Guitar Tricks is the originator of online guitar lessons. Launched in 1998, the site boasts of over 3 million people taught since its incarnation. With its goal to provide an easy, fast and fun way to learn guitar in mind, let’s take a deep dive and see how the platform measures up.
Below is the table of contents for this review. For those who are just looking for brief overview and recommendation, I’ve provided a quick synopsis.
The rest of the review goes into more detail about the platform and covers the essential items I deem important from a user’s perspective.
- Lesson Structure
- Progress Tracking
- Notable Features
- What Could Be Better
- Final Thoughts
Guitar Tricks Overview
With over 11,000 lessons in its library and 1,000+ song tutorials, there’s no shortage of content (which is to be expected of a platform that’s been around 20+ years).
The Core Learning System provides step-by-step instruction to teach beginner fundamentals and progress you toward intermediate and advanced playing. You also have the option of learning different styles of guitar from acoustic and bluegrass to rock, blues and metal or learning the styles of your favorite guitarists.
Guitar Tricks offers a 60-day money back guarantee, so there’s zero risk in signing up and fully testing the platform.
Recommendation: Highly recommended for beginner and intermediate guitar players.
An important aspect of any learning system, whether it be for guitar or anything else, is its easy of use. If a system or platform is too difficult to use, too much time and energy are lost trying to figure it out instead of actually learning.
So one of the first things I look at when I evaluate an online guitar lessons platform is how intuitive it is to use. When you log into Guitar Tricks, you’re taken to the dashboard.
From here, you can easily navigate to your lessons, view your progress and access the toolbox. Let’s take a look at the options in detail.
From the Home tab of the dashboard, you have the following options for accessing your guitar lessons:
- Beginner Lessons
- Experienced Lessons
- Learn to Play Songs
- Learn Styles of Guitar
Guitar Tricks Beginner Lessons
When first starting out on the guitar, it’s important to build a solid foundation. Guitar Tricks takes care of this with Guitar Fundamentals 1 & 2, ensuring you learn the basics first before tackling intermediate skills and concepts.
Guitar Fundamentals 1
These lessons provide the basics of playing the guitar..how to properly hold the guitar, tuning the guitar, basic open chords and strumming patterns.
Guitar Fundamentals 2
Guitar Fundamentals 2 introduces you to power chords, scales, barre chords, and reading music. This course covers a lot of information and gets your ready for more in-depth takes on guitar theory and technique.
Songs Made Easy
What I really like about the beginners lessons is the Songs Made Easy section. Guitar Tricks takes songs that may be more appropriate for more experienced guitar players and simplifies them to make them playable by beginners.
It’s important for you to learn songs from the start. It helps with motivation, gives you a feeling of accomplishment, and makes the guitar fun. After all, playing songs is the whole point of picking up the guitar in the first place.
With Songs Made Easy, you can immediately take what you learn in the Guitar Fundamentals courses and apply it to real music.
Practice For Beginners
I really love this section of Guitar Tricks as well. Practice is often overlooked by guitarists, but it’s the determining factor of how far you go on the guitar. If you’re like most people, you only have so much time to dedicate to learning the guitar, so it’s important to learn to practice effectively. This section helps you get the most out of your practice time.
Tuning & Maintenance
The last section under Beginner Lessons is on tuning and maintaining your guitar. These lessons take you through the process of restringing your guitar, different ways to tune the guitar, and general maintenance.
Guitar Tricks Experienced Lessons
The Experienced Lessons section builds on what you learn in Guitar Fundamentals 1 & 2. In this section, Guitar Tricks provides two levels of learning for 4 specific genres of music as part of its core system:
Level 1 introduces you to the style of music and covers the fundamental theory and technique necessary for playing in that style. These lessons start off rather easy as you get the basics under your belt and progress in difficulty as you go.
Level 2 takes it up a notch and introduces you to more advanced techniques and theory application. In this level you start learning the styles of popular artists of the given genre and begin putting it all together.
Although only four styles of music are part of the core system, they’re not the only styles of music covered by Guitar Tricks. Lessons are also available for the following:
- Funk & Soul
Even though these genres aren’t part of the core system, there’s still a lot of content for these genres.
Under the Experienced Lessons section you also have access to:
These lessons dive into the specific techniques for playing guitar. It ranges from finger picking, to bending, hybrid picking, hammer-ons & pull-offs…pretty much any guitar technique you need to know. If you’ve identified a weakness in a given technique, these lessons can help bring it up to speed.
In the Artist Studies section, Guitar Tricks dives into the individual styles of a given artist and breaks down their playing, from rhythm to lead and even their gear and tone. The list of artists covered include the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Eddie Van Halen and more. While it’s not an exhaustive list, it does cover some of the main influencers through the years.
This practice section is a bit different than the beginner’s practice. These lessons contain specific exercises for warming up, stretching, speed building, and strength and dexterity.
Chords & Scales
Under the chords and scales section you’ll find a collection of lessons teaching all the different scales from major and minor to pentatonic scales. There’s no progression to this section. It’s essentially a repository of lessons that cover these topics, ranging in difficulty from easy to hard.
