When I wanted to learn guitar, I thought I could teach myself with free YouTube videos. A year later and I could barely pluck my way through a sad rendition of Smoke on the Water.
Don’t be like me. Consider trying something like Guitar Tricks. Their step-by-step system will have you playing your first songs in less than a week. It’s probably no surprise to you that there are many good online guitar lesson websites to choose from these days. So why Guitar Tricks?
Keep reading to find out what else makes this program worth your hard-earned cash.
Quick Summary: Guitar Tricks
Guitar Tricks is one of the most popular online guitar learning platforms, and for a good reason. Their Core Learning System, which uses step-by-step progression from beginner to advanced, is an ideal way to master the instrument, and their song lesson library of over 1,000 licensed songs is unmatched.
- Overall rating: 4.5/5
- User experience: 5/5
- Price: 4/5
- Refund period: 4.5/5
- Variety in styles: 4/5
- Suitability for beginners: 5/5
- Suitability for intermediate/advanced: 4/5
- Instructors 5/5
- Other features: 4/5
The structure of the learning program is a good framework for all levels, especially for the beginner. And the supplements, like techniques, practices, etc., are all great.
The Full Guitar Tricks Online Lesson Review
With over 3 million members worldwide and an impressive collection of awards, Guitar Tricks is doing something right (1). But is it the best learning platform for you? Keep reading as we comprehensively review Guitar Tricks.
As one of the oldest online guitar learning platforms, Guitar Tricks has recognized the users’ need for intuitive learning. Their learning structure will make you feel like you’re a natural talent, but it’ll also make learning fun and easy.
The platform’s foundation is its Core Learning System, which offers an intuitive set of lessons organized as a progression from beginner to advanced. Compared with other online lesson providers, Guitar Tricks provides the most logical lesson structure for building a skillset, and beginners will undoubtedly reap the benefits of its easy-to-follow and practical design.
Over their long history, they’ve amassed over 11,000 lessons, with new ones added regularly. Each lesson is a short video, most under 15 minutes, and the longer lessons are broken up into shorter pieces, making it easy to navigate.
While some of the oldest videos might be a bit shoddy by today’s standards, most are of high quality. All the new ones are available up to 4K resolution, so you can stream your lesson onto a big screen TV and get a crystal clear picture (2).
A significant part of their user experience is impressive video instruction that takes you as a music student and not just a music fan. So, rather than relying on built-in YouTube or Vimeo, Guitar Tricks uses an in-house video player explicitly designed as a teaching tool. It has an excellent A/B looping system, which allows you to easily replay a portion of a song as you learn it, and it can be slowed or sped up without affecting pitch (3).
You can find any necessary musical notation beside the video player, an intuitive location for following along, and multiple camera angles are available. Below the video, you’ll find the lesson information, including downloadable tabs and chords, links to related lessons, song lyrics, and a record of your progress through the lesson. This is also where you’ll find the option to download your lesson, allowing you to work through it offline at your convenience.
Variety and Styles of Guitar
What makes Guitar Tricks unique among online platforms is their massive song lesson library. It presently contains over 1,000 licensed songs, with more added every week. So even if you can’t find a specific lesson for the style you’re after, there’s a good chance you’ll find a few songs to master the techniques. In many cases, songs of a particular genre are further classified from beginner to advanced, making it easy to mark your progress.
The song library is supplemented by “style lessons,” in which an instructor will teach you to play in the style of a particular musical icon, like Hendrix or Satriani. Guitar Tricks uses this as a smart way to make up for obvious artist gaps in the song library, an inevitable result of using exclusively licensed songs.
The only area in which Guitar Tricks is lacking is the bass guitar, for which no lessons are available. Those looking to learn this instrument will have to look to other platforms, such as Fender Play or TrueFire.
How Suitable is it for Beginners?
It’s generally agreed that Guitar Tricks is among the best platforms for beginners looking to learn to play guitar. This is due to their Core Learning System, which makes it easy to develop a foundation and then continue to expand your expertise in a logical, step-by-step manner (4).
Combining technical and musical efforts in a logical progression is without a doubt the best way to become a great guitarist.
Not only are the courses and lessons themselves presented logically, but the site overall is very intuitive and easy to navigate. The interface feels welcoming to beginner players, and it’s obvious where to start and how to move forward.
