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Is 30s too old to learn a musical instrument?

Feb 15, 2019
377
One of my biggest regret (well, among many), is that I never followed through on learning an instrument in my life for one reason or another. In high school, I wanted to learn guitar, but the internet wasn't quite as useful back then as it is today, so the tools to teach myself weren't quite as plentiful. Later on in my 20s, I bought a drum set, and actually had a lot of fun trying to learn that...but financial burdens struck and I was forced to move, and had to sell the drum set to save on space and money before I really got past mastering using all 4 of my limbs.

Since then, I've just kinda forgotten about that, and most of my energy has been going into learning Japanese, which I'm still working on. That is making me hesitate taking on trying to learn an instrument again, but I just keep thinking to myself that we only live once, and if I don't think about doing it now, then when.

Then there's the problem that my thread title makes...my age...I'm afraid I'm too past my prime to even retain much, and it's not like I'll ever take it anywhere in my life other than a hobby. I'm still uncertain if I'd wanna go back to trying drums, or give guitar another try, or something else entirely. I guess I just wanted some input, and advice if anyone has been in a similar situation, and what'd did you end up doing.
 

SigSig

Member
Oct 26, 2017
1,489
No age is too old to learn almost everything. The thing that sucks about starting late with learning anything is that you are more aware of your shortcomings vs. when you start out at age 5. I get easily frustrated and it kinda takes away from my enthusiasm. If you don't mind that, go for it.
 

Ahsoka

Member
Oct 20, 2019
1,044
As long as you don’t have a physical or learning disability getting in the way, you can do it at any age. The important part is that you’re at a place in your life where you’re able to commit and put the hours in, because there are no shortcuts.
 

Nostremitus

Member
Nov 15, 2017
4,392
Learning music is literally learning a new language, complete with it's own written language/alphabet.

It's never too late, you just may have to try a bit harder than you would have earlier in life.

Imagine those who go blind in their 40s or 50s who have to learn braille.
 

Ubik

Member
Nov 13, 2018
651
Canada
Nah, I bought a guitar when I was 29 and picked up the basics pretty quick. After that it's just practice and putting the time in that was/is the struggle.
 

Shadybiz

Member
Oct 27, 2017
5,518
Of course not. The amount of learning resources out there are numerous, so this is a great time to learn.

You probably won't get a call from Metallica asking you to be their back-up, but that's no reason not to give it a shot if it's something you enjoy doing.
 

MrCibb

Member
Dec 12, 2018
978
UK
I'm only a few years younger and learnt to play the ukulele to surprise my girlfriend. Just need to find the time and be consistent with practicing. You're a sponge when you're young, but the brain is always able to learn and memorize new things, that never stops. Until you're start to lose your marbles ofc, but that's miles away.
 

MrHedin

Member
Dec 7, 2018
519
Definitely not too old. The caveat being is do you have enough free time to really dedicate to practicing to get to a level you are happy with? For me, unfortunately, that answer was no but for you it might fit in nicely.
 

Lant_War

The Fallen
Jul 14, 2018
11,299
It's absolutely not. There's very few things better than learning an instrument and letting yourself flow.
 

Ahsoka

Member
Oct 20, 2019
1,044
Of course not. The amount of learning resources out there are numerous, so this is a great time to learn.
Not only that, but there’s never been a wider selection of instruments at more price points.

When I was a teenager, a Squier guitar wasn’t very good. Really inconsistent pickup quality, hard to keep them in tune, etc.

These days, though, even the cheapest Squiers are way better than those ones from the 90s, but then they also have Squiers like the Classic Vibe line, which are basically indistinguishable from the Mexican Fender stuff when it comes to quality.
 
OP
OP
Feb 15, 2019
377
Not only that, but there’s never been a wider selection of instruments at more price points.

When I was a teenager, a Squier guitar wasn’t very good. Really inconsistent pickup quality, hard to keep them in tune, etc.

These days, though, even the cheapest Squiers are way better than those ones from the 90s, but then they also have Squiers like the Classic Vibe line, which are basically indistinguishable from the Mexican Fender stuff when it comes to quality.
That's another hurdle for me, there's almost too much out there. I don't even know where to begin with what would be worth buying. I don't wanna go insanely expensive if I don't really end up sticking with it, but I also don't want a cheap piece of junk that's gonna fall apart. Referring mainly to guitar in this case. I have no idea what I'd get if I go that route.
 

