Growing up, a lot of my friends wanted to learn to play guitar. There was a group of us who listened to KISS records and dreamed of playing guitar like Ace Frehley. As we got a little older, and as a few of the group gave up on the instrument, we formed a band and played. We still liked KISS, but we started expanding our musical horizons and listening to other guitar players. Eventually everybody except me and one of my friends stopped trying to learn to play guitar. My one friend and I stuck with it and got better. The rest have no idea how to tune a guitar these days. The difference between the two of us who got better and the rest is that the two of us who got better understood that the guitar learning curve was a pretty wide one. It wasn’t going to happen overnight. It would take years of practice, study, and devotion.
That being said, you can pick up a guitar and learn enough basic chords to strum a bunch of popular songs and entertain people. The basic chords below will yield hundreds of songs that sound great. If all you want to do is play guitar as a hobby, then the learning curve is a lot easier to get around. If you want to play well, however, and if you want to play professionally and compose songs and be noted by your peers as a player who’s original and creative, then expect your guitar learning curve to be long and sharp. Pardon the metaphor, but you need to stay behind the wheel and lean hard on it to get around the curve.
The second example below is a complex shred exercise that presents a melodic pattern meant to be played at a blistering tempo. When you see an exercise like this one and you drool over the beauty of the form, you know you’re on the road to doing more than playing for friends. You understand the time it takes to really learn to play guitar.
If you are into shred guitar, you may want to check out this VIDEO LESSON ON SWEEP PICKING EXERCISES
Don’t let me discourage you into thinking you’re not a serious guitar player of you can’t play this example. That’s not the case at all. It’s the desire to learn to play at levels this complex and the pursuit of the skill set that makes you serious. You won’t get there overnight, but every challenge to undertake, every new skill you learn, and every day you pick up your guitar to continue learning the craft will make your guitar learning curve that much smaller. Don’t let the distance bog you down.
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