The future of music

Guitar Tricks vs Fender Play: Which is Better?

January 25, 2023
Guitar Tricks vs Fender Play

Disclosure: We are a professional review website that may receive compensation for the products we reviewAll recommendations are genuine and/or verified by myself!

Guitar Tricks has been on the market for a couple of decades. It has seen a few revisions and has one of the largest content libraries going.

It has stiff competition from the likes of JamPlay and TrueFire, but newcomer Fender Play is looking to claim itself a top-dog spot as well.

Given that the Fender brand has such a legacy behind it, many are interested in what it has to offer in the learning department. It has a modern edge, appealing to the app-driven world we now live in and is well-developed enough to hold its own on the market.

The differences between the two platforms are a little more substantial than some of the other guitar lesson options we have compared.

While Guitar Tricks has its methodology down to a T and is clearly stocked to nines with resources, Fender Play could be more up your street if you are a beginner with less of an attention span.

Continue reading our Guitar Tricks vs Fender Play comparison article to find out which platform is best for you!

Want to learn from our favorite online guitar lesson platform? Start your journey with a free trial of Guitar Tricks here!

Overview Of the Platforms

Guitar Tricks

Guitar Tricks is available in web and iOS/Android formats. It has an award-winning curriculum that covers acoustic and electric guitars in a range of genres and styles. It even has content that caters to 7 strings and bass.

The company’s Core Learning System takes users with absolutely no knowledge and gently guides them through the fundamental content until they are at a skill level comfortable enough to explore the rest of the site’s offerings.

Lessons are centered around exceptionally high-quality videos with playback tools and they have one of the largest song libraries online to go hand in hand with it.

It costs $19.99/month or you can pay $179.99 up-front for an entire year, saving a little in the long run.

Guitar Tricks Pros:

  • Beginner-friendly development
  • Active forum
  • Award-winning curriculum
  • 11,000 lessons
  • Licensed song library
  • 30+ talented contributors
  • Advanced user controls
  • Reasonably priced subscription
  • Premium full-access 1-2-1 live lessons available

Fender Play

Fender Play is newer on the market, having only made an appearance in 2017. It is a desktop and app-based product that has been given a CES innovation award. It covers a range of instruments that include; acoustic and electric guitar, ukulele, and bass guitar.

The content leans heavily towards beginners, there isn’t all that much for a seasoned player. The lessons are video-based, shot in high-quality, and delivered by a handful of instructors in bite-size pieces.

Its song library is on par with Guitar Tricks and is constantly being added too as well. The lessons are tailored to multiple genres and there are plenty of techniques covered to pick up along the way.

The platform is easy to navigate, has great organization, and even presents a few appealing extras. It tailors content towards the individual learner via a brief questionnaire.

You can tell the course content has been developed with beginners in mind but it might not impress some of the more seasoned players out there.

Fender Play is half the price of a Guitar Tricks subscription, priced at $9.99 per month. This gives access to all the instruments taught as well. You can also knock a little extra off by paying $89.99 up-front for a year.

Fender Play Pros:

  • Easy to navigate interface
  • Beginner-orientated
  • ‘Customized’ lesson content
  • Large song-library
  • High-quality videos
  • Accessibly priced

Platform Breakdowns

Starting out

Both providers have their own custom-designed user interfaces and each keeps a historical record of content you have completed helping you track your progress.

They are presentable and logically laid out. Each site asks you a few start-up questions. If you are totally brand new to your instrument then you are set on their equivalent novice pathways.

For Guitar Tricks, this will be via their award-winning Core Learning System that comprises 8 full-length courses divided into 2 sub-sections; Guitar Fundamentals 1 & 2 before heading onto their genre-based pathways.

Guitar Tricks Core Learning System.
Guitar Tricks Core Learning System.

The fundamental course content on Guitar Tricks starts from absolute scratch and covers a lot of ground pretty quickly. So you feel accomplished and see that you have progressed very early on.

Course 1 includes some elementary topics such as how to hold your guitar. You can skip the first set if you have some previous experience. Once you have completed their initial beginner’s core learning area you will have learned open chords, barre chords, power chords, scales, and some basic sheet music reading as well.

Then you need to decide between the genres of blues, rock, and country to start acquiring the techniques that are playing style specific.

Because the genres require such different techniques, you may want to stay in the Core Learning System area longer and try all three routes, although some of the lesson content has crossovers, you will come out the other side with more tricks up your sleeve.

Upon sign-up with Fender Play, the questions presented are relative to the instrument you want to learn and your previous experience as well as preferred genres. It will then streamline some of the content for you, filtering to make what Fender Play deems a ‘customized course’.

To be honest, it isn’t anything to write home about and does little more than direct you to the blues content if you like the blues or skip the essentials if you have some playing experience. Most platforms do this so it’s hard to see why Fender is bigging it up so much.

Fender Play’s content is all genre-specific. They offer 5 pathways with 5 levels of progression. This keeps things very simplified making it easy to navigate and suitable for younger learners.

Fender Play Musical Pathways.
Fender Play Musical Pathways.

