Guitar Tricks vs. JamPlay: Which is the Best Online Guitar Lesson Service?

Guitar Tricks Vs JamPlay

Today, people do just about everything online. You may have even used the Internet to purchase your guitar, so why not learn to play it online too? Of course, with so many guitar instructional resources out there on the web, both free and paid, which are the best options? Especially between Guitar Tricks and JamPlay?

Both Guitar Tricks and JamPlay are exceptional programs for learning guitar and are thus worth buying, but I’d recommend Guitar Tricks more. The company has a long-standing history, a huge library of guitar songs in all genres, and Guitar Tricks has even won awards for its online lessons.

Of course, you probably want to decide for yourself between these two great online guitar programs, and I don’t blame you. Ahead, I’ll take a deep dive into everything Guitar Tricks and JamPlay have to offer. From the features to the user interface, video production quality, course structure, pricing, and more, you’ll have all the info you could ever want to make a well-informed decision on where to learn guitar online.

Let’s get started.

Guitar Tricks: Overview

First, here’s a bit of history about Guitar Tricks. The company was founded by Jon Broderick, the current Guitar Tricks CEO, in 1998. In more than the two decades since, the staff at Guitar Tricks has instructed more than three million budding guitarists and counting. 

Guitar Tricks has received several prestigious awards for its online guitar lessons service. This includes the gold W3 award, which is issued by the Academy of Interactive & Visual Arts or AIVA. Guitar Tricks was also the recipient of the Davey Awards, taking home the gold again, as well as the Player’s Choice Award from Acoustic Guitar. Yes, that was yet another gold award. 

JamPlay: Overview

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JamPlay is a premier online guitar lesson service that offers thousands of high quality guitar lesson videos and hundreds of notable guitar instructors in every genre. Learn how to play guitar form the comfort of your own home.

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JamPlay is a newer online guitar program that’s gained a lot of acclaim since starting in 2006. Chris Dawson and Jeffery Booth are JamPlay’s co-founders. Dawson used to work in web development before getting involved with JamPlay. Today, he’s in charge of music licensing, logistics, accounting, video editing, studio management, programming, and interfacing for JamPlay.

Booth was a web property developer for a decade. He assists with logistics, shipping, customer support and studio operations at JamPlay’s physical Colorado headquarters. Booth is also involved with the website’s community development, editing, teacher acquisition, and content production. 

According to JamPlay’s website, they have 304,124 followers on Facebook (and counting), more than a million secure transactions, and 527,284 customers, with that number going up all the time. 

Guitar Tricks vs. JamPlay Comparison

With that bit of introduction out of the way, let’s get to the meat of the matter, the comparison between Guitar Tricks and JamPlay. Ahead, I’ll compare and contrast the two online guitar programs, covering all the features that matter most to you as you shop for the right resource for learning guitar online. 

General Features

Here’s one area where Guitar Tricks and JamPlay don’t differ that much. Both primarily offer guitar lessons, although Guitar Tricks also offers a chance to improve your vocals with their lessons. You can choose your instructors, courses, lessons, and from the libraries of songs with both JamPlay and Guitar Tricks

Guitar Tricks boasts a mobile app for Android and iOS users. You can download the app for free on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store so you can take your guitar lessons on the go. 

JamPlay also has an app, and it works for computers, PlayStation 3 and 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox 1, Android phones and tablets, Amazon Kindle Fire and Fire TV, Google Chromecast, and Apple iPod Touch, Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad. Admittedly, I did have to go digging to find out JamPlay even offers an app. They should certainly promote it more heavily on their homepage. 

User Interface

Upon arriving on Guitar Tricks’ website, the whole thing is one giant, scrolling homepage until you reach the bottom of the page where you can sign up for a free or paid subscription as well as download their app.

Once you become a Guitar Tricks subscriber, their interface is a lot neater. You have two menus, one on the top of the page and another on the left side. On the top menu, you’ll see Free Lessons, Songs, Channel, Forum, Account, and Log Out.

Some of those are self-explanatory, but I’ll talk more about the categories that aren’t. Channel gives you access to the Guitar Tricks Channel, which has hundreds of episodes on how to play guitar in acoustic, rock, metal, punk, soul, country, blues, and countless other styles. You can see who the video host is before starting any video. Guitar Tricks also tells you the difficulty of the lessons as represented by guitar picks. Videos with one guitar pick are the easiest and those with five picks are the hardest.

In the Account menu, you can change your username, upgrade your membership (or downgrade it if you ever wanted to), and edit your billing address, email address, username, forum signature, profile picture, and newsletter settings.

The side menus include Getting Started (for those new to Guitar Tricks), Instructors, Progress, Toolbox, and News.

JamPlay keeps things neat as well with several menus for you to choose from. These are Lessons, Teachers, New Courses, Libraries, Free Toolkits, and Membership. New courses are added about every week according to JamPlay, so check back often. The Libraries area will take you to the chord and scale libraries, the JamTrack library, the lick and riff library, progress reports, and training games. 

