JamPlay Review 2021: Does It Actually Work?

JamPlay review

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If you have been looking at learning to play guitar, but don’t know when you’ll fit in the time to commit, then learning online is probably a good option for you. Online guitar lessons are by no means new, we took a look at a variety of paid and free resources in our 10 best online guitar lessons article.

As one of the more established options available, JamPlay has a fair amount to brag about that keeps it in the top 3 competitive platforms. It ranked highly in our top ten recommendations and today we are going to take you through the features in a far more in-depth JamPlay review.

You may also be interested in our comparative articles to see how it competes when pitted side by side against the rest of the best. But, for now, here is what JamPlay has in store for you!

JamPlay Overview

JamPlay was originally founded in 2006. This makes it the youngest of the top three premier platforms (the others being TrueFire and Guitar Tricks) but it competes pretty well and has a few gems others don’t offer.

With half a million active users it is one of the largest providers delivering educational media to teach the guitar.

The site is well-designed and content is organized into 4 key ‘phases’, each phase is dedicated to a different skill area. You can progress in the manner you want to and navigate the whole site whether you are new to playing the guitar or not.

It caters to all skill levels, with over 5,500 lessons throughout its 200 + courses to work your way through. There are plenty of songs to practice along to as well that cover a wide variety of genres.

The lesson content is high-quality and covers a wide range of knowledge putting it on par with other major competitors despite having fewer videos in the bank to boast about. Sometimes quality over quantity is better anyway. The 1000+ technique development and refinement lessons give you everything you need to evolve as a player once you get to grip with the basics.

JamPlay guitar lessons overview.

JamPlay has an artist series section and masterclasses where you can learn to emulate the greats. This area features videos with breakdowns that are taught by celebrity guitarists and focus on different playing styles.

JamPlay is encouraging, it has training games and gives you progress reports. The site also has a lively community forum and provides live webcast lessons and Q&A sessions on a daily basis to boot. So you can get feedback directly from the tutors on the roster.

First Looks

Upon joining, you will notice just how much there is available to you! Although the website is divided into key areas to make it easy to navigate, without a little initial exploration it could be overwhelming for someone starting out. The amount of genres for example is mind-boggling in itself.

Because JamPlay is a very socially led platform, you need to create a quick profile. The dashboard has a clutter-free menu that contains the sub-menus for different areas and features.

The menu bar is divided into three segments the top being my JamPlay with user account tools, profile, and contacts you have made as well as saved video lesson playlists. You will also find the Jam points you have amassed for completing content.

Beneath that, the core content is housed; JamPlay’s 4 phase areas and their Artist Series link which we will discuss in detail a little later on.

JamPlay 4 phases of lessons.
JamPlay 4 phases of lessons.

The final section is used for housing all the extras and benefits that JamPlay has to offer, the most important of which is probably its teaching tools area. But you will find all sorts here, everything from their blog posts and articles, to tutor lists and giveaways. There are also a number of free apps you will see as well.

At the top of the main page content when you log in, once you have begun using the media content you will find a little ‘Welcome Back’ display of lessons that have been added to your individual progress report.

You will also see below that a news feed of sorts with links to recent forum activity that you can go ahead and visit, as well as the live event schedule for the day ahead.

However, if you are brand new, you are going to want to start looking at the Phase 1 area also marked as beginners in brackets, for starting out. As we said the rest of the page could be a little too much if you don’t know where to look.

If you are an experienced player then the world is your oyster. There is plenty to scroll through and if you have good knowledge, to begin with, then the course titles are pretty self-explanatory so you should know what to skip and where to head next for your own learning journey. But it is very much a ‘choose your own adventure’!

JamPlay Content

Firstly, before dishing out the specifics, we need to start by saying that the content on JamPlay is second to none in terms of quality. This is because being relatively new in comparison to Guitar Tricks or TrueFire, their camera capabilities were already cutting-edge when they launched.

With the older platforms, there are 2 kinds of quality videos and sometimes even 2 kinds of players, one for old content and one for new. That isn’t the case with JamPlay. The quality was ahead of all the others from day one!

They also provide some of the most in-depth camera angles once you get into harder-level techniques, sometimes displaying as many as six shots to ensure you really see what is going on with each hand. It also makes sure you get the close-up action without losing track of where you are on the fretboard and gives posture reminders with a whole shot.