Ahsoka

Member
Oct 20, 2019
1,044
That's another hurdle for me, there's almost too much out there. I don't even know where to begin with what would be worth buying. I don't wanna go insanely expensive if I don't really end up sticking with it, but I also don't want a cheap piece of junk that's gonna fall apart. Referring mainly to guitar in this case. I have no idea what I'd get if I go that route.
You don’t need to spend more than like $350 if unless you’re in a band.

And if you can afford something in the $350 range, don’t go below that.

I have a spare guitar that’s a $65 Monoprice Strat copy, and it really is a good instrument. I play it all the time, even though I have a Mexican Strat too.

But the real issue you run into with a cheap guitar, which matters way more than materials or parts, is quality control. They use factories that aren’t as good for the really cheap stuff, so you might get a fine instrument, but it might not be fine out of the box.

With that Monoprice guitar, I had to file the sides of a few sharp frets to start. Then it was impossible to get the intonation right without blocking the tremolo, taking the neck off to put a little wood between the neck and body to extend the length, and remove the spring from the saddle on the low-E string. But it plays great, it stays in tune, and the intonation is spot-on. Just took some work.
 

Pellaidh

Member
Oct 26, 2017
1,010
This seems to get asked all the time in internet music forums, and the answer is always the same: it's never too late, especially if you're just going to do it as a hobby. I've even seen stories of people aged 60 and up picking it up and making progress.

I started with piano in my mid twenties (so not that much younger), and don't regret it at all. If anything, being more mature makes it much easier to actually practice without being forced to. And it doesn't even have to take up that much time. As long as you are consistent, even 30 minutes of practice per day is plenty of time when starting out.
 

Shadybiz

Member
Oct 27, 2017
5,518
Not only that, but there’s never been a wider selection of instruments at more price points.

When I was a teenager, a Squier guitar wasn’t very good. Really inconsistent pickup quality, hard to keep them in tune, etc.

These days, though, even the cheapest Squiers are way better than those ones from the 90s, but then they also have Squiers like the Classic Vibe line, which are basically indistinguishable from the Mexican Fender stuff when it comes to quality.
That's another hurdle for me, there's almost too much out there. I don't even know where to begin with what would be worth buying. I don't wanna go insanely expensive if I don't really end up sticking with it, but I also don't want a cheap piece of junk that's gonna fall apart. Referring mainly to guitar in this case. I have no idea what I'd get if I go that route.
I noodle around on an Ibanez that was I think about $250. Ahsoka is right though; a lot of the Squiers these days are perfectly fine. I would recommend getting whatever you get "set up" by your local music shop though. They'll set it to the right intonation, and make the strings easier to fret. When I had mine set up, it was a night and day difference as far as ease of fretting, and that might be an extra $50 or so; you'll get a lot more enjoyment out of it.

Also for the guitar, I would not recommend getting one with a Floyd Rose tremolo. They are cool and keep their tuning really well, but as a beginner, it will be very frustrating to deal with, especially if you plan on playing Rocksmith or something like that. Go with a fixed bridge and save yourself a headache.
 
Last edited:

Biske

Member
Nov 11, 2017
2,993
No.

God no.

People live for 100+ years why the fuck do we assume your life is over and useless if you havent done something by 30?
 
Jul 18, 2018
2,312
THERE IS NO AGE LIMIT FOR LEARNING ANYTHING

Time + dedication is the main problem. So many people as they get older don't have the time to dedicate in learning something
 

Stat

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,480
Yes, its too late.

There's a reason why you've never heard of 30 year old child prodigies in music.

It's cause 30 years old is too old to be a child and therefore would be incorrect semantically.
 

CrunchyB

Member
Oct 29, 2017
322
I started playing guitar at about 28 years old. The first few weeks make you wonder how people can get music out of that hunk of wood and metal, but after that I got some solid progress. I played maybe 1-2 hours every other day, but always tried to get some minutes in every day. Mostly by following justinguitar.com which I thought was really helpful. After about half a year I could play a couple of intermediate songs reasonably well and could pick up new entry-level songs without too much effort.

My one piece of advice is: make sure you are having fun. Get the the instrument you want to play, then play songs you like.
Unless it's a sitar, don't get a sitar.

Keeping up with playing is the hardest part, I let things slip the last 3 years, too busy with work,too tired to play at night. I should play more.
 