There are two introductory courses, Guitar Fundamentals I and II, both taught by the very popular Lisa McCormick, a professional singer-songwriter with a long history in performance and recording (5). Guitar Fundamentals I is designed for true novices with little to no guitar experience, and Guitar Fundamentals II picks up right where the first course leaves off.
Each consists of 7 chapters, which further break into video lessons. Through these, you will learn both music theory and play the guitar, an essential combination for developing true mastery. Hence, your chance of becoming a real expert.
Each chapter comes with links to a set of recommended songs, which is a great way to keep beginner players engaged. Learning the basic chords, scales, and theories are essential, but most beginners are motivated by the idea of being able to play their favorite songs. Guitar Tricks recognizes the need to balance these two facets of learning, and this has led to a lot of their success in recruiting and retaining new players.
How Suitable is it for Non-beginners?
Like most online lesson platforms, Guitar Tricks gears toward introducing beginners to the guitar and helping them progress to an intermediate level. However, as compared with many of their competitors, Guitar Tricks still has quite a lot to offer the experienced guitarist.
Following the completion of the fundamental courses, the Core Learning System continues its logical development and splits to focus specifically on blues, country, rock, or acoustic. They teach each of these genres at two levels. Upon completing these eight quite extensive courses, you will be a well-rounded intermediate level guitarist.
Advanced players will get the most value from the guitar lessons outside of the core curriculum. There are courses in particular genres, like surf or jazz, if you’d like to expand your musical repertoire. Or you can take a course to learn the playing style of a particular musician.
Perhaps the most appealing feature for the experienced player is the availability of lessons for hundreds of licensed songs, each of which has been rated by difficulty. This vast library, coupled with their promise to add new songs each week, means that even advanced guitarists won’t run out of material.
Quality of Instruction
One of the advantages of registering with a well-established site like Guitar Tricks is access to their massive roster of instructors, 32 at present. All of the instructors are professional musicians with impressive resumes. Many have toured and recorded with famous artists, while others have advanced degrees in music or a specialty in music education. Here are just a few examples:
- Anders Mouridsen has performed or recorded with many top artists, like John Fogerty, Taylor Swift, and Pink, and has an honors degree from the Guitar Institute of Technology.
- Dale Turner teaches rhythm guitar improvisation at Hollywood’s Musician’s Institute and has authored over 50 instructional books.
- Sharon Aguilar is the lead guitarist for Cee Lo Green as well as being a classically trained violinist.
- Dave Celentano is a professional instructor with over 30 years of experience who has released numerous tutorial books and DVDs for guitar.
The significant number of available instructors is advantageous because all genders, ages, styles, and genres are well represented.
If you want to learn to hold a guitar and navigate a fretboard from someone whose hand and body size is similar to yours, you can.
If you want to learn jazz guitar from a jazz guitar specialist, you can do that too. In contrast, smaller sites with only one instructor can feel limiting, as you’ll primarily learn guitar with the style and preferences of that individual.
A new feature offered by Guitar Tricks is the option of one-on-one coaching, available as either a 30 or 60-minute session. You will have to pay extra for this feature, starting at $40 for a half-hour and $60 for a full hour, but it can be bought as a one-off, rather than boosting the regular cost of your subscription. This is an excellent option if you’re struggling with a particular song or style of play and want focused feedback from an instructor with expertise in that area (6).
If you want a bit of personal interaction without the additional cost, Guitar Tricks makes all the instructors available through their members-only forum. Are you wondering about one guitar trick in particular? This is a great place to ask questions and get relatively quick responses from the pros.
Other Unique Features
The standout feature of Guitar Tricks, when compared with its competition, is its massive library of licensed songs. There are over 1,000 song lessons available, each taught by a qualified instructor. With difficulties ranging from beginner to advanced, it’s an equally great feature for novices who need a break from the rigors of music theory and experienced players who want to keep learning new tricks and continue to get value from their Guitar Tricks membership.
That said, there are plenty of other worthwhile perks to signing up for a Guitar Tricks account. Your membership includes a free “toolbox” of ten apps, all of which are useful to the budding guitar player. While many subscription lesson sites have similar offerings, Guitar Tricks’ are particularly well-designed and easy to use.
Guitar Tricks Toolbox of Apps
- Scale finder
- Reference tuner
- Chord finder
- Fretboard trainer
- Jam station
- Chord charts
- Tab guide
- Fretboard diagram
Along with these basic apps, Guitar Tricks now offers a mobile app for the whole program, available for iOs or Android, so that you can take all your lessons on the go. This functionality should be essential, given our modern attachment to our smartphones, but Guitar Tricks remains one of the few platforms offering a fully functional mobile version. There is a free version of the app, but non-members have to pay membership prices for a premium version if you want full access to all content.