The audio quality is also impeccable and the embedded player has a huge range of flexible user-controls that make it great as a learning tool. You can pause, play, rewind, and loop sections. You have full control of the speed as well and there is plenty of necessary information about the scales used, the notes, and the progressions. You also can see your progress bar and make notes during the lesson.

JamPlay video player.
JamPlay video player.

Every course begins with an introductory page, some of which go over the techniques you will encounter and everything needed for the videos ahead of you.

Phase 1 is the beginner’s area, it contains over 650 lessons that comprise more than 20 beginners courses to work your way through. Preferably this should be undertaken in order without skipping ahead if you are a complete novice. Some of the foundation courses are even tailored to different users.

The three initial courses can be taken consecutively because each moves on from the knowledge in the next but they are titled to give you a good clue as to what to skip if you have some previous experience but still need to start at a foundation level.

The ‘Never Played Before’ course sets you on a pathway from absolute zero knowledge. It teaches the real basics including details such as how to hold a pick and correct posture. In it, you will learn some very basic chords and strumming patterns by the end of it.

The ‘Self-Taught Guitarists’ foundation course is less finickity and aimed towards filling in any gaps in musical knowledge you might have as a self-taught learner. It covers connecting chords and reinforces techniques as well as introducing how to read sheet music pretty early on.

It also has a focus on pinpointing problems in your playing seeing as a self-taught guitarist may be looking at online lessons for resolving issues as well as progressing.

The aptly named ‘The ‘forever beginner’ course is for those who have previously tried learning in the past but have struggled to get any of it to stick! By the time you have finished all 3 foundation curricula courses, you should have the skills needed to face some of the challenges in the Phase 2 area. But, as we said there is an armada of other courses too!

Phase 2 is otherwise known as Genres and Skills. It is where the content splits off from the more generic building blocks of guitar playing and focuses on playing styles in particular.

When you look at a genre-based course, you can see who is instructing it (some people develop a preference for certain tutors teaching styles over others) you can also get an overview of how many lessons it entails. The suggested skill level is displayed and you can read the reviews left by previous learners for better insight

JamPlay attempts to cover some 20 genres of music going from the widely popular to the obscure. Here is a full list of genres, though it is fair to point out that the library of content is a little biased towards the blues, pop, rock, and country areas of expertise.

JamPlay Genre-Based Lesson Sets.
JamPlay Genre-Based Lesson Sets.

To give you an example, there are 868 different lessons spread over 25 courses for the blues. It covers a lot of different picking and strumming styles and gives you some of the most well-known riffs in history to add to your tool belt.

The content is presented by a number of different teachers giving you the benefit of them bringing their own personal touch to the genre. So although Metal is covered with a couple of tutors dedicated to the style, you won’t find half as much content there. Therefore when it comes to the really obscure genres such as; Celtic, Hawaiian, slack key, surf, or reggae you really shouldn’t expect too much.

The skills that you can pick up across the board however are very extensive. The exercises presented prove very worthy to learn and can be applied to genres they weren’t necessarily taught for. All of which will help you develop as a player!

There are more than 50 skill-building courses with thousands of videos that you can access on the downloadable JamPlay software hub. You can get help from tutors post-practice sessions and run through all kinds of drills to help you grasp a concept or technique.

Some of the areas covered include lead guitar concepts, speed and rhythm training, how to sing and play guitar, and other more specific areas such as 12-string guitar, etc. You also get a good look at music theory, improv, and even ear training. The content is just about endless.

Phase 3 is a song-based library of lessons. There are songs included in some of the foundation course content but this is the song-library area. They are easy to search, organized by the artist and title as well as teacher, genre, skill level and even running time.

They are again broken into levels and do have a linear order to follow if you are less experienced. They are just about as interactive as any online lesson can get. They are video instructed with interactive tabs and feature a full-length jam along for when you have learned the breakdown.

JamPlay song lesson learning interface.
JamPlay song lesson learning interface.

JamPlay’s song library (around 400 songs) is somewhat smaller than a lot of platforms have to offer, but the delivery is exceptional. The company’s focus is on teaching you skills as you learn to play a song rather than teaching you to play one song from start to finish and nothing else.

It really differs from some song library content which for many other platforms is a scrolling chord or tab arrangement of a popular cover, with some being broken down and explained along the way.

