Our Verdict and Review Summary
Though well-designed with an amicable teaching style, Guitareo falls far short of its own price tag, with limited topical coverage.
I remember watching Nate Savage's instructional videos on YouTube quite a few years ago (he still has a lot) and finding them really helpful. For awhile he ran guitarlessons.com, which is now more of a front to his paid Guitareo program. Since that program has been around for awhile, I thought I'd dig into the seven-day free trial and check it out for myself, in order to run it through our ratings system and provide potential buyers with a full Guitareo review.
In this review I'll do a ratings breakdown first (which I setup after writing the entire article) then go through pricing, signup, and the interior of Nate's program. If you have questions, feel free to drop those in the comments section at the bottom of the page.
Point Value (weight)
1. Content Quantity
2. EDU Quality
2. Topical Order
3. Concept Coverage
4. Song Section
7. Video Player
8. Site Design/Navigation
Compare to Similar Programs
If you're looking for more help, information about other the recommendations mentioned above or other options, I've cataloged a lot of information about online guitar lesson resources I recommend that might be helpful to you.
Guitareo Pricing and Membership Options
Nate Savage has done a really good job giving you multiple ways to join his site and pay for your lessons. Primarily, you have three different "subscription" options at the bottom of their membership page.
It's a little difficult to see in the image, but you actually have three different subscription/pricing choices:
- A monthly membership: $19/month (without bonus material)
- A yearly membership at $97/year
- A lifetime membership for $297 (limited number of these available)
When I wrote this Guitareo review, it said they had 67 spots left in the lifetime signup option, which is perhaps the best value of the three.
What about a free trial?
Guitareo does offer a free trial but, weirdly, does not advertise it or make it obviously accessible on their website. I was able to find it at this URL: https://www.guitareo.com/maru
I have no idea what "maru" means or stands for, but it gets you to simple signup interface that doesn't require a credit card.
From there, you'll setup a simple user account:
Once you click the green complete button, you're good to go. You'll be redirected to a new page that starts your Guitareo lesson experience.
Using the Program
Issues with thE Welcome Screen
There are a few things that are kind of confusing about this welcome screen. First, they don't offer any intermediate or advanced options. If you don't want to start as a "beginner" then you'll need to head to the "Explore Other Learning Paths" option. What's also strange is that both the Beginner Electric Guitar and Beginner Acoustic Guitar options lead to the same course, which are both pictured with an acoustic guitar.
For example, this is the "Playing Your First Song" course lesson listing in the "Beginner Electric Guitar" learning path.
You can see that this learning path suddenly becomes a course, the same course under both the electric and acoustic guitar learning paths using only acoustic guitar videos. In my view, this is extremely problematic because learning songs on an acoustic guitar is a vastly different experience and discipline than doing so on an electric guitar.
The Scope of Learning Paths
Another thing I noticed is that some of the learning paths have a very small scope and short content lineup. For example, the "Jazz Learning Path" only has two courses with 10 lessons each. Those lessons range from five to 11 minutes in length. This isn't bad, but it's fairly small by comparison to other guitar lesson platforms.
Again, it's easy to see that learning paths are just some of the ways that they've organized content that's already in the "Courses" section. I would advise checking there to get a feel for everything that's available in this program. Otherwise, the navigation using the learning paths is a bit confusing and feels incomplete, like they're trying to get the content to stretch further. There definitely needs to be more of a distinction (or any distinction) between electric and acoustic guitar content.
Let's look at the lessons themselves and the actual meat of the content.
Lessons and Video Player
When I review online guitar lesson programs, I like to spend some time focusing on the video player and what the experience is like for the user. With Guitareo, you'll start by first choosing a course like we did from the learning path. For my example, I'll click "Courses" on the top-most menu, which gets me all the course options in the program (without learning path filtering).
I'll try "The CAGED System 1" course. Here's how each course page is structured:
The actual lesson page is pretty simple. You've got an HD video player and a few basic controls.
If you scroll down through the page you'll notice some additional course navigation and a comments section.
