best way to learn guitar for adults

What is the Best Way To Learn Guitar For Adults? When you were a kid, you probably thought the adults in your life had it made. After all, adults have money, power and the option to eat ice cream for breakfast if they want to, right? But when it comes to picking up an instrument, the irony here is that children often have it much easier than adults most of the time. How do I know this? Because I’ve taught thousands of students of all ages how to play the guitar, and it’s a pattern I’ve noticed over the years. But despite being busy, many adults I’ve taught manage to thrive and get the most out of learning guitar. In this article, I’ll share 10 great tips aimed at helping adults who want to pick up the guitar and stick with it. Whether you’ve been trying to play for years or have just recently picked up the instrument, the information of the best way to learn guitar online and the best way to learn guitar fast in this article will be helpful for you.

Best Way To Learn Guitar For Adults

Tip #1: Be realistic about your time commitments going in

learning guitar

My first tip is a hugely important one. Many of the adult students I’ve met fall short of their goals because they weren’t realistic about how much time they’d be able to commit to practicing or even just playing for fun. The only way you’ll be able to learn how to play the guitar is if you take the time to sit down and play it, and this will take a serious commitment on your part.

If you’re serious about learning guitar, then take some time to sit down and create a schedule of your weekly commitments. How much time do you realistically have for practicing after you account for work, parenting and your other time commitments? If you can, try to carve out three half-hour slots in your schedule dedicated to practicing. Don’t have enough time for that? That’s totally okay, but your progress will be slower compared to someone who can find more time to practice.

The trick here is to be as realistic as possible about how much time and energy you’re able to give your guitar practice. I’ve met a lot of adults who’ve wanted to play the guitar for years who end up taking lessons for a month and then bam, that thing called “life” gets in the way and they end up quitting. Knowing your limitations going in can help you stick to some sort of schedule and continue to make progress.

Tip #2: Define your goals in learning the guitar

Knowing what exactly you’d like to accomplish by learning the guitar will help you make strides on the instrument in huge, noticeable ways. Want to write your own music? How about practicing singing and playing some old country songs that you eventually want to play on stage for the first time? Or maybe you’ve always wanted to learn how to play blues guitar like B.B. King. Defining and setting goals is essential because they’ll give your practice more direction, meaning and urgency.

With guitar, everyone begins in the same exact place. You start by learning how to press your fingers down on the strings in a way that produces pitches. Then you master basic open chords, scales and begin developing muscle memory in your hands. But after you’ve mastered basic technique on the guitar, what you do will drastically change depending on the types of goals you’ve set for yourself.

If you’re not entirely sure what you want to get out of learning the guitar, that’s completely normal. The act of defining your goals is a process that will get you thinking about who you are in relation the music and what you truly want to get out of learning guitar.

Tip #3: Create a space in your home dedicated to practicing guitar

Whether you live in a mansion or a studio apartment, dedicating a spot in your home for guitar playing will do huge things for your practice. This is because as adults, we realistically don’t get things done unless we dedicate the space for it in our lives.

Are you a parent with young children? Then creating a kid-free space in your home will give you the best chance at being able to focus on learning guitar. If you’re living in a house with roommates then the same sort of idea applies here. And if all else fails, consider bringing your guitar to your office to practice during your lunch hour or even renting out a small studio space in town.

But creating a space for learning guitar isn’t always just physical. Going back to the parenting example, a parent with young children wanting to learn how to play the guitar will have to hand the kids off to their partner or a sitter when they practice the guitar. If you’re especially career-oriented, you might have to miss drinks with coworkers or meetings here and there to find time to practice. Learning guitar as an adult takes effort, planning and some sacrifices every now and again.

adult learning guitar

Tip #4: Hold yourself accountable

The biggest advantage kids have over adults who want to learn how to play the guitar is that kids usually have their parents making sure they’re practicing and making progress towards their goals. As adults, we have no one keeping us accountable other than ourselves, and this can be tricky for some folks. Why?

Because as adults, we have tons of excuses not to practice the guitar at any given time. Work, relationships, parenting, you name it. Being the boss of your own life comes attached with a seemingly endless amount of commitments, appointments, bills and other tedious concerns. This means that if you want to take up something extra, like working out or learning guitar, you’re gonna have to fight for the time and space to make it happen.

