This is my full review of Simply Guitar - a fun and engaging guitar learning app for aspiring guitar players, developed by Simply, formerly known as JoyTunes.
Simply Guitar is one of the more popular guitar learning apps for beginners, designed to teach and focus on guitar basics. Topics like tuning your guitar, improving your technique, learning how to read guitar tabs, playing your favorite songs, and learning chords - among others - are covered.
Is it a good app to help you get started on your guitar learning experience?
Maybe, if you’re willing to give the free trial a shot.
Is it worth it after the trial is up?
Let's dig into the details in our Simply Guitar review.
Read more: Best guitar learning apps
Full Simply Guitar Rating
We use a weighted rating system when we review guitar lesson sites and apps. If you have questions about this system, feel free to give us a shout in the comments section below.
Point Value (weight)
1. Content Quantity
2. EDU Quality
2. Topical Order
3. Concept Coverage
4. Song Section
7. Device Functionality
8. Ease of Use
My Experience with Simply Guitar.
When I first downloaded Simply Guitar, I was greeted with the app's lively and vibrant colors, which make for an excellent user interface, especially since the app is a good fit for all ages, particularly kids and families. The neon purple and green will definitely help keep their attention.
You'll first be asked a few questions meant to customize your experience and sort of build a personalized program.
You will be asked questions like if you own a guitar, what type it is, your name, your age, if you know how to tune a guitar, if you know how to play any chords, what your goal is, what genre of music you're most interested in learning how to play, and what song you’re looking forward to playing by the end of your lessons.
I went with “She Will be Loved” by Maroon 5.
Once you answer these questions, the app will build your customized teaching program.
What I did notice (and like) about the app, is that it doesn’t force you to give out any personal information (sign up) or sign in with Google/Facebook. You can easily skip that part and continue using the app as a guest.
Using the app
The app's interface is pretty clear and fairly easy to use. On the left side you have three sections:
In the Courses section you have your Guitar Basics 1, which is the only free course available before needing a paid account. This course will teach you how to hold and tune your guitar and play your first chord. A video tutorial will pop up to help introduce you to the course, tune your guitar, give you a few tips, and explain a few guitar principles.
Keep in mind that you will need to switch on your phone's microphone since the app will listen to you as you play to correct mistakes and assist you along the way.
You'll begin by learning how to tune your guitar and properly sit while playing to avoid discomfort. The next task is to learn how to play the correct frets on the right strings.
After you’ve covered some fret basics, the next challenge is to start learning your open chords. You learn how to position your fingers to hit the correct frets and strings, allowing you to play the chord smoothly with a clean sound (no buzzing or missing notes).
Once you’ve got some familiarity with the chord, you’ll be ready to dip into your first song. In my case, it was “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran, which was fun to play. Of course, because you're just getting started, you only get approximately 20 seconds of the song.
Getting into songs so quickly isn't something we typically endorse, but Simply Guitar gets a pass since they seem to do it in small segments.
After learning your first chord you unlock the Chord Library, where there are plenty of chords to explore using the interactive practice mode.
After about 20 more minutes of playing, adjusting my guitar, and fixing my hand and finger form to produce a clear tone for the app, I got to start working on my second song, "She Will Be Loved" by Maroon 5.
Once I tapped on the song, I was greeted with membership costs and plan options, instead of the song video tutorial.
This is where you need to sign up with a premium membership to keep going, so I logged in with our paid account.
And that was the end of the Courses section, at least the free part.
For what it's worth, once you purchase a membership, both Simply Sing and Simply Piano automatically become fully accessible. So you can download the apps and enjoy learning piano for free and becoming a better singer. Just use the same login for each app.
It's also important to note that a single subscription can include up to five profiles, again making it a good fit for families.
Experience as a Paid Member
After becoming a member, I was able to access Chord Basics 1, 2, and 3 where you continue to learn different chords and work on songs. I spotted “Creep” by Radiohead, “Moves like Jagger” by Maroon 5, and “No Woman No Cry” by Bob Marley.
I'm assuming these are based on my selection of Pop and Rock at the genre questionnaire from when I first started the app.
Again, it feels early for songs if you're starting this program as a complete beginner, but Simply Guitar does a good job of integrating them with the chords and concepts at hand.
Guitar Basics 2 and 3 also became accessible. These courses focus on how to perfectly position your hand and fingers so that the sounds from each note come out clearly, with a particular focus on switching strings.
In the next section you apply some of what you've learned by mixing chords and riffs and eventually playing more songs that are now more difficult than the previous offerings.
This section is titled: Moving on to Lead Foundations 1 and 2
Once again, the user interface is quite good.
Color choice, navigation, and ease of use are all a strong point of the app, which - again - makes it inviting for beginners.
And at this point we're getting into some more difficult concepts. These courses teach you how to comfortably jump between open strings, jump between frets, and get more familiar with switching strings in general.
Chord Essentials 1 and 2 and 3 expand on the chord playing skills you learned earlier by teaching you how to mix up your chords. You'll also cover advanced switching techniques, and additional chords that prepare you to expand your song vocabulary. “Back to Black” by Amy Winehouse, and “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi are both on deck in the Rock Legend 2 course.
In my experience, things start to become more difficult once you reach the Lead Foundations 3 course. This is where the pentatonic scales and basslines are introduced, taking you more firmly out of the chords and single notes concepts and into patterns.
It feels a little hasty, but a lot of this depends on what skill level you start at with Simply Guitar.
From here there are handful of courses that are quickly introduced. The Power Chords 1 course teaches you how to use a pick and the power chords concept, both of which we'd argue should have been earlier in the curriculum.
- Power Chords 1
- Soloist 1 and 2
- Strumming Basics 1
- Picking Foundations
- Rock Legend 3
The Soloist 1 and 2 courses teach you how to switch your fingers on different frets using the proper technique, in preparation for soloing lessons.
