Updated by Bobby
Updated on April 26th, 2022
Updated screenshots for 2022 and made minor changes to article formatting. Also added compare buttons for lessons in comparison table. Also added new sections highlighting beginner benefits of each program.
Guitar Tricks VS JamPlay (Which one?)
Comparison Verdict: Guitar Tricks
Guitar Tricks and JamPlay - two of the best online guitar programs in existence - are similarly reliable and well-developed, though we like Guitar Tricks just a bit better for its song program and topical organization, particularly for beginners.
Parent article: Guitar Tricks Review
Guitar Tricks and JamPlay are the most popular online guitar programs and both incredibly solid programs. There are other great online guitar lesson programs out there as well, like TrueFire and Guitar Gate, just to name a couple that come to mind.
Yet Guitar Tricks and JamPlay are still two of the most common and well-known options. If you wonder how they compare to one another, I'll show you in this article. The issue is that they have different strengths and are better suited for different people and situations. Every time I do a review of a site like Guitar Tricks or JamPlay, I try and identify the type of person that would benefit the most from that product. That way you can look and see if you fit that profile, before you spend your hard earned money. This comparison is the same way.
It's meant to let you look at the two options side by side, without any sensationalizing comments about them being "the best" or that "there's nothing else that comes close."
They're just two good choices that we're going to look at together.
What does each program offer beginners?
To summarize, I'll make some quick highlights here about what Guitar Tricks and JamPlay each offer beginners, in particular.
The biggest attraction for beginners to Guitar Tricks would include the carefully crafted Fundamentals I and II courses, as well as the fully-stocked (and licensed) song lessons section.
Here are some of the lessons from the Fundamentals course:
- Welcome to the guitar
- The Strings and tuning
- How does the guitar work?
- Your first simple chords: G and C
JamPlay also has beginner courses, broking down between acoustic and electric guitars. Within each category, you actually have multiple courses to choose from, taught by different instructors.
Here are some of the beginner courses in JamPlay
- Beginner Guitar with Steve Eulberg
- Beginner Guitar with David Isaacs
- Blues Guitar for Beginners
- Rock Guitar for Beginners
Compare Similar Programs
Watch the Comparison (video summary)
Pricing, Trials, and Basic Features
For starters, we'll separate all the basic features like price, membership and other front line specs.
Members as of 2018
Free Trial Period
Total Number of Lessons
Styles (Genres) Covers
Monthly (non-promo) Price
Guitar Tricks has an edge in popularity, largely because of their lengthy free trial and having gotten their start back in 1998, while JamPlay didn't surface until 2006. However, JamPlay tends to have better yearly pricing and a wider range of styles covered by more instructors. Let's get into a more detailed comparison in terms of the skill levels covered and material depth.
Skill Level, Depth and Challenge
To actually compare the two programs you need to look at their strengths and weaknesses in terms of skill levels they address and how well they address them. While both programs have material for all skill levels, I tend to find Guitar Tricks is better in the realm of broad beginner guitar lessons while JamPlay has more to offer the intermediate or advanced player.
While Guitar Tricks tends to do a much better job of ordering content and organizing their material around entry-level lessons, JamPlay has more for the intermediate and advanced student.
Site Structure, Design and User Experience
Regardless of a web site's topic, it's hard to talk about how good or bad it is without talking about design and user interface. In the case of Guitar Tricks vs JamPlay, you've got a lot of different design topics and aspects of user interaction to consider. This is an area where Guitar Tricks tends to fair a little better than JamPlay.
Home Page (logged out)
Interior Course Navigation
The only place I really like JamPlay's design more than Guitar Tricks is in the video section of their lessons and courses. JamPlay's navigation system at the video level is really good, while elements outside of those pages seem a little dated and more difficult to navigate.
Video Player Feature Comparison
Video players are at the center of these guitar lesson programs, though the designs are fairly similar. I like JamPlay's setup a little bit better, yet both are up-to-date and well-made.
Slow Down/Speed Up
Full Screen Quality and Pixelation
While the Guitar Tricks player isn't quite as feature-rich as JamPlay's, their Wistia backend is a big positive, meaning they have the power of Wistia's servers behind their content. JamPlay's video quality seems to be marginally better, especially on larger format displays where their videos seem slightly sharper.
The only reason I gave JamPlay a bump in the Slow Down/Speed Up section is because they allow you to both decrease and increase the speed of playback while Guitar Tricks only lets you decrease the speed. Increased speed can be really helpful for when you want to cover ground in a more timely manner.
Both programs add supplemental material to their videos wherever it's applicable. However, this is an area where JamPlay has a clear advantage and their more thorough approach really comes into focus.
Tabs and Notation
Guitar Pro Files
Both programs do a solid job of displaying tabs and notation, but JamPlay goes the extra mile with a ton of additional content, where applicable. Chord diagrams come in tab and diagram format while audio files are available for nearly every aspect of each lesson. There are even a lot of videos, particularly song lessons, where they'll include Guitar Pro tab files for download. I don't want to sell Guitar Tricks short, but this is definitely an area where the thorough approach from JamPlay is paying off.
Song Lessons Section
Both JamPlay and Guitar Tricks feature a fully-licensed song lesson section. In JamPlay, it's listed as "Phase 3" of the four sections, while Guitar Tricks simply sections it off as a standalone element outside of their core learning system. These song lessons are possibly the strongest element of the Guitar Tricks program.
Song Coverage (completeness)
Easy Song Versions
The only area where Guitar Tricks doesn't have JamPlay's number is in the instructors section, as JamPlay does a good job getting actual artists to come teach their songs. This includes, among others, Staind's Mike Mushok and Joel Kosche formerly of Collective Soul.
So which is better?
Speaking broadly, Guitar Tricks does a much better job with their site design, volume of content and organization, while JamPlay tends to be a bit more thorough and in-depth, yet with less content.
I should point out that these are not the only two good options.
In fact, there are a ton of fantastic online guitar lesson resources, both free and paid, that are worth a look.
If you're looking for more details on these, or other programs, here are a few reviews I've done that might be helpful:
In most cases you aren't dealing with one that is simply better than the other. Rather, it's an issue of what you want out of a program and what strengths you want to prioritize. In this case, if you want more in-depth, intermediate to advance content, JamPlay is a better option in your situation.
That doesn't mean it's better than Guitar Tricks, just that it might be more valuable and suitable to you at the moment.
By the same token, guitar students that prioritize song lessons, beginner content and easier navigation will lean towards the Guitar Tricks program.
Are Guitar Tricks and JamPlay worth the money?
Given the situations we've described for each, both Guitar Tricks and JamPlay are absolutely worth the money, as they're two of the best online guitar lesson programs available. The promotional offers and yearly pricing is better, but even the $20ish monthly cost isn't bad, if you want to take it a month at a time.
Questions about the Programs
If you have questions about either of these programs, feel free to drop me a line in the comments section below. I've worked for Guitar Tricks before, and have a good relationship with several of the folks at JamPlay, so I have a lot of familiarity with both companies.
They're good people, and I know both companies put in a lot of work to make sure they produce a high-quality product.
Credits, References and Article Info
- Article formatting and Content: Bobby Kittleberger
- Proof Reading: Millie Roark
- Guitar Tricks Contact: Ben Martin
- JamPlay Contact: Aaron Miller
- Products tested on: Lenovo Desktop with Widescreen Monitor and Apple 27" iMac
Do either site have a facility for seeing fretboard and chord diagrams in a left-handed format?
Bobby Kittleberger says
Hey Steve – I checked with my contacts at both sites, and unfortunately neither of them offer fretboard or chord diagrams like this. I do believe that TrueFire lets you flip the videos so they appear to be playing left handed.
Let me know if I can be of any more help. Thanks for the comment.