The Woodshed

Anyone here start taking guitar lessons later in life?


I have never taken lessons but I have played guitar for a long time but only good enough to entertain myself and annoy my neighbors. I stopped in the local music store today to inquire about lessons and I might start. I think learning more would make playing more enjoyable and maybe I could play for other people without making such a fool of myself.

I'm 46 and often thought that I was too old to start lessons.

What is your experience?


Yes. I had lessons as a kid for a year or two; played in a band in high school; quit for 40 years and started again by taking lessons and believing they would help and they have. You can not only learn stuff, but maybe have the instructor help correct bad habits. I still suck, but less than I would have without the lessons. Go for it.


I've taken lessons at several times over the last 40 years of playing.

When I've decided to learn a different style of playing, like Blues, Ragtime, or Swing, I've always found it nearly impossible to get there by myself. Too often, my own 'style' of playing inhibits my learning.

Also, many times over the years I've kind of become stuck in a rut in my playing. When it becomes boring to play the guitar, the incentive to pick the guitar up diminishes.

In either case, taking lessons from someone who can help you learn a new technique or who can jumpstart your enjoyment in playing is the right thing to do.

Internet videos and instructional DVDs like the excellent ones by Paul Pigat are a great resource, but there really is no substitute for time spent with a good instructor.

The only real issue is finding the right instructor. Age is irrelevant.


I'm interested in what style of play you wish to pursue. I agree with all the suggestions, and in particular, what Tim said is the most relevant: "Age is irrelevant." Once you've decided you're going to do this, his other suggestion kicks in: ".....finding the right instructor." Now here I tend to depart with the thinking that you really need the instructor to be an in person thing. I don't disagree with this line of thought but especially for fingerstyle, there's lots of terrific online material to turn to, and this can be in addition to personal lessons. I've not availed myself of specific tutorials but rather have used some good videos with tab but say The Real Merle Travis Guitar by Thom Bresh (video) and John Knowles The Fingerstyle Quarterly (yrs ago with a cassette and book) are both predicated on you already having some degree of fingerpicking ability but I'm sure today there's some great material available to start you at the grass roots level.

I'll bet none of them teach my method to learn how to create an independent thumb though!...and it's a proven method that will short cut any other teaching practice and get you an independent thumb quicker and better. I laid it out in a thread awhile back.


After seeing/hearing Cindy Cashdollar playing her non-pedal steel guitar last weekend, I have been considering getting a pedal steel and taking lessons to learn how to play it. This might just be a passing fancy that burns out before I act on it. 64 years old and hopefully retiring next Spring. Gotta fill the time, so I'm considering taking classes/lessons on one or more of the following: Recording studio engineering, guitar, piano, chord theory, pedal steel, conversational French.

If I take them all, I can then record high quality Johnny Halliday covers. I'll probably end up surfing the net all day.


Hey Grump, I'm 47 (but that doesn't matter) and I took lessons for about three years up until last year. I found it incredibly valuable. Increased my chord vocabulary, learned the fretboard, and learned good practice techniques. Most importantly though, I learn best from one-on-one instruction rather than watching videos or reading songbooks. It all depends on how you prefer to learn IMO. There's so much online that some folks don't need to sit in front of an instructor. That just didn't cut it for me. Also, he kept on me about practice time and progress week in and week out, and that prodding kept me honest and driven.

Good luck, whatever you decide.


Lessons help and are great. Just take care you don't begin to sound boring like so many other players do.


I have never taken lessons but I have played guitar for a long time but only good enough to entertain myself and annoy my neighbors. I stopped in the local music store today to inquire about lessons and I might start. I think learning more would make playing more enjoyable and maybe I could play for other people without making such a fool of myself.

I'm 46 and often thought that I was too old to start lessons.

What is your experience?

– UncleGrumpy

Grumps, I took lessons all through elementary school, then again in college, then in my twenties for a while and I started up again this last year. Most of the teachers get tired of me because I just try to copy their fingers instead of playing what is on the paper. I'll never amount too much I guess, but its been fun. Just do it brother and remember my motto (that I stole) 100% action results in 100% reaction, 100% of the time.

better odds with starting those lessons than using Sex Panther btw..


yes. i started by using you tube tutorials,free and repeatable. my uncle was teaching me how music actually works and how to read music. in your case you may wish to find an instructor that uses Skype or similar on line live video so you don't have to drive. i was taking lessons via Skype and found it very adequate and loved not having to drive to lessons. (Skype instructors are often very inexpensive) all the lessons are so worth it. my rhythm is still terrible,but as you know i love to try.


It couldn't hurt. One, you're motivated, and, two, you've made a financial investment in learning. I try to learn something everyday, and I've got more than twenty years on you. For me, the arthritis will keep me from ever being a guitarist of the level that I'd like to be. As it is, I can still bang away at the piano pretty well. I'll still play guitar---it's so different than keyboards, more limiting in some ways, freer in others. Have fun with it tho---because if you're not having fun (I didn't say it'll be easy) you won't keep up with it. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.


Since I didn't start playing again until my mid 40s I decided to take lessons. I'm on my third instructor. The first guy had a bit of Whiplash intensity, which wasn't necessary for me. He kept wanting me to get to performance quality on every song. The second guy was young enough to be my son and I intimidated him, he let me get away with poor playing and bad habits. The three one is the best. A guy a few years older than me, very experienced teacher and player,excellent at teaching adults especially. I've learned more in the last year and a half than the preceding 5. Learning theory as well as songs and scales.

