Written by Bobby
Learn to Play Review
Our Verdict and Review Summary
Though limited in its scope to absolute beginners, Walmart's Learn to Play program is a surprisingly good value that's fairly priced and properly limited to its target audience.
Walmart is in the music business. Through a program called Learn to Play, Walmart is offering an extremely cheap way for their customers to both pick up an acoustic guitar and access some online guitar lesson resources. This entire package incorporates several companies: Ameritone for the guitars, Karaokecloud.com for the lessons, and the Play-A-Tab device that's included with the guitar.
It's setup so that if you buy the guitar at Walmart, the website membership and Play-A-Tab device are both free.
What I want to do here is review Walmart's entire Learn to Play product.
We'll start with the guitar and work our way down to the Play-A-Tab device and website.
Guitar Chalk is an entirely reader-support website. Part of the way we do this is through the Guitar Tricks affiliate program at no extra cost to you.
See How Learn to Play Compares with Similar Programs
Learn to Play from Walmart
Point Value (weight)
Learn to Play Score
1. Content Quantity
2. EDU Quality
2. Topical Order
3. Concept Coverage
4. Song Section
7. Video Player
8. Site Design/Navigation
The Products and What You Get
The broad title of the program is "Learn to Play with Walmart." But inside that program is a multi-faceted system, all designed explicitly for the beginner. Your actual purchase is the guitar itself, for about $90 (with two different sizes to choose from), but that includes the following:
- The Ameritone Acoustic Guitar
- Three Month KaraokeCloud.com subscription
- The Play-A-Tab System
While our Learn to Play review will cover the guitar, I'm going to focus more on the entire process and how the experience helps you learn, particularly with the KaraokeCloud content and the Play-A-Tab system.
We'll start with the guitar and go from there.
The Ameritone Acoustic Guitar
The acoustic guitar package comes with all the basics you need to get started, including the Play-A-Tab system, picks, an electronic tuner, a guitar stand, and a strap. While the guitar itself is fairly basic and not meant to be the entire point of the purchase, it's a surprisingly decent-sounding acoustic that plays with low action. It sports a laminate Spruce top with laminate Mahogany back and sides.
One thing I would recommend changing out right away is the strings. I'm not sure what brand they are, but they feel really rough and don't slide well at all.
Even for a beginner, I don't recommend going cheap on acoustic strings.
Otherwise, the acoustic guitar isn't bad for what you pay and certainly serves the purpose of a beginner looking to get their feet wet. Between the guitar, KaraokeCloud.com, and the Play-A-Tab system, you can quickly get a feel for what it's like to play basic songs on the guitar.
While we wouldn't necessarily recommend skipping beginner lesson content in favor of learning songs, this method doesn't claim to teach you songs or the basics of beginner guitar. Instead, it's meant to give you a feel for what it's like to play and a taste of how it feels to learn popular (and easy) guitar songs.
KaraokeCloud and the Play-A-Tab System
The Play-A-Tab system, the thing in the above photo that looks like a Chord Buddy, is made to work specifically with the Karaoke Cloud website. There's some good and bad with this arrangement. First, the guitar and Play-A-Tab section in Karaoke Cloud only has 50 songs, which includes the most basic of songs, designed for those with zero guitar or musical experience.
Even open source music like "Oh Susana" and "Skip to My Lou" are included in the short library.
Part of the song selection is to make it fit within the Em, G, C, and D capabilities of the Play-A-Tab device.
The good is that sign up for this program is essentially free.
It seems that Karaoke Cloud is a subscription that is usually purchased by karaoke services or singers, where the Play-A-Tab section is just a lot more brief and not nearly as built up as the rest of the site. However, the three free months is plenty of time to use the device, play some of the songs and then move onto something more challenging.
How well does it work?
Of the four chords you can play with the Play-A-Tab device (red, orange, purple, and green buttons), all seem to come out fairly clear except for the E minor. The lowest three strings ring clear, but if you don't press hard enough, you'll hear a few dead notes and might accidentally mute the rest of the open strings.
