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As two of the most popular online guitar lesson options out there, Guitar Tricks and JamPlay are stiff competition for one another. This makes the task of choosing between the two pretty tough.
Both operate similarly and they have plenty to offer for all levels of learning. Guitar Tricks has the edge in terms of years and it boasts a huge song library to play through but that doesn’t necessarily make it top-dog.
The differences between the platforms are relatively minor but could sway some types of learners in one direction or the other depending on the goals you have in mind and your preferred learning style.
To help whittle it down to the nitty-gritty, we are presenting them in a Guitar Tricks vs JamPlay comparison article that lays it all down side by side for you.
If you’re looking for a quick answer, here’s a quick rundown of the main differences between Guitar Tricks and JamPlay…
Guitar Tricks utilizes its Core Learning System to provide a structured step-by-step approach for beginners learning to play the guitar. On the other hand, JamPlay requires the user to choose their own instructor, guitar type, and style.
Both platforms have personalized user interfaces that help you to track your progress with a bookmarking system that lets you see your history.
In terms of the UI, although both are professional and have a logical layout, when it comes to complete novices, Guitar Tricks takes the lead. It has a streamlined easy to follow course dedicated to beginners (Core Learning System).
JamPlay has a couple of very thorough foundation courses but you are left to navigate the platform by yourself. Being less guided is sort of a double-edged sword. For some, it could be preferable, but there is no denying the Core Learning System of Guitar Tricks makes for an easier start.
That said, the layout of both platforms is accessible with uncluttered appearances and clear menus. Everything is searchable and tagged/categorized in more than one manner. You can find things by genre and skill level, even by running time on JamPlay which is awesome if your free time is in limited supply.
Both platforms center their lessons around video. They are well presented and shot in HD, offering 4K resolution. The video players themselves offer plenty of user controls.
The embedded players have been specially designed with the learner’s best interests in mind. They provide all the necessary extras alongside, with scrolling tablature and diagrams, where required, that are synced to the playing speed.
The footage can be paused, slowed down, and even looped in sections making it easier to practice something over and over, especially useful when you are trying to learn a particularly difficult part.
If we are being very picky, JamPlay has slightly better quality overall video quality.
However, that is mainly because it is much newer than Guitar Tricks, which has been operating since the late ’90s. Being the older platform, some of the earlier content that is still lingering about isn’t as high-quality as the rest.
This is understandable and the company has been working tirelessly to update the videos one by one, but without disrupting the lesson flow of the entire site overnight this has to be done in small steps.
JamPlay on the other hand was launched in 2006 and therefore had the upper hand to begin with, technology-wise. You will find that Guitar Tricks videos differ a lot as the company learned what did and didn’t work along the way, whereas JamPlay is more cohesive and structured throughout.
The footage for both has multiple camera angles displayed giving you a good look at what each hand is doing. This is integral to learning to play guitar seeing as at the heart of it your hands need to be able to work independently.
For tougher techniques, JamPlay trumps Guitar Tricks, offering as many as 6 camera angles in one video tutorial at times. Some might argue that it is a little too much and could be overwhelming, or it could be just what you are looking for!
Again we have to reiterate that a lot of the choices between the two options are purely subjective. It depends on what you are looking for so you can help to have an idea of what you want in the first place before you decide.
The tutors on both platforms have an amicable demeanor, things are presented clearly, and the audio for each can’t be faulted. Guitar Tricks has a little over 30 contributors, despite having thousands of lessons most are delivered by a core set of teachers.
JamPlay has well over 100 tutors making it great for choice. Some people may prefer having a larger selection to choose from. Also, having the variety means each tutor brings something different to the table and is a master of the playing styles they are tackling
Whereas with Guitar Tricks and the more meager roster of educators, sometimes you get a sense that some are delivering lessons outside of their core knowledge just to ensure the subject is covered.
Both Guitar Tricks and JamPlay have a wealth of content available in many levels and genres covering a broad range of topics and techniques. They both cover sufficient music theory in an easy-to-digest way without becoming too complex.
It is probably best to discuss it in terms of levels of capability. So let’s start at the beginning with the fundamental basics.
As we briefly touched on, Guitar Tricks offers a Core Learning System with a linear progression. It comprises 8 full-length courses divided into 2 sub-sections. The first of which splits further into Guitar Fundamentals Level 1 and 2. This gives beginners a solid foundation to build from for the intermediate style courses and so on.
JamPlay’s content is organized into what they call Phases. Phase 1 of which is set to cater to beginners. They offer 20 beginner courses as opposed to the initial 8 core courses on Guitar Tricks. Within the 20 courses are over 650 videos. Of course, Guitar Tricks has thousands of video tutorials for beginners outside of its main core content pathway too.
In terms of quantity, they are both pretty well matched. JamPlay used to have less totaling around 5,000 versus Guitar Tricks’ impressive 11,000 but they recently launched an archive of their previous live lesson content which has balanced out the scales.
