Updated by Bobby
Recently updated on April 12th, 2021
Steve Stine has recently made some significant updates and changes to his program. This review has been updated to reflect those changes, including copy and screenshots.
GuitarZoom Review Summary
Stevie Stine's solid communication and teaching abilities alongside a dramatically improved membership structure and marketing plan, make Guitarzoom competitive in 2021.
Over the past year or so I've had a couple of people reach out to me and ask about Steve Stine's program, Guitarzoom. At the time of setting out to review it, I knew absolutely nothing about Stine or his website. Thus, my Guitarzoom review is detailing of my own personal experience using the program for the first time, having now gone through multiple iterations.
To write my review, I bought a membership with my own money, just so you know that I actually used, tested, and studied the material.
For our update and follow up, Steve's team gave me a temporary membership to look at some of their updates.
This is simply my documentation and impressions of the program during those two periods of use.
The first time around, I used Guitarzoom off and on for about a week. Hopefully you'll find my experience - and opinion - helpful as you search for your own resource. If you want to checkout other options, Guitar Chalk's online guitar lesson roundup is a good place to start.
Some Guitarzoom Alternatives
Here's how Guitarzoom is performing against some other alternatives that we've reviewed:
Guitarzoom's Weighted Rating Table
And here are our scoring details that show you how we get the final rating for Guitarzoom:
1. Content Quantity
2. EDU Quality
2. Topical Order
3. Topic Coverage
4. Song Section
7. Video Player
8. Site Design
Getting Started and Free Content
The Guitarzoom platform, put together by Steve Stine, starts every user with a basic account creation process. Sign up is pretty simple (you just need an email address or Google account) and once you get into the program there's actually a lot of free content.
Here's the signup page:
Signing up for the free account gives you access to about 30 free guitar lessons in what's called the "Toolbox", providing a decent beginner's course in and of themselves. They cover the following categories:
- Soloing Skills
- Audio Recording
- Gear, Tone, and Setup
- Scales and Fretboard Visualization
- Song writing
Videos in each section are usually between five and 10 minutes. For just having to create a free account for access, there's a ton of content here, certainly enough to keep you busy for awhile. If you want to continue on into a premium membership, you can try that out for free as well.
Whether you continue on or not, this is a good place to just get familiar with the content to see if you like the feel and vibe of the program. Before we get into the free trial and the paid/premium content, I'll give further impressions of the free section.
The Guitarzoom Free Lessons
Free content on Guitarzoom spans the categories I mentioned earlier.
Each video streams directly from the free account and from that page, making it easy to access.
All the videos are taught by Stine himself, covering content that's similar to the Guitar Tricks Fundamentals 1 course taught by Lisa McCormick, though Stine's material isn't as thorough.
Here are a few of the basics Stine covers in the fundamentals section:
- Parts of a guitar
- How to hold a guitar
- Basic strumming
- First chords
The video player looks like a Vimeo backend, which - when applicable - includes downloadable tabs in a PDF file. I had a little bit of trouble getting it to buffer in 1080p and skipping around wasn't super smooth. However, Steve's instruction is quite good. He speaks clearly, explains things thoroughly, and does a good job of demonstrating the concepts he's talking through.
Most of these lessons run between five and 10 minutes, giving you just under four hours of completely free instruction, just for signing up. While the content could be found elsewhere fairly easily, Stine does a decent job of producing the videos and explaining the content clearly, in a way that makes sense.
However, if we graded the free content as a full course, there are certainly some odd arrangement of topics.
For example, there's a strumming lesson listed before the lesson on learning your first chords. While it was easy enough for me to skip around in a way that made sense, this could potentially be confusing to a beginner who doesn't know where to start.
Taken alone, each video is helpful, but as a group, we wouldn't consider it a complete course. To get those, you have to brave the free trial prompt next to each segment in the free section.
Buying Courses from Guitarzoom and the VIP Membership
Here's what the first landing page looks like for upgrading to a premium membership, which is the first tier of membership the site offers:
In the past, this process has been extremely hard to decipher and a little heavy on the marketing tactics. But with the last update and re-do of the site, Stine and his team have made it dramatically simpler to sign up. Simply click, "Continue to Checkout" and you'll be dump on the following page with pricing clearly displayed:
Unlike before, you aren't marketed a free trial, perhaps since the free trial is already baked into all the free content we mentioned earlier. Below is a screenshot of my receipt, though it's the original one I used when I bought this course. Stine's team set me up with a free account for the update, which I used this time around to get screen shots and see the changes they've made.
Still, I like to keep these receipts posted so you know I did the work of actually looking into the content.
From here, you can go straight into the "My Courses" section, which look like this at the top of the same page your free content was viewed on. It's just a different tab in the left sidebar menu.
