Just like TrueFire, another long-time veteran in the online guitar space, Guitar Tricks, has been helping guitar players around the world since 1998!
Touted as being one of the very best, it has been the place to go for aspiring guitarists who are looking for a comprehensive, robust and cost-effective online platform to learn how to play the guitar.
With more than 11,000 video lessons, all shot in HD, by over 41 professional instructors, covering various techniques and styles, it’s hard for a guitarist to have not heard of Guitar Tricks.
However, with upcoming instructional platforms emerging each year, is Guitar Tricks still worth the hype?
In addition to its website, Guitar Tricks also offers an app that allows users to access their lessons on the go. However, they recommend that you first set up your Guitar Tricks account and sign in through your desktop or computer.
You can then use the same login to access the app on your mobile device. The Guitar Tricks app is available for both Android and iOS.
The app is designed to work seamlessly in sync across all platforms, so you can access it from your desktop computer, tablet, or mobile device without losing progress. I pound it is convenient to use on a larger screen with better real estate.
With three subscription options, you can sign up for monthly, quarterly, or annual subscription plans with Guitar Tricks.
There is a basic Free version available with 24 lessons. But, unfortunately, there’s hardly anything of value in there. It seems more like a teaser to commit to the real deal.
Monthly Subscription Plans
If you want to try out the platform before committing to a full subscription, it’s better to go with the full-access $19.95 per month plan.
You get access to all the standard content on the site and are covered by the 60-day money-back guarantee. But bear in mind that the $19.99 is variable in regards to your location of payment.
Since I was in India at the time of writing this review, I was billed $9 along with a 20% discount code. So in the end, I hardly paid $7 to get full access.
Annual Subscription Plans
Guitar Tricks’ highest commitment package is their annual plan priced at $179 per year, which comes up to $14.91 per month.
This gives you access to everything offered in the monthly and quarterly plans plus more than 50 additional song tutorials every month and 50 free backing tracks each month that can be used for improvisation or inspiration while playing guitar.
There’s also the benefit of one-off discounts on products such as effect pedals or strings throughout your subscription term too!
While they do mention the ‘No Questions Asked’ 60-day money-back guarantee, they try quite hard to keep you locked into a plan. You click through three to four pages of convincing before you can sign out.
However, if you’re just looking to pause your membership, you get various options as you can see below. You can resume your membership at a later date at the same price.
As you sign-up and enter the platform, you’re greeted with options to enter the song library directly or start a systematic learning approach as a beginner or experienced student.
While there are lessons for most acoustic and electric guitar styles that you can think of, there is still unfortunately no bass section under Guitar Tricks.
There have been a lot of enquiries regarding bass and special lessons or notation for left-handed guitarists on the Guitar Tricks’ portal.
But Guitar Tricks’ answer has been the same – since bass and left-handed guitar playing are conceptually the same, you can make use of the lessons we have here by trying out our 60-day money-back Full Access plan.
Core Learning Systems
As you enter the Core Learning System, you’re provided with a visual map that allows you to choose the level you want to start at.
Absolute beginners can start with Guitar Fundamentals 1 and go on to Guitar Fundamentals 2 before entering the genre of their choice. However, if you’ve already got your basics covered, you can choose between Guitar Level 1 or 2, and enter into your preferred genre.
Guitar Fundamentals 1 & 2
Guitar Fundamentals 1 and 2 take you through the basics of what it takes to get you from an absolute beginner to be able to access and complete Level 1 and 2 within your selected genre of choice.
Tutor Anders Mouridsen, who has played guitar for the likes of Pink and John Fogerty, takes you through the very basics of learning the guitar, right from being able to fret your first note to be able to play most basic open chords.
Along with being able to name and find the notes of a major scale, Anders also makes sure you’ve got a solid sense of rhythm when it comes to strumming and playing on time with a metronome.
Anders’ carefully designed syllabus works on his own original compositions along with some basic folk tunes, which have the necessary music theory and technique infused in them. This way, you don’t really feel like you’re having to learn the theory separately.
You begin your guitar journey by playing songs that are well within your reach as a beginner. This ensures the learning curve doesn’t feel steep, and at the same time, you’re getting the necessary chops under your belt as you prepare to enter levels 1 & 2 within specific genres.
