What do we have in way of questions today? No, can’t answer this one, there might be children reading this. This one is outside my scope of knowledge. Oh look, an easy one- ice cubes (your welcome, Jerry from Big Flats, New York). Oh my, I have to answer this one- Is it too late to Learn Guitar?
The short answer is no. A resounding and emphatic no. The only time it is too late is right after your last breath. I love the guitar, and although there are times when I wish I had a less expensive interest, I have never regretted learning how to play. Granted car lovers have a way more expensive hobby, but at least they can drive their hobby to work.
Younger is Better
Granted I’ll give you that it is easier to learn when you are younger. You have more time, your brain is more conducive to learning, and you have more disposable income (guitars ain’t cheap). The biggest factor being time. If you want to get really good, you need to invest a lot of time.
If you are at a stage of life that time is at a premium, then guitar is not the thing for you at that moment. If for no other reason than you won’t have the callouses on your fretting hand built up. If you take too much time between playing you’ll feel the pain. Being able to have consistent practice time, where you can be undisturbed for large blocks of time just doesn’t happen if you have toddlers in your life.
It’s All about Expectations
If all you are interested in is learning some cowboy chords so that you can sit around the campfire and play a couple of songs, any time is a good time to start. In all my years of playing I’ll have to admit I’ve never sat around a campfire and played songs. It must happen since it is talked about so much.
If you want to be the next Eddie Van Halen, Joe Satriani, or Jimi Hendrix, then the older you are the less likely that is going to happen. Not to say it is beyond the realm of possibility, but I’ve never known it to happen. Your expectations should be at a level that are achievable. Always strive to be better, but be realistic.
Know what you want to do, then start moving down that path. Find a friend who plays to help you pick out an instrument. The more money you spend will get you a better instrument, and if it doesn’t work out you can always sell it (the secondary market is alive and well). You will take a loss, but it will mitigate the loss.
Find a teacher that can at least get you started. It won’t take long to get some basics under your belt, and learn some scales and chords. Be honest with your teacher about your expectations, and if they are any good at what they do they can help you make it there. A teacher is a good person to keep you accountable to practicing as well as giving you feedback as to what you should work on.
An Expensive Hobby
Playing guitar can get expensive. If all you want is one guitar (excuse me while I fall into a laughing fit- you can never have just one), then you can keep costs down. An acoustic will not have all the added expense of an electric, but like I said you can’t have just one guitar.
Except for my house and cars that I’ve bought through the years, I’ve spent way more on guitars and related equipment than any other item. I remember being yelled at by a classmate in school who said for all the money I’d spent on gear it should have wheels. I could always bum a ride, but it’s hard to get your hands on a guitar if you don’t own one.
Give it a Try
In the end playing guitar is cool. Not everyone can do it, even fewer can do it really well, and those that don’t know that much about music can’t really tell the difference between the great and the average. Bassists and drummers may have more opportunities for gigs since there are fewer of them, but they’ll never be seen as cool as guitarists.
If you are thinking about picking up a guitar for the first time I hope this article helped. Drop me a line and let me know about your experience. I’ll never forget the first time I went to buy my first guitar. My son now goes to that same store for drum lessons. He may not be playing guitar, but at least he’ll be able to find steady gigs in the future.