Is It Too Late To Learn Guitar? Advice From a Guitar Teacher - Guitar Gear Finder

Is It Too Late To Learn Guitar? Advice From a Guitar Teacher

If you’ve been thinking about learning guitar, you may ask yourself whether you’re too old to learn guitar.

As a guitar teacher, I talk to a lot of people who are interested in learning guitar. One of the most common questions I am asked is: am I too old to learn guitar?

You are never too old to learn guitar. You can start learning guitar at any age. While younger people tend to learn faster, you are still capable of learning guitar as a beginner whether you are 30, 40, 60, or even 70.

In this guide, I will go through what it is like to learn guitar at different ages based on my experiences with students.

I have had students start learning guitar at all ages up to early 70s. So if you’re concerned over whether it’s too late for you to learn guitar, read this guide in full.

If you decide to try learning guitar, read through this guide on how to start learning guitar.

If you have any other questions before you start, check out this FAQ on common questions about learning guitar.

Too old to learn guitar?

Learning Guitar and Neuroscience (How Your Brain Works)

Before I go through what it is like to learn guitar at different ages, it’s important to look at how our brains develop and change as we age.

It might be easy for me to say that it’s never too late to learn guitar, but there is a science behind this view.

If you’re over 25, that doesn’t mean it’s too late. While you may be past your prime in terms of brain development, that doesn’t mean you can’t learn something new.

The below chart from Harvard University gives us a clear picture of what it’s like to learn something new based on age:

Brain development chart from Harvard

The blue line explains why children are so quick at learning new skills such as guitar.

A child’s brain is easily able to change (called neuroplasticity) and adapt to new experiences.

This is why a child can learn a musical instrument, a second language, or a new sport with such ease.

As we get older, our brains mature and reduce in neuroplasticity. You can see that the blue line starts to gradually fall down after the 20s and continues in a straight line.

The orange line shows that as we get past our 30s, 40s, and 50s, more effort is required to learn something new.

The key point here is that learning something new requires more effort as you get older. It doesn’t mean you can’t learn something new after a certain age.

I really want to emphasize this point. There is no age where you cannot learn something new.

Learning guitar as a beginner at 60 years may be twice as hard as it would be if you were 30, but you can still learn it if you put the effort in.

If you are willing to put the work in, you can learn guitar at any age.

The only time it’s too late to learn guitar is when you believe you’re too old to learn something new.

The people who complain that it’s too late for them and that they should’ve learned guitar years ago are only coming up with excuses. Don’t be one of those people. It’s not too late.

Read the relevant section below to see what it’s like to learn guitar at your age.

Is it Too Late to Learn Guitar at 30?

If you’re well over 30, the above question might make you chuckle as you remember how easily you learned things when you were in your 30s.

But if you’re under 30 or in your 30s now, it might seem like a valid question.

If you’re under 30 or in your 30s now, it is not too late to learn guitar. You are at a great time to start learning guitar. Learning guitar at 30 doesn’t require much extra effort as your brain is still at it’s peak.

Why is it a great time to start learning guitar in your 20s or 30?

Our brains don’t reach peak development until around 25 years. This means our brains are only completely formed at around 25.

If you’re 25 or under and are worried that it’s too late to learn guitar, get out of here 🙂

If you’re under 20, your brain hasn’t even reached peak development yet. As shown earlier on the chart from Harvard, this means you will find it ridiculously easy to learn guitar compared to somebody older than you.

Of course, the guitar is still hard to learn so you will have to put the effort in, but your age won’t hold you back.

If you have any doubts over whether it’s too late for you to learn, continue reading about a student I had who started learning guitar in his 70s. Once you read how much effort he put in, you’ll never question whether you’re too old ever again.

If you’re in your 20s or 30s, go get started learning guitar because your brain is in peak performance and it’s the best time to start.

Check out the short list of lessons and guides at the end of this article to get started learning guitar.

Is it Too Late to Learn Guitar at 40?

It is not too late to learn guitar at 40. Your brain at 40 is still capable of learning new skills without too much extra effort.

As the below chart shows, your brain is still more than capable of adapting to change and learning a new skill at 40.

Learning guitar at 40

The orange line shows that you will need to put a lot more effort in compared to when you were 20 or 30, but it’s not too late.

If you want to learn guitar, I highly recommend you start as soon as possible, because it will only get harder the longer you put it off. Learning guitar now will be easier than waiting.

What holds a lot of people in their 40s back from learning guitar isn’t that they’re too old to learn. What makes it hard for people in their 40s to learn guitar is the time required to practice.

Learning guitar requires regular practice. When you’re in your 40s, you have far less free time available to practice compared to somebody in their 20s or 30s.

You may have kids or a demanding job that takes up a lot of your free time.

When you’re in your 40s, freeing up time every day to practice is the most important thing you can do to learn guitar.

Your brain is still very capable of adapting and learning new skills, so the only thing that may hold you back is time.

If you can set up a proper practice area and follow the advice in this guide to get the most out of your practice sessions, you’ll do fine.

I have had countless students in their 40s and they manage to learn guitar just as easily as students in their 20s or 30s if they put regular practice time in.

Check out the short list of lessons and guides at the end of this article to get started learning guitar.