You can absolutely succeed in learning how to play this incredible instrument, but not without planning and accountability. In addition to creating goals and sticking to a schedule, try checking in with yourself every week to see if you’re making progress.

Tip #5: Don’t get discouraged when you can’t find time for practicing

Even people who stick to strict practicing schedules will ultimately not be able to practice as much as they want. Taking an all or nothing approach when it comes to learning guitar will set you on a path toward getting discouraged and eventually quitting. Adults who succeed in learning guitar for the first time are able to find a good balance between being serious about their goals but also for leaving plenty of room for life and all its complications.

When your life gets hectic and you can’t find time to play, just get back to playing as soon as you can. You’ll probably find that at certain times of the year, like during the holiday season, life is just too hectic for practicing guitar. Again, this is completely normal, but the trick is getting back to a set practice schedule whenever you can.

Tip #6: Make sure you’re having fun

have fun

You probably won’t get very far on the guitar unless you’re able to have fun while you’re playing. Adults sometimes have a way of taking the fun out of things, and this can be a detriment to learning new skills and doing things that can truly enrich our lives. If you’re too wrapped up in the routine of practicing, it might be time to rethink what you’re doing to learn the guitar.

Taking some time to play your guitar just for fun is a good way to keep things fresh and interesting. If you’re not really sure what to play or how to get started, I recommend improvising over the 12-bar blues progression. In case you’re not familiar, the 12-bar blues progression is a song form developed in the American blues tradition that’s now found in every style of music from rock and roll to jazz. Try recording this simple chord progression onto your smartphone or computer and improvising over it using notes from this blues scale. You can play this with any tempo and strumming pattern you want. Even if you have no interest in the blues, this exercise should be fun and helpful for you.

learning guitar

Tip #7: Recognize and celebrate your progress

If you’re able to recognize and celebrate the large and small victories in your playing, you’ll have a much better chance at mastering the guitar compared to someone who is never satisfied with their playing. Learning the guitar for the first time is hard. Really hard. And there’s nothing wrong with admitting that.

Every bit of progress you make is important, and you’ll need to learn how to get excited enough about the small stuff to get you through the challenge of learning guitar for the first time. Whenever you get discouraged, try stepping back and recognizing how far you’ve come whether you’re barely able to press down the strings or are able to play virtuosic riffs and solos.

Tip #8: Don’t be an island

The parents of guitar students often spend loads of money to enroll their kids in group lessons or band programs, and this is for a good reason. Kids who learn music in group settings are able to learn from their more experienced peers and have fun at the same time. The same goes for adults. If you’re serious about learning guitar, make an effort to get involved with a band, open jam session or any other group setting that pairs you up with other musicians.

learning guitar

Adults sometimes have a way of living narrow lives that are closed to the outside world because we work the same jobs and are exposed to the same people for years or even decades at a time. Being around other musicians or even just adults who are learning guitar just like you will help expose you to new ideas and can keep you encouraged and on the right path. Communities of even just a few like-minded individuals have a way of accomplishing things that just one person could never do, so don’t be an island when it comes to learning how to play the guitar.

Tip #9: Make practicing the guitar a pressure-free zone

Again, adults who succeed in learning how to play guitar are able to balance their serious desire to want to learn with making playing the guitar a fun and rewarding experience. If you approach your guitar playing like you do your career, then you’re going to have a difficult time. I once taught a really nice guy who happened to be a surgeon. He had an incredibly difficult time playing because he wasn’t able to calm down, relax and get comfortable with making mistakes. He never said so, but I believe he had an especially hard time because he put a similar pressure into his guitar practice that he did in his profession. After a few lessons, he got discouraged and quit.

With learning any new instrument, mistakes are inevitable and are actually really important opportunities for growth. There is no perfect way to learn this instrument, and adding unneeded stress and pressure will thwart your best efforts in playing guitar.

Tip #10: Work with a patient, experienced teacher in your area

Finding a great guitar teacher in your area to work with is your best bet at succeeding in learning guitar. In 2017, there’s more free resources than ever aimed at helping people of all ages learn how to play, but nothing can replace the expertise, patience and guidance that the right guitar teacher can give you.

