Though Charlie's script and teaching is noticeably strong, expensive courses, a frustrating marketing structure, and some audio/visual quality issues in the 101 course are major detractors from the program's value.
This is my full audit of the Guitar Mastery Method, focusing on the Guitar Mastery 101 course. To conduct this review, I bought the course and used it myself. I listened to the lessons, read through the content, downloaded the material, and did my level best to experience it as though I were a student, working through the material on my own.
The Guitar Mastery Method is a collection of courses that are each purchased as standalone downloads, or sometimes in bundles.
Since we just wanted an opportunity to test the program, we only used the Guitar Mastery 101 course, which is described as their "flagship course" and perhaps the first stop for most who sign up.
To buy the course, we paid $139 US dollars, which gives us access to the course for life. However, it does not give us access to any additional courses on the website.
We were offered a bundle of three other courses at a steep discount, which we declined. For testing, I used a Windows 10 desktop and a Chrome web browser, with a fiber optic internet connection.
Compare Guitar Mastery Method to Similar Alternatives
Guitar Mastery Method
Weighted Rating Table
Point Value (weight)
1. Content Quantity
2. EDU Quality
2. Topical Order
3. Concept Coverage
7. Video Player
8. Site Design/Navigation
Watch/Listen to the Report
Prefer to watch the review or just listen? In this screencast I walk through the full GMM review, talk through my reasoning, and cover all the same bullet points as I do in this article.
About the Guitar Mastery Method
The Guitar Mastery Method website centers around its founder, Charlie Wallace, though also employs a multi-instructor format stretched over several courses. Members sign up and purchase courses, usually starting with a 101 course and working their way up as they go. However, it's initially unclear whether you can purchase additional courses on their own, or if you need to do the monthly membership option (more on that later).
Cost and Purchase Format
Depending on promotions and bundling options, most Guitar Mastery Method courses cost between $100 and $200 for lifetime (downloadable) access. The 101 course I purchased for testing cost $139.
After I had purchased the first course, it looked like other courses were only accessible through the upgraded membership.
Here's my PayPal invoice, just so you know I actually purchased the course:
Is this expensive by comparison?
This is one of the highest price tags we've seen for a single guitar course. While additional courses can be bundled or bought with a discount (after buying the 101 course), the pricing here is still extremely high, given that most TrueFire and JamPlay courses can be purchased with lifetime access for around $50.
You can look at other guitar lesson cost examples for reference.
The Signup Process
A lot of the signup process is confusing and seems oddly disjointed from where I would eventually end up. Along the way, I noticed a lot of stuff like this:
Getting to where I could just buy a course was surprisingly difficult, as things like the aforementioned popup and questionnaires like the following screenshot seemed to plague the process:
There were several more questions to the above survey, which I went through, though it didn't recommend the course that I would eventually purchase. Instead, it gave me a "progress killer" diagnosis and recommended I watch a video, which I promptly skipped.
This is similar to the situation I experienced when trying to sign up with Guitarzoom. The process is so enamored with sales funnels and and attempts to up-sell you that just getting to a simple 101 course was weirdly difficult.
After jumping through the sign up hoops, I could just go to the courses page where I could scan the material available.
There were a lot of courses available, though it seemed clear to me that the Guitar Mastery 101 course would be my best bet. As a reviewer, I just want to get a feel for the content, and since this one was listed as their "flagship course", I went ahead and purchased it.
Again, it was expensive at $139, and it had more than its fair share of up-sell attempts, but I won't bore you with that.
Let's get to the actual content.
The Content Quality of the Guitar Mastery Method 101 Course
Charlie teaches the 101 course in six modules that includes the following:
Within these modules the content can be broken down into two types of lessons:
- PowerPoint-style with voiceover
- Traditional video demonstration with guitar-in-hand
Charlie uses the PowerPoint-style method for a lot of the basic content, particularly in Module 1, where he does a very good job of explaining and ordering concepts. These lessons, though not taught with a guitar, are easy to follow and get you crucial information quickly.
Things like how to read guitar tabs, understanding chord diagrams, and learning the notes on the fretboard are effectively demonstrated using this method (though as you can see that information is pretty easy to find elsewhere).
Where my take gets less positive is when we get to the video content.
Quality Problems with the Video Lessons
When we rate guitar lessons we have a category called "content quality." This is what we use to grade things like the amount of lessons and the quality thereof. How good is the video quality? Are there a lot of concepts covered? How is the audio quality? In other words, it's a more generalized measure of user experience, that we separate from our rating for education quality.
In the Guitar Mastery Method, education quality is consistently quite good. Charlie is an effective communicator, a good teacher, and does a good job of demonstrating and/or explaining what he's trying to teach.
But it's the content quality category that ultimately sends the value of this course way down.
Audio and Video Problems
The audio quality in Charlie's voice-over lessons is good. But when you actually see him in front of the camera with his guitar, the audio was lower and more difficult to hear through the left side of my headset. As Charlie talks, it seems as though he is not mic'd and that the camera itself is being relied on to pick up his voice.
In what seems to be every video, Charlie's voice is far louder on the right side than the left and somewhat difficult to hear overall.
To make matters worse, when he plays guitar, it tends to be a good deal louder than his voice.
