Parent article: Best Beginner Guitar Lessons
Updated by Bobby
Recently updated on September 9th, 2021
Updated "what's new" section and made minor changes to article formatting.
Guitar Tricks Review
Verdict & 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 options on the market.
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 almost entirely video-based, with short instruction segments that are usually less than 10 minutes in length. In this Guitar Tricks review, we’ll cover that format and show you how it performs in comparison to other online guitar lesson programs.
Bought and Tested Guitar Tricks Review
To conduct our Guitar Tricks review, we bought and tested the full access Guitar Tricks membership with guitar in hand. This is not a secondary account or rehashing of someone else's opinion. It's the most detailed and scientific review of this program out there. We guarantee it.
Compare to Similar Programs
1. Content Quantity
2. EDU Quality
2. Topical Order
3. Topic Coverage
4. Song Section
7. Video Player
8. Site Design
Watch or Listen to the Review
If you'd prefer just to put on headphones and listen to or watch the 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.
Guitar Tricks Review Quick Hits
- Price: $19.95 per month 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+
What's new for Guitar Tricks in 2021?
- You can now cancel a free trial or paid membership from within your account without having to email support.
- Song lessons can be browsed in "collections" based on popular styles and genres
- iPhone app updated to version 1.7
- iPhone and iPad app compatible with family sharing on up to seven devices
Cost and Pricing Summary
There are two different prices after the free trial has ended. The first is a $19.95 monthly cost, while the second is a discounted $179 yearly cost. Further discounts often come up during promotional periods or via coupons (more on those later).
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. Guitar Tricks also runs a number of promotions and special deals throughout the year where they’ll drop the price of membership (more on those later).
Further, their 60-day refund period is honored without questioning, so you can cancel for any reason and get your money back. We’ll cover all aspects of the videos, the format, the content offered, and everything else you need to know if you’re considering buying a membership.
Let’s dive into our Guitar Tricks review.
With Guitar Tricks there are a lot of 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 four sections on their home dashboard, which is what members will see when they login 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
- Learn Styles of Guitar
- Guitar Coaching Program (group or 1:1 lesson programs)
Each category organizes lessons differently. To drill down another layer, we'll cover the beginner and advanced sections in more detail. Beginner lessons first:
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 Vermont native Lisa McCormick, one of the site’s most popular instructors. 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 Lisa’s 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.
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:
- Artist Studies
- Chords & Scales
- Gear & Tone
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 stylistic focus. 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, meeting modern user experience standards. All you need to do is pick a topic. I clicked on the first lesson, listed as “Ragtime Fingerstyle Guitar” which takes you to an introductory page for the tutorial:
There’s a lot of information on this page, though I found the most helpful section to be the Contents pane on the right-hand side. From there you can start any portion of the course or just click the yellow BEGIN TUTORIAL button on the main banner. Once you start, you’ll be taken to the following screen:
This is the format that all Guitar Tricks videos are presented in, which houses the following elements:
- Video player with HIGH, MEDIUM and LOW resolution options
- 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
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 some different 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.
Guitar Fundamentals I and II are some of the most popular online guitar courses for beginners specifically, that Guitar Tricks offers. We'll use those to take a closer look at how Guitar Tricks structures their courses. We begin on the first page of Guitar Fundamentals I. We’re greeted with a splash screen that shows a video introduction to the course and list of the course’s content in chapters.
In the case of Guitar Fundamentals I there are seven chapters total. Within each chapter there are lessons. Within each lesson there are videos. For example, let’s say we click on the “Welcome to the Guitar” lesson.
Once you click on "Begin" you’ll be taken straight to the first lesson. The screen shot below skips ahead a couple steps to the open G major lesson:
You’ll now notice that instead of just the five lessons listed to the right of the screen, all seven chapters of the entire course are listed for you to go through. We like this feature, since it removes the need to backup a couple pages and allows you to potentially complete the entire course from within the lesson page itself.
