Guitar Tricks Review
Verdict and Review Summary
With a program that dominates licensed song lessons, beginner content, and topical organization, Guitar Tricks' long-standing platform (since 1998) continues to be one of the best lesson programs available online.
Updated by Danielle
Updated on October 14th, 2023
Our Guitar Tricks review review has been revamped with new screenshots and updated information. The content of the lessons remains largely the same, but we've cleaned up, consolidated information, and improved accuracy.
Guitar Tricks has become one of the biggest and most popular guitar lesson websites since its inception in 1998. Today, it's thought by many to be the best place to learn guitar online. Their format is primarily video-based, with fantastic topic ordering, and short instruction segments that are usually less than 10 minutes long. In this Guitar Tricks review, we’ll cover that format and show you how it performs in comparison to other online guitar lesson programs.
Compare to Other Online Lessons
In this section you can easily compare Guitar Tricks to other guitar lesson sites. It covers pricing and basic membership information.
To conduct our review, we bought and tested a full access Guitar Tricks membership first-hand. We also use partner links for Guitar Tricks, our orange buttons, to help support Guitar Chalk, though this does not impact our objectivity. It simply helps support our work and keep things ad-free. Thanks you all for the love over the years! ~ Bobby and Danielle
Watch or Listen to the Review
If you'd prefer just to put on headphones and listen to our Guitar Tricks review, I created the screencast below for just that purpose. In the video I walk through the program and talk through all the same bullet points listed in this article. It was published a couple years ago, but most of the information and the core contents of the program are still the same.
Review Quick Hits
- Price: $19.95/mo or $179 per year
- Free Trial: Yes, 14 days
- Members: 3 million+
- Lessons: 11,000+
- Refund Period: Yes, 60 days guaranteed
- Song Tutorials: 1,000+
Cost and Pricing Summary
There are two different prices after the free trial has ended. The first is $19.95/mo while the second is a 25 percent discount that applies if you pay by the year, about $180. More discounts often come up during promotional periods or via coupons.
Read more: Guitar Tricks coupon codes and promotions
Additional Cost and Membership Info
Lessons and song tutorials are being added regularly, usually once or twice a week. Over time, full courses are also updated and revamped to better-suit the needs of members. Further, their 60-day refund period is honored without questioning, so you can cancel for any reason, within that time period, and get your money back. Is Guitar Tricks worth it? Let's find out.
The Member Dashboard
There are a few different roads you could take within the site. You’ve got the Core Learning System, lesson categories, style categories and even lessons grouped by artists. To make sorting easier, Guitar Tricks breaks all of their content into three sections on their home dashboard, which is what members will see when they log in to their account. Here's what it looks like:
Coming off the members home page you have the following options:
- Beginner Lessons
- Experienced Lessons
- Learn to Play Songs
Each category organizes lessons differently. To drill down another layer, we'll cover the beginner and advanced sections in more detail.
Within the Beginner Lessons section you’ll see the Core Learning System table with the first two courses highlighted in red, per the screenshot below:
Those courses are the following:
Both of these courses are considered the introductory points for complete beginners, taught by Anders Mouridsen. The rest of the Core Learning System is grayed out, though can still be clicked and accessed. Additionally, you’ll notice the following three categories at the bottom of the page:
- Songs Made Easy
- Practice for Beginners
- Tuning & Guitar Maintenance
These are topic-specific beginner lessons and not full courses. While some of the material here is covered in the Fundamentals courses, this content is sorted so you can quickly get to the most popular beginner topics. The quality of education you get from these courses overall, is extremely good. Here's a quick look at how Guitar Tricks stacks up against other programs in our education quality rating category.
Guitar Tricks lands behind Guitargate and JamPlay by just a few points in this category. Having more elements of instructor feedback or interaction would go a long way.
Intermediate and Experienced Lessons
On the Experienced page you now have the Fundamentals lesson circles grayed out and the advanced courses highlighted in red. These courses include the following:
- Blues Level I
- Blues Level II
- Country Level I
- Country Level II
- Rock Level I
- Rock Level II
At the bottom of the page you have advanced lessons broken down further into the following categories:
- Style Lessons
- Guitar Techniques Lessons
- Artist Studies Lessons
- Practice Lessons
- Chords & Scales Lessons
- Gear & Tone Lessons
While some of the lessons in these bottom categories cross paths with what you get in the courses, most of it is standalone material that is completely autonomous and unique. Which path you take depends on how you want to navigate the content. In that regard, Guitar Tricks offers you a lot of flexibility. For example, clicking on the Styles section takes you to the following page:
From here you can filter lessons based on their musical genre. Keep in mind that these categories are broad and may include multiple sub-genres. For example, the classical guitar section also includes Spanish and Flamenco guitar material. Click on the Acoustic section and you’ll jump to the following page:
Once you’re on this page you’re looking at all the lessons focusing exclusively on the acoustic guitar style. The interface is smooth, well-organized and easily navigated. All you need to do is pick a topic. I went back to the Guitar Fundamentals 1 course with Anders, which takes you to the following introductory screen (this is the same screen you'll see for all the courses):
From here you can start any portion of the course or just start at the beginning. It looks like the lesson lists we saw earlier.