Guitar Tricks Content Breakdown
Guitar Tricks starts beginners on Guitar Fundamentals Level 1, covering the basics including how to hold your guitar, identifying strings, and tuning. It then goes on to teach a few open chords with a simple strumming pattern.
Guitar Fundamentals 2 introduces minor chords, barre chords, and power chords. It also takes a look at scales, how to read music, and gives some insight into song structures.
After completing the initial 2 courses the pathway splits into 3 genre-based routes; blues, rock, and country. They are more technically led and the speed is a little faster as well.
In addition to the main 3 genres, Guitar Tricks covers metal, rockabilly, bluegrass, soul, funk, jazz, pop, surf, and world music.
It has an enormous song library with up-to-date songs being added every week. It also has an artist inspiration series selection of stylized courses that teach you to play ‘in the style of’ some of the most notable guitarists in history. So you can learn some of the techniques of artists such as B.B King, Chet Atkins, or Jimi Hendrix.
Guitar Tricks also has a very comprehensive technique reference library. It covers everything from finger-picking to pinch and natural harmonics. It is wildly diverse giving you a variety of skills to take on and progress as an intermediate player.
Whether it is mastering something more simple like note bends hammer-ons and pull-offs or something as specific as whammy bar etiquette.
JamPlay Content Breakdown
JamPlay has three initial Phase 1 courses for beginners to take consecutively. They are well organized to allow users with some experience to skip ahead if they want to.
The first course is titled ‘Never Played Before’ and as the name suggests, it teaches the basics. It includes short thoughtful videos such as how to hold a pick and gives you a quick briefing on correct guitar posture. There are some basic chords and strumming patterns to try out as well.
The second course is named ‘Self-Taught Guitarists.’ It teaches chord changes and has more of a focus on technique. It goes on to teach some sight-reading. One of the best things about this course is it is designed to get you to be able to pinpoint your problems making it ideal for those who have dabbled with a guitar but never really progressed.
The final foundation course is ‘The Forever Beginner’ course and ties the previous two courses together. There is a lot more practical taught to prep you for the Phase 2 area of the platform.
Much like Guitar Tricks, the content in Phase 2 splits into different pathways. These are genre/style-based and skill-centered lessons. There are over 20 musical genres covered but some of the genres have a lot more content than others.
The 50+ skill-building courses feature thousands of videos and teach numerous techniques in an easy to grasp way.
JamPlay also has a song library that can be found in their Phase 3 area. However, the ethos of JamPlay is to give you the skills you need to play independently. Therefore, their library is around an 8th of the size of Guitar Tricks. Though there are plenty of popular song riffs visited in the lesson content itself.
Although the library is smaller, it isn’t just a play-along backing track with directions in the form of a scrolling tab like Guitar Tricks employs.
Instead, the songs are taught as a lesson. Parts are broken down and explained, this forces you to think about the techniques you are using. A song lesson can range in run-time from 10 to 90 minutes and some have other songs included where the same technique can be applied. It is the more thorough route.
Then you get to use the company’s ‘In the Jam’ desktop or android/iOS app to play with a band, deciding what other instruments to play alongside.
JamPlay’s Phase 4 area is for helping you song-write and create your own pieces. It teaches structure and progressions as well as improv. On top of this, you have their master class area with celebrity tutors which is a nice feature.
They also have multiple daily scheduled live lesson content that is structured in a workshop style. They cover more specific topics and are suitable for different levels of ability. The live lesson feed is always on display when you open the dashboard so you can see what is going on.
Some of them are pretty academic with homework sets. They all feature catch-ups to see how you got on and you can get feedback from the tutor leading it!
*Guitar tricks has been recently updated (2019) and is now jumping on the live class bandwagon, but as JamPlay has been doing it for a while with 120 tutors available they are really into the swing of things. Previous live lessons are now also available in an archive format so you can catch up on those you have missed.
Guitar Tricks Vs JamPlay – Final Thoughts
Both online guitar platforms have plenty of merits and each can take a beginner with no knowledge and instill plenty of skills to assist them in learning how to play the guitar.
If we had to make a weigh-in, then bluntly Guitar Tricks is probably better for beginners and JamPlay for those with a little experience under their belts.
That isn’t to say JamPlay won’t work for a beginner, the foundation level content covers plenty and is in good depth. It is just a little trickier to navigate if we are honest. Unless you have a lot of self-discipline and are good at organizing and motivating yourself it might be trickier to get into a habit with it.
That said, JamPlay seems to cover topics better even with the fewer videos it harbors in comparison. For example, it has a lesson dedicated to home recording, pretty useful for the times we live in!
Guitar Tricks has a fair few topics that are only briefly touched on or not explained very clearly. Some are glossed over altogether with simplified layman terms like just remember 3 frets. Whereas JamPlay dishes the info you need to progress in any real way.
With any luck, our comparison will have helped clarify some of the finer points and highlighted the benefits of each platform. If you still find yourself torn, then both offer a free trial and as ever we recommend you take full advantage before you buy!
And also… you can check out JamPlay here!