JamPlay is much more in-depth, the skills you are using and learning are really pointed out and sometimes even applied to other songs. Some song-lessons can contain as many as three songs which can all be linked relatively to their playing style or use of a particular technique.

Of course, that is getting ahead of yourself a little, the songs for novices are far less complex. Each song-based lesson can take anywhere from 10 minutes to 90 minutes dependent on how much ‘guided assistance’ there is.

Phase 4 area focus is on teaching you to use the skills learned creatively to write original pieces. It teaches you song arrangements, key signatures, and how chord progressions can be created to create moods and emotions.

It is also great for tools you need to improvise so you can shred out or solo over literally anything. There are over 100 lessons to help get you writing songs of your own.

Master Classes

The master class area is for the more experienced players. It is where the celebrity tutors footage is kept. None of it is fundamental or core content; you will need to have finished a few of the foundational courses to get to grips with the wisdom that some of these masters want to impart.

What they really give you is an insight into that particular artist’s style and expression.

JamPlay artist series courses.
JamPlay artist series courses.

Live Classes

JamPlay has a few live lessons scheduled every single day and has recently updated the site for 2021 to keep an archive of this live-lesson footage which means that their 5,500+ lessons just practically doubled.

Of course, the live content doesn’t slip into the linear core course content, it is really more for branching out. But, they try to cover different levels and styles each day. There really is something for everyone.

Structured as workshops they are more specific than the phase area content. They can literally be about anything be it technical skills, tips, and tidbits, music theory walkthrough, or composition advice.

Tabs and relative attachments are downloadable for the courses directly from the platform. Many of them have homework, and office hours for check-in, and other attributes of a traditional online course.

There’s no limit on the number of live courses you are free to participate in, you have access to as many live courses as you like with a basic JamPlay membership.

They do of course require more commitment and give less flexibility but are completely valuable and one of JamPlay’s biggest benefits.

As well as that, as mentioned there are daily webinars that let you address the tutors and seek advice or guidance with something particular to you! Great for troubleshooting.

The content is being added to on a weekly basis so you can be sure whatever your level you will get your money’s worth.

Extras

There are some other great extras available to subscribers. Including a wealth of reference material such as their comprehensive chord library with over a million chords and chord finder.

There are also lots of training games great for fitting in a quick bit of practice. They keep things fun and are great to utilize after a heavier theory-based lesson.

Pricing

JamPlay is one of the cheaper options out there. In line with Fender Play and undercutting the top-dogs, it provides great value for money.

A monthly subscription will set you back $11. When compared with a private tutor at around $35 an hour, you really are saving yourself a lot of money.

You are also free to go through the content at your own pace, but if you have a lot of spare time and drive you can pack in plenty of hours a month saving yourself a killing comparatively to having that amount of real-world hourly lessons.

JamPlay Pros & Cons

Pros

  • The library is generously stacked with lessons, chords, and songs
  • The drills and exercises really help with technique
  • Multi-view videos shot in HD
  • Large roster of tutors contributing
  • Live lesson content
  • Plenty of material for novices

Cons

  • Library is unbalanced
  • Not as much material for advanced players compared to others
  • The app version is not brilliant

JamPlay Review – Final Thoughts

When there are so many great options, it can be tough to narrow the list down. JamPlay has one of the best-embedded video players, the lesson delivery is well structured and sometimes quality is key over quantity.

With less content than some of the major providers, it manages to hold its own because of the caliber of the lesson content. Users take away a lot from it. There is plenty of media for all levels and it is particularly informative for those starting out.

The song library may be smaller but it really teaches you to break down and examine song elements. By the time you have worked your way through a few thousand videos, you will be able to play just about anything you hear.

It has a commendable roster of 120+ tutors as well as its famous artists in the master class section. This puts it well ahead of Guitar Tricks or Fender Play, but below the 200+ on TrueFire. You can guarantee the content won’t get too predictable and covers a wider range because of the wealth of talent contributing.

Because it is self-lead, you have to have a little patience rather than rush in and plow through the content. When you start it up, you are somewhat left to your own devices. If you want something more rigid then it may not be for you.

Why not try a free account and see if you want to pay for it first?

At the end of the day, JamPlay is a great tool. If you’re brand new to playing the guitar there is an abundance of beginner-oriented courses to benefit from. If you are an intermediate-level guitarist you can explore different styles in more depth, develop your skills, and add to your musical repertoire.

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