The amount of courses available depend on the tier of membership you have, which gives you the following options:
- Core Membership where you get access to over 40 courses and we're adding new ones
- Plus Membership which includes Core and additionally over 400 lessons
- Max Membership which includes both Core and Plus and gives access to 10 Masterclasses and monthly live lessons with Steve Stine
Depending on your level of membership, this is the content that will be available to you. The higher you go, the more content you get. It's now a pretty simple system, especially compared to year's past before their update.
If content is outside of your subscription's limits, you'll simply see an "Upgrade Button" instead of the blue lesson button.
Again, Stine and his team deserve credit here for significantly streamlining this process. There's still some confusion about what you have access to and what you don't, but if you start with the basic Core membership, some looking around and poking through the material will eventually make clear what you have access to and what you don't.
The Content Available with a Core Membership
From here on out, I'll focus on assessing the lesson content - without regard to membership tier - based on its own merit, and what I paid for it.
The Core Courses
In this section, I'll give some details and impressions of my time using some of the courses that came with my membership. They're similar to the content in the free lessons section, though a bit more organized around specific goals. They include the following, among others:
- Power Chord Creativity
- Creative Blues Soloing
- Blues Soloing
- Rock Licks
- Chords Made Easy
- Blues Guitar
- Creative Soloing
Let's go through a few examples.
I started with a course titled "Rock Licks," pictured below:
As you go through these lessons, most running between one and five minutes in length, Steve Stine teaches you specific licks for lead and building solos. It's not necessarily organized for beginners and doesn't explicitly state an intended skill level. Perhaps Stine's goal is to get you playing quickly if you're not a beginner and you have no need to cover the basics.
Stine does a good job of explaining some rock lead concepts, though it does feel like some of the content could be picked up elsewhere for free.
However, there's also a fair amount of valuable material that's well thought out, and professionally produced by Stine and his team:
It seems as though a lot of the content in this course is new, and that Stine focuses on helping you build riffs based on that specific style. It lacks some of the structure and forethought we see in other courses, but it's fun to jump through and find riffs that help you expand your muscle memory and playing vocabulary.
To the best of my knowledge, it doesn't appear as something that you need to work straight through, one lesson at a time.
If you like to learn by skipping around (and perhaps if you're a little ADHD), it could be a good fit for you.
Let's continue on to the second course.
Chords Made Easy & Power Chord Creativity
The section titled "Chords Made Easy" is structured more like an actual course, albeit a fairly simplistic one. You have content broken up into sections with "topics" where each topic is a single video.
Each section expands into videos that you can go through in a fairly intuitive and systematic order.
Once you get into the videos, it's a fairly easy user experience with a navigation system reflecting the structure of the full course. Stine also teaches this more like a full course, covering the most essential chord-related topics, including open, barre, power chords, and some related music theory.
Stine focuses this course on a lot of the physical aspects of learning chords like muscle memory and being able to learn by way of movement (i.e. bouncing from chord to chord).
Stine's teaching in this course is practical and effective. He's also a fairly strong communicator that annunciates clearly and does a good job keeping you interested, even while reading a script.
Soloing By Instinct
In my limited Guitarzoom economy, the soloing courses seem to function as the token intermediate or "advanced" content, structured similarly to the chords course we just looked at.
Again, Stine is exceptionally good at explaining topics.
Alternate picking, right-hand technique, Pentatonic scales, and basic solo-building are all explained effectively, in a good balance of sounding both scripted and informal. His explanation method is similar to Anders Mouridsen from Guitar Tricks.
Lessons are also a little longer in this course, hovering between five and 10 minutes. Yet, it still doesn't seem like enough time to truly cover a lot of the content. For example, concepts like open strings and triplets only get one video each, which seems like a major undersell of how much you could do with just those two concepts.
Stine breaks away from instruction for the last two modules in favor of jam track soloing, similar to the 36 licks course we've already looked at.
Most of the time, the content that is available is quite good, or at least somewhat helpful. This is true of most courses in the "My Courses" section that we've been going through.
Though it's not necessarily organized, the courses - as standalone resources - are all well put together and fairly helpful.
A good follow up here would be to see them placed in some kind of chronological order that a user could follow. We found ourselves jumping around a lot, just focusing on whatever interested us.
Stine and his team have done a good job of making their program better, easier to use, and easier to sign up. One of the major issues still holding the course back is navigation and topical order, which don't seem to get a lot of attention in the program yet.
However, there's more value in the Core membership than we thought the first time around (when it was called VIP membership), and the content is great for someone who likes to skip around and work on things in smaller chunks.
Guitarzoom is making strides, and we'd say the last update was a major step in the right direction.
If you have questions about our Guitarzoom review or the grading process, feel free to reach out via the comments section below.