With over 3 million members already, joining Guitar Tricks is like entering a huge community of like-minded learners. They aim to leverage this by providing plenty of opportunities for interaction and additional content. The best example of this is perhaps their vibrant and well-organized forum community, available to members only.
You can interact with guitarists of all levels, whether you want to share motivation with someone at a similar level, encourage an up-and-comer, or get advice from an experienced player. The course instructors are active on the forums as well, regularly responding to questions and offering feedback.
They have a consistently updated blog, available to members and non-members alike, which is full of useful information. They’re also active on social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter, where they post tips, short videos, and host regular giveaways.
Is it Worth the Money?
You can sign up for Guitar Tricks on either a monthly or a yearly basis. The former costs $19.95 per month, and the latter is $179.99, a savings of $60 annually as compared with paying month to month. They also offer a permanent promotional code that saves you 20% off your first payment, be it for a month or a year. Other specials crop up regularly, so keep your eyes peeled, particularly around the typical holiday sale seasons.
|Free trial period||14 days|
|Return period||60 days|
While not the cheapest option for online guitar lessons, the Guitar Tricks price structure is very similar to most tuition-based sites.
Given the quality and quantity of content available, it offers incredible value, particularly for the beginner to intermediate player.
It’s far less expensive than a comparable volume of private lessons and far more effective than trying to cobble together a series of free videos from YouTube.
If you’re on the fence, they offer a 14-day free trial period that grants you access to all the site offers, except one-on-one lessons. If you’re still on the fence, go ahead and sign up, because they also offer a generous 60-day no-questions-asked return period, a sure sign of confidence in their product.
Don’t Choose Guitar Tricks if….
You don’t want to spend any money – While we firmly believe that Guitar Tricks offers great value for money, there are free online lesson services that are still a step up from scouring YouTube for instructional videos. If you want to keep your wallet out of it, consider Justin Guitar instead.
You want to learn the bass guitar – If you’re an aspiring bass guitarist, you won’t find what you’re looking for from Guitar Tricks, and there doesn’t seem to be a plan to add bass lessons in the foreseeable future. Luckily, there are a few platforms that offer courses for this instrument in particular, including TrueFire and Fender Play.
You’re already advanced – While Guitar Tricks does offer a fair amount of content for advanced players, its main feature, the Core Learning System, would be wasted on an experienced player. If you’ve already mastered the basics, you might prefer Jamplay. Their advanced-level Artists Series, where you learn top songs from the artists themselves, has proven very popular with higher-level players.
In our opinion, Guitar Tricks is one of the best online guitar lesson platforms out there, and well worth its reasonable price. Between the proven success of the Core Learning System and the best-in-class library of song lessons, all but the most experienced guitarists will find value here.
But don’t just take our word for it; try it out for yourself with the no-commitment 14-day free trial. We’re confident you’ll be hooked.
Guitar Tricks costs $19.95 per month, or you can purchase an annual membership for $179.99, which saves about $60.
Guitar Tricks is usually considered better for beginners while Jamplay has more to offer intermediate and advanced players. Still, this depends on personal preference.
Yes, Guitar Tricks does teach theory. The instructors integrate music theory into their lessons, but there is no dedicated theory course.
- Player’s Choice Awards 2014: Guitar of the Year! (2014, July 25). Retrieved from https://acousticvibesmusic.com/blog/players-choice-awards-2014-guitar-of-the-year/
- Levenson, J., Kennemer, Q. (2020, February 28). What is 4K? Everything You Need to Know About 4K Ultra HD. Retrieved from https://www.digitaltrends.com/home-theater/everything-you-need-to-know-about-4k-ultra-hd/
- AB Loop Function. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://foliovision.com/player/advanced/ab-loop-function
- Young, M. (2017, May 8). Are You Learning to Play Songs or Learning to Play Guitar? Retrieved from https://www.guitarworld.com/lessons/bach-rock-are-you-learning-play-songs-or-learning-play-guitar
- About Lisa. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://lisamccormick.com/about-lisa/
- DuBois, E.M. (2017, April 1). The Benefits of One on One Private Music Lessons. Retrieved from https://www.rhapsodyma.com/blog/the-benefits-of-one-on-one-private-music-lessons