Guitar Tricks Guitar Lessons Full Review
What can be said about Guitar Tricks that hasn’t been said before? Review after review – it’s the same story. It doesn’t matter if you’re an aspiring newbie or seasoned professional, whether it’s This is My First Day on Guitar or I’ve Been Playing Since I Was 10, Guitar Tricks remains the go-to source for online instruction.
The main question is what makes Guitar Tricks the best online guitar lesson platform? And of course, there is no singular reason – it’s a case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.
A big part of Guitar Tricks’ appeal is based on the step-by-step method that caters to players with no previous knowledge of guitar, and applies the perfect level of difficulty required to build their skills. This is very important since you don’t want it to be too hard or too easy. And at the heart of Guitar Tricks’ instruction is The Core Learning System, which we’ll discuss shortly.
- Beginner Lessons
- Intermediate Lessons
- Advanced Lessons
- Acoustic Guitar Lessons
- Electric Guitar Lessons
- Bass Lessons
- Ukulele Lessons
- Ease of Use
- Tools and Mobile apps
- Free Trial Period
- Value for Money / Cost
- Niche Aspects
- How Does it Compare?
- Strong Points/Weak Points
- Update Frequency
In aesthetics and function, Guitar Tricks beginner lessons are simple, clean, engaging, and informative. The mission statement is: Take what you’ve learned and immediately apply it to making music, i.e. playing popular songs – a tactic devised to make things fun. When learning is a pleasurable experience, people keep coming back for more of that sweet guitar knowledge. Overall, and particularly at the beginner levels, you get the feeling of Guitar Tricks being a classroom where both teacher and student want to be there.
The Core Learning System follows a methodical approach, with each lesson progressing naturally to a next-level skill, paired with a song-based curriculum. So it’s basically: In the last chapter, you learned a couple of simple Open chords. Today, we’re gonna learn the strumming pattern for “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”. Allow me to demonstrate… OK. Now, you take a whack at it.
Guitartricks Quick Snapshot
The Core Learning System consists of eight full-length courses subdivided into two consecutive sections, Guitar Fundamentals followed by Intermediate Style Courses. Because the courses are self-paced, they could run anywhere between one week and two months, leading to a competent intermediate skill and proficiency in Blues, Country and Rock.
You’ll start with absolute basic stuff – How does a tuning peg work? – and by the time you reach Fundamentals Two Chapter 7, you should be able to tackle “More Than a Feeling” with your power chords.
Guitar Fundamentals Two features lessons such as Get to Know the Major Scale, Intro to Barre Chords, The Sad Anatomy of a Minor Chord, and How Notes Are Revealed in Musical Notation. Guitar Tricks’ lessons are designed to get progressively more challenging with each new skill – and generally speaking, how most hand-eye coordination skills are acquired. The idea is to provide a solid Rock foundation before moving on to advanced material.
Fundamentals One and Two are taught by Lisa McCormick, who has a fun and homey sort of vibe. Once you’ve graduated from fundamental school, it’s time for the Style Course and Intermediate Lessons territory. At this point, you should be able to play an easy version of “When Will I Be Loved?”
If there’s a limitation to the Core Learning System, it’s the bulk of instruction covers the rudimentary elements of Blues, Country and Rock – that’s it. Although the scope seems limited on the surface, in fact, Guitar Tricks offers myriad lessons in other styles, available elsewhere on the site – generally found in the “Learn Styles of Guitar” section.
That said, by maintaining a narrow focus, absolute beginning players are able to quickly accumulate basic skills and techniques that will come in handy, somewhere down the road, when they start getting into Urban Jazz or whatever takes their fancy.
Picking up where the Fundamentals left off, Intermediate Style Lessons starts introducing advanced techniques like Chicken Pickin’ (Country) and Alternate Chord Voicings (Rock). Each chapter contains three or four skills, bundled in a compact set of videos. Anders Mouridsen will be your guitar guide through the Style Courses.
The Rock Style Level 1 offers a near-perfect, 33-lesson course that covers open chords and palm-muting, riff skills, how to spot the hook, and wraps with a lesson on getting a good tone from your gear. Chapter 6 of Level 1 features a series of lessons about distinguishing qualities across the evolution of Rock – from the 1950s to present day. Meanwhile, Rock Style Level 2 gets into slightly more advanced territory with lead and rhythm lessons. While learning bending and vibrato, hammer-ons, pull-offs, you’re being groomed for Better Rock Musicianship, an interesting course for any musician in the genre.
