Aha! The classic question that everyone asks themselves whether they’re 10 or 103…
You see someone playing something cool and you think, “MAN! I wanna do that! But am I too old? Am I too slow? Am I just past the age where guitar stands on a bridge, puts its foot down and bellows ‘You shall not pass!!!'”
Well, today I’ll be debunking all the myths and going over whether it’s ever too late to learn guitar whether you’re 20, 25, 30, 40, 50 and beyond to help with that.
So let’s rock.
Does Age Weaken Your Ability to Play?
Hmmm, let me quickly think… No! Age means diddly squat to playing guitar. That is, unless you have a severe condition that inhibits your ability to control your fingers. In which case, yeah, guitar probably ain’t gonna work…
You’ll probably want to learn something like the Harmonica instead. But otherwise, you’re good to go.
And golf is a great example of this. Golf is particularly popular with slightly older people because it’s not so demanding on muscles and joints. And do these older people struggle to learn golf at all? Nope.
So guitar is, in a sense, like golf. There’s not much physical effort required, it’s just muscle memory that needs to be trained. And you can do that at any age.
Is it Harder to Learn Guitar As You Get Older?
Okay. So we’ve established that as you get older, there’s nothing stopping you from learning to play. But what about the time it takes to learn?
Well, I think it goes without saying that kids will learn the fastest. That’s just how nature works. And as you get older, it does become gradually harder to learn new things.
So everything will require a little more effort, just like learning a new language.
But many adults who learn guitar late still learn faster than most kids. Hmmm, mysterious… why could that be?
Because they actually want to learn it! Most kids dread guitar lessons like they are Doomsday. They’ll turn up, pray for the lesson to be over, and be sprinting out the door before you can say “Usain Bolt”.
And are you ever gonna learn anything that way? No.
But adults have the power of something called focus and an attention span – I know, pretty radical, right? So if you enjoy playing, and are actively trying to make progress then you’ll still learn at a healthy pace.
And if you still aren’t convinced, then take Kenyan midwife Priscilla Sitienei. She had gone through her whole life without ever learning to read and write. As she grew older she wanted to write down her knowledge for others, and so started attending school. From scratch, she learnt to read and write at the age of 90.
Proof That Age Doesn’t Matter
Alright, here’s the fun part… I’m gonna list a load of guitarists who are all at least 50 and still absolutely killing it. And hopefully that’ll prove to you that it’s never too late to learn guitar.
- Dave Murray – Iron Maiden
- Adrian Smith – Iron Maiden
- Janick Gers – Iron Maiden
- Slash – Guns ‘N’ Roses
- Izzy Stradlin – Guns ‘N’ Roses
- James Hetfield – Metallica
- Kirk Hammett – Metallica
- Dave Grohl – Foo Fighters
- Chris Shiflett – Foo Fighters
- Pat Smear – Foo Fighters
- KK Downing – Judas Priest
- Tom Morello – Rage Against the Machine
- John Petrucci – Dream Theatre
- Dan Donegan – Disturbed
- Kim Thayil – Soundgarden
- Myles Kennedy – Alter Bridge
- Buddy Guy – 84 years old!
- Paul McCartney – The Beetles
- Keith Richards – The Rolling Stones
- Alex Lifeson – Rush
- Tony Iommi – Black Sabbath
- Lindsey Buckingham – Fleetwood Mac
- Neil Finn – Fleetwood Mac
- Joe Walsh – The Eagles
- Don Felder – The Eagles
- Richie Sambora – Bon Jovi
- Mark Knopfler – Dire Straits
- John Frusciante – RHCP
- Brian May – Queen
- Steve Vai
- Joe Satriani
- Yngwie Malmsteen
- Eric Clapton
- Marty Friedman
- Paul Gilbert
- Nuno Bettencourt – Extreme
- Dave Mustaine – Megadeth
- Bill Kelliher – Mastodon
- Richard Z.K. – Rammstein
- Matthias Jabs – Scorpions
- Rudolf Schenker – Scorpions
- Michael Schenker – UFO
- Jeff Beck
- Billy Gibbons – ZZ Top
- Bob Dylan
- David Gilmour – Pink Floyd
- Joe Perry – Aerosmith
- Brad Whitford – Aerosmith
- Phill Collen – Def Leppard
- Vivian Campbell – Def Leppard
- Andy Summers – The Police
- Paul Stanley – KISS
- Tommy Thayer – KISS
- Ace Frehley – Ex-KISS
And literally so many more that I couldn’t be bothered to write on this list…
Wrapping It Up
Hopefully now you’re feeling nicely inspired to pick up a guitar and start learning. Whether you’re 40, 80, 120, 1000 years old or not even born yet, you have the ability to play guitar like anyone else.
And whoa! What a coincidence… you’re already on a guitar website!
Anyway, I’ve been Sam Olverson,
Have fun playing guitar!