As additional material, Guitar Tricks have also included simplified versions of some classics like AC/DC’s You Shook Me All Night Long and The Dixie Chicks’ Wide Open Spaces.
With options to play complex barre chords in simple open positions using a capo, Guitar Tricks have really given importance to making the guitar-playing journey a fun and exciting one.
Reference Material For Beginners
The other great part is that you get a chance to refer to the guitar glossary, as there are a lot of musical terms used in the lessons that beginners might not be aware of.
There are also fingerings of chords, along with video lessons on each individual chord, under the ‘Toolkit’ section to act as a point of reference.
Level 1 – Blues
As I entered Fundamental 1 and chose the Blues path, I was blown away by how meticulously the course was structured.
Divided into six sub-sections, the lessons have all the makings of an excellent blues course. The sub-sections are as follows:
- 12 bar blues
- Barre chords
- Blues rhythm and feel
- Dominant blues
- Lead playing/Soloing
- Hollow-body guitar type and guitar tone
While other platforms have great lessons too, I can’t stress enough on how important organized learning material is, when studying online.
Not only are all the beginner and experienced category lessons, of the highest quality, but they are also placed in places where you’re most likely to look for them.
Level 2 – Blues
I tried some of the advanced lessons under the experienced section, and I must say that the level of intricacies in the latter part of Guitar Fundamentals 2 is quite staggering.
I found the instructors addressing issues that generally intermediate players suffer with while taking their playing to a professional level.
This was specifically the case in one of the advanced lessons that covered the Stevie Ray Vaughan-style bending techniques.
Phrasing licks, just with multiple double-stopped bends while ‘raking’, is a highly advanced skill. I felt the acumen of the instructors to be quite high to be able to explain such advanced stuff, with ease and clarity.
The song library gives you access to a staggering 1000+ songs immediately as you enter the home page. However, the immediate issue I noticed with the tutorials on songs is tide-syncing.
The song lessons could’ve had ‘smart’ tabs and notation through which the cursor could move. That’s how pro-level platforms have it set up, where the multiple-screen video playback is synced with the tabs, notations, and lyrics.
The reason I mention this is that, if you were viewing this on a mobile device, the tabs and notation screen are unusable as you would have to scroll down just to see a tab, which doesn’t showcase the song’s current bar number.
While the video-syncing could’ve been better, the way the explanations are done is top-notch! The instructors switch with ease between technique, tone, song structure, drop-voicings, and ways to immediately apply the theory they’re speaking of.
The brilliantly shot HD multi-cam videos leave little room for doubt on which finger goes where while learning anything on the platform.
While there are tons of licks and scales available online, the drop-out rates of guitar players who stop pursuing it after a while are still alarmingly high.
While we might think it’s a lack of access to training, a lot of it has to do with your outlook towards the instrument, your dedication to being consistent, setting up achievable goals, and above all, tons of patience.
Having said that, I was really happy to see a section dedicated to ‘The Beginner’s Mind’. With 8 lessons ranging from mindset to patience to musical memory to understanding the nature of the practice, I highly recommend watching this section.
Highlighting Neglected Topics
Topics on power cables and using the right adaptor type to power your pedalboard are things which a lot of guitarists learn after they mess something up on a show.
These are generally topics which aren’t taught as they don’t seem very appealing to the budding guitarist.
But as any experienced guitarist would tell you, knowing about your pedal order, the quality of cables that go into patching them up, along with the kind of power supply you use, is something that you need to know if you’re playing live or recording in the studio.
Without boring you with too many details, they’ve made sure to keep the videos short without getting too technical. Overall, this is a great introduction to the pedalboard, with all the basic know-how that you would need.
Guitar Tricks has a team of highly skilled, multi-faceted, and experienced guitar instructors who provide lessons on various guitar techniques and styles.
The ‘List of Instructors’ section of the platform provides a comprehensive list of these instructors, along with their bios and a list of their courses.
Upon going through their bios, I was quite blown away while noticing their accolades, as most of them are graduates from Musicians Insititute(MI), Los Angeles with tons of instructional DVDs, books, and decades of teaching experience under them.
At the time of reviewing, I found 41 active instructors available. Each instructor on the list has a unique teaching style and expertise in a particular area of guitar playing.
One