The additional navigation and social elements are nothing to write home about, but I did notice that Nate himself answers many of the comments and questions posted to these pages, which gives you a feeling of having more direct access to the teacher.
On lessons with diagrams, those will be available here as well, with documentation made available for direct download.
Nate and the other instructors on the site (there are about six total) are good in front of the camera and have done an excellent job of producing the videos. However, the breadth of the content is a lot thinner than sites like Guitar Tricks and JamPlay. Videos are shorter and they don't cover topics as in-depth as I would like to see, especially for the price.
Guitareo's content seems to fall in line more with Fender Play, which I've been critical of for their lack of depth and topical brevity.
Still, the site is designed well and Nate does a good job of patiently walking you through the topics he does cover. Explanations of material is clear, concise and demonstrated with good camera angles in a way that's easy to digest. I'd just like to see a more thorough curriculum, which is perhaps something they'll look to add as the site grows.
Guitareo's Song Section
Their song section is another area where Guitareo weirdly seems to over-promise and under-deliver. The intro to their songs page uses the term "famous cover songs" but then only lists nine songs, six of which are Christmas songs.
My assumption here is that this is an area that Nate and his team just haven't built up yet. I'm also assuming that they haven't (or don't have the means to) obtained licensing for more popular songs. It's a major value detraction for Guitareo, especially since they're priced similarly to Guitar Tricks and JamPlay, which have thousands of licensed song lessons.
The Play-Along Tracks
If you continue onto the Play-Along Tracks page you'll see that Guitareo has spent a lot more time building these kinds of lessons as opposed to full song lessons. The play-along tracks are lessons "in the style of" certain popular artists, usually mentioned in the lesson description.
It's essentially a fun way of going through the process of building chord progressions, melody lines, and learning how to improvise.
But again, the material feels very basic and limited.
Many of the videos are short, without a ton of focus on the original artist. I like that Nate does a good job of explaining the process, but he just leaves a lot of information off the table, much of which would be inside the purview of his material.
Chords and Scales Section
Guitareo keeps a section called "Chords and Scales" which - as far as I can tell - only includes chord diagrams. When you click on the diagram, it takes you to the video lesson that teaches you how to play that particular chord. It's essentially just another way of sorting through the material.
Again, scales are conspicuously missing from this page, yet the quick access to videos for each chord is somewhat helpful.
Live Sessions and Archives
The last feature I'll cover, Guitareo Live, might be one of the site's stronger sources of appeal. Nate and Andrew Clarke (another instructor) will do Q&A and answer questions from users live, where the content is then posted to the "Archive" section. This material is much longer and often more nuanced than a lot of the course material.
Now, it's important to note that these are very informal, podcast-style resources. But, they do give you an opportunity to access Nate and other instructors directly, which is a component that's often missing from other online guitar platforms.
The direct access to teachers certainly has some appeal. Whether or not this does enough to justify the "industry standard" price tag is another question. Personally, I would say no, just because there are a lot of places you can go to get a similar format, free of charge. Again, it's very much like a podcast, a format which is always free of charge.
Nate is a good teacher who has done a lot of things right with Guitareo. His website is well-designed, easy to use, and he's certainly strong as a pure music teacher. It's also worth noting that he doesn't pander to you with an over-marketed product like Fender Play tends to do. At the same time, there are a lot of segments of Guitareo that feel very unfinished and incomplete, which is a difficult pill to swallow when the pricing is virtually identical to much larger, well-established sites. The trade-off is that you're going to have an easier time getting instructor interaction yet with substantially less content available to you.
Since my job is to critique sites like this and look out for you - the consumer - I can't recommend Guitareo in good conscience because they simply don't offer a lot of substance in comparison to other sites that charge (literally) the exact same amount.
I think Guitareo has a good platform that they can build on, but until more of the building occurs, I would advise spending your $19 per month elsewhere.
Question About the Guitareo Review
Do you have questions about my Guitareo review or other programs I've mentioned here? If so, feel free to leave them in the comments section below, and I'll do my best to help out.