Even if you live in a small city, there will probably be a few different teachers for you to choose from, and many instructors are willing to travel to your home for lessons. When looking for a teacher to work with, keep in mind that you could end up working with someone for years, so things like playing style, attitude and demeanor are hugely important.

Learning guitar as an adult can be difficult, but it’s a massively rewarding experience that has the power to alter lives for the better. Like anything else in life, if you want it badly enough, you’ll make it happen for yourself with the right amount of practice and effort.

Common Mistakes When Buying Your First Guitar

Often people get inspired to play guitar and jump straight to purchasing something that might not suit them. Here are seven common mistakes people make when buying their first guitar:

Mistake #1. Getting the wrong sound – Classical, Acoustic or Electric?

You have 3 basic choices of sound when you buy a guitar:

  • Nylon String Classical
  • Steel String Acoustic
  • Electric

A lot of people believe that the best choice is to start on an Acoustic Guitar and build up to an Electric Guitar. However, I think that your first guitar should be appropriate to the style of music you enjoy listening to.

If you like AC/DC, Green Day, or say the Foo Fighters, you really need an Electric Guitar to get the sound you want. If you like Jack Johnson, Ben Harper or Taylor Swift, an Acoustic Guitar could be a good choice. Nylon String Guitars sound great for flamenco music, classical music and a lot of traditional music.

Having said this, if it’s for a child under 12 we normally do recommend a nylon string as it’s easier for them to press the strings down. Some children can have tougher hands than others, so if you have a rough and tumble child, they mght be able to handle steel strings earlier than usual. Check out our buying guide for Choosing a Guitar for a Child for more information.

If you’re not sure what type of guitar is best for you, then just think of the music that you like to listen to the most, and call or email us. We will give you a personalized recommendation.

Mistake #2. Getting the wrong size

This is something that a lot of people get wrong. Electric Guitars are much smaller than Steel-String Acoustic Guitars and Nylon String Classical Guitars, they can basically be used by most people, but you do need to consider the extra weight. An Electric Guitar can weigh 5-6 Kg which can be difficult for children to handle. We would normally recommend children be at least 13 years before they try an Electric Guitar, but this is a generalisation and some children (sometimes as young as 10) have been ok. Every child is different, and some children may be capable at a younger age, so if you consider your child to be quite strong for their age, then by all means go for an electric. We carry a broad range of sizes in our entry level range. The correct size is most accurately determined by the player’s heightage and in some cases gender. If you can tell us these three details we can give you a personal recommendation.

Electric Guitar:

  • Smaller in size than acoustic or classical
  • Good for rock, metal, pop and country music
  • Has steel strings which can be hard on young fingers
  • Can be heavy, depending on the model.
  • Recommended for:
AgeHeight (cm)Recommended Size
5 – 1280 – 125 1/2 Size – See MiniS
12+125 +Full Size – See STH


Acoustic Guitar:

  • Good for folk, pop, country, slow rock music
  • Has steel strings which can be hard on young fingers
  • Sounds bright and loud, great for strumming chords 
  • Light weight but bulky
  • Recommended for:
AgeHeight (cm)Recommended Size
5 – 12100 – 120 3/4 Size – See LSP34
12 – 15 120 – 165 Small Body – See LSPS
15+165 +Full Size – See LSP


Classical Guitar (Nylon String Guitar):

  • Good for classical, flamenco, Spanish music.
  • Available in the smallest size – 1/4 size.
  • Gentle on finger tips – perfect for young children
  • Sounds mellow and soft – not as loud as acoustic
  • Recommended for:
AgeHeight (cm)Recommended Size
2 – 575 – 100 1/4 Size – See CL14
5 – 8 100 – 125 1/2 Size – See CL12
8 – 12125 – 1653/4 Size – See CL34
12+165 +Full Size – See CL44*

* A full size classical guitar has a wider neck than other guitars. If you have small hands we recommend the CL44S slim neck classical guitar.