Everything else is the same as the video screen we showed before. This is the structure that Guitar Tricks uses for all of their courses and all the content within those courses.
In regards to their course structure, topical ordering, and overall organization, Guitar Tricks scores higher than any other program we've tested. It's one of the program's strongest attributes.
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 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 column.
What about bass lessons?
Though there are plenty of theory-related concepts and "global" musical education elements in the Guitar Tricks program, they do not have anything that's specifically for bass guitar players. My recommendation to those looking for bass courses would be to checkout JamPlay. They have a section of their site that's specifically for bass and even available as its own pricing package (so you don't have to pay for guitar if you just want bass).
Are bass lessons a part of Guitar Tricks' future plans?
Though I have a limited understand of their future plans, I don't believe Guitar Tricks is going to add bass lessons any time soon, just because it hasn't historically been a part of their system. If you want something for bass now, there are plenty of other options available to you. TrueFire is another one I'd recommend checking out for bass material.
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.
Discounts, Coupons, and Promo Codes
When we find a Guitar Tricks coupon or promo code, this section is where we list it for easy referral. Keep in mind that these codes may or may not be active depending on the time of year Guitar Tricks is running the promotion you're trying to activate. In the below table, each code is linked in the corresponding button to a page that will apply the code automatically. Beneath the table, we'll provide some more information about each deal.
Guitar Tricks Coupon Deals and Promo Codes Offered
60% off your first month's payment (60OFF promo code)
20% off yearly membership (SAVE20 promo code)
$99 Yearly Membership
15% off first month's membership (GUITARCHALK Promo code)
60OFF Promo Code
The 60OFF promo code is for a monthly membership and takes 60 percent of your first month. This code is typically always active, though we've seen periods where it will be dormant, usually if another cheaper promotion is running. For those who want to use a month-to-month plan, this is an easy way to save some up-front money, perhaps to be viewed as a continued trial period. To get the promo code, use this direct link.
Save20 Promo Code
This a promo code that Guitar Tricks offers for their yearly membership, which is always available, though less advertised than the monthly promotions. It knocks 20 percent off the full yearly membership price which is $179, cutting about $35 off your final bill. In some cases, Guitar Tricks support will let you upgrade a monthly membership using a promo code like this, which would save you even more money going from a monthly to annual billing cycle. Grab the offer here.
$99 Yearly Membership Discount (song promo)
Their most popular discount is the $99 yearly membership (more on this in the Black Friday section below), which they usually run at multiple intervals throughout the year, particularly when they release new song lessons. This is roughly an $80 decrease, and the best value offer. While it's hard to know when exactly they'll run this deal, you can always check their Specials page which is where it will be advertised. If that URL defaults to the regular upgrade page, it just means they aren't running any deals right now.
Black Friday Deals
The Guitar Tricks Black Friday sale usually runs in the week leading up to Thanksgiving and through the first couple weeks of December.
How to Check
Use the link below to check if Guitar Tricks is running their Black Friday promotion or some other kind of discount.
If it defaults to the "Upgrade" page then there is no promotion currently active.
What are the most common deals?
Most often, Guitar Tricks runs a promotional offer that knocks the price of their yearly membership down to $129 or $99 from a regular price of $179.
If it's the $129 discount, they also throw in a free beginner acoustic guitar, which is a nylon string Huntington acoustic.
Here's a partial screen shot of the offer from recent years:
If they run the $99 yearly price (as mentioned in the above section) it's usually without any freebies. This promotion will also run at intervals through the year as well. However, for most Thanksgiving promos, they do the $50 discount off a yearly membership and the free guitar.
It's a great deal for beginners, kids, or those who want a guitar to try out and don't want to commit to a more expensive instrument.
While the free acoustic guitar is not designed to last you into a professional playing career, it's great for giving you a guitar to get started with to see if pursuing the instrument is right for you.
If you don't care about the freebies and just want the membership, getting the $99 annual promo is probably a better option for you.
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 enjoys 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. We’ll touch on a little more about the forum in its own section.
