I’ve been playing guitar for 20+ years – I go in fits and spurts, I can go days, sometimes weeks hardly picking up a guitar, and other times playing a few times a day.
I’ve realized one thing that’s been a game-changer for my development:
You need to keep learning. If you’re not learning new stuff, you’re stagnating.
One of the best ways to keep learning is to sign up to an online music platform.
One of the best online guitar schools out there is called Guitar Tricks. It’s been around for the longest and has the largest number of tutorials. It’s not the strongest for guitar technique or advanced lessons (check out Truefire for that) but for learning songs and chord progressions, it’s pretty amazing.
In this review, we’re going to take a closer look at what it has to offer.
Disclaimer: I’m an affiliate for Guitar Tricks (which means I’ll get a small commission if you end up signing up through any of the links on this page).
Here’s what we’ll cover:
Who is Guitar Tricks Ideal for?
First up, who is the ideal candidate? Well, online guitar lessons aren’t for everyone. This one is perfect for people who are:
- Self-directed learners. People who are self-disciplined enough to keep at it.
- People who prefer a structured, organized learning solution.
- Those starting out with guitar or returning after a long absence.
- Beginners wanting to improve their chops.
- People who want to learn from a number of different tutors.
- People who want to learn a number of new genres and styles.
- People who want to learn a load of songs.
I would avoid it if you are one of these people:
- You lack self-discipline and need a face to face tutor to keep you on track.
- You prefer to learn from just one instructor.
- You’re desperately short on money. It costs money (not a lot, but it costs)
- You still have a computer from the 1990s. It’s optimized for speed, but using a dinosaur of a machine isn’t going to cut it.
What Does It Cost?
Ok assuming you are in the ‘YES’ camp! Let’s take a look at what Guitar Tricks is going to cost you…
There is a free basic membership with 24 free lessons which is well worth signing up to anyway. You’ll get a feel for what it’s all about, but it will leave you wanting more (it’s designed to do that, right!)
What does full access give you? For a start, access to over 11, 000 online guitar lessons and a whole lot more.
It’s going to cost you $19.95 dollars a month – see what that works out at in your currency here.
Guitar Tricks offer’s a few nice incentives too.
- The first is a generous 60-day refund policy. Email them within 60 days of signing up, and you get your money wired back to you.
- The second is they give you the first 14 days for free if you sign up via this link.
- The third is a special treat for all Zingstrument readers. We’ve found a coupon code for the monthly subscription deal that takes a massive 60% off the first month! Pretty sweet hey. Just add the coupon code ‘60OFF‘ to where it says ‘enter your coupon code here’ when signing up for the monthly. Remember, once the first month of your membership is over, the price returns to the regular amount of $19.95.
So 60 days money-back guarantee, and first 14 days for free, they’re making it pretty hard to justify not trying it out.
What’s Good About It?
Ok, let’s really get into the detail about this platform.
Is it any good? Is it worth your time? Should you bother trying it?
Guitar Tricks has these main features:
- All the lessons are video-based.
- Each video is professionally recorded, with multiple camera angles to assist learning.
- You can choose various streaming options to cater for low bandwidth users.
- The instructors seem to know their stuff. They’re not professional recording artists as far I can see, but they are very competent.
The main interface is divided up into four main sections, covering everything a beginner guitarist might need – including tuning the guitar, learning basic chords, simple melodies, power chords, scales and modes, barre chords and more.
- Experienced Lessons. Once you’re familiar with all the above, you ready to move into this section. The lessons are divided up into Blues, Country and Rock categories and have multiple lessons covering every element of the genre.
- Learn to Play Songs. Divided up by genre (e.g. Bluegrass, Rock, Classical) this section is packed full of song tutorials.
- Learn Styles of Guitar. Divided by genre, here you hone your skills in a particular style such as Blues or Jazz.
Here’s a screengrab of what it looks like:
One of the added extras you get with Guitar Tricks is a load of apps in what’s called ‘the toolbox’. They are complementary to the lessons, and some of them look a bit of a gimmick, but you’re not paying extra for them, so no harm done.
You also get a community-style forum for asking the instructors stuff and conversing with other students.
- Toolbox – A selection of six apps such as a chord finder and fret-board trainer.
- Forum – A community forum where you can share with fellow students and ask the instructors questions.
Beginner Lessons Deep Dive
Let’s go a level deeper and delve into the beginners’ section to see what’s on offer.
The beginner’s section is made up of two modules. Guitar Fundamentals 1 and 2 plus some additional lessons.
- Guitar Fundamentals Level 1
- Guitar Fundamentals Level 2
As part of this section, you also get additional lessons…
- Songs Made Easy (a collection of easy to play songs)
- Practice For Beginners
- Tuning & Guitar Maintenance
What happens when you click into one of the Guitar Fundamentals courses? Let’s take a look…
Guitar Fundamentals Level 1
First thing to note, both the Guitar Fundamentals courses are made up of dozens of lessons divided into seven chapters.