Strumming Basics 1 where you’ll learn all about upstrokes, downstrokes, strumming patterns, and how to strum while switching chords.
And in Picking Foundations you’ll learn how to use and hold a pick specifically for lead guitar styles, and the proper technique to position your hand so you’ll hit all the notes smoothly as you pick through your guitar strings.
Once you’ve mastered all these courses, another Rock legend 3 course will pop up that lets you combine and apply all the skills you’ve acquired.
Continuing on, Soloist 3 and 4 are clearly similar to the previous soloist courses.
However, you'll learn even more switching positions while adding open strings and basslines, quick and advanced position shifts, intervals and interval switching. The application section includes Olivia Rodrigo’s “Driver License”, “American Boy” by Estelle, and a few others.
In Chord Essentials 4 and 5, more chords are introduced along with advanced switching and strumming techniques, and new songs to play.
In Rock legend 4 you'll learn “Watermelon Sugar” by Harry Styles, “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd, and a few other goodies.
At this point - assuming some dedicated practice time and a little suffering (sore fingers) - you will have covered the bulk of the beginner material. This will make the Fretboard Master 1 class a lot easier.
This course covers more advanced guitar solos, Chromatic exercises, travelling intervals, blues licks, and - perhaps more importantly - teaches you how to bend the finger position rules a bit so you can play more comfortably for a more enjoyable experience.
Moving on to Strumming Basics 2, you'll learn new strumming patterns and advanced chord switching. Songs for application include Britney Spears’ “Baby One more Time” (oddly enough) and “Happier” by Ed Sheeran.
This pattern of introducing a concept and using songs to apply the concept continues through all the courses.
Some additional courses include the following:
- Intermediate Chords 1 and 2
- Strumming Basics 3
- Fingerpicking Basics 1
The Songs section
The Songs section is the dedicated song hub. It’s where you’ll find all the songs you were asked to play from all the different courses you took. We mentioned a few of them earlier in each course, but there are actually a lot more, with all the course pre-requisites for each song. This is a nice touch, since it helps you get a feel for what you need to learn before just jumping into songs at random.
The Chords section
The third and final section is the Chords section. Here you will find all the chords you’ve learned throughout the courses. Right from Guitar Basics 1 all the way to Intermediate Chords 2. A total of 19 chords, to be exact.
Does it help you improve over time?
If you’re a beginner who’s eager to start playing, or maybe looking to improve your guitar skills or play your favorite songs (and can dedicate time for practicing) then this app definitely has some value and can help you get through the beginner topics fairly quickly
As with any educational program it takes time and patience, but Simply Guitar does set you up for success, largely because it does such a good job of dovetailing topic introduction with application.
We always look for that pattern when assessing guitar lessons and Simply Guitar has clearly taken the time to implement it.
Following that pattern in the app can definitely help you improve.
What is Simply Guitar's best use?
Simply Guitar is excellent if you’re looking to:
- Learn the basics: Tuning your guitar, how to properly sit and hold your guitar, learn your first chord, etc.
- Play basic and advanced chords while covering some elementary technical skills
- Play some popular songs.
- Learn scales
- Learn how to strum and fingerpick
I personally found the chord-focused courses to be the most helpful. They really help you master your chords and technique so you can change chords effortlessly and smoothly.
Who is the ideal Simply Guitar user?
I would highly recommend Simply Guitar to new students with zero guitar experience - no prior knowledge of chords, tabs, or technique. The app is also particularly ideal for kids and families because of the design and ease of use. Though it can be useful to all ages.
If you are an intermediate or advanced player, you might find the course's pace a bit slow. Moreover, it just doesn't have a lot of content that would apply to you.
Then again, that's not really how the app markets itself.
It doesn't claim to be for advanced players, or to be a completely comprehensive solution.
A couple times I felt frustrated with how the courses are limited, as you can’t get access to your next lesson before finishing your current one, even if you are a premium member or you're using the free trial. So if you are impatient, the setup of the courses might not be ideal for you.
Then again, it keeps you disciplined and going in a particular order - could be good or bad depending on your situation.
Price and Value
The app is free to download but doesn’t offer much content until you pay a subscription fee.
From there, they offer three pricing options:
- $149.99 a year (or $12.49 a month) billed after a free 7-day trial ends
- $18.66/months for 6 months
- $24.99/month for 3 months
- Each subscription includes 5 x profiles and 3 x apps, which for $12.49 a month is extremely cheap by industry standards.
The free version is very limited and somewhat pointless. Use it, sure - but if you’re serious about using the app and getting started, the yearly option is your cheapest at $12.49, you just have to pay it all up front.
This is cheaper than many other programs, which typically run about $20 per month.
Is it worth it? The simplest way to find out is by giving the 7-day free trial a shot. That definitely gives you enough time to make that decision for yourself.
The $24.99 per month feels high, especially with all the free content available online these days. However, $12.49 a month is more ideal, assuming you pay the annual charge of $144.99. The only issue there is that you probably won't need the app for that long. A happy medium would be the $18.66 for six months. That gives you a discount off the typical $20 a month that other programs cost and limits your risk if you don't need/want to use the app anymore.
All in all, Simply Guitar is a solid guitar learning app.
If you’re a beginner and want to take things slow and have the patience to take time with your courses, Simply Guitar is a great option for you.
Do you have questions about the app or our review process?
Maybe you've used it and want to share your experience.
Either way, hit us up in the comments section below and we'll chat about it.
Awesome review Joanna! One question I had though is does the app actually teach you to read and play to notes at some point or does it stick to only tab? Thanks!
Joanna Hamaoui says
Thank you! The app’s main focus is to teach you how to play chords and read tabs. There’s not much focus on guitar notation.