To access the Toolbox, you'll need to be logged in through the desktop version of the program, where it'll be listed in the left sidebar menu:
From there you’ll land on the following page with six different tools, which are actually small web apps.
The following apps are included in your toolbox:
- Scale Finder
- Jam Station
- Chord Finder
- Reference Tuner
- Fretboard Trainer
Each app opens into a new window and has it’s own controls that allow you to point and click in order to use whatever functionality it provides. The scale and chord finder are research tools, though pleasantly easy to use allowing you to view patterns in a familiar diagram as well as listen to whatever chord or scale you’ve chosen. Its user interface is simple and easy to navigate.
The Metronome and Reference Tuner are exactly what you’d expect. Though I personally don’t like the process of using either in the form of an online app. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with the apps. I just didn’t find myself using them.
The Jam Station App
If you open up the Jam Station app, you’ll find an entire library of all the jam tracks available on Guitar Tricks. This is an incredibly helpful resource that allows you to filter through all the styles on the site and pool jam tracks based on a number of different categories.
Musical key, instructors, and genre can all be used to sort the tracks. Once you select a track, any applicable notation is displayed beneath the player:
Note that clicking on multiple genres of music (the boxes at the top of the page) doesn’t deselect the ones that were already selected. Since Acoustic was selected by default, me clicking Rock pooled all of the acoustic and rock jam tracks.
I tested this on an Apple Macbook Pro with an updated version of Firefox and noticed some problems with the controls. The play button worked fine, though I wasn’t able to pause the app or use the forward/backward buttons.
Volume control worked well and I was able to play new tracks by double-clicking them. However it does seem as though there are lingering bugs in the app, possibly dependent on what browser you’re using.
The Fretboard Trainer
The last app in the list is called the Fretboard Trainer. This is a game that shows you a picture of the fretboard, highlights a spot on it, then gives you a multiple choice selection of notes that it might be.
You then click the note that you think is the correct answer. It’s more of a fretboard quiz than a fretboard trainer, because it assumes that you already have some knowledge about the fretboard notes and how they work.
While these apps can be helpful in some cases, they're only available on the desktop version (not on iPad or iPhone) and have limited appeal.
They're certainly not the main attraction.
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. Note that you need to setup a free account first, then upgrade that free account by signing into it and clicking on the free trial link.
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:
- Monthly plan at $19.95/month
- Yearly plan at $179/year
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 24 Free Lessons
If you go to the home page for the free lessons, you’ll be greeted by an intro video and a grid with all 24 lessons listed along with a picture of the instructor.
There’s no real system or order to the material. For the most part, these are segments of the larger courses for beginners and intermediates. There isn't a lot in the way of advanced material within these free lessons. Thus, all the lessons are standalone examples of particular courses and chapters within Guitar Tricks, so you’re not getting a significant amount of any one course.
When you click on the View Lesson button for any of the lessons, you’ll be taken to the familiar video player screen where your video will begin:
What you’ll notice on this page is the full compliment of lessons for the course to the right of the page. You can see it in the above screenshot right under the ACOUSTIC FINGERPICKING, STEP-BY-STEP, LEVEL 1A text.
The first video that you’ll see highlighted in a red border lining is the free one. Everything else in that list will not be accessible to free access members. So if you get the feeling that the free lesson encompasses all those other videos, this is not the case. And while that’s disappointing, it’s not unusual for a free membership to be limited this way.
You can’t really blame them for dangling the paid stuff in front of you. Everyone has got to make a living.
As for the videos you can watch, they are all decent lessons from the actual Guitar Tricks courses. They’re not stripped down or “lite” videos made specifically for free. Instead, they’re videos selected from actual lessons in the paid member’s system.
There just aren't very many of them. In most cases the videos cover a small aspect of a given topic, taking between two and five minutes long.
How much can I accomplish with them?
I know a lot of users take their time going through the 24 free lessons and stretch them out by expanding on each topic in their own practice time. So you can do this too and get a lot more out of each video. However, these videos are short and they’re broken up into a wide range of styles and topics.
