I've been playing guitar for many years and I used and reviewed a lot of different guitar courses and online lessons. On this page I listed the best options I found. These professional websites have thousands of lessons from dozens of amazing teachers. What I was able to learn was insane and well worth the price. If you don't have the cash for expensive private tuition, I highly recommend checking them out:
GuitarTricks.com has been around since the late 90's, and has grown its comprehensive lesson library to over 11,000 lessons, with top-notch instructors from all over the world. You can jump right into playing your favorite songs by artists like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Eagles and tons of other popular artist.
JamPlay has not been around as long as Guitar Tricks, it is often labeled as a second best site for online guitar lessons. However, in many ways both sites are similar, it all comes down to personal taste. The video lessons on JamPlay are great, most provide close-ups at multiple angles. This is a huge plus and one of the best things about the site.
"If you don't know the blues there's no point in picking up the guitar and playing rock and roll" (Keith Richards). Blues master Albert Collins brought a lot of style to the blues scene. This lesson breaks down Albert's style for you to learn. Go to the video
GuitarTricks.com has been around since the late 90's, at 19.95 a month they have a 14 day free trial and 60 day money back guarantee. Really not bad when you think about it. Considering how much personal lessons cost, and how many people love this site? Right away it's a great deal, but you can find these basic points in all reviews, let's dig a little deeper. Disclaimer: if you buy something by using the links on this page, in some case my site will get a small commission (without you pay a cent more than you would normally). This allows me to pay server bills and keep FaChords Guitar Software 100% free for everyone. I have tested personally GuitarTricks. I know what works, give them a try, you'll learn a lot!
My first time at Guitar Tricks
Whenever I first look at a music site, whether for guitar, bass, ukulele, synth, or whatever, I first check out the forum. A forum is a great place to get to know a website in a short time. You can immediately see if a lot of folks use the site, if they are happy, and if they seem to be advancing in their musical abilities. On the GuitarTricks forum there are thousands of threads and posts all very up to date and on numerous subjects. The discussions are not just about techniques and lessons, but songwriting, music theory, recording, music history, and much more. That to me is the sign of a great site. Music forums are surprisingly one of the best places I have learned to enhance my guitar and musical knowledge. The first time I discovered the GuitarTricks forum, I was lost reading threads for hours, I almost forgot to take some lessons! They have both open community discussions and subscriber only sections, that way you will not feel left out before getting a paid membership.
After the forum I finally jumped over to the lessons page. Here they have courses for beginners, intermediate, and advanced players. It is clear if you have never played guitar you can get started right away on this site. They start with the basic explanations of tuning and holding positions and build into various styles of playing and picking. As usual they work on country and blues first as these are often the easiest for a beginning student. They make it very easy to jump ahead past the basics and getting into the meat and bones of playing different styles. Admittedly this isn't always the best thing, as the student may miss important principles in the beginning. However, I think it is safe to say we are all guilty of jumping ahead on our quest to learn guitar. If you find something that you get stuck on, you can always go back and figure out what you missed. GuitarTricks also allows you to download these lessons, which is great if you have occasional internet or wireless loss. Very few online guitar sites allow you to download their lessons.
From beginner to advanced lessons
If you find you are a little more experienced, you can always navigate to more advanced lessons. I found that in both beginner and experienced lessons there were some things I was familiar with, and some I weren't. As I mentioned in the beginning I have quite the multi-instrumentalist history so this is common for me. Of course for a complete beginner I would suggest following all lessons in order, and in fact re-watching lessons. GuitarTricks makes it easy to do both!
Video quality: professional with multi-resolution
The videos for the lessons I tried out all had great pictures, and you can pick between low, medium, and high resolution. They are clearly recorded in a proper and professional studio. They do their best to show you tabs on the side to get a better idea of what the instructor is playing. There also doesn't seem to be as many "far-away" shots during the lessons. A "far-away" shot is one of my personal pet-peeves on instructional sites. When learning an instrument like guitar it is essential to have close ups of the fingers, along with slow playing that way you can see where your fingers go. It annoys me to no end when a site zooms out to show the instructor jamming, not letting me know what their fingers are doing! Fortunately, GuitarTricks is not guilty of this too often, they slip up a few times but make up for it by adding tabs on the side so you know what you are missing.
Another great aspect of this site happens to be the song section. The songs can be sorted by style, artist, instructor, difficulty, popularity, and of course genre. They have just about every genre you can imagine, common ones like rockabilly, rock, pop and obscure genres like world music and classical. They even have my personal favorite styles of metal and jazz. If they don't happen to have a song you want? Well there is a section in the subscriber's forum to request new songs. At the time of this article they had over 600 songs to chose from!
Of course any great site for online guitar lessons is going to have a great toolbox at your disposal. GuitarTricks has a a bunch of guitar learning software: tuner, chord finder, scale finder, metronome, a fretboard trainer, and best of all a jam station. This provides numerous jams and backing tracks in a variety of styles, keys, and genres. This is one of my favorite tools, as a songwriter this is not only how I build my playing skills, but how I get new ideas for songs I write. I turn on a backing track and play along with whatever my creativity wants that day. Much of my composing is done at home alone, I do not always have access to a band, and having the jam station works just like having your own band! They even have the sheet music below each jam which is very helpful. The jam station is great to use if you are a creative musician looking for some inspiration.
