You can benefit from the same weekly class time that you are willing to dedicate as daily practice time. In my experience, most students will be able to play things that make them feel good in 3 to 6 months. This is also the moment when you will realize that it is more difficult than you thought. You're developing calluses, developing hand strength and coordination, and learning many of the fundamentals that will help you learn more advanced techniques.
After the beginner phase, you may start to feel like you're not making as much progress. When you learn guitar for the first time, everything is new, so you learn a lot. Good progress can be seen almost daily. After the first 6 months or so, you're still learning, but now your standards are higher and you're working on more complex techniques.
This is the first plateau you will experience on your trip (it won't be the last). I like to call this phase the “buckling phase”. It's a period of bending down with your nose to the sharpening stone. And finally, it's at this point that you realize that the question of “how long will it take to learn to play the guitar” is quite useless.
If you've been practicing regularly, you've been acquiring new skills and perfecting the way you play. You've been looking forward to it so much that you may not realize how far you've come. So, in short, weekly or bi-weekly classes are the best option for most people. If you want to go on a longer schedule, it's vitally important that you stick to that schedule (and convince me that you will).
But whatever schedule suits you best, you should devote time to regular practice if you want to progress and enjoy your instrument to the fullest. There are no shortcuts: time spent on the instrument is the only path to progress and counts much more than anything you might consider natural talent. Yes, I have a guitar and I practiced once a week for three weeks and I got tired because the guitar didn't sound good every time I played it. Perhaps on a more obvious note, the cost of in-person guitar lessons will also have a significant impact on how often you can or should take them.
Of course, some people are determined to learn even if they don't have much time to practice or take guitar lessons. The online option might be better for children who are shy or who don't like the idea of interacting with a guitar teacher. I have been taking guitar lessons for about a year and a quarter, once a week with 50-minute classes. In the article, I talk about acoustic steel-string guitars, not classical nylon-string guitars.
I think this whole idea of being “good at the guitar” naturally leads to comparing yourself to other guitar players, or some arbitrary standard that may or may not apply to you. That means that after a one-hour guitar lesson, you may need to practice for many hours at home to receive the full benefit of that lesson. In most cases, I recommend that a child start playing guitar at age seven, but be careful to limit the frequency of required lessons. However, it means that online guitar lessons are much more affordable, as well as being constantly accessible.
Founder and Editor of Guitar Chalk · Bobby has developed content related to guitar and music and has worked with several companies, including Guitar World, Sweetwater, Paul Reed Smith and Seymour Duncan. As a general rule, in-person or tutoring classes will average once a week, while online guitar lessons (perhaps in much shorter periods of time) will average once every two days. I have some guitar lesson DVDs and a couple of my favorite guitar players, and that's what I use to keep myself in good shape, PLAYING EVERY DAY and learning as many techniques as I can find. Prospective new students often come to their first lesson with preconceived notions of how long their guitar lesson should last.