Country and Blues courses follow the same patterns. Country Style Level 1 covers the essential strumming styles, scales, and other techniques. At Level 2, you’re learning songs – and as Guitar Tricks makes a point of instruction – possibly composing your own material. You’ll learn hybrid picking, the open chord system, (CAGED), chord inversions, and so on.
Blues Style Level 1 nails the 12 bar form and blues chords and rhythms. You’re quickly learning blues leads out of the pentatonic box, while getting tips on making it sound “bluesy”. Level 2 gets into advanced material and covers the regional blues variations, i.e. Chicago, Delta, etc.
Guitar Tricks’ marketing material makes a very valid point. One of the best-kept secrets to improve your playing is borrowing from other styles. Blues guys can learn new tricks from the Rock guys and vice versa. And it doesn’t end there. All of these elemental styles are the foundations of subsequent genres. World music borrows heavily from Jazz, Rock, and Blues. Likewise, what is Bluegrass but Country by another name.
This is where Guitar Tricks becomes a treasure trove of knowledge and inspiration. Advanced guitarists will have a public libraries worth of alternative resources to challenge and inspire your musicianship.
Meanwhile, the Artist Inspiration Series focuses on the stylistic signatures and techniques of popular artists, delving into the specific tone settings and note choices that comprise a signature sound. The Guitar Tricks Technique Reference Library is simply an encyclopedia of popular techniques – from Pinch Harmonics to Trills and back to Hybrid Picking.
Acoustic Guitar Lessons
Acoustic guitar lessons abound on Guitar Tricks, but there’s really no clear differentiation from the outset. The Core Learning System simply teaches guitar.
Electric Guitar Lessons
Because Guitar Tricks song-based instruction, you’ve got some cuts on acoustic and some on electric. If you follow any of the learning paths, you’re going to get a rock solid foundation in electric guitar.
Sticking with the six-string centric approach, Guitar Tricks does not offer bass lessons.
Likewise from above, no ukulele program, either. But take that as a good sign. Guitar Tricks is focused on guitar – and nothing else.
Ease of Use
Guitar Tricks is one of the most efficiently organized and cross-referenced instructional platforms I’ve ever seen – anywhere. The lessons follow a clear and concise format, accompanied by a streamlined lesson page. The video player rocks – easily adjustable with crisp video quality. The video player also employs an A/B looping system, allowing you to cycle through a specific section that’s giving you trouble. The notation for the song is intuitively located and scrolls automatically to the video. The multi-angle video lessons are dished out in a litany of individual segments, rather than one long session.
Meanwhile, you can easily track your progress via the My Progress page (link in sidebar), which shows your complete and incomplete lessons, and definitely a useful tool for a beginner out there on their own.
Guitar Tricks’ collection of officially licensed songs to learn – over 700 – is the largest on the web. The song selection covers all genres, from beginner level to master class jams. Instructors explain the concepts and guide you through the process of learning “Sweet Home Alabama” and so on.
Every style of guitar is represented including a range of advanced classical guitar pieces. Generally speaking, the artist and songs is pretty random – a roll of the dice. They’ve got a solid selection of John Lennon and Eagles cuts – most of the strum-along favorites like “Woman” and “Hotel California”, but where’s the Van Halen? Boy, they must have got a deal on 3 Doors Down and Blink-182 licensing.
Anyway, there are plenty of jams here to keep you entertained and engaged, and approximately 50% of everything you need to know about guitar music is contained therein. That’s the most important part – that you’re learning the techniques and tricks of the pros.
The Core Learning System is based on the trio of main styles – Rock, Country, and Blues – but the majority of styles are covered: from Bluegrass to World.
As previously mentioned, the styles themselves are access from the Learn Styles of Guitar category on the home page, as well as listed throughout the song browser.
For me, everything starts on the home page, and the less a platform says about how, when, where, and why they’re going to teach you, the better. And here’s where Guitar Tricks just crushes the competition – and maybe, it’s the secret to their success. The no-nonsense vibe is built into the platform.