A huge library with 11.000 video lessons
GuitarTricks also allows you to track your progress and favorite lessons and wow are there plenty of lessons to choose from! Of course I didn't count them all, but they claim to have over 11,000 lessons on their website alone. Which means it will take quite some time to get through them all. Of course they do not have has many rockabilly and surf songs as I would have liked, but more can always be added. Besides it is best to force yourself as a student to attempt genres that are not that familiar with. Years ago I never cared much for rockabilly guitar playing, but after a few lessons I learned to appreciate it as much as any other genre.
Is GuitarTricks only for beginners?
Whether I picked up my acoustic or electric guitar, I had no problem finding many great lessons and songs on the GuitarTricks website. Definitely one of the easiest way to learn guitar. I have seen some writers claim that GuitarTricks provides mostly online guitar lessons for beginners, but I can't quite make that claim myself. Even if a song or lesson is easy to play, if I didn't know it before, well I don't consider it beginner! As a guitarist would I recommend this site?Absolutely. It has a plethora of guitar lessons for beginners to advanced it has hours of fun when your guitar practice is over. As I mentioned above the forum alone is a great place to find information and meet other players. As a multi-instrumentalist would I subscribe to this site? Absolutely. I only wish there were other great sites like GuitarTricks dedicated to the myriad of other musical instruments out there!
JamPlay has not been around as long as Guitar Tricks, it is often labeled as a second best site for online guitar lessons. However, in many ways both sites are similar, it all comes down to personal taste. JamPlay is $19.95 a month, with 7-day money back guarantee. It really should only take a few days to know whether you like a lesson site or not. It is always best to start a new website trial on a weekend or a point where you will have some time off. After all, if you are serious about learning guitar, you need to make sure all your money is well spent.
Voices from Jamplay Forum
As usual the first place I head is to the forum, JamPlay doesn't have as much activity as GuitarTricks. There are recent responses and some similar threads to GuitarTricks, however it is clear their focus is not on a forum. Which for some students this may not be a big deal, perhaps I am just a more social guitar player! All in all, if you have questions about lessons, songwriting, general guitar points, even promoting your own band, the forum of JamPlay will certainly suit your needs.
Maybe not the best for absolute beginners
While JamPlay has its share of beginner lessons, it does seem to be a little more geared towards intermediate and advanced players. This is really not such a bad thing, many players out there have gone over some of the basics before and sometimes need a nudge into something a little more challenging. This site is certainly not lacking on challenging lessons. They show you all the basics if necessary, but you quickly move into more complicated lessons.
Live lessons is a cool and unique feature
On their homepage they have a list of live lessons, and advertisements for more upcoming live lessons. What caught my eye immediately were the live lessons titled "Bluegrass Basics" and "Melodic Magic" these lessons sounded pretty cool and they give a time when they will start so you can mark it in your schedule. Below Live lessons they also have a news and updates section on some of the more specific lessons to come. I noticed they had many upcoming tutorials on specific Beatles guitar solos, and I just might be the biggest Beatles fan ever... so I have plans to check them out in the future! Unfortunately, they do not allow you to download lessons on this site, streaming is the only option.
Jamplay software tools
Diving a little deeper into the site we find a tool section that has much of the same items such as a chord library, scale finder, metronome, and the usual tools for guitar players. In this same tools section JamPlay also has music theory quizzes and games. Most musicians have trouble with music theory so it is a great attempt to put some fun into the learning process. Of course points are kept track of so you can see where you stand with other players.
Get more badges as you can (practice practice and practice)
Along with the points for the games they keep track of your past lessons; JamPlay has aa badge and point system for each lesson completed. Apparently the JamPlay points will be used in the future for special access and privileges. They even have a report to keep track of all lessons, playlists, and progress. If you are the type who likes keeping track of scores and achievements, then JamPlay provides you plenty of opportunities during your online courses. They even offer a referral service of one free month for every other person you get to sign up, which is a great deal!
Video quality: professional and multi-angles
The video lessons on JamPlay are great, most provide close-ups at multiple angles. This is a huge plus and one of the best things about the site. There are times where you just can't tell where the instructors fingers are with online video lessons, but not on JamPlay. The video lessons are professional, with a lot of video editing, and a variety of angles.
Want to learn Hawaiian, Flamenco, Gospel, Celtic, Rock, Jazz, Country?
The real treat on this site happens to be when you get into the intermediate and more advanced lessons. I always love unique styles, and they have lessons for genres like Hawaiian slack key, Flamenco Celtic, Gospel, and of course the usual genres you see on most other sites. I decided to immediately try out some reggae lessons, and even learned a few new tricks. Variety is the spice of life and this site clearly has a lot to choose from. As you advance further into lessons they phase into specific songs. Of course these songs are mostly all rock, pop, country, and metal, but they seem to have the most popular ones that most students ask for. And like GuitarTricks you can request future songs.
Learn how to write your song (mostly acoustic)
The final phase of advanced JamPlay lessons focuses on songwriting, using all the skills you have learned. Unfortunately, there are way more acoustic songwriting lessons and very few electric-centric pieces. It would be great if they had more of a balance that way electric guitarists would get the same push to create their own music. When I personally give lessons I focus on songwriting, for any instrument, I feel it provides more insight into music, rather than just being able to replicate another song by an artist. It would be great to see them increase this section of their lessons, but nevertheless they have more than enough lessons to get you started on songwriting.
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