I feel that I'm already past the 'critical point' for learning guitar. My friend started playing guitar when he was ten - and I felt like the nerves in his left hand were much more developed. My left hand just simply isn't as dextrous as my right hand, and I find quickly switching notes on the fretboard and changing chords especially difficult. Since I'm at an age where I'm already past my 'growth period', I'm not sure if I would ever be as good as my friend who started playing since he was ten - since the nerves in my left hand just aren't as developed. Is this the case, or is it just a matter of practice?
It's quite common that people are worried about starting an instrument because they think they are too old. I thought I was too old to learn guitar at 15 as lots of my friends were amazing by then. A lot of musicians start young but remember: They have more free time, Parents see it a worthy activity, etc. It's not because of a 'critical point'. Additionally, nerves in your hand are not the cause for underdeveloped dexterity, if you break your writing hand you will quickly improve in using your other hand because you use it more.
The most important thing to have for learning is not youth, its a burning desire to want it. You need the determination to get through difficult times when learning. On your first instrument this is particularly the case as not only do you need to learn the instrument but you need to dramatically improve your musical understanding also (rhythm, melodies, chords, etc). It can be many hours, days, even weeks before you can play something you are happy with. Then the same again for every big step you take in learning. So it really boils down to, how much do you want it?
After playing guitar for a couple of years I taught a friend the basics, within a year or two he was better than me hands down. But he wanted it more, and practised more.
One final note, don't buy cheap gear, as bad sounding badly set-up instruments can put you off. Second hand market is good for this, if you give up you can sell for similar prices. Guitars can easily half in value from new to second hand (I found out the hard way).
To become a virtuouso there's likely a due date somewhere along the line. At a certain age there will be enough ailments to effectively stop you from learning.
Apart from that it will most likely be worth it, and that goes even if you won't be able to match your friend's abilities. It's not a race, and to me a lot of the best stuff doesn't come from the people with the best chops.
I would say there's never been a better time to learn guitar. There are tons of resources available online including instructional videos from YouTube. I am over 45 and have only been learning for six months. With less than an hour of practice a day (and even missing a few days), its definitely been interesting as there is always tons of stuff to learn.
Currently I am learning chords, picking techniques, how to maintain a guitar (change strings, tune and such) and building up my finger strength,. I realize that my technique is not the greatest and I should probably hire a teacher. I can honestly say that I can't play any real songs yet. But like anything worth doing, playing guitar is something that is worth doing well. I plan to stick with it for the rest of my life.
Don't hesitate to learn just because of your age. I don't have any musical training in my life although I did teach myself some very basic piano playing. I bought a fairly cheap (sub $100) Epiphone Les Paul Jr. as my primary practice instrument and it has been great to learn on.
I am nearing 40 and just started playing the guitar. I was a fan of music but never wanted to try it out myself.
The liking to experiment began after purchasing a guitar for my son who is in his primary level. Afterwards, I feel like it change my lifestyle and the way I look at things.
Having said, that I believe, that there is not any age limit to learn something, specially a marvelous thing like playing a guitar. It's a privilege to posses such a talent, though I still have not develop that.
I believe, I should be able to play it fluently if I stay focus and keep on practicing it on daily basis which is I am doing right now.
What does "too old" mean in the context of picking up a guitar? Are you afraid it will leave you for a younger player?
Maybe it will. My violin most certainly did that a few times already.
At any rate, I consider it more important having a contingency plan for being alive than having one for being dead. Because the latter case tends to have others take care of it anyway.
Learning the guitar is not the worst contingency plan for making more of your life.
Even if you feel frustrated with your playing now, you can always come back to it. I started playing the guitar in my late teens and could never really get into it, even though I had some solid experience with woodwinds and could already read music. I recently picked it up again in my forties, and I’m already better than I used to be. The main difference is that this time around, I’m more passionate about it, and I play all the time.
I agree with many of the above comments. There is no 'critical point' for learning guitar. You may be too old to make it as a member of a band like One Direction but that has nothing to do with the pleasure or learning to play an instrument. I wrote a short article on this here: http://stuartbahn.com/have-i-left-it-too-late/