8 reasons why playing guitar is good for your mental health

From strengthening your sense of wellbeing to boosting your creativity and confidence

When we polled some of our guitarist friends on what the guitar means to them, and how playing guitar makes them feel, we expected to find a common theme or two, but we didn’t expect the same words to keep surfacing in the majority of answers we received. ‘Therapeutic’, ‘happy’, ‘creative’, ‘calm’... These words came up time and again.

No matter what’s going on, you pick that up and all of a sudden everything feels all right.

Kelly Jones, Stereophonics

We see playing guitar as a form of mindful escapism, a way to create space between an individual and their busy mind. Guitar-playing is beneficial to your overall well-being and mental health in other ways, too, including helping you develop a greater sense of personal achievement.

Paul McManus, Chief Executive for UK music charity Music For All, tells us: “At Music For All, we see the many benefits that playing a musical instrument can have on the individual.

"Being able to play that first song on a guitar is quite a defining moment and people feel a real sense of pride.”

From the first chord you learn, then, the guitar is something that will never leave you.

Kelly Jones from the Stereophonics explains it like this: “I always remember my old man saying to me, ‘If you have a guitar you’ll never be alone’ and I thought that was a very dramatic thing to say, but now that I’m 43 I’d be fucked without that thing.

"Because it’s the one thing you can rely on every day. No matter what’s going on, you pick that up and all of a sudden everything feels all right.”

1. Playing guitar is a form of therapy

The benefits of music therapy are becoming ever more apparent, with schools, charities and health organisations using playing the guitar to manage a person’s stress, enhance their memory, improve their communication and motor skills, and to help them feel more able to cope with life.

Guitarists have long recognised the therapeutic benefits of playing guitar, as Clark Vogeler of The Toadies testifies: “If I'm having troubles, or something has stressed me out, playing music on a guitar resets me to zero, calms me down, and puts me in a place where I'm ready and able to deal with almost anything.”