As with the genre paths of Guitar Tricks, you will find some crossover videos at the beginning of each pathway on Fender Play. All pathways start with a set of lessons dubbed guitar 101, a 5 lesson course where they teach guitar etiquette, holding a pick, and finding your strings, etc.

The biggest difference in the beginner modules is that Fender Play has a lot of short and sweet videos so if you have a hectic lifestyle you can still fit in a lesson or two.

Likewise, if you get bored easily it could be ideal for you. For an idea of the commitment level needed with Fender Play, you can expect a lesson to take 10-15 minutes, and chords, skills, exercises, or riffs are delivered in just 1-5.

Of course, whilst this could appeal to some learners, it is worth pointing out that it leaves a lot uncovered, it is nowhere near as thorough as the Guitar Tricks content and you don’t really have anything to practice along to. The footage is quick and abrupt, then you practice alone in your own time.

Guitar Tricks Learning Interface.
Guitar Tricks Learning Interface.

The difficulty progresses steadily on Fender Play, taking you through common chords, riffs, and strumming patterns and the lessons pick out songs from the library that are related to what you have learned, allowing you to put it straight into practice. This again gives you a boost as a beginner.

In fact, after about 20 minutes on the platform, you will be playing some recognizable riffs that should satisfy your inner rock-star and help you keep momentum.

The beginner levels are set up to keep momentum. You very quickly (around 20 minutes in) learn to play some famous riffs and as a newbie, you will likely feel pretty accomplished from the get-go.

Both beginner areas for each site cover chords, exercises, technique, and music theory, Fender Play also discusses tone which is a nice addition.

Both platforms have well-presented videos shot in HD offering 4K resolutions but some of the older content for each is lower-quality.

They each use multiple camera angles giving a close-up of what each hand is doing when necessary.

Fender Play Learning Interface.
Fender Play Learning Interface.

Head-to-Head Comparison

When you have two well-presented competitive options to choose from, sometimes you have to dig deep to ultimately make a decision between them. So here are some brief and blunt comparisons.

The number of contributing tutors for each site

  • Fender Play: 18
  • Guitar Tricks: 33

Number of video lessons

  • Fender Play: 1,600
  • Guitar: 11,000

The content for each site is constantly being updated but the above figures are a conservative estimate based on the main lessons provided by each. The above figures don’t include Guitar Tricks’ new live lessons.

Differences to point out

Before we conclude, it’s probably important to highlight exactly where the platforms differ the most. Without seeming too biased, Fender Play does fall a little short here.

Guitar Tricks has an artist inspiration series that teaches you to play ‘in the style of’ some of the most notable guitarists in history such as B.B King and Jimi Hendrix.

It also has live lessons as we briefly mentioned and their new Full Access Pro feature allows users to pick themselves a professional coach for live video chat lessons.

his can be one-on-one or as part of a group. It gives you the benefit of advice and corrections as well as lessons tailored to you as an individual.

Although this is premium content that will cost extra, at present Fender Play offers nothing similar to compete.

Both platforms offer a few extras in the form of tuners, chord libraries, and scale reference resources. But again we have to commend Guitar Tricks.

It has a very comprehensive technique reference library covering a wide range of techniques. You can find guitar techniques to learn such as note bends, hammer-ons and pull-off, finger-picking, pinch, and natural harmonics, handling your whammy bar… the list goes on!

Guitar Tricks also has a good active forum and community. You can even speak directly to the tutors and leave song requests to be added to the library in the future. Fender Play has no real social platform but they do host some giveaways and weekly challenges.

Who Is Guitar Tricks Best For?

  • Beginners and intermediates alike
  • Those with bigger ambitions
  • People who don’t want to gloss-over techniques
  • Those who want to emulate their heroes
  • Anyone looking for 1-2-1 tutoring
  • Socially-minded learners
  • People who value music theory

Who Is Fender Play Best For?

  • Younger beginners, the app-happy generation
  • People with scarce free time
  • Hobbyists
  • Those who want some riffs to show off to their friends
  • People with less patience
  • Tighter budgets
  • Fender fans

Guitar Tricks vs Fender Play – Final Thoughts

Both platforms have their place in the market, catering to different types of learners. Each is well-suited to beginners and has plenty of learning resources for anyone looking to learn how to play the guitar.

To put it bluntly, Guitar Tricks is a better option overall. Although Fender has a long history of accomplishments, Fender Play is lacking in some areas, and eventually, you will probably outgrow the content. There is plenty for a complete newbie but not much once you have progressed.

Guitar Tricks is much more balanced, there is plenty of content that can teach even an old dog new tricks. The artist inspiration series content is also pretty commendable and the live lessons, as well as the premium content available, give it much more to offer.

That said, Fender Play’s content is constantly growing so we may change our minds in the future. As far as its main selling points are concerned, it is a cheaper option and it gets you physically playing riffs and songs in a short time. However, you will be left with considerable gaps in your knowledge.

At the end of the day, if you are serious about learning to play the guitar, then Guitar Tricks is the better route for you!

If your decision boils down to spare cash, then Fender Play still offers good value for money.

Ultimately the decision is yours to make and hopefully, we have highlighted the benefits of each platform well enough to help you make an informed decision!

Further Reading:

Best Online Guitar Lessons

Guitar Tricks Review

Fender Play Review

Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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