Video Production Quality

Not only is the video production quality on Guitar Tricks fantastic, but you also get a lot of handy features for making the most of every video lesson. For example, the A/B loop. If you want to hear a riff a few times so you can play along until you get it, or if you want to study the instructor’s finger placement on the frets, the A/B loop is your friend.

With this looping feature, you select which portion of the video replays. To start the A/B Loop, click Loop On/Off. You then set the A marker and the B marker to the precise part of the video you want to be looped. From there, when you’ve gotten a hang of that tricky guitar part, click Loop On/Off again to turn off that loop. Feel free to repeat this throughout the video as necessary, looping to your heart’s content. 

If the instructor’s hands are moving too fast for you to emulate, don’t stress. Guitar Tricks’ slow motion feature lets you set the speed from a tortoise-like 0.5x speed to a regular 0.1x speed. Should you want to go a little faster, you can also boost the speed to 1.5x or 2.0x the normal speed. 

You can also use an assortment of keyboard shortcuts to pause and rewind the video as necessary. Typing X resets the loop starting and end points, and R can toggle your loop. You can also type A and B to make the loop points precisely at the time you’re at in your video. Hitting right lets you jump ahead by 10 seconds and pressing left lets you go back 10 seconds. 

As an FYI, all of Guitar Tricks’ videos start in medium quality by default, but by adjusting the settings, you can go up to 720p, sometimes higher. 

JamPlay offers similar features on its videos. You can create bookmarks to come back to a tough section of the video later. You can also create loops, although these seem a little less intuitive compared to Guitar Tricks’ A/B looping. 

The slow motion feature for JamPlay is known as playback. You can set the video at speeds of 10 percent, 25 percent, 50 percent, 75 percent, or 100 percent. JamPlay also shows you your progress as you continue through their video lessons, which is cool. 

Course Structure

Guitar Tricks uses a Core Learning System to teach guitar to beginners and intermediates alike. At the very beginning, you start with Level One Guitar Fundamentals. This features seven chapters. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Chapter 1: Get to Know Your Guitar – 1. Welcome to the Guitar! 2. The Strings and Tuning 3. How Does the Guitar Work?
  • Chapter 2: Let’s Learn to Play! – 1. Look Mom, Two Hands! 2. Your First Simple Chords: C and G 3. Simple Chords, A Minor and E Major 4. More Simple Chords and Easy Songs 5. Learning and Practice 6. Hot Tips for Better Tone
  • Chapter 3: How to Play Simple Melodies – 1. Simple Melodies on the First 2 Strings 2. Add the Middle 2 Strings 3. Melodies on All 6 Strings 4. Melodies to Read, Play, and Learn
  • Chapter 4: Your 5-Chord Power-Pack! – 1. Learn the Chords E Minor, and D Major 2. Learn the Chords C, G, and Am 3. 2-Chord Songs to Learn and Play 4. Chord-Change Strategies for the 5-Chord Power Pack 5. Songs to Play with Your 5-Chord Power Pack
  • Chapter 5: Must-Know Basic Open Chords – 1. More Must-Know Major and Minor Chords 2. Seamless Chord Changes, Every Time!
  • Chapter 6: How Chords Work Together to Make Songs – 1. Playing Songs in the Key of G. 2. Playing Songs in the Key of C 3. Playing Songs in the Key of D 4. Playing Songs in the Key of A 5. Playing Songs in the Key of E
  • Chapter 7: Intro to Timing and Rhythm – 1. Basic Strumming in 4/4 Time 2. Basic Strumming in ¾ Time 3. You’re a Guitar Player Now!

Next, you move on to Level Two Guitar Fundamentals, which also has seven chapters. Here those are:

  • Chapter 1: All About Power Chords – 1. Intro to Power Chords 2. Playing Songs with Power Chords 3. More Grooves and Songs with Power Chords 4. EVERY Power Chord Has a Name!
  • Chapter 2: Intro To The Major Scale – 1. Get to Know the Major Scale 2. One Little Pattern, ALL Major Scales. Easy! 3. ‘Open’ Major Scales, and Cool Ways to Use Them! 4. FUN Ways to Practice Your Major Scales
  • Chapter 3: A-String Power Chords And The Amazing Magic L – 1. SHAZAM! The Amazing ‘Magic L’ 2. Let’s Name These NEW Power Chords 3. Power Chord Candy! More Magic with the ‘Magic L’ 4. Using Power Chords to Expand Your Sound
  • Chapter 4: What Is A Chord, Really? – 1. The Happy Anatomy of a Major Chord 2. The Sad Anatomy of a Minor Chord 3. Chord Alchemy in Action! 4. More Magic with Chord Alchemy
  • Chapter 5: Getting Started With Barre Chords – 1. Intro to Barre Chords 2. Using Barre Chords in Open-Chord Songs 3. Making Barre Chords with a 5th-String Root 4. Expand Your Open-Chord Songs with Barre Chords 5. Chord Change Strategies for Barre Chords 6. Rock your Barre Chords with the ‘Magic L!’
  • Chapter 6: Intro To the Minor Scale – 1. Get to Know the Minor Scale 2. ‘Open’ Minor Scales