Gear & Tone
These lessons cover everything from tuning the guitar to guitar anatomy, amps and settings, and effects. There’s a lot of useful information in these lessons and definitely worth checking out.
Learn to Play Songs
Also under the Home section of the dashboard is the Learn to Play Songs section. Guitar Tricks offers songs by a lot of different artists, mostly popular artists whose tracks you’re probably familiar with. You can browse by artist, song, collections, or even by famous riffs.
The lessons in this section are great. I think they do a great job of breaking down the songs into learnable pieces and do a good job of explaining what’s taking place on a given part.
My biggest complaint with this section is there are surprisingly few songs for some bigger artists (Pink Floyd only has 1 song for example). YouTube can fill in the gaps if there’s a particular song you’re looking for that Guitar Tricks doesn’t have. The main issue with this is the lessons may not be as in-depth and lack the quality of the lessons offered by Guitar Tricks.
Guitar Tricks Instructors
Guitar Tricks has over 30 instructors, many of whom have extensive backgrounds in music and teaching guitar. From the instructors tab you can access all of the Guitar Tricks instructors, read their bios, and see a listing of all the lessons they have on Guitar Tricks. If you have a favorite instructor you like to learn from, you can easily view all of their lessons in this listing.
Guitar Tricks allows you to track your progress and log the lessons you’ve taken. In addition to tracking individual lessons, it also shows your progress for specific courses, songs completed, and tutorials completed. This is helpful for keeping you on task and helping to ensure you see the courses through to completion.
The Guitar Toolbox houses a host of tools that help you learn scales and chords, fretboard notes, guitar terminology as well as a metronome and tuner. Perhaps the coolest part of the toolbox is Jam Station, a jam tracks section.
Guitar Tricks has over 1400 jam tracks for you to play along to and apply the concepts you learn in the lessons. It has tracks for all different styles of music, so there’s something for everyone.
Guitar Tricks has tons of features which make it a great platform. Going over all of them isn’t feasible for this review, but I’d like to call out a few that I think really benefit the user and helps with the learning process.
With each lesson you’ll find the notation for that lesson so you can view exactly what the instructor is teaching you. This adds a bit of clarity to the lesson, allows you to refer back to what was taught, and also allows you to preview what is going to be taught.
Variable Playback Speeds for Lessons
If you’re pretty familiar with YouTube, then you’ve probably seen this functionality before. Like YouTube, Guitar Tricks allows you to change the playback speed of their video lessons. This can be particularly useful when learning licks that are played fast. It’s also quite handy for speeding up lesson overviews to allow you to get through them more quickly.
Lesson Jam Track
Many of the lessons include a jam track that can be used to apply what you have just learned to a backing track. This is where the real learning takes place and the fact that Guitar Tricks includes this right alongside the lesson is super convenient. You can break from the lesson at any point to try out the new technique or concept, then dive right back into the lesson without ever leaving the page.
One-on-one Lesson Option
While not included in the monthly subscription fee, Guitar Tricks does offer one-on-one live lessons at an additional cost. These can be really helpful if you have questions for a specific instructor and need clarification, or just want the personal interaction that one-on-one lessons offer.
The forum is a really cool feature because it allows you to connect with other Guitar Tricks users and the Guitar Tricks instructors themselves. If you’re ever not clear on something you’re learning you can ask for clarification in the forum. Reading through the posts I’ve found it to be a really friendly place where the users are there to encourage and help each other out.
Guitar Tricks Pricing
Guitar Tricks offers two payment options for their full-access membership.
|$19.95 Billed Monthly
Cancel Anytime – 60 Day Guarantee
|$179 Billed Annually
At $19.95/month (or $179 annually), Guitar Tricks is a cost-effective solution for those looking for structured online guitar lessons. It also offers a free trial account for you to test out the platform.
What Could Be Better
Overall, I really like what Guitar Tricks has to offer and there really isn’t much to criticize. However, as with any guitar lessons platform, there’s always room for improvement. Here are a few things I feel could be better.
From a user experience perspective, site navigation could use quite a bit of improvement. Too frequently I found myself in a section without an easy way to get back to the previous screen without multiple clicks. Simple breadcrumb functionality could alleviate a lot of this and really improve the user experience.
Guitar traditionally has been dominated by male presence, but with half of all new guitar players being female, it would be nice to see more of a focus on this in our learning platforms. At the time of this writing, Guitar Tricks has 30 male instructors to only 3 female instructors.
While the majority of the lessons I viewed were thorough in their explaining and teaching of a topic, there were some occasions where I felt it was a bit thin and needed more. In some lessons the main points would be glossed over or the instruction on the technique was done a little too quickly and felt incomplete. I would like to see the quality of the lessons be more consistent across the board.
Final Thoughts on Guitar Tricks
If you’re looking for online lessons, Guitar Tricks is a cost-effective way to learn the guitar and has everything you need to be successful. It has progressive programs that teach everything from the fundamentals to more advanced playing and does a great job of mixing in theory and technique.
With its 60-day money back guarantee, you have all the time you need to full evaluate the platform and see how it works for you at no risk. If you follow the programs as outlined, you’re sure to experience great progress on the guitar.Sign-Up For a Free Trial
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