Is it Too Late to Learn Guitar at 50?

It is not too late to learn the guitar at 50. You will need to put more time and effort into practice compared to a 40 or 30 year old, but your brain at 50 is still capable of learning new skills.

As the below chart shows, learning new skills at 50 is still very possible (blue line), but it does require extra effort (orange line).

Learning guitar at 50

The key point to remember is that it’s not too late. Your brain is still capable of learning new skills and your hands will still be nimble enough (with exercises) to play everything you want to play.

It’s important to understand that it will take you longer to start seeing progress as a beginner at 50.

While it might take a bit longer for you to get started and feel like you’re improving, you will make progress.

Don’t give up and think that you’re too old. It’s not true.

I’ve had quite a few students over the years who came to me as beginners in their 50s. While some of them were slower to start than my younger students, only one of them wasn’t capable of learning to play the music they wanted.

The only reason one of those students had trouble was that he was a concreter and his hands were wrecked from decades of hard labor. Unless your hands are fried from decades of physical labor, you’ll be fine.

Depending on your family and career commitments, you may have less time compared to a younger person to dedicate to practice.

As long as you can regularly schedule time to practice (even 5 minutes per day is fine), you will get there.

If you still have doubts, keep reading for a story of a student of mine who started learning guitar in his 70s.

Check out the short list of lessons and guides at the end of this article to get started learning guitar.

Is it Too Late to Learn Guitar at 60?

It is not too late to learn the guitar at 60. You will need to put more time and effort into practice compared to a 40 or 50 year old, but your brain at 60 is still capable of learning new skills.

As the below chart shows, learning new skills at 60 is still very possible (blue line), but it does require extra effort (orange line).

Learning guitar at 60

There’s no denying that learning guitar for the first time at 60 is hard.

The above chart shows that it requires far more effort than it does for anybody younger than you.

But it’s not too late.

I’ve had quite a lot of students in their 60s take lessons with me as beginners.

Most of them had just retired and wanted to learn something new.

While learning guitar in your 60s requires more effort and practice, the good news is that you will likely have more time available to practice.

If you have retired, you can dedicate more time to practice to compensate for the extra effort required to learn the new skills.

The most important point I’d like you to remember is that the start of learning guitar is the hardest and it will get easier.

It may feel impossible to play the simplest things on guitar, but with practice, it will get easier.

If you have the discipline to practice every day, you will eventually get to the point where you can play the music you want.

Check out the short list of lessons and guides at the end of this article to get started learning guitar.

Is it Too Late to Learn Guitar at 70+?

It is not too late to learn the guitar at 70 or older. You will need to put in more time and effort into practice compared to a younger person, but you are still capable of learning new skills.

The mere fact that you’re researching this question already tells me that you have what it takes to learn guitar. There are people in their 60s and early 70s who refuse to learn how to use any technology. So if you’re using a computer or smartphone to research this question, you’re going to be fine learning guitar.

As the below chart shows, learning new skills at 70 requires a significant amount of effort (orange line) compared to a younger person.

Learning guitar at 70

But the blue line shows that it is still possible for your brain to adapt and learn new skills.

My student who started learning guitar in his 70s

I have only had one student over the years who started learning guitar in his 70s (he told me his ages, I didn’t ask!).

This student used to work with David Gilmour before Pink Floyd existed and he wanted to learn some early Santana, Cream, and Pink Floyd songs. He figured if those guys’ hands could still play at their ages, he could at least try.

While those great guitarists started to learn guitar at a much younger age, the fact that they can still physically play in their 60s, 70s, and 80s is important to keep in mind.

It’s this attitude that got him through the tough initial stages and eventually got him to the point where he learned to play full songs from memory.

I want to emphasize that this student started learning guitar in his early 70s and managed to learn and play full songs.

There were many times when he was frustrated and felt like he wasn’t making progress.

Everybody feels this way, whether you’re 15, 50, or 72.

I’ve had students in their teens complain that guitar is too hard to learn and it’s too late for them.

Yet this student had the discipline to stick with it. He practiced every day and put in a lot of hours each week.

The way I convinced him to stick with learning guitar was by recording him play each week. Then any time he felt he wasn’t improving, I would show him a recording of him playing the same piece from a month ago.

Every time he watched an earlier recording of him playing something, he noticed how he had improved his technique since the recording. Even if he didn’t feel like he was improving, he could clearly see and hear evidence that he was getting better.

He continued to practice hard and didn’t let his age stop him. That’s the attitude to take if you want to learn guitar, regardless of your age.

Unless you’re well over 70 or have health issues with your hands, you are fully capable of learning guitar. If you ever think to yourself that you’re too old, remind yourself that that’s just an excuse.

The only time it’s too late to learn guitar is when you believe you’re too old to learn something new.

A great side benefit of learning to play the guitar is that its fantastic exercise for your brain. Learning any new skill in your 70s is a fantastic way of keeping your mind sharp. If you’re thinking about trying to learn guitar, I highly recommend it at any age for the mental benefits it can give you.

If you’re ready to start learning guitar, here are some useful guides and lessons to get going:

Good luck and no matter how old you are, give it a good shot and you’ll be surprised by what you can achieve.

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