Once you start, you’ll be taken to the video player:
Here's the content underneath the video:
This is the format that all Guitar Tricks videos are presented in, which houses the following elements:
- Video player with multiple resolution options, including 4k.
- Description of the lesson and any notation (if applicable) via the two tabs beneath the video
- Lesson info section with FAVORITES, PRINTING and DOWNLOAD options
- Full course summary with each video listed in order
Here's a different lesson presented with tabs and notation:
The interface is smooth and intuitive, allowing you to use and see almost all of the content above the fold (without having to scroll down). The video player itself offers a lot of resolution options as well as a looping feature that allows you to repeat portions of the video.
You can also speed up or slow down each video. Changing to different videos within a course is easy via the listing of each lesson on the right side of the screen. This path we’ve outlined - going from a style section or course to the video player - is the most common way to get to any one lesson or tutorial series.
Topical Order and Organization Ratings (Comparing Guitar Tricks to other programs)
One of Guitar Tricks' strongest suits would be its course structure and how topics are grouped and ordered within each course.
Another strength of the Guitar Tricks program is their song lesson section, which is the most complete and robust of its kind featuring fully licensed HD video lessons with accompanying tablature. All these songs are taught note-by-note by instructors and can be learned one section at a time. We'll take a closer look at this aspect of the program in this segment of our review. At the top of their songs page, you'll see all the different categories and sorting options:
Each song lesson has the following features:
- Fully licensed
- 100 percent accurate
- Includes tabs
- Instruction broken down into segments
- Full demo of each song with the ability to slow down and loop any section
Artists and Bands Included
The amount of artists represented is massive and spans a wide range of musical styles from vintage rock and bluegrass to modern rock and pop.
Just a handful of the artists include:
- Pink Floyd
- Eric Clapton
- Ed Sheeran
- Rolling Stones
Again, that's just a very small segment of what's included. If you go and look at the artists page (pictured above) it's a massive number.
This section alone is worth the monthly price and continues to be one of our favorite aspects of the Guitar Tricks program. No other program that we've tested (or know of) has come close to providing a resource like this. Once again, it's a strong-point of the curriculum and is one of the categories we rate guitar lesson programs on. Guitar Tricks is a clear winner in this category.
Guitar Tricks sits at the top of our chart in the song lesson department.
To understand the Guitar Tricks refund policy it's helpful to first understand how you end up paying them to begin with. There are two different ways to get into a paid Guitar Tricks membership. You can sign up directly or migrate to a paid account from a full access free trial.
- Free trial to paid account
- Direct to paid membership
In either case - whether you pay to start or you get billed after a free trial - the Guitar Tricks refund policy is the following:
From the day of being charged (either for a monthly or yearly membership) you have 60 days to cancel and get a full, no-questions-asked refund.
This is done by cancelling your Guitar Tricks account and emailing support to ask for a refund. You refund is processed in a few business days and your account is then downgraded to a free membership.
The desktop version of Guitar Tricks has a specific page that showcases all of their instructors. From that page, you can click on bios for each instructor and read about their guitar and education credentials.
For example, Anders Mouridsen graduated with Honors from MI’s Guitar Institute of Technology and has worked with a long list of notable musicians, including Stone Template Pilots, Taylor Swift and Pink.
Mouridsen’s impressive credentials are not unusual among Guitar Tricks instructors. Several others have studied at the Musician’s Institute in Los Angeles, recorded their own music and even served as guitarists on a number of popular TV shows, including Saturday Night Live and Jimmy Kimmel.
Despite their credentials, you won’t see instructors from mainstream bands or musical acts. For example, JamPlay has enjoyed the likes of Collective Soul’s Joel Kosche and Staind’s Mike Mushok, as well as a number of other notable guitarists making appearances as instructors on their site. Guitar Tricks doesn’t really go this route. Yet the instructors are knowledgeable, well-spoken and, for the most part, have engaging personalities.
Personalities and Teaching Styles
Every instructor is different, with variances in personality and teaching style that can’t all be accounted for. In general, you’ll consistently find the following traits:
- Enthusiastic about the subject matter
- Competent and articulate speakers who are easy to understand
- Confident and firm about the topics they’re presenting
- Friendly and relatable
There are parts of videos, particularly the introductory material, that can feel canned and awkward. In those moments, it’s fairly obvious that the instructors are reading from a script. Yet, this is quickly remedied as they get into the material and become more comfortable with their speaking cadence. All instructors do a great job of speaking slowly and in short segments that are easy to remember and comprehend.
