Now that’s a tricky question, if what you mean with “learn” is to play your favorite pop song then there is a chance that you’ll “learn” how to play it today, over the next hour even; figure out the basic chords and ta-da! You my friend can now call yourself a guitarist. All the girls will be swept off their feet as you serenade them while your buddies sit in the corner sulking and envying you. I’m joking of course… unless you’re playing Wonderwall.
How long until I actually PLAY it?
Like I said above, it depends on what kinds of song you want to learn, there are songs where you need to play 8 chords while there some with only 2 or 3 chords. With 3 basic chords, you only need a couple of minutes to learn and to start playing it, the main problem is: how you’re going to be able to play it smoothly and not sound like a cat being strangled. The only solution for that is…
Practice, practice and more practice
Patience and determination is all that you need when practicing, you might say that I stole that line from Karate Kid, but really, being a better guitar player is all about practice, basically repeating it over and over again until you can play it with minimal mistakes each time.
If I had to give a specific time, I’d say 1 week to learn the names of ALL the basic chords, 1-2 months to ACTUALLY play the chords (first month being the most frustrating). 3rd month is where you’ll develop a keen sense of hearing where you’ll easily spot if a chord is in Minor, Major or in 7th. From the 4th month and onward is where you’ll be on your own, this is the stage where you are likely to choose which genre you’ll stick to. Although I recommend to never be afraid to try out new styles since this is how guitar players grow, by exploring the unknown (again, from a movie).
The early months is where you’ll develop calluses around your fingertips (don’t peel it!). Those hardened areas of your skin will help you press on the guitar strings while the muscles in your fingers are still developing.
To get a list of some of the easiest songs to play on guitar click here.
Remember… your skill as a musician grows as YOU grow throughout the years. Welcome to the club my friend and good luck!