Those who are thinking about picking up a guitar might look to some of the biggest brand names out there – every guitarist is familiar with Gibson, Ibanez, Yamaha, Washburn, and Fender.
Naturally, it’s likely that if you search for online guitar lessons you’ll come across Fender Play.
A platform that new learners are likely to trust given the weight of Fender’s influence in producing guitars and equipment, with some of the biggest names in music such as Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, and George Harrison utilizing their products.
However, it’s also likely that new guitarists will take to YouTube as one of their first sources of teaching materials, with thousands of videos teaching techniques and songs available.
Given his presence on the social media site, it can safely be assumed that most of those learners have come across Justin Guitar more than once on their voyages through the video-streaming platform.
With both being huge and recognizable names when it comes to learning guitar online, you may be thinking ‘which is better?’.
Well, question no more, because we’re here to give you the lowdown on these two sites by matching up Fender Play vs JustinGuitar to help you decide which is the perfect platform for you to hone your skills on.
Let’s start by filling you in on the background of these two websites.
Backgrounds of Fender Play & JustinGuitar
The story of Fender dates back to the 1940s, where radio repairman Leo Fender teamed up with musician and inventor Doc Kaufmann to form a company producing amplifiers and lap steel guitars.
Eventually, Fender started working under his own name, building guitars and amplifiers and building up his brand to the behemoth that we all know and love today.
The online learning platform Fender Play started with the company’s creation of Fender Digital in 2015, an application designed to connect guitarists around the world which eventually evolved to include lessons and instruction from professional guitarists.
The platform has since grown to feature over 40,000 video lessons and 1,200 audio lessons over 900 courses, attracting almost 1,000,000 subscribers with their offerings.
JustinGuitar, on the other hand, is much younger as a brand, officially starting in 2003, though Justin Sandercoe himself (the founder of JustinGuitar) taught for many years beforehand.
It’s worth noting that JustinGuitar has been providing online lessons to and encouraging guitarists for much longer than Fender.
With a little over 1,800 lessons in total, JustinGuitar may seem to be overshadowed by the giant corporation Fender, but to have guitar legends Tommy Emmanuel, Mark Knopfler, Brian May, and Martin Taylor (among many others) backing him up, he must be doing something right.
Registration & Prices
The registration for both Fender Play and JustinGuitar is simple and easy, with both also offering mobile applications for ease of use and convenient learning.
The fact that they both offer apps is a huge plus since many guitarists (especially beginners without many tools at their disposal) use their phones when playing as metronomes and tuners.
Registration for Fender Play can be completed either through their app or website and can be done with an email address, or through Apple or Facebook account.
Once signed in, you can take advantage of their 7-day free trial (14 if you hand over your credit card details), and then move on to pick your instrument and genre.
Prices for Fender Play are:
· $9.99 (monthly)
· $89.99 (yearly)
Meanwhile, JustinGuitar tries to offer its users as much content and encouragement as it can for a free trial. One of Sandercoe’s mission statements is that “making music and teaching the world how to play guitar for free is what I’ll do forever”.
As such, his beginner courses are free, and learners will be able to find countless tutorial videos and song lessons readily available on his YouTube channel. For those wishing to commit, he does also offer paid services.
Like Fender Play, the sign-up process can also be completed on the website or app, with the only option being to use an email address.
Prices for JustinGuitar are:
· $9.99 (6 months)
· $99.99 (lifetime)
So what exactly, is the motive to sign up for JustinGuitar’s paid subscription?
Content & Progression Systems
As soon as you’ve picked an instrument and style, Fender Play drops you straight into a learning path, allowing you to pick your level to jump ahead or follow their recommended journey for beginners, starting with fundamentals and gradually leading into advanced techniques.
To be brutally honest, there’s not really much more to say about Fender Play’s progression system. It’s simple, easy, and does exactly what it says on the tin.
If you’re more interested in playing along to your favorite songs, you can also skip ahead to lessons around those, though it’s recommended you learn the skills required before throwing yourself in.
JustinGuitar urges users to create routines in their dashboards to keep track of your lessons and progress. You’ll be able to choose from the available courses, split up into different levels of beginner, intermediate, advanced, and skills such as scales, chords, theory, etc.
Each course features levels to guide you through it, while also allowing experienced players to skip levels to suit their abilities, as they see fit. For those interested in developing their abilities in a specific style, Justin also offers courses for rock, jazz, blues, and folk guitar.
Before jumping into guitar lessons, you’ll also find a short write-up about the course with the techniques that you should learn before jumping right in.
Like Fender Play, JustinGuitar has lessons for popular songs too, and even lets you write in suggestions and requests, though he does kindly ask not to submit more than one request a month in order to prevent eager guitarists from flooding his inbox.
If you decide to pay for a subscription, you’ll also get access to a few more additional courses and PDF ebooks focused on music theory, but these aren’t essential for the hobby guitarist and really aren’t needed to become a better player.
Think of them more like additional bonuses for when you want to contribute to Justin and learn more serious theory.
Fender Play’s course system is laid out in a really clean manner, making it extremely clear where you’re supposed to go and what you’re supposed to do, making navigating between courses and lessons extremely easy.
They also have a tuner app that can be downloaded to make setting yourself up for lessons a little bit quicker.
Like the rest of the site, the lessons also look great and are simple enough for beginners to follow without any problems.
Over on JustinGuitar, one of the first things we noticed is the way the whole site is written. While Fender Play’s onsite content seems corporate-like it was written for professional use, JustinGuitar’s content feels like it was written by a friend.
It’s extremely colloquial and friendly and is sure to put nervous learners at ease in preparation for their first lesson, which is exactly what you want from a teacher.
While his platform might not be quite as clean or polished as Fender’s, JustinGuitar is sublimely better simply due to the way he approaches the user and guides them through the site.
The entire process feels like it was tailored just for you. JustinGuitar also makes the effort to provide additional tools such as an interval ear trainer, metronome, tempo calculator, and blank papers to draw chord boxes, TAB, and manuscripts on.
Justin’s simple lesson interface consists of a video link from YouTube, lesson notes describing the content of the lesson, and a notepad for you to add your own notes.
While Fender Play’s user interface is really nicely laid out and easy to follow, after visiting JustinGuitar’s website Fender Play’s biggest downside becomes strikingly clear; it’s extremely impersonal.
As far as teaching goes, while Fender Play’s instruction is in no way bad, it really is quite good (the interface looks great and the teachers are super helpful), but the whole thing just lacks the natural charisma and charm that seems to come so naturally with Justin.
Who Wins The Fender Play vs JustinGuitar Showdown?
While we love and respect Fender and everything they’ve done for guitarists worldwide, when we pit Fender Play vs JustinGuitar, the clear winner is the people’s man, Justin Sandercoe.
Without the pressure of a corporation behind him, Justin has managed to provide millions of guitarists with supreme tutoring for free. We get it, Fender is a business and needs to make money, and if a polished platform is important to you, by all means, use Fender Play.
However, for the sheer amount of expertise, experience, and helpful tools offered by Justin for absolutely free, it would be insane not to make the most of his platform and really appreciate what he’s doing for guitarists.
And after all, if Steve Vai and Steve Wozniak tell you to go with JustinGuitar, you go with JustinGuitar, any day of the week!