You land on Guitar Tricks.com and there’s nothing about playing the easy way. There are no selling points in the header. You’ve got boxes for Beginner Lessons, Experienced Lessons, Learn to Play Songs, and Learn Styles of Guitar. Over in the sidebar – again – zero marketing, all business. Up in the header menu, it’s Free Lessons, Songs, Channel, Forum, Account, Sign Up (Get Full Access), and Logout. Couldn’t be any easier.
Tools and Mobile apps
Guitar Tricks toolboxes contain a variety of web apps that we now consider standard for an online platform. At the risk of losing your interest, let’s just say that Guitar Tricks has everything a guitar player might need to accelerate the learning process – plus a lot more.
The fretboard trainer is kind of cool – it’s like a game that highlights a random note on the digital fretboard, and your task is to identify the note. The scale finder might come in exceptionally handy for players of all skill levels. These tools are nice to have, but you don’t really need them.
Note: The free versions of the iOS and Android apps offer a very limited range of free lessons. Upgrade to full membership for access to all the content.
GuitarTricks features a roster of 32 instructors – at last count. You won’t find a lot of big name players like TrueFire and JamPlay have, but most of the instructors have distinguished pedigrees. For instance, Anders Mouridsen has performed Taylor Swift, Pink, and John Fogerty – not a common bit of trivia, but nothing to sneeze at, either.
The site recently added flexible one-on-one online coaching sessions (30-60 minutes), but it’s hard to say what those would cost – without signing up for Full Access.
Of course, GuitarTricks supports a forum for members. Chat with fellow guitarists, ask and post replies to questions, and mingle with your peers.
Most beneficially – and I wish this was more common on other sites – Guitar Tricks has dedicated sections on recording, songwriting, technique, and theory among many other topics. With so much focus on learning the songs of other artists, it’s encouraging to see Guitar Tricks support the more creative side of playing guitar.
Social media? Half a million followers on Facebook. They’re really active on Twitter, too.
Free Trial Period
GuitarTricks offers a generous and risk-free 14-day free trial. No hidden content – you get access to everything.
Value for Money / Cost
There are two subscription options: monthly ($19.95), or annually ($179.99).
Now, it’s not the cheapest platform, but – when you consider the extent of learning on hand – it’s an excellent value. And that’s probably why Guitar Tricks has 3 million users.
Looking at it from an experienced player’s perspective, the Guitar Tricks Video Channel is the standout feature of the entire program. The video channel dials in on marginally advanced skills and techniques, while offering uncountable lessons in the vein of: Using Accents for speed picking. Although Guitar Tricks is based on the premise that music theory is not really needed to play proficiently, those of us who care about keys, modes, and time signatures will not be disappointed with a great deal of content on the video channel.
Meanwhile, from a niche perspective, the fact that Guitar Tricks only deals with six-string acoustic and electric lessons shows their dedication to the craft.
How Does it Compare?
Simply put, it doesn’t. Everybody else is compared to Guitar Tricks.
Strong Points/Weak Points
Guitar Tricks built for beginners, features a massive archive of lessons, and plenty of recognizable songs. Navigation is a snap. One-on-one instruction is available. Sure, there are extra costs for certain features and the focus of the Core Learning System could be perceived as limiting, but the singular obsession with all things guitar cancels out any of the negative noise.
The site’s strong points have been outlined above. The weak point – if any – might be the vaguely arbitrary selection of songs?
At least one new song added weekly, although occasionally more often.
Based on an exhaustive review of online guitar lesson platforms, and taking into account the testimonials of other users and reviewers, we can safely make the following suggestions: Guitar Tricks almost certainly has the user-friendliest online interface, and the Core Learning System is probably the most serviceable beginner program happening on the internet. And their catalog of songs is arguably the strongest and most diverse of any competing platform.
Thus, most durable and outstanding quality of Guitar Tricks is utility – it does exactly what it’s supposed to do. Some platforms either aspire to content domination (TrueFire) or wind up in a pigeonholed niche (Jamorama); however, Guitar Tricks strikes the delicate balance between content and learning with an approach that’s neither overwhelming nor wanting.
These lessons will most likely work if you adhere to their step-by-step instruction – keep up with the pace, basically – and take advantage of the features.
In the end, there can never be a “best” source for online guitar lesson, but Guitar Tricks seems to have struck a nerve with a very large audience. It’s up to you whether you want to join the crowd, or take the party elsewhere.