That makes it unlikely you’ll be interested in more than a handful, which limits their usefulness. The best way to look at the free lessons is to be realistic about what they’re intended for. They're demos for the full program. It’s a great way to test out the vibe of Guitar Tricks and get your feet wet but, it’s not meant to be anything close to the full compliment.
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.
The last component of the full access membership is the forum. It's of little consequence when determining overall value of the program though, for more social learners it's worth a look. This portion of the website has two sections:
- The Public or “Free Access” Area
- The Private or “Members Only” Area
These are the sections of the public forum:
- Open Discussion
- Introduction Forum
- Guitar Basics
- Technique and Style
- Music Theory
- Listening Post
- Tone and Effects
- Gear Discussion
- Gear Reviews
- Tech Talk
- Famous Bands and Artists
- Guitar Tricks Site
Open Discussion, the Introduction Forum, and Guitar Basics are the most active forums on this page. The introduction forum is just a spot for members (free or paid) to introduce themselves and give a little background on their guitar playing.
Listening Post threads are mostly YouTube videos or MP3 demos from members who are either writing their own material or posting covers. Questions posted in these sections are quickly answered by staff and in many cases Chris Schlegel will post answers, particularly for technical and music theory-related questions. The rest of the forum will only be accessible to you as a paid member. Here are all the sections it includes:
- Full Access Forum
- Lesson Q and A
- Song Request Forum
- Ask a Guitar Tech
- Ask Anders Mouridsen
- Ask Ben Lindholm
- Ask Caren Armstrong
- Ask Christopher Schlegel
- Ask Douglas Showalter
- Ask Henrik Linde
- Ask Lisa McCormick
- Ask Mike Olekshy
- Ask Tom Finch
As you can see, the bulk of the “private” forum is made up of the instructor’s own Q and A sections. I mentioned before, the most active instructors on the forum are Schlegel, McCormick, and Mouridsen, which is mostly due to the higher volume of questions they receive. Otherwise you’ve got the Full Access Forum which is often used by members to post customer-support related questions or thoughts about the full access portion of the website.
The Lesson Q and A forum is another section frequently monitored by Schlegel himself and is a great place to post general guitar or theory-related questions that have to do with specific Guitar Tricks lessons.
Requesting Song Lessons
Everything in the Song Request forum is dedicated to allowing users to request certain song tutorials. Song requests seem to be added here on a daily basis, so it’s not meant to be a “post-it-and-get-it” type of system. Rather, if a large number of people consistently request a certain band or piece of music, that item will get moved to the top of Guitar Tricks’ priority list.
While there are always licensing issues that can’t be predicated, it’s nice to see that Guitar Tricks is willing to listen and be responsive to their community about the song lessons they produce.
The Guitar Tricks iPad interface looks different than the web version but the functionality and content is all exactly the same. Though the app is free to download, don’t get confused that you’re getting a free or “light” version of Guitar Tricks. Without a regular membership, the app - though free - doesn’t do you any good.
One of the app’s primary strengths is the simplicity of the user interface. There’s no ambiguity when it comes to figuring out where to go for a particular kind of content. When you open the app you’re automatically taken to the “dashboard” which consists of the following menu items:
- I’m a Beginner
- I’m More Experienced
- I Want to Learn Songs
- Gear and Tone
It’s quite intuitive. Deciding where you want to start is made easy by this screen, giving you two options based on difficulty (beginner and experienced) and two more options based on niche studying (songs and gear), all of which is reflected on the regular web page as well.
The “Songs Made Easy” page is simply a collection of beginner songs from Guitar Trick’s repertoire of song lessons. The Songs Made Easy home page is laid out in rows, for each song, and columns with the following information:
- Song Title
- Band or Artist
All the columns are sortable and clearly identifiable.