Nude_Tayne

Member
Jan 8, 2018
1,680
earth
I taught myself drums at around 34. I got pretty damn good, although I'd had a lot of prior musical experience, was classically trained as a kid on other instruments and knew 'how to practice', and was really passionate about it because I'd known in my bones for decades that I would love playing the drums, but just never got around to it.

Just remember- a good instructor is always helpful no matter what, and playing a lot exercises is better for improvement than always just dicking around.
 

Croc Man

Member
Oct 27, 2017
759
Harmonicas are relatively cheap and easy to play simple songs and do things like make train noises.

Turns out they're pretty hard to teach yourself beyond that though, if anyone has any tips, good videos etc it'll be appreciated (I know LearnTheHarmonica.com).
 

JohnsonUT

Member
Oct 27, 2017
191
I started learning Piano at around 30 and guitar at around 34. I am not great, but it is the ultimate stress reliever. The hardest thing is finding a period of time to practice. But, even 5-10 minutes on the busy days helps and makes me a tiny bit better.
 

Dreamwriter

Member
Oct 27, 2017
3,844
For sure, I'm 46 and I'm learning guitar. Like anything else, it takes patience, practice, and focus. Well, I guess there is a possible age-related limitation, some people might have arthritis in their hands or something - that's when you're too old to learn an instrument :)

For guitar, check out Ubisoft's "Rocksmith" game, it does an amazing job teaching you to play the guitar. It's kinda like an old rhythm game, but you are playing a real guitar (comes with a special 1/4" guitar to USB cable), and has additional minigames to teach the strings, chords, etc.
 

Hale-XF11

Member
Dec 8, 2017
17
Started learning how to play the ukulele at age 40 using nothing but free online tutorials and videos. Practiced enthusiastically nearly every day for 3 years and before I knew it I was playing live solo gigs. Strumming and finger picking while singing all comes very natural to me now. It's never too late!
 

Sankt Ra

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,877
No.. Just do it.gif

Apparently the figure of authority regarding the Swedish language is a women who learned the language at age 75.
 
OP
OP
Feb 15, 2019
377
I went to a music shop a little while after I made this thread, to just kinda window shop. I can't afford to really buy anything til my next payday, but I wanted to look at prices. While I was there, I fell in love with a Les Paul style I saw there for $150, and I really wanted to get it. It was used, but still looked great.

While I was there, I pulled up the store's website, and it said they did layaway. Yet all the guys that worked there told me they didn't do layaway -_- Tried showing them their website, but they just acted oblivious. Guess I'll just wait til Friday and hope they still have it.
 

SFenton

Member
Nov 10, 2017
234
You’re on a video game forum! Let me steer you to Rocksmith. It came out in 2011, has gotten weekly DLC since, and most content + Rocksmith 2014 is on sale in the Steam sale right now. I learned solely through that, and you can even start playing today without the official cable- though I do recommend picking that up.

Here’s an example: https://youtu.be/w0QUNiMm34Q
 

krazen

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,597
Gentrified Brooklyn
It’s just a matter of having time and dedication.
Yup.

When your young you have HOURS, when you're older...time is much more of a premium.

The thing is the basics needed to learn an instrument; muscle memory, actual brain memory, learning basic theory, etc its not as if there's this crazy drop when you're older. The basics needed,: your hearing...the nuanced (not pure speed/strength/reflex) maneuverability isn't a huge difference between when you're young vs older.

The ability to practice 12 hours a day tho? Absolutely. But if you can etch out time (remember, practicing daily for even a little a bit > practicing a shitload in bulk) you can get pretty good in not too much time. You aren't going to become a concert player, but play in a band/make your own music? Easily.
 

KojiKnight

Member
Oct 25, 2017
9,464
I started learning keyboard recently. In fact, after a few lessons to get the basics down, I stopped them and just started using/practicing/memorizing sheet music. I'm sure mastering music theory would give me greater flexibility, but I only want to be able to do a few songs I like so that worked for me.
 

blue_whale

Member
Nov 1, 2017
55
I think the problem in general with hobbies when you are older is the lack of time. I think learning Japanese and learning a musical instrument will be a big commitment
 

GoutPatrol

Member
Oct 30, 2017
590
My dad started learning piano in his 60s. 10 years later...he still isn't good, but he keeps going because it makes him happy. I always wanted to record him doing it, because he turns any piece into an Eno-esque ambient thing. Listening to him practice brings me great peace.