busier and more complicated.

 

FWIW, I recall reading an interview with the guys from Seven Mary Three (a band I never particularly cared for) in Guitar World in the mid-1990s. Evidently one of the guitarists in the band had only been playing for three years at that point, but he was good enough to play rhythm in a major label band.

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have you started forgetting more than your learning yet ?

dont beat yourself up to much at least you started and i promise you that no one progresses as much as they would like to in 3-4 years.

remember levels dont mean jack {censored} !

you will always be your worst critic.

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...

FWIW, I recall reading an interview with the guys from Seven Mary Three (a band I never particularly cared for) in Guitar World in the mid-1990s. Evidently one of the guitarists in the band had only been playing for three years at that point, but he was good enough to play rhythm in a major label band.

 

I would have to classify him as someone who is gifted. The average Joe doesn't just pick up a guitar and 3 years later play in a band with a major label. A high school band perhaps, but not in the bigs.

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I would have to classify him as someone who is gifted. The average Joe doesn't just pick up a guitar and 3 years later play in a band with a major label. A high school band perhaps, but not in the bigs.

 

I would agree to that. It took me 2-3 years to be what I would consider an intermediate player. Unfortunately I'm still there 20 years later! :facepalm:

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I would agree to that. It took me 2-3 years to be what I would consider an intermediate player. Unfortunately I'm still there 20 years later!
:facepalm:

 

This. I reached my peak about 5 years after I started playing. 20 years later I haven't advanced much beyond that.

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I was fortunate, my dad plays so I got my first guitar before I could walk.

By the time I was 15 I'd already been playing for over 10 years, including formal lessons.

 

I picked it up quick whereas my younger brother who has had guitars for 25+ years still has a hard time with learning new stuff.

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I would say 3-5. If you're dedicated and you have some talent. If you have no talent you probably would have given up long before that.

 

I started playing when I was about 14 or 15 and by the time I graduated HS, with no formal training, I was a pretty respectable rhythm player. Not much of a lead player though. Almost 20 years later I'm still working on that. It's going from the intermediate to advanced that's the hardest (at least for me).

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I've been playing 15 years. Took lessons for 7 of those and only now am I starting to have phrasing that I wished I had 10 years ago. I attribute that to emotion or soul, which only came with life experience (as I picked up guitar when I was in grade 5...).

 

It's not entirely speed or technique that I consider as guitar skill. Its ones ability to speak through the guitar. It is in this aspect that I am just now starting to obtain myself. Prior I would try but no matter how hard I tried all I could do was play what was written.

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I think how old you are when you start has a big effect. People who start when they are kids seem to progress a lot faster than people who start later in life. When you're a kid you just inhale knowledge and technique, when you get older you don't absorb things as quickly and you have to break habits.

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I've been at it for 5 years now and I suppose I would consider myself firmly in the intermediate area I guess. I don't know how people judge that though so maybe it will be helpful if I tell you what I can do.

 

I know my 5 positions of the minor/major pentatonic and can play leads reasonably fluidly in all of them....from one box to the next. But jumping from position to position is still a challenge as I'm lazy about remembering the names of the notes.

 

I also know all my 5 positions of the natural minor/major scale and again can play leads reasonably well connected in all of them. Weaker than my pentatonic stuff though. And I'm slowly beginning to understand modes but my lack of note names is really hurting me there I think.

 

Hammer on's and pull offs are good, as are bends. I've worked very hard on my alternate picking so I think it is very good. But my speed develops slowly to say the least. Tapping sucks. Tremolo picking is weak but slowly getting better....very slowly..haven't even began sweep picking yet.

 

My 'lick' vocabulary is weaker than it should be in my opinion. I improvise well but need to learn to mix in more licks for variety.

 

Chords...Well...I know the basic open chords well, Bar Chords pretty good, Power chords easy..lol...I guess my biggest weakness here is not knowing which chords sound good together so I always feel like I don't know enough of them. When in actual fact, it may be more of just learning which ones go together nicely. Not sure. Probably a bit of both.

 

I guess I average around 8 to 14 hours a week of practice and that is fairly consistent throughout the 5 years.

 

Hope that helps.

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I think how old you are when you start has a big effect. People who start when they are kids seem to progress a lot faster than people who start later in life. When you're a kid you just inhale knowledge and technique, when you get older you don't absorb things as quickly and you have to break habits.

 

 

 

 

valid point .

kids have more time to woodshed and 40 year olds usually have day jobs and real life situations to deal with, less time to spend on the strings 0.02

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To me, an intermediate player can play well enough to improvise on the fly over any track...I've been playing for about 4-5 years, and I can only play something if the tabs/sheet music is in front of my face...

 

The difference between an intermediate and a professional is...the professional gets paid to play.

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This. I reached my peak about 5 years after I started playing. 20 years later I haven't advanced much beyond that.

 

This is pretty much me as well. I started playing electric at 10, practice like a mad demon from 12 - 15 until I found ways to kill some time with girls. Practiced less and less from 15 - 19 or so. Kept a guitar but rarely played it. Then went down to just a nylon string (I started on classical guitar). Then I broke my left wrist about 5 years ago and that kind of got me back into playing.

 

I'd have to say I was literally 5 times the player 20 years ago that I am now but I enjoy messing around with it still. Learning new things, remembering old things, realizing I can't play things I used to be able to.

 

:facepalm:

 

:lol:

 

I've got a LOT of folks started playing guitar. Some just latch onto it immediately. I remember one girl had never held a guitar and in about an hour, she could slightly clumsily play the clean intro to Alone Again by Dokken and she was really only humoring me in learning to play that. She had no real interest. Other folks were chomping at the bit to play, I'd try to teach them the three chords to Blitzkrieg Bop and they couldn't quite do it. So I'd teach them the single note version of the chords and they struggled with that.

 

I'm friends with Doc and I think he's pretty hard on himself. For one, he jumped feet first into surf which, while not flashy, is very unforgiving. Crystal clean notes hanging in air played through a loud Twin. ANY mistake is RIGHT THERE. I keep trying to convince him to embrace the wonders of the power chords which he pickups up on pretty well. To put it in perspective, over about one hour, I was just throwing songs at him and he could get through the riff to Beat It, the chord changes to Crimson and Clover, the rhythm parts to Rock You Like A Hurricane and Big City Nights and about another two or three songs that I'm forgetting... all in an hour or so.

 

I think you're doing fine, Doc. :thu:

 

And every once in a while he'll kinda blow me away with something. We were talking about surf songs (of which he can play many) and mentioned I'd always wanted to learn Music To Watch Girls By and he rips out the entire song and I'd never heard him play it before.

 

:lol:

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I think how old you are when you start has a big effect. People who start when they are kids seem to progress a lot faster than people who start later in life. When you're a kid you just inhale knowledge and technique, when you get older you don't absorb things as quickly and you have to break habits.

 

 

I know I developed skill and technique a lot faster back then then I do now...

 

But I still stand that certain things just don't come through until you're older. At least that's how it has been for me. Really rough past year with recession and my woman leaving... its done wonders to my playing.

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