Can you interact with the instructors?
While there’s no formal feedback system in place, Guitar Tricks does make all of the active instructors available to you via their member’s forum. In that forum, each instructors has their own section where you can post your questions and receive an answer directly from them.
The instructors are all quick and consistent about keeping up with the forum, helping to alleviate the disappointment of not having any kind of feedback interface available. Of all the instructors, the three most active on the forums (by far) are Mouridsen, McCormick, and Christopher Schlegel. Schlegel frequently responds to threads from other sections of the forum as well.
Free VS Paid Memberships
Guitar Tricks has two types of membership:
- Full Access (paid)
There is no middle ground. You’re either using a free account or a full access account that gives you access to everything on the site. You cannot sign up for portions or segments of the website, which is actually a bit of a detraction. We’d love to see different ranges of memberships or the ability to purchase access to specific courses or segments of the site. For now we’ve got just the two options to work with. Let's start by going over the free account.
The Free Account
The free access account - not to be confused with a full access free trial - is easy to setup and requires no credit card to get started. You just put in your information, setup a username, and you’re good to go. Once you’ve created this account you’ll have access to the following content:
- 24 Free Lessons
- The “Public” section of the forum
- The Guitar Tricks Newsletter
The 24 free lessons are the lessons that Guitar Tricks makes available to free access members as a “get your feet wet” option. We’ll look at these more closely in the next section. The free access account restricts access to the rest of the site.
The 14-Day Free Trial
If you do want to check out the rest of the site without paying for full access, Guitar Tricks offers a 14-day free trial where you can upgrade your free account to full access without getting charged. Here are a few things you need to know about the free trial:
- It does require a credit card to signup.
- The trial automatically funnels you into a paid account on the 15th day unless you cancel.
- A cancellation can be made any time via your Guitar Tricks account (cancellation button - no need to contact support).
- If you don’t cancel and you are charged, Guitar Tricks has a 60-day money back guarantee you can fall back on to get your money refunded.
There’s no actual risk involved, though it does feel like more than a trial when you need a credit card to sign up and an email to cancel. However, if you’re willing to put up with some manageable hoops to jump through, the trial gives you access to the entire site without any kind of restrictions. Two weeks isn’t a long time, so I’d advise waiting until your schedule gets somewhat light before activating the trial.
Full Access Member
Once you’re a full access member, you’ll have access to everything on the site. If you get to this point, and you're not still using the free trial, you’ll choose between one of the following options:
- Yearly plan at 25 percent off (about $180)
These are the regular (and current) prices that Guitar Tricks offers. As I mentioned earlier, there are times throughout the year when they send out a promotion for a cheaper yearly membership, which makes it worthwhile to keep an eye on their newsletter.
Once you’ve signed up you should also note that these memberships renew automatically. If you do not want this to happen you'll need to login to your dashboard and cancel your Guitar Tricks membership. This will suspend your account from renewal but, will let you continue to use your account until the period you’ve paid for has completed.
The Ideal Guitar Tricks Member
Those who are self-motivated and thrive on their ability to independently pursue educational goals should find the Guitar Tricks format completely ideal. It’s self-paced, easy-to-use and optimal for those who just want to get their hands dirty and play some guitar.
I’d be willing to bet that the effectiveness of Guitar Tricks is almost entirely dependent on which type of learner you are. Thus, some self-assessment and reflection is advisable before taking the plunge.
I would also say that's it's particularly strong for beginners, though all skill levels can benefit.
The Final Verdict
What’s the overall verdict for our Guitar Tricks review? Per the rating system we use for only guitar lessons, we've given it a score of 92.8 percent. Here's a quick summary of the strengths and weaknesses.
Primary Weak Areas
Not much in the way of instructor feedback and you can't buy individual courses.
Primary Strong Areas
Song lessons, topical organization, effective/professional teachers, and consistent content updates.
The layout and scope of Guitar Tricks’ content is perfect for those who want to get into a system quickly and start learning guitar in a properly ordered manner. There’s room to grow and the content isn’t all just for beginners. However, the ideal member will be beginners looking for a self-paced way to learn.
This is where Guitar Tricks excels, having created some of the best intro level guitar courses that are available online. Moreover, they’re able to get well-organized content in front of you that spans a wide range of guitar styles and topics.
If that’s your game plan, this site is a far better deal than in-person tutoring, at the $19.95/mo price tag.
Have an experience using Guitar Tricks that you’d like to share or maybe just questions about the program? Perhaps a bone to pick with our Guitar Tricks review? All is fair in the comments section below, so feel free to get in touch with questions or to share your own experience.