Is it too old to learn guitar at 20/30/40/50/60? This is without doubt one of the top 3 questions I’ve been asked over my decades teaching guitar.
Here’s the bottom line:
The key thing to remember if you’re filled with self-doubt asking yourself this question is:
Want the absolute honest truth? Most adults who start learning to play guitar have a much higher success rate than kids do.
I’m not just saying this. It’s a fact. Sure, a 10 year old kid will have more flexibility in their fingers than a 72 year old, but that doesn't mean you're ready to go on the scrap heap just yet. Far from it. For one thing, an adult has longer fingers and larger hands than a kid making it easier to fret notes and chords.
You see, the true answer to whether or not you're "too old to learn to play guitar" is down to how you think about it. All of your perceived disadvantages are actually advantages when you frame it all in the correct way.
If anyone ever says you are too old to learn an instrument, they're simply revealing their negative "glass-half-full" nature. The only limitations you have to learning guitar are the ones you place on yourself. You might not become a world famous touring lead guitarist if you start learning at 65, but 99% of people who learn an instrument play for their own pleasure anyway.
Let's dive in and have a look at 5 more reasons why waiting to learn to play guitar as an adult rather than starting at a young age might be one the smartest life decisions you've made.
It’s the wisdom that only comes with life experience: knowing that success doesn’t happen overnight without a bit of graft.
This is where age definitely trumps youth. Many younger people struggle with learning guitar because they get frustrated and impatient when they don't get it right first time. They want to throw in the towel early at the first sign that a bit of hard work is needed.
You have the advantage of experience to tell you nothing good in life comes easy. Your insight tells you what starts off difficult to play on guitar will only get easier with dedicated practice. You know this because you’ve already achieved many things in your work and personal life over the years.
Whilst you're diligently practising your chord changes, your younger counterpart has given up and reached for the X-box control.
As an adult you have more financial resources to allow you the freedom to pay for lessons and equipment. As a kid you’re tied to hoping mum and dad carry on paying for your lessons and gear. You’re stuck playing the same rusty dull strings on the same dusty old guitar your old man dug out from the attic a year ago.
Even if you’re not earning piles of cash, you have the freedom to spend some of your hard earned pennies on yourself. Good job when you consider according to a survey by Fender the average guitar player blows around $10,000 (£7,645) on guitar gear in their lifetime.
So as long as you can think of a good enough excuse to tell your other half, you're free to buy yourself a new guitar (we’ve all been there!) when you need one. Jobs a goodun.
Furthermore, because you know life is too short to waste your precious time trying to learn on your own, you're more likely to invest in some good quality tuition instead of relying on jumbled up Youtube videos. And you know what that means - you learn to play guitar the right way, and you get impressive results quicker.
Further reading: The best beginner acoustic guitar to buy. We've reviewed 10 brilliant but cheap acoustic guitars that won't break the bank.
This point applies especially to those of you who are retired, are part time workers, or are self-employed: you've allocated the time to spend on doing what you want to do. In this case, learn guitar.
Kids tend to hardly practice enough because they get distracted with anything from social media to gaming to watching videos with charming titles such as "Top 200 Fails Of All Time".
Sure, life can get hectic juggling family commitments with study, work or other hobbies, but generally you know how to manage your time better now you’re a bit older.
We all know that person who always seems to be rushing around complaining there’s not enough hours in the day don't we? You’ve made the decision not to be that person. You’re clued up enough to priorities your time so you can buckle down to practicing your guitar.
You have a healthy established music taste. You know what you like and what you don’t. Over the years you’ve seen so many great live bands your passion has been ignited to learn to play guitar.
The reality is, most kids learning guitar don’t know what bands and music they love yet. And boy do younger people change their mind like the wind when it comes to music. The band they say they like today, tomorrow they’ll u-turn and decide they can’t stand them anymore.
Many a time I’ve spent weeks teaching a young pupil the right way to play a song by one of their 'favourite bands', only to be told on week 6 - oh I don’t like them anymore, can I change the song...
This leads to infinite problems.
Not a problem for you.
You see, you chose your favourite music years ago and more importantly, you’re open to discovering new music all the time too. When you’re asked to name a band or singer you love, you could reel off a list as long as your arm because you’re taste revolves around loving music that’s good irrespective of genre.
Many people who decide to learn guitar later in life also tend to take the clever step of seeking out guitar lessons in some form or another. This takes confidence. You’re prepared to be a musical sponge and absorb the advice and techniques you’re going to be shown by your teacher.
Unfortunately for many younger kids learning guitar, it’s often their parents who want them to learn more than they do. This often ends up in them getting embarrassed and annoyed when they make mistakes through their lack of confidence. Result? They loose interest in guitar pretty fast and ultimately give up.
You have a lifelong passion for music and know it won’t always be a cakewalk but by hook or by crook you’re going to bloomin' well put all your effort into it and not care too much when you make mistakes. You know it's all part of the process.
I’m sure you’re with me on this one, whilst it’s totally normal you may feel unsure of your abilities and a little unconfident to start with, you know it will get easier in time.
I love the fact that I see the confidence grow day by the day in adult pupils I teach because they’re often fulfilling a deep rooted ambition to learn to play guitar.
Imagine for a moment you started to learn to play guitar when you were 11. Your parents spent money on lessons for you, but you got frustrated at how hard you found the process of learning through your lack of mental and emotional maturity.
You know what's coming next...you'd have given up on learning. And from your negative early experience you'd likely not pick up a guitar ever again. Sad thought isn't it?
So stop putting it off. Now you know many great reasons why you're never too old to learn to play guitar, just go for it!