The G, C, and D chord all sound clear, though you have to make sure you're strumming the right strings. While the Play-A-Tab device does a good job of fretting the correct strings for the chord, it doesn't necessarily do a great job of muting the strings that need to be muted for the chord to sound right.
Also, unlike the Chord Buddy, the Play-A-Tab device can't have individual pieces removed one at a time for practicing chords.
It's either all on, or all off.
Then, again, when it's included with the purchase of the guitar, it's vastly cheaper than the Chord Buddy, which we'd say is significantly overpriced.
Can the Play-A-Tab attachment fit on other acoustic guitars?
Because of the way it's setup, the Play-A-Tab device can only attach to the Ameritone acoustic guitar. That's not a huge deal, especially since buying the Ameritone acoustic package is the only way so far to get one of these, but it is a little bit of a bummer.
Is there enough education to justify the expense?
In terms of the overall value, I think you've got to look at the Ameritone guitar itself. If you're interested in the guitar, the rest of this program is essentially free. The Walmart Learn to Play system is selling you an instrument and not necessarily a subscription.
As for whether or not the KaraokeCloud membership is worth hanging on to, I would say no, at least for the guitar segment alone.
It's just not a big enough library yet.
You're also likely to outgrow the 50 song options and the Play-A-Tab device itself pretty quickly. After all, the goal of a device like the Play-A-Tab attachment or the Chord Buddy, is to not need it. If you're not comfortable enough with the guitar to strum a few actual chords after three months, you probably haven't practiced nearly enough.
A Few Complaints about KaraokeCloud
It's a little disappointing that there doesn't seem to be a way to slow down or speed up the song, which is played through a Vimeo embed
You also can't hear lyrics, even in the guitar sections since the songs are still structured for karaoke.
Who is it designed for?
The Learn to Play package from Walmart is not designed or intended to be a fully sufficient learning system. Like the Chord Buddy, the Play-A-Tab attachment and Karaoke Cloud membership are tools that should only be utilized by complete beginners.
But, I've got to give credit to Walmart and those that helped develop this program.
I've spoken with one of them directly, and the intent of Learn to Play is entirely beginner focused, and not masked as a comprehensive learning path.
Moreover, those that are already buying the guitar get the added learning tools at essentially no extra cost.
I'd say it's a fairly cheap and low-risk way to "try out" the guitar before you get into something more serious.
Beyond the Beginner Stages
In that respect, Learn to Play does not intend to be a viable solution for you after the beginner stages. Once you take the Play-A-Tab device off, you'll need to go elsewhere for instruction or rely on teaching yourself. In references to the above comparison table, we'd recommend a Guitar Tricks account, which is ideal for taking beginners into the more complex and intermediate topics.
You can sign up for a 14 day trial here, and even use it in conjunction with the Walmart Learn to Play program.
If you like Guitar Tricks, you can keep it going as supplemental to your learning, long after you've taken off the Play-A-Tab device.
While I do think the Learn to Play system and the Ameritone guitar leave some points on the table, I would have to add that cost and context are well-placed. Walmart knows their clientele, and it's a fair assumption that people buying an acoustic guitar from them are likely beginners.
If that's your camp, Learn to Play is a good way to try things out and get your feet wet.
On the other hand:
If you have any experience at all with the guitar, and you're confident enough to skip the Play-A-Tab device entirely, look for more advanced lesson resources.
Again, here are the alternatives we recommend:
Your Questions and Comments
Do you have questions about our Learn to Play review or about a particular aspect of the program?
Note that I actually had one of the Ameritone acoustics shipped to our office, took our own pictures, and experienced this system first hand. As such, I can take a decent shot at answering whatever questions you might have.
Feel free to leave them in the comments section below.
Additional Related Content
For those interested in more online guitar lesson resources, check out some of the following articles: