How Long Should I Practice Guitar Each Day?

How long to practice guitar each day is a very popular question among beginners. Even after you’ve been playing for awhile you might wonder if you’re doing enough each day.

While there is no set number of hours you should practice in a day you can use some common guidelines to make the most of your time.

When I started playing guitar I was OCD with it. I would literally practice 12 hours a day. I should backup. I literally spent 12 hours a day with my guitar. Was I practicing the entire 12 hours? Kind of but not really.

My guitar would sit on my lap while I watched TV, talked on the phone and sometimes even when I sat down on the throne. This part of my practice was more like tinkering and mini jam sessions.

If I only had a couple of hours to practice I could have probably accomplished the same amount as long as I stayed focused. Staying focused doesn’t mean you have to have a written plan. You just have to make the most of the time you have.

Regardless of how much or little time you have to practice you can maximize your sessions by using the following guidelines.

Don’t Play Through Pain

As a beginner guitarists will also have to deal with the formation of calluses on your fingers. Your fingers will probably hurt initially after extended amounts of playing. Pain is a good indicator that it’s time to stop playing for the day. If you experience pain in your fingers, wrists or arms you should put the guitar down for a good 12 hours.

Got my first real six-string. Bought it at the five-and-dime. Played it ’til my fingers bled. – Bryan Adams

Playing guitar is a lot of repetitive movements so you want to give your joints and muscles rest. Especially when they are screaming out in pain.

Eventually your fingers will form calluses and the strings won’t feel like sharp razor blades on your finger tips.

Use Lighter Gauge Strings For Longer Playing Time

Even touring professional guitarists have to adjust to extensive amounts of playing. Paul Gilbert has said several times that he may start a tour with 11 gauge (or higher) strings and then switch all the way down to 8 gauge as the tour progresses. The lighter the gauge string the easier it is on your fingers.

Beginner Tip: Set up your guitar for 9 gauge strings. They are easier to bend and will be easier on your fingers. You’ll be able to practice longer each day.

Warm Up – Go Slow Before Shredding

Name any sport and you see the same thing. They all warm up and stretch out their muscles before going all out. Sprinters especially. Think of those lightning fast licks on guitar as mini sprints for your fingers and picking hand/forearm.

Get in the practice of spending at least 5 minutes stretching your fingers with warm-up exercises. Start slow and gradually build up your speed until you are fully loose.

Shameless Self Promotion: I wrote a free guitar shredding course that includes a bunch of warm-up exercises that I have used for years. Click here to get it.

Pick A Technique or Lick To Learn

Having focus is about practicing something intentional. Jamming and improvising is great but if you really want to see your skills progress you should choose a technique or new lick to learn.

I have personally been practicing some licks for months. It’s a part of my daily routine. I have mostly been a legato guitar soloist but by focusing on these few licks my picking technique has improved immensely.

Think of the reason you picked up the guitar in the first place – to play your favorite songs. Pick one a solo and start to learn it.

Forget About Time And Have Fun

The last thing I’d like to share in this post is that the guitar is the coolest instrument on earth. Don’t forget that playing the guitar is supposed to be fun. Learning techniques and licks are great but they can get very frustrating. Take these in small chunks if necessary.

Steve Vai has spent more quality focused time learning and practicing the guitar than probably anyone alive. He said in a recent interview that he likes to take an hour at the end of the night and just play whatever comes to him. He doesn’t worry if it sounds right or wrong.

Vai’s has come up with some crazy licks that may have never seen the light of day without his nightly improv sessions.  The bottom line is to make sure you are having fun or you won’t be playing for long and this whole post will be a moot point.

The Perfect Amount To Practice Guitar Each Day

If you’re like me you’re probably thinking this post is great but you really want someone to actually tell you how long you should practice guitar each day. So, for the like minded here it goes.

At a minimum I would practice at least 30 minutes each and every day. If you practice your guitar with focus for at least 30 minutes you will be amazed how quickly your fingers start to make beautiful sounds.

Sample 30-Minute Guitar Practice Schedule

5 minutes – Warm-up Exercises

10 minutes – Technique (bending, hammer-ons, pull-offs, artificial harmonics, etc – pick one)

10 minutes – Lick or Solo

5 minutes – Improv – Free jam

When broken down into 5 and 10 minute segments you can see how quickly your session will be. My bet is that you will practice a lot longer than 30 minutes. Double the time for each section.



About the author

Craig Kelley

Hi, I'm Craig and I write most of the stuff on this website. Feel free to catch up with me on Twitter. You can learn more about me on my site here and listen to my music here.