Here the first thing would be to clarify what we consider to be “playing the guitar.” Learning an instrument like the guitar takes a lifetime. If you ask any experienced guitarist, they will surely tell you that they are still learning.
But apart from this, and from the point of view of someone starting out, we are going to consider that knowing how to play the guitar is being able to accompany any song with chords and do a basic solo. In any case, it will depend a lot on how much time you spend daily, and what you spend that time on.
If you play about 1 hour a day, a little less per week, a little more during the weekend, and that of that time you spend half “playing songs” and the other half to learn little things about technique, practicing things that don’t sound familiar to you alright, etc.
Let’s also assume that you study or work, so there will be times when you can’t pick up the guitar, and times when you won’t let go.
And let’s assume that you are self-taught, you don’t have a teacher, and you learn with the resources that the internet offers you.
Mastering the chords and changing fluently will take you 3-6 months, depending on how skilled you are. Playing the pentatonic scale, doing ligatures and “more or less improvising” on a blues can take another 6 months. In a year you will succeed in the church of your town. Taking the time well, correctly nuancing the notes and not sounding like a complete beginner will take you at least another year.
By the third year, things will already start “to ring”. These time estimates are for guidance only. In the end, it is all a matter of the time and effort you spend playing (the time you spend searching the internet for the next guitar you will buy does not count).
In any case, my advice is that you enjoy it while you play. Don’t get overwhelmed because you don’t get a single one at lightning speed. Go little by little, have a good time, flip it, put sunglasses on in your room and the amp to full milk, enjoy.
The answer to how long it takes to learn to play the guitar is also different depending on the type of skills you want to develop with the guitar.
Do you want to learn some simple chords so that you can accompany yourself with your guitar when you are singing?
Do you want to play solo guitar in a band?
Is your goal to be a semi-professional or professional musician?
Again it is “YOU” who has the answer.
Factors + Goal = Approximate time
If you put the maximum of the factors that I have mentioned before, these are some general terms of what it takes to learn to play the guitar:
The biggest obstacles to overcome will be:
After a week of daily practice, you will be able to play a basic song. It will not sound perfect, but it will be recognizable.