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
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
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 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 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
Here’s one area where
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.
Upon arriving on
Once you become a
Some of those are self-explanatory, but I’ll talk more about the categories that aren’t. Channel gives you access to the
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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, and Cool Ways to Use Them 3. One Little Pattern, ALL Natural Minor Scales. It’s Easy! 4. Fun Ways to Practice Your Minor Scales
- Chapter 7: Intro To Reading Music – 1. How Notes Are Revealed in Musical Notation 2. How Timing Is Revealed in Musical Notation 3. Musical Notation in Action! Let’s Play a Melody! 4. Grand Finale! Read Melodies, Add Harmonies!
You’re then free to branch off as you see fit, into Level One and Level Two Blues Style, Level One and Level Two Country Style, Level One and Level Two Rock Style, or Level One and Level Two Acoustic Style.
JamPlay categorizes its lessons into five categories: For Beginners, Learn Genres, Refine Skills, Learn Songs, and Master Classes.
The For Beginners category includes 21 courses and 654 lessons. These are designed for new guitar players looking to build a foundation on either electric guitar, acoustic guitar, or even both. In the Learn Genres category, you get 128 courses and 3,174 lessons. These lessons encompass 20 different genres, among them R&B, metal, funk, gospel, fingerstyle, country, blues, and rock.
In the Refine Skills category, you’ll learn to fill in any remaining gaps in your guitar playing. You have your pick of 54 courses and 1,035 lessons in this category. In Learn Songs, you’ll discover how to play all your favorite tunes. The tabs here are interactive, and you get more than 450 songs to pick from.
If you’re interested, the Master Classes for becoming a pro guitar player include 49 courses and 915 lessons from real master guitarists who have made playing and recording music their career.
Skill Level and Difficulty Progression
Still, with 21 courses and over 600 lessons, the material is comprehensive. I will note that the For Beginners category has the least amount of courses though. In Learn Genres, it’s 128 whopping courses, in Refine Skills, you get 54 courses, and in Master Classes, 49 courses. Thus, compared to later lessons, beginner guitarists might feel like they got a smidge short-changed at the beginning.
Guitar Tricks has two tracks for beginners to ensure you’ve really gotten the basics down before you start playing different musical genres. As you look at the above section, the Level One Guitar Fundamentals cover chords, timing, and melodies. In Level Two Guitar Fundamentals, you build upon what you’ve learned while adding power chords and minor and major chords.
For example, in Level One Rock Style, here are the chapters and lessons:
- Chapter 1: Rock Chords: Open, Barre, and Power – 1. Open Chords Rock! 2. Rock Your Barre Chords 3. Power Chord Essentials 4. Add a Finger to Your Open Chords 5. Rock Chords: Easy Practice Exercises
- Chapter 2: Rock Rhythm: The Power of Rock – 1. Subdivisions: Splitting Up the Beat 2. Anticipations in Rock 3. Strumming in Rock 4. Arpeggiation in Rock 5. Rhythm Embellishments: Add Some Spice
- Chapter 3: Rock Soloing 101 – 1. Major & Minor Scales in Rock 2. Pentatonic Scales in Rock 3. Hammer-Ons & Pull-Offs in Rock 4. Bending & Vibrato in Rock 5. Intervals in Rock 6. Rock Soloing: Put It All Together
- Chapter 4: Riffs, Licks, and Themes – 1. Rock Riffs. 2. What’s the Difference? 3. Riff Practice Tune 1 4. Riff Practice Tune 2 5. Easy Riff Exercises