I tested it with a few different setups on multiple computers, with a couple different sets of headphones:
- Earbuds with only left ear in
- Earbuds with both ears
- AKG K240 studio headphones with both ears
- Macbook with just built-in speakers
Of these setups, the studio headphones sounded the best, though Charlie's voice was still primarily coming from the right ear cup. While I was still able to glean from what Charlie was saying, this was a significant disappointment, given what I had paid for the course.
Many videos are also filmed with poor lighting in a very dark room. Again, this doesn't mean I couldn't see what Charlie was demonstrating, it just made the experience aesthetically harsh.
To be fair, the 101 course I tested seems to be fairly old, and judging by their YouTube content, they're doing much better with video production now.
This category is where the 101 course does quite well.
As I mentioned, Charlie is a skilled player and does a good job of staying on script, while still sounding casual and relaxed as he explains concepts.
He does get into what I would consider intermediate topics fairly quickly, jumping into intense speed exercises as early as Module 3. While that might be a bit fast for some people, the course does a good job of preparing you for that content with a good foundation set in modules 1 and 2.
I could also tell Charlie wasn't just rehashing concepts that he had pulled from somewhere else, but was truly teaching a style and method of playing that he had developed for himself.
In the Dexterity Exercise lesson, pictured below, he's teaching a trilling exercise and method that I had never seen or heard of before.
Most of his exercises struck me as original work and not just a rehash or a been-there-done-that idea.
Considering the emphasis on speed-building, Module 3 alone would be reason enough for someone that wants to build some strength and dexterity for better lead guitar. After running through the exercises myself, I was definitely sore and challenged by the movements (I'm not much of a speed player on the guitar).
Module 4 is primarily focused on music theory, getting you back to some of the whiteboard-style presentation from Charlie. In particular, he does an excellent job explaining modes and how they apply to the fretboard.
He also covers the basics early, which is a nice feature of a theory section. You'll get a foundational understanding of music theory in a guitar context as you learn fretboard notes, scale diagrams, and other theory-related concepts.
Module 6 is labeled an "advanced" section, but seems almost exclusively lead guitar-focused, with a ton of videos devoted to the tapping technique. If you aren't focusing on lead guitar, this section isn't going to be an ideal fit, yet for those who want to learn advanced soloing techniques, Charlie does a good job covering the content, at least from his perspective.
Topical Arrangement and Organization
One of the main criticisms I have of Wallace's course is how quickly it gets into advanced lead topics while being labeled a 101 course. However, Charlie does take the time to prep you for those advanced topics - theory, lead technique, etc. - by laying a solid foundation of content in the earlier modules (though Module 2 is quite short).
Overall, Charlie just isn't as thorough as other programs with a course that should be understood as a beginner's course. You can tell that he's a speed and rock guitar player with an eye for heavy soloing, which comes out probably too quickly in his material.
I would have preferred to see longer modules, perhaps broken up into multiple courses.
For example, Module 2, for developing hand strength and technique, only has three videos. As far as prepping a student for the rigors of Modules 3 and 4, the first two just don't have enough content to adequately prepare you. And I hate to say that, since it's clear that Wallace has been mindful of the need to properly prepare and take things slow, but his goal is to get you playing faster, which is evident pretty quickly.
In the 101 course, Module 5 is titled "Learning Songs" but is only three videos covering the following concepts:
- Where to find songs to learn
- How to memorize songs and/or solos
- Playing along with backing tracks
This isn't really a song section in the way we're typically used to seeing it. In other words, he's not playing guitar covers or teaching you songs. It's more of a resource section that seemed a little underwhelming compared to the rest of the course, as it's just outside the scope and focus of Charlie's syllabus.
If you want to focus on learning songs, we probably wouldn't recommend the Guitar Mastery Method, at least not this particular course.
Additional Guitar Mastery Method Courses & Value
Having said that, there are many other Guitar Mastery Method courses to choose from. It's also uncertain whether or not you can purchase them as standalone courses or if you need to sign up for a monthly membership. It looks like once you've bought the 101 course, you can upgrade your membership to get access to all the courses, including future releases.
The $27 per month price tag is high compared to a lot of other programs, with Guitar Tricks at $19 a month, Guitargate at $10, and other similar comparisons. The Guitar Mastery Method is also a smaller body of content than most other programs. Moreover, we didn't notice any annual options, which would usually be cheaper. Remember, I have already spent $140 to get my foot in the door with the 101 course.
While we can't necessarily rate all these courses, we can safely assume that they are reasonably similar to the 101 course.
It's good, but it probably shouldn't cost more than the programs out there that have way more courses.
I also wasn't crazy about the sales funnel tactics and having a marketing video on so many pages.
While there's a lot to like about how Charlie teaches, particularly how he's able to explain concepts away from the guitar, the value just isn't here to justify the price tag. Even if I were to upgrade my membership for $27 a month, I would have spent over $430 on my first year for a comparably small roster of courses.
Where I do see some value is for those looking to work specifically on speed and lead guitar. Like we often see when full websites are centered around a specific personality (Justin Sandercoe, Steve Stine, etc.), you get a heavy dose of that particular player's musical interests and playing styles. Plus, some people might just identify with Charlie or prefer his teaching personality. That's an entirely subjective aspect of this that's impossible to measure for each person.
In the case of Charlie Wallace, he's all about rock solos and building speed.
If that's your goal - and you feel like he speaks to you - the 101 course could be a good - if not, expensive - fit for you.
Otherwise, we'd probably recommend looking elsewhere for a better price tag and larger body of content.