Recently updated on June 15, 2020
Minor changes to copy to reflect some Guitar Tricks program changes, and removed links to old pages.
Guitar Tricks iPad App Review
Verdict and Review Summary
Guitar Tricks does a superb job of transferring the online experience into a tablet-friendly interface that is every bit as useful and intuitive as what you see with a full membership in your web browser.
In my primary Guitar Tricks review I spent a little bit of time on their iPad app. In this article, I'm digging through the app in its entirety. I'll provide screenshots of each element, including the home dashboard, courses, lesson listings, and video pages. If you're looking for a broader list of options, checkout Guitar Chalk's roundup of guitar lesson apps for phones and tablets.
Here, I'll also cover some common questions surrounding the tablet version of the Guitar Tricks program.
One of the most common:
Is the Guitar Tricks iPad app free?
The Guitar Tricks iPad app runs in conjunction with your main Guitar Tricks membership. In other words, it's free to download, but requires a paid or free trial membership, to actually use.
Guitar Tricks memberships are accessible via all compatible devices, which includes the following:
- TV Streaming
This means that if you already have a Guitar Tricks membership, downloading the app won't cost you anything additional. If you don't have a membership, you can sign up for a paid one, a free trial, or a free basic membership from within the app itself, or via the orange button below.
Want us to email you when the price of a Guitar Tricks membership drops? Sign up here and we'll let you know.
Devices Used for Testing
For testing the Guitar Tricks iPad app I used a 3rd generation iPad with the most recent version of iOS installed, which I think was version 12 at the time of writing this. For the most part, experience doesn't change between versions and different iPad generations.
Also - the screen for my iPad is 9.7 inches.
Let's get into the app.
To download - if you haven't already - go to the app store on your device and search for "Guitar Tricks."
When you launch the app for the first time you'll be greeted by the following welcome screen, which is a simple, stripped down version of their home page.
It feels a bit unnecessary, but is easy enough to bypass.
Just move through it by clicking the Get Started button and it won't show up again in subsequent openings of the app.
On the following screen you'll be able to login to your account or setup a new account if you're a new user. I went ahead and logged in using my own current account info.
Logins for the Guitar Tricks iPad app and the desktop version of the program are the same. You do not need two different memberships.
Once you login, you'll be able to browse content just like you would on the main site. While the iPad version is somewhat minimized compared to the desktop version, all of the same core pieces of content and resources are still available to you.
We'll start on the home dashboard and branch out from there.
The Home Section and Dashboard
Just as you would see when logging into the main Guitar Tricks site, the iPad app uses four main tiles to categorize their content:
- I'm a Beginner
- I'm More Experienced
- I Want to Learn Songs
- Gear and Tone
You'll notice the interface uses a darker theme on the iPad, deviating from the largely white, minimalist interface on the browser version.
Here's a look at the same dashboard on the home page of the web version:
You can see the browser version is much brighter with the white background, which makes their decision to go with a completely darkened iPad background a little bit of an adjustment. Though there is some appeal in getting the contrast between the two UI (user interface) designs.
If you plan to jump back and forth between devices, the difference is refreshing.
To size down for the iPad version, they've eliminated the left sidebar and the "Recently Watched" section in favor of just a few footer elements.
The Core Learning System
If you click on the beginner's section you'll see the familiar Core Learning System with two fundamentals courses:
- Guitar Fundamentals I
- Guitar Fundamentals II
The three Level I style courses:
- Blues 1
- Country 1
- Rock 1
And finally three Level II courses:
- Blues 2
- Country 2
- Rock 2
All of this content mirrors exactly what you'll find on the main site. For full access members there's no difference in the content between the iPad and web versions of the site.
Within each course you'll have ordered chapters and hundreds of videos.
Each chapter addresses a specific concept or topic.
The sorting system for these courses is familiar to the main site, using the following table:
The topical ordering that makes the Guitar Tricks system so strong is perfectly mirrored here, with each lesson containing a series of videos explaining each concept.
Navigating through the content is also extremely easy on the iPad and actually feels a bit more intuitive and quicker than the web version. When I use the program, the iPad is a convenient medium, just because it's easy to hold a guitar and work an iPad at the same time.
Movement Through the Interface and Performance
Scrolling the content is fast, and didn't freeze up on me at any point.
Content loaded quickly when clicked, getting me from one section to another without any noticeable wait.
Videos also loaded without buffering.
For reference, here's what our internet connection tested for upload and download speeds:
Also note that when I was testing the app (on this particular occasion) my wife was streaming a showing off Hulu.
You could chalk it up to a good internet connection, but I think the developers deserve some credit here as well.
The app ran as smooth as I could have asked for.
The Video Page and Player
The actual lesson pages are broken up into basically four different elements:
- The video player
- Lesson text
- Lesson series
- Supplemental tabs & notation (if applicable)
If you look at the screen shot below, you can see that by default, three of the four elements are visible when you load the page.
The "Lesson Series" option shows all of the videos within the series you're viewing, though the button is weirdly cut off next to the "Lesson Text" button. Even if you select it and the lesson series is shown, the button is still cut off while being highlighted.
Since more than half of it is missing, it's a bit tricky to press with your finger.
It's just a small design flaw to be aware of when you're using the app.