- Chapter 5: Amps and Effects: Rock Your Tune – 1. Amps: The Foundation of Tone 2. Gain Effects: Add Some Distortion 3. Dynamic Effects: Volume, But Much More 4. Modulation Effects: Cycle and Sweep 5. Delay Effects: The Tail 6. Wah Pedal: Talking Guitar 7. Combining Your Pedals: The Pedal Chain
- Chapter 6: Born From the Blues – 1. Origins: Rock ‘n’ Roll 50s 2. Blues Rock: The 60s and 70s 3. The 80s: High Gain Rock 4. Grunge Rock: The 90s 5. Post Millennium Rock: The 2000s
As you can see, what you’re learning in this first lesson plan is fitted to the skills and abilities you picked up in the Level One Guitar Fundamentals. The same is true in the Level Two Rock Style:
- Chapter 1: Rockin’ Chords – 1. Rock Strumming: Take It Up a Notch! 2. Palm Muting: Improve Your Right Hand 3. Rock Rhythm: Chords and Voicings 4. Rock Rhythm: Key Elements
- Chapter 2: Lead Secrets Revealed! – 1. Meat and Potatoes: Standard Rock Licks 2. More On Intervals: Flavor Your Leads 3. Chord Tones: Expand Your Soloing 4. Tools of Emotion: Tried & True Techniques 5. Speaking With Notes: Space and Phrasing
- Chapter 3: More Rock Rhythm! – 1. Understanding the Building Blocks 2. Harmonic Variations: Substitutions 3. Chord Extensions in Rock 4. Simplify: Strip Down Your Chords 5. How to Play Frills 6. Hendrix Style Embellishments
- Chapter 4: More Advanced Rock Techniques – 1. Arpeggios As Licks 2. Rock Lead Sequences 3. Boost Your Rock Bending! 4. Introduction to Pinch Harmonica 5. Flash Licks: Shortcuts to Speed! 6. Exotic Note Choices 7. Playing All Over the Neck
- Chapter 5: Playing Like The Masters – 1. Southern Rock 2. Punk Rock 3. Heavy Metal 4. Guitars from Outer Space 5. Mix and Match Styles
- Chapter 6: Putting it All Together – 1. Developing a Solid Rhythmic Feel 2. Different Feels in Rock 3. Layering Guitar Parts 4. Making Good Decisions
Number of Video Lessons
This is one category in which JamPlay wins hands-down. They have hundreds, in some cases thousands of video lessons. Even if you compared the free lessons plus the paid ones offered by
Is quality better than quantity here? That’s a decision only you can make.
What kinds of songs are you in the mood to learn?
Guitar Tricks showcases all their songs here. I’ve selected some in each genre for your perusal, but feel free to check out that list for the rest of the tunes you can learn on guitar.
- The Animals’ “The House of the Rising Sun”
- Nirvana’s “Polly”
- Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising”
- Pearl Jam’s “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town”
- Blues Traveler’s “Hook”
- Plain White T’s “Hey There Delilah”
- The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army”
- Boston’s “More Than a Feeling”
- Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water”
- R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion”
- Poison’s “Every Rose Has Its Thorns”
- Third Eye Blind’s “Semi-Charmed Life”
- Imagine Dragons’ “Thunder”
- John Legend’s “All of Me”
- Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect”
In funk and soul:
- Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay”
- Muddy Waters’ “Please Don’t Go”
- Eric Clapton’s “Sweet Home Chicago”
- B. B. King’s “The Thrill Is Gone”
- Gary Moore’s “Still Got the Blues”
- Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”
- Marty Robbins’ “El Paso”
- The Dixie Chicks’ “Wide Open Spaces”
- John Prine’s “Speed of the Sound of Loneliness”
- Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Achy Breaky Heart”
- Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues”
JamPlay offers a full list of their songs here. Like with
- The Runaways’ “Cherry Bomb”
- Good Charlotte’s “Walk Away (Maybe)”
- Johann Pachelbel’s “Canon in D”
- Willie Nelson’s “Funny How Time Slips Away”
- Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried”
- Karen Staley’s “Fearless”
- Johnny Cash’s “I’ve Been Everywhere”
- Hank Williams Sr.’s “Your Cheatin’ Heart”
- The Dixie Chicks’ “Goodbye Earl”
- Alan Jackson’s “It’s Five O’clock Somewhere”
- Steve Eulberg’s “Do Lord”
- Mark Kroos’ “Amazing Grace”