Well worth it, but you might need to try a few teachers out to find the right one. My instructor does offer Skype lessons.


My usual advice is to go down to where the Jazz musicians hang out, find a guitarist you like and ask him for his teacher's number.

Drmilktruck is right, know when to get out.


I'm in the same boat. I started fairly late in life and had no intentions of becoming the guitar nut that I am. I just figured it'd be fun to learn a few chords and songs to goof off with. Well, I'm 44 and just started lessons about a month or so ago. I did take a few about 3 years ago, too.


I've had a few over the years, mostly to get myself out of a rut. A good friend who is a pro player taught me to fingerpick about 15 years back, but that stopped when I left London.

Another guy taught me to Travis pick - to a limited degree - about 10 years ago but work commitments made it hard to find time for lessons.

Now I've started learning some jazz chordal stuff and some new scales from the son of a friend of mine. He's a music graduate and certainly young enough to be my son too, but he's really patient and has worked hard to find a method of teaching that works for me.

I do find that having a formal arrangement with a teacher - who also sets homework - keeps me focused. I have picked stuff up on line but I find it all too easy to get distracted by other things.


yes i've start yesterday (not a joke) with a friend i've found on facebook and who live in my area.


A few years ago I took some lessons from a local blues legend. I found I needed to learn a my own slowwwwww pace, so go to YouTube to avoid the embarrassment and expense. There are instructional CDs from artists like Paul Pigat and Brian Setzer, too that I hope to crack open.

Working on songs with Curt for Billy D's open stage nights has taught me things. That's probably where most of my learning is today.


Yes, I got my first lesson 3 years ago, when I was 41. The important thing is that you got to find a good guitar teacher , one who knows YOUR needs, and not teach the same things at the same way at all his students. Before starting, talk with him for an hour, say what you want to reach , in what time.


Not to get to far into it but because of a few hard health issues I have lost a good portion of my ability in my left hand, that sucks because I'm a righty. Doing much better now and my hand is coming back on it's own just through practice, that said, I will start lessons at Back Street Music with the owner soon. Just bought a new git there and I think the lessons will not just get me back but also get me better then before.

An old dog can always learn new tricks.

I'm old, I'm a dog, and I'd like to learn a trick or two.


I started late in life (after starting & quitting at age 9) and found lessons immeasurably valuable. You can play along with tab or videos, but there's no feedback mechanism.

I see lessons providing multiple values:

  • feedback (as above)

  • quick identification of simple problems (and proposed ways to fix them)

  • motivation to improve - I need to work on this today and tomorrow, in advance of a lesson

That said, lessons are only as good as your instructor. So, if you take a lesson or two and find that you're not progressing, try a different teacher. A good teacher should be asking you what you want to learn and should customize your lessons to meet those needs. I would avoid any instructor who has a fixed regimen they put every student on. They should work with you to uncover your goals, identify some low-hanging targets and help you get there quickly.


I've had a reawakening of my guitar playing over the past 3 or 4 years, and have been learning new things (thanks mostly to YouTube). I just turned 48 and my playing is more articulate now than it's ever been. I believe you can make great progress on the instrument at any age if the desire is there.


I took lessons as a kid and I think this was very good for a start But There is a lot to be learned from just going to concerts listening to records oops CDs learning favorite songs and figuring out how you can finger and pick them . Picking Technic was always something I struggled with but spending time playing songs that were over my head and figuing out how I could do it best has taught me more then somebody showing me how to do it. I have learned more from the Brian Setzer DVD, Micky Bakers books, and The music of Los Straitjackets then I have in many years. The thing is find a way to change it a bit ,use what you learn in a different musical situation and make it your own idea by learning from it and making up the idea into your own idea. I wouldn't tell you not to take lessons as we all learn differently but don't let a bad guitar lesson from a teacher who you don't connect with discourage you as life and listening to music is the ultimate lesson.


What I lack in talent I make up for in volume.


I took a few couple months worth of jazz lessons in my late 30's to learn chords and modes, not so much how to play jazz, but just get some fundamentals. I don't play jazz, but since the lessons, always mix modes with pentatonic wanking, and try to throw in chords other than major or minor in songs, sometimes only to get weird looks by my band mates. Makes things much more interesting and opened up the fretboard for me.

Never to old! Try something new every few days. Something as small as finding a new place to play the same note and incorporate it into your playing, find a note outside of your pattern that is in the scale. These small steps are huge after a couple months, pretty soon the entire fretboard opens up! My thing lately is to find ways to move up the and down the fretboard thru each mode and mix in the blues and pentatonics.

Keep learning!


Thanks all! I'm going to call the teacher this weekend and see what kind of schedule we can set up. It's only $24.50 a lesson, a good price in our area, and I have met most of the teachers at our local Jazz/Blues night in town.

I stopped playing for many years and actually forgot most of what I knew. I received an injury while in the Corps and still don't have 100% use of my left hand. That kept me from playing for awhile and limits me today, but I still want to have fun playing and learning more.

Now I have to figure out exactly what I want to learn.

Thanks again.

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