The Practice for Beginners tab takes you to a similar page, with only three lessons. One of the lessons is on finger warm-ups, while the other two are focused on helping to establish a practice routine. Finally, the Tuning & Guitar Maintenance tab provides basic how-to on stringing and tuning your guitar, with separate content for acoustic and electric players.
These last two tabs feel a little bit out of place, and it’s hard to tell whether or not this is content that you will also get if you go through the Guitar Fundamentals course. On the surface, this appears to give you the opportunity to go through a quick intro with the Practice for Beginners and Maintenance tabs, or to jump into a more lengthy process with the Core Learning System. Slight ambiguity aside, it’s nice to have options.
The “More Experienced” Section
If you go back to the homepage and click the I'm More Experienced button, you’ll be taken to the familiar Core Learning System flowchart, but now with the first two fundamentals courses blocked out in gray, and the other six blues, country and rock courses available to you, now displayed in red. It's just like the desktop version. Once again you’ll have tabs at the bottom of your screen. This time there are five extra options.
Styles, Techniques, Artist Studies, Practice, and Chords & Scales are all available if you choose to not filter your lessons by sticking to the Core Learning System. For example, the styles tab greets you with a list of 12 different styles.
Once you choose a style, you’re taken to a lessons page that’s presented the same way as the others, with a lesson title, focus, difficulty level and instructor photo. The rest of the tabs function the same way. The Techniques tab takes you straight to the lesson grid and breaks up content within that page. The following topics are covered:
- Alternate Picking
- Bending - Country
- Bending - Rock
- Finger Picking
- Hammer-ons and Pull-offs
- Harmonics - Pinch and Natural
- Hybrid Picking
- Left Hand
- Palm Muting
- Slide - Bottleneck
- Strumming - Basic
- Strumming - Boom-Chick
- Sweep Picking
- Touch Technique
- Whammy Bar
Learn Songs and the Gear Sections
The last two home page buttons are fairly simple, so we’ll just spend a few paragraphs on them. Let's start with the "Learn Songs" section. When you click on this box, you’ll be taken to the Learn Songs splash screen.
You then have four different ways to filter the song lessons in the iPad app, again in keeping with the main Guitar Tricks website:
- Top Hits
- Beginner Songs
- Master List
The style tab and master list were the two filters that I found the most useful. It’s a lot of fun to just pull up the master list and scroll through songs until you see something you recognize, which won’t take long considering how much content they have.
The iPad Lesson Interface
All of these categories and filters essentially lead you to the same video lesson page. And video lessons on the Guitar Tricks iPad app are all presented in a format that looks like this:
The interface is intuitive and easy to navigate. The video player is also quick, glitch free and responsive to the iPad’s touch screen. No complaints there. If there are applicable tabs or diagrams, they’ll be displayed in the space below the video where you see the sheet music notation. Note the lessons tab on the left side of this screenshot.
Other things to make mention of:
A full screen option, 15-second rewind function and the option to slow down the video via a button labeled “1x” to the left of the progress bar. The lesson page does a good job of providing you the information you need without feeling overwhelming is distracting. Videos seem to fit into the background of the rest of the page and appear to be very much a part of their surroundings in the app, making for an overall pleasant viewing experience. Overall, the Guitar Tricks iPad app does a great job of capturing the feel and convenience of the website and making it functional on a smaller device. It's a fantastic add on to an already solid product.
You can checkout our full rundown of the Guitar Tricks iPad app if you'd like more information about it.
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%. Here's a quick summary of the strengths and weaknesses.
The Weak Areas: Providing depth of niche guitar topics (vertical content)
Guitar Tricks falls a bit short when it comes to content depth. As I mentioned earlier, you’ll get a wide range of topics at the expense of a shallower drill-down into each one. Those looking for a deeper lane into specific topics, especially pertaining to music theory, might be disappointed.
The Strong Areas: Providing online guitar courses for beginners (horizontal content)
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, those who I’d bet would be most happy with their membership, will be on the beginner’s side of the guitar looking for a time-sensitive way to learn.
This is where Guitar Tricks excels, and in that regard, they've 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 per month 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.
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