Mistake #3: Buying a guitar with strings that are too high and hard to play

String action is one of the critical things for getting an easy to play guitar. The easiest way to understand action is that it’s just the measurement of the gap from the bottom of the string, to the top of the fret and it’s measured at the 12th fret (the half way pint of the string).

For a beginner we recommend an action of:

  • Electric Guitars 2-2.3mm
  • Acoustic Guitars 2-2.7mm
  • Nylon String Guitars 3-3.6mm

A common issue with most entry level nylon string guitars is that the necks are usually made in a very traditional manner using a section of metal bar a few mm thick to keep the neck straight (you can’t see this bar it is built into the neck).

We started finding that this type of construction leads to the neck bending (or bowing) after about 6 months. Unfortunately with the traditional method there is not an easy way to adjust it back to normal – once it is bent it’s time to get a new guitar! This lead us to re design our classical guitars to use a truss rod. A truss rod is a much stronger example of the bar used in traditional manufacturing, but its main advantage is that it is adjustable. So if in the future you neck begins to bend it can easily be adjusted back into correct shape. Here’s our guide to adjusting your truss rod.

Mistake #4: Getting stuck with bad machine heads guitar that don’t stay in tune

Here is an example of a basic covered machine head:

These are made out of gears and pressed metal, it used to be the only way to make machine heads (so a lot of vintage guitars use this type). While it can look cool and retro, these vintage style tuners are often very hard to tune and to keep in tune.
Now there is a modern way to get a much better guitar – the die-cast machine head:

Made from a mould these machine heads are much smoother and more accurate than a covered machine head.

Mistake #5: Choosing a popular brand name because you think you’re getting a superior product

Most popular brand name guitars are indeed very good quality at the higher levels but their entry level guitars, in our experience, are not such a great deal.

In the entry-level market, brand-name guitar companies are usually forced to make their guitars with cheaper materials. There is a simple reason for this. Most major brand-name companies have a brand owner (sometimes an American company). That company buys from a factory in China, and in Australia they will have a distributor who will sell to a retailer (your local music store). It’s pretty easy to see why they can be forced to use cheaper materials. There is a lot of price pressure to get a guitar manufactured at a low enough price for everybody to take their cut of the profit down the chain.

At Artist Guitars we manufacture our Australian designed guitars at our trusted factory in China and sell direct to you. There is no need for us to choose inferior components because we don’t have the pressure of keeping the costs low.

Mistake #6: Buying a guitar without any support materials

When most people buy their first guitar they can be a little confused about what to do. A guitar can be a confusing purchase and most guitars don’t even come with a manual explaining how to use them. That becomes a problem because most people then have to search for the information (which
can be hard to find).
Unfortunately it’s during this critical time that a lot of people get discouraged and may even give up on playing altogether. The first 6 months of learning guitar are critical, statistics show that if someone can still be playing at 6 months they will be much more likely to go on to play guitar for life, so the first 6 months are actually the most important time.

Mistake #7: Paying for features you just don’t need

At the beginner level, you need a good quality instrument, but having a more expensive instrument generally doesn’t make your playing any easier. Higher level instruments are designed for high-level players who want the ultimate in sound.

As a beginner most people are not very sure of the sound, style or type of guitar that they would ultimately like to play, but after playing for 6 months or so I’m sure you will know a lot more about guitars and when it comes time to choose your next guitar it will be an easy choice. The key features a beginner needs is a guitar that is well set-up and easy to play, but you don’t really need to spend too much money on getting a better quality of sound. Higher level guitars will only sound better when your playing has progressed to the level that you can play quite well.
Most beginners find that during the process of learning (after a year or so) you will figure out your own sound. You will naturally be drawn to music that features guitar in it, and great guitar parts. So what usually happens is that your own musical tastes will change and with this change the type of instrument that suits your sound the best will also change. So when you’re ready to take the next step, you will have a much better idea of what you really want.

So in summary…

The 7 key mistakes when buying a beginner guitar are :

  1. Getting the wrong sound
  2. Getting the wrong size
  3. Buying a guitar with strings that are too high and hard to play
  4. Getting stuck with bad machine heads guitar that don’t stay in tune
  5. Buying a brand name and thinking you will be getting a better guitar.
  6. Buying a guitar without any support materials
  7. Paying for features you just don’t need

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