Written by Bobby
Parent article: Advanced guitar lessons
Truefire VS JamPlay
In a direct comparison, both TrueFire and JamPlay are very similar programs, catering to intermediate and advanced players. We'd give JamPlay a slight edge based on our ratings system.
While not being the biggest in terms of membership count, JamPlay and TrueFire are two of the most comprehensive video guitar lesson resources available. They both stock a lot of nuanced material that caters to a wide range of styles and musical genres. They're also designed to be challenging and impactful to a wider range of skill, with plenty of content for the intermediate and advanced players.
This is a head-to-head comparison of the two programs, since I've reviewed them both individually and have found them to be similar in their approach to teaching guitar and building their course catalogue.
Here are links to each individual review:
Similarities aside, I'll focus on the differences between JamPlay and TrueFire, looking at course content, membership, pricing and all the details we can summarize in table charts.
Compare with Similar Programs
JamPlay vs TrueFire: A Direct Side-by-Side Comparison
Before getting into deeper content differences, we'll separate all the FAQ-type highlights like price, membership and other front line specs. The initial eye test bodes well for TrueFire, primarily since they have such a large volume of material.
Members as of 2018
Free Trial Period
Total Number of Lessons
Styles (Genres) Covers
Monthly (non-promo) Price
TrueFire has a massive amount of content, all of which is available through a streaming membership or via direct download. They also have a lot of instructors and courses that are standalone, where they'll do a course for a specialty area or style which isn't part of a larger series.
For example, Tommy Emmanuel does four separate groups of lessons on his fingerpicking style. This covers a specific discipline and adds another instructor to the TrueFire roster.
In this manner, it can look a little inflated, but TrueFire is still the real deal.
No matter how you cut it up, they just have a ton of guitar lessons.
Skill Level, Depth and Challenge
Both of these programs address the entire spectrum of skill, yet tend to attract the more intermediate and advanced students, or those looking for a nuanced stylistic lesson on a particular technique. In both cases, the quality throughout the skill level spectrum is tremendously good, though we like JamPlay's beginner material a little bit better.
Since the scope of TrueFire is so large, we like JamPlay's beginner lessons because they feel less crowded and simpler to navigate. They have all their beginner material in something called "Phase 1" so it's relatively easy to work your way through the lessons. Even so, it's hard to find much to complain about with either program's entry-level content.
Site Structure, Design and User Experience
Design and user interface are a big part of grading and/or comparing any website. Since JamPlay recently did a face lift and major update of their web design, they're more modernized and easier to navigate than TrueFire. Though from a design perspective, both sites are fairly good.
Home Page (logged out)
Interior Course Navigation
JamPlay's design still has some weak areas, but recent updates have made them far more competitive in this category.
Video Player Quality and Features
JamPlay's design gets a lot better when you focus on just the video player, which is quite good and surrounded by an intuitive interface. However, TrueFire's video interface matches the quality of the rest of their site with a sleek design, plenty of functionality and a SoundSlice server behind it.
Slow Down/Speed Up
Full Screen Quality and Pixelation
Both of these players do a lot right and are hard to compare with any real complaints. I'd like to see some third party muscle behind JamPlay's setup, like Wistia for Guitar Tricks or Soundslice for TrueFire. But again, the critical differences between the two are very minimal.
In either case, you're getting treated to a solid and effective user experience.
Supplemental Material: JamPlay vs TrueFire
Supplemental material might be JamPlay's strongest area, though TrueFire does a good job with this as well. Both programs almost always have a ton of additional text, audio and even - on occasion - Guitar Pro files to go along with their video lessons.
Tabs and Notation
Guitar Pro Files
TrueFire does have a Songsterr-style tab that plays along with the audio. While this is helpful, I still tend to prefer JamPlay's supplemental material, just because they often have more of it. Of course, this depends on which two lessons you're comparing. Both programs do a really solid job in this category.
Song Lessons Section: JamPlay vs TrueFire
If song lessons are your primary concern, Guitar Tricks runs away with the title in that particular category. Between JamPlay and TrueFire, JamPlay is a safer bet, with more songs and more comprehensive coverage of those songs. Neither program does a great job with the navigation of this content, but in a head-to-head comparison, I like JamPlay's setup a little better.
Song Coverage (completeness)
Easy Song Versions
Both programs have room to improve in this area, but JamPlay's more direct competition with Guitar Tricks has clearly pushed them to invest more in this part of their program.
Concluding the TrueFire vs JamPlay Comparison
TrueFire does have more guitar lessons than any other site that I know of. They're also incredibly strong on specialty courses, nuanced topics and niche areas of study. At the same time, JamPlay is strong in these areas as well, while doing a better job with their song lessons and supplemental material. In a head-to-head comparison, both programs are great for intermediate to advanced guitar students (and teachers) with few weak spots to exploit.
I'd recommend giving both of them a trial run and exploring the content. In the first place, you might just find more of what you're looking for on one site or the other. For example, if TrueFire has a style or course that addresses a specific topic that you want to work on, it's an easy call.
Here's a link to each program:
I should also point out that 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, and certainly not that can't compare with additional options. Rather, it's an issue of what you want out of a program and what strengths you want to prioritize.
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 know some of the folks from both companies and can attest that they're upstanding people who are passionate about putting out a quality product.
Credits, References and Article Info
- Article formatting and Content: Bobby Kittleberger
- Proof Reading: Millie Roark
- TrueFire Contact: Zach Wendkos
- JamPlay Contact: Aaron Miller
- Products tested on: Lenovo Desktop with Widescreen Monitor and Apple 27" iMac