When you click into one of the lessons, this is what you see…
Let’s take a look at the experienced section. Made up of three styles, Blues, Country, and Rock.
This seems quite limiting I thought. Just three genres for the experienced section? Yes, Blues, Country and Rock cover a lot of material, but what about Jazz, Classical, etc?
- Blues Level I
- Blues Level II
- Country Level I
- Country Level II
- Rock Level I
- Rock Level II
As part of the experienced section, you also get additional lessons…
- Artists studies
- Chords & Scales
- Gear & Tone
Learn to Play Songs
Many people just want to learn songs. There is something very gratifying about learning songs – it’s a lot more pleasurable if you’re playing in front of people too. People tend to prefer hearing a song versus a Mixolydian scale.
This is where Guitar Tricks comes into it’s own. It has a ton of songs, all neatly organized by genre. In fact, one of the biggest challenges with this platform is knowing where to start. There is just so much. Here are the genres to choose from…
- Top Hits
- Funk & Soul
- Beginner Songs
And here’s how it looks on the site…
Each song itself is broken into its component parts and is very comprehensive. Here’s, for example, the song ‘Summertime’ by George Gershwin. See on the right all the mini-lessons. Each one is a video in its own right!
Learn Styles of Guitar
As well as songs, you can also focus on genres (or styles). This is great for the player that has always played a certain style but fancies trying their hand at a new genre. Let’s say your a metalhead and wonder what Classical is all about, or your a Jazzman and want to try Surf. This is perfect for you.
The genres you have to choose from are these…
- Funk & Soul
I clicked into the Bluegrass section, and this is what it looks like. What I like about this is you get a variety of instructors on the same topic too, which adds a nice bit of variety.
Each genre is grouped into licks (including pretty decent lick library, see below), rhythms (e.g. cross-picking) and ‘in the style of’ lessons (in this case there is one for Black Mountain Rag in the style of Chet Atkins)
Here’s a screenshot of one of the lick libraries for the Bluegrass genre…
The Guitar Toolbox is a group of apps to help the guitarist tune the guitar and practice.
The apps are…
- Scale Finder
- Jam Station
- Chord Finder
- Reference Tuner
- Fretboard Trainer
Some of the apps such as the guitar tuner can be found online by a simple google search, so I’m not that excited.
One of my favorites is the Fretboard Trainer, shown below. I had a play with this and loved it.
You’ll find most online guitar lesson websites have forums, so this isn’t anything particularly mind-blowing. One good thing though is the instructors appear to be pretty active in the forum. I’d like to see a bit more engagement going on from student to student though – I’ve seen some forums WAY more active than this one.
I also like to see students sharing recordings of their playing for peer review. Not much evidence of that.
What We Like (and Don’t Like)
OK, so you’ve seen what Guitar Tricks is all about. Overall, it’s pretty impressive. It’s far from perfect though.
- Sign up policy is very lenient. 60-day refund policy is particularly generous, as is the 14-day free entry sweetener
- Amount of lessons – over 11, 000. Un-rivaled by any other online school
- Design, speed, and usability of the site is excellent.
- Lessons well structured. Multi-angle videos are great for learning the right-left /right-hand techniques.
- Variety of instructors, competent, friendly.
- Videos include a looping feature which is PERFECT for practicing a particularly hard passage of play (wish YouTube had this)
- Clearly labeled ‘difficulty’ levels makes it easy to find the right level for you.
- History page tracks everything you’ve ever done.
- The apps are pretty cool, especially the Fretboard Trainer.
- Clearly catering for the beginner to intermediate player. This is fine, but the established player will run out of decent material eventually.
- Very broad. It covers most genres to a satisfactory level, but if you want to truly deep-dive into a particular genre, there are better alternatives out there.
- Would be great to have featured artists teach lessons. One of its main rivals ‘Jamplay’ has artists like Kaki King teaching.
- Its completely missing one of the most exciting and fastest-growing genre, Gypsy Jazz. This needs to be addressed.
- The forum is pretty quiet and doesn’t encourage sharing ‘user-generated video’ for peer review.
So that’s it for our mega review. If you’re like me, staying consistent is my biggest challenge and joining an online school like Guitar Tricks is the best way to keep regularly playing.
The sheer breadth of the platform is impressive, and you’re almost guaranteed not to run out of stuff to learn for quite a while. For the beginner, there’s nothing quite like it. If I had this when I first picked up the guitar at the age of 13, it could have been an altogether different story.
Ged is Founder and Editor-in-chief at Zing Instruments. He’s a guitarist for London based gypsy jazz band ‘Django Mango’ and a lover of all things music. When he’s not ripping up and down the fretboard, he’s tinkering with his ’79 Campervan.