Other than a brief period of fishing for the button, no significant problems seem to come of it.
In the following screen shot, you can see the lesson series displayed on the left side. Each one of those titles is a single video/lesson, which are usually less than 10 minutes in length:
You can also see that the tabs and notation for this particular lesson are displayed beneath the video player. All of the supplemental material displayed will include both tablature and standard notation.
Expanding the Tab Sheet
One note I should make about the supplemental content:
That little icon in the top left-hand corner of the tab sheet expands to cover the video player, like this:
If you want to watch the video and look at the tabs at the same time, you'll need to scroll down through the tab sheet and avoid that expanding button.
This is an area where the iPad is a little less convenient than an actual computer.
It just isn't quite enough room to read tabs and watch the video at the same time. This is, of course, no fault of Guitar Tricks, but just part of using an iPad.
Video Player Functionality
I noticed some of the app reviews were mentioning problems with the video player in full-screen mode. I'm assuming that at this point those issues have been fixed, because I had no issues using the full screen function.
The speed control and looping features in the video player also worked just the same as they do on the desktop version of the site.
Let's move on to the songs section.
The Guitar Tricks Songs Section (full library)
There are a few different ways to get to the songs section in the Guitar Tricks iPad app.
First, if you go through the beginner's tile, you'll have a "Songs Made Easy" option in the footer, which I've shown in the screenshot below:
Keep in mind, this is not the main songs section.
It only has the "made easy" songs that are available from that library.
To get to the entire library of songs, click on the "I Want to Learn Songs" tile (from the home dashboard) and you should be greeted by the following page with "Learn Songs" at the top:
Now, when you look on the bottom of the page, you should see the following sorting options:
- Top Hits
- Beginner Songs
- Master List
You can click on the "Styles" menu to sort songs by style, which is probably the most convenient option, given the iPad's screen size.
One thing I really miss about the web version is the "View All Artists" section which breaks down the songs like this:
While I can understand that it's not the most functional way to browse on an iPad, I do kind of wish they had recreated this page on the app. For me, it's a preferable way to browse through songs, especially since Guitar Tricks has so many of them.
The "Master List" option in the app is probably the closest thing, which you just have to scroll through.
It's not a huge detraction, but just a usability difference.
The song lessons video player interface is setup the same way as the topical courses.
In this case the tabs and notation are a little more important, which means you'll need to scroll through as the video plays.
What I might recommend, if you really want to focus in on a particular song, is to print the tabs from your computer then use the iPad to follow the lesson. That'll save you from having to scroll through the document on the fly.
Intermediate and Advanced Material
All of the intermediate and advanced material is setup in essentially the same manner as the beginner material we've already looked at.
From the Dashboard, select the "I'm More Experienced" tile:
At the bottom of the page you'll have six different ways to sort the advanced content:
- Core Learning System (the six blues, county, and rock 1 and 2 courses)
- Artist Studies
- Chords and Scales
If you've already browsed the beginner material, these sorting structures will look pretty familiar to you:
If you click on "Artist Studies" you'll see that artist names have replaced "chapters" and are listed in alphabetical order.
Again, if you click on one of the courses, you can navigate to and from each video within the course at your own pace, via the same interface.
All remaining content on the iPad is structured in a similar fashion, with the same templates.
You have a few other basic elements, including the following:
- News section (nothing here when I checked)
- Last lesson button
- History page
While there's certainly less peripheral content available on the iPad app, the core content and all of the lessons are accessible just the same as they would be on any other device.
What's missing from the Guitar Tricks iPad app?
Some of those peripheral items that are available in the browser version of Guitar Tricks but not the iPad app include the following:
- HTML5 Chord Diagrams
- Guitar Tuner Apps
- Instructor Bios
- Full Progress Tracker
- Guitar Tricks Channel
If you want to take advantage of these features, it's easy to login to the web version to access them. For my own purposes, I didn't really miss them in the iPad app, since all the core content is there and easy to get to.
Impressions of iPad App VS Web Version
The iPad version involves a little more scrolling and does have some minor bugs. But overall Guitar Tricks did a great job of transferring the experience of their main site over to their iPad application.
On a 9.7 inch screen, it still felt like enough room to comfortably read text, watch videos, and absorb all the information.
I liked the touch screen better then dealing with a laptop keyboard and mouse, though still preferred a desktop setup with a physical keyboard and mouse if I could pick any situation.
I'd rank my experience with Guitar Tricks in different mediums as follows:
- Desktop version
- iPad version
More Guitar Tricks Resources
Since I've written a lot of material that focuses on guitar lesson resources, Guitar Tricks has come up a lot.
Here are some additional articles we've published about their program that might be helpful to those considering it:
Additionally, we've published a lot of articles that compare programs like Guitar Tricks to other online guitar lesson options, using a table comparison and grading system.
If you already have a Guitar Tricks membership, the app is free and a worthwhile add-on to your guitar learning experience. I'd recommend it over using a laptop with a small touch pad, and certainly a good option for those that want to learn on the road or while traveling.
Questions and Comments
Got questions about the app?
Maybe you have a question about Guitar Tricks in general, or just want to share your experience with the program.
If so, leave it in the comments section below and we'll chat.