- Charles H. Gabriel’s “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”
- ZZ Top’s “Jesus Just Left Chicago”
- Reverend Gary Davis’ “Death Don’t Have No Mercy”
- Little Hat Jones’s “Bye Bye Baby Blues”
- Three Days Grace’s “Home”
- Metallica’s “Blackened”
- Slipknot’s “(sic)”
- Megadeth’s “Trust”
- Chevelle’s “The Red”
- Pantera’s “Walk”
- GWAR’s “Bring Back the Bomb”
- Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades”
- Avenged Sevenfold’s “Beast and the Harlot”
- Dream Theater’s “Pull Me Under”
- Lamb of God’s “Laid to Rest”
- Disturbed’s “Down with the Sickness”
- Nick Amodeo’s “Forked Deer”
- Jerry Reed’s “The Claw”
- Kerry Mills’ “Red Wing”
- Hawkeye Herman’s “Give Me a Grandma Every Time”
- Bread’s “Everything I Own”
- The Beatles’ “Hey Jude”
- John Mayer’s “Daughters”
- Living Color’s “Cult of Personality”
- Collective Soul’s “The World I Know”
- Goo Goo Dolls’ “Iris”
- Nirvana’s “Lithium”
- Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide”
- Cheap Trick’s “So Good to See You”
- Eve 6’s “Here’s to the Night”
- Billy Idol’s “White Wedding”
No matter which genre of music interests you most, from jazz to pop, rock to metal, blues to country, you can find your genre of choice in
I’d have to give this category to
One of the main factors that you need to consider when choosing between
Since your ability to learn guitar ultimately relies on the instructors teaching the course, it’s important to have a large selection of good instructors who specialize in teaching the types of music you want to play.
I will admit that JamPlay has the name recognition when it comes to instructors, but don’t sleep on those who can teach you to play guitar through
- Lisa McCormick – rock, country, and acoustic
- Ben Lindholm – funk, rock and metal
- Neal Walter – metal, blues, and rock
- Michael Elsner – metal, acoustic, and rock
- Henrik Linde – country, surf, and rock
- Joel Van Dijk – rock and funk
- Christopher Schlegel – rock, classical, and blues
- Lee Wanner – funk, metal, and rock
- J. D. Jarrell – bluegrass and country
- Geoff Earley – funk and rock
- Sharon Aguilar – country, funk, and rock
- Lawrence Katz – world music, metal, and rock
- Caren Armstrong – rock, country, and acoustic
- Ben Graves – country and rock
- Mike Olekshy – acoustic, country, and rock
- Joe Delia – rock
- Jinx Jones – blues and rockabilly
- Dave Celentano – acoustic, blues, and rock
- Ned Luberecki – country
- Kenny Echizen – funk
- Nick Nellie – rock
- Ben Helson – bluegrass
- Doug Fearman – jazz, rock, and blues
- Tom Finch – acoustic, blues, and rock
- Eric Barnett – rock and metal
- Douglas Showalter – country, acoustic, and rock
- Andy Gurley – blues, rock, and country
- Ralph Spight – rock
- Prashant Aswani – rock and metal
- Dale Turner – acoustic
- Anders Mouridsen – country, blues, and rock
- Michael Eisenstein – rock
JamPlay has 59 electric guitar teachers and 49 acoustic ones. I’ll present a selection of each, first the electric guitar teachers:
- Tony Macalpine
- Guthrie Trapp
- Dave Weiner (known for playing with Steve Vai)
- Emil Werstler
- Chris Liepe
- Dave Davidson
- Ande James
- Prashant Aswani
- Joel Kosche (from Collective Soul)
- Robb Flynn (from Machine Head)
- Mike Keaneally
- Mike Mushock (from Staind)
- Tosin Abasi (from Animals as Leaders)
- Lita Ford (from The Runaways)
- Brent Mason
- Bumblefoot (from Guns ‘N Roses)
- Steve Stevens
JamPlay’s acoustic guitar teachers include:
- Eve Goldberg
- Orville Johnson
- Jim Deeming
- Nick Amodeo
- Marcel Berestovoy
- Steve Eulberg
- Hawkeye Herman
- Trace Bundy
- Tyler Grant
- Mary Flower
- Erik Mongrain
- Mark Kroos
- Dave Isaacs
- Mike Dawes
- Don Ross
- Preston Reed
- Kaki King
- Phil Keaggy
Tools and Resources
You can also take advantage of a fretboard trainer in which you choose a note and hear it played for you. The reference tuner will help you tune your guitar expertly each time. The chord finder, metronome, and scale finder are useful as well.
I’m also quite fond of the Jam Station, which lets you listen to guitar bars and chords in genres like world, surf, rockabilly, rock, metal, jazz, funk and soul, country, classical, bluegrass, blues, and acoustic.
You’re not left empty-handed if you sign up for a JamPlay membership. Their toolkit is new for 2020 and includes the Fingerstyle & Americana pack with 35 JamTracks, 58 lessons, and five content packs. The Country & Bluegrass toolkit has 82 JamTracks, 75 lessons, and five content packs as well.
In the Electric Learning toolkit for 2020, you receive 66 JamTracks, 66 lessons, and six content packs. The Acoustic Learning toolkit has 74 JamTracks, 70 lessons, and six content packs. If you don’t want a toolkit for specific genres, you can always get the 2020 Practice Plan toolkit from JamPlay. This boasts 79 JamTracks, 103 lessons, and five content packs.
You can sign up for free trials to both
Guitar Tricks even throws in $196 worth of goodies with their annual plan, including extra tracks in rock and blues as well as a song builder’s toolbox you can’t get anywhere else.
JamPlay offers several pricing plans. You can also pay monthly for $19.95 a month, with all-access use for 30 days. It does sound like after that, you’d have to move to a more encompassing payment plan.
You get three of those to choose from. The Year Standard Plan is $13.33 a month, the Year Plus Plan is $18.75 a month, and the Year Pro Plan costs $24.99.
If for some reason, you find you’re not satisfied with
Guitar Tricks Pros and Cons
If you still need help narrowing down your options between
- Getting signed up on
Guitar Trickswas far easier. You can try a 30-day trial without inputting your credit card information. JamPlay doesn’t let you do that.
- The genres offered are a little more varied on
Guitar Tricks, plus you get a lot of great songs that you won’t find on JamPlay.
- The lesson structure is catered to both beginners and intermediates. You can also use lots of free lessons before committing to the program.
- Guitar Tricks has a legacy of over 20 years, bolstering its reputation.
- Guitar Tracks seems somewhat less expensive than JamPlay to use month-to-month, although not by much.
- Guitar Tricks lacks the name recognition of instructors like JamPlay has. There, you can learn your favorite songs from the musicians who wrote them in some instances.
JamPlay Pros and Cons
- Once again, I have to talk about the instructor roster on JamPlay, because it’s seriously, seriously impressive.
- JamPlay offers a lot of handy toolkits if you want to augment your guitar learning even more.
- You get thousands of lessons to choose from, so you should be able to learn the guitar totally and comprehensively through JamPlay.
- That said, some songs and genres are seriously underrepresented here.
- Also, as mentioned, I didn’t like how JamPlay was asking for my credit card for even the free trial.
Guitar Tricks vs. JamPlay: Which One Should You Get?
If you’re still on the fence, I again encourage you to try
You’ll also love the selection of genres and songs offered. After all, if it’s not fun to learn guitar, then why bother?
Guitar Tricks or JamPlay. Best of luck!