Learning to play guitar: Expectations vs. reality

Picking up guitar for the first time is an exciting milestone – but often, first-time players have expectations that are out of line with what they can actually expect. Here are some common expectations for learning guitar, and the reality behind them. 


Expectation: You’ll start out playing the coolest looking guitar around. 

Reality: It’s easiest to start learning guitar on  an acoustic guitar – there’s less equipment involved, and you can really master the basics like hitting notes properly, learning the chord shapes, and mastering strumming. 

Don’t worry – there’s plenty of time to get into collecting crazy guitars once you’ve learned how to play!


Expectation: You’ll practice every day. 

Reality: It would be great to practice every day, but realistically, life gets in the way. A good goal for daily practice is 30 minutes to 90 minutes a day, but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t always make that benchmark. Some helpful strategies to keep you on track: set reminders for practice time on your phone (or on a Post-It), practice for shorter sessions, or use commercial breaks during TV time to get some scales in! 


Expectation: You’ll teach yourself everything you need to know. 

Reality: Some guitar heroes were self-taught, but if you really want to learn guitar the right way (understanding the notes and theory so you can easily play with other musicians), you’ll likely need some help. 

Luckily, Fret Zealot has hundreds of lessons at your fingertips, so you can take courses like Complete Guitar Theory Lab at home, whenever you want! 


Expectation: You’ll be shredding in a couple of months. 

Reality: Don’t get discouraged if you’re still slowly working through easy songs a few months in. Everyone learns at a different pace, and you need to not only memorize songs, but also build muscle memory! The good news is that the more you practice, the further you get – even if it doesn’t feel like that yet. 


Expectation: You’ll learn some of your favorite songs right away 

Reality: You may want to start with “Eruption”, but it’s more likely that you’ll learn “Smoke on the Water” first! Here are some other easy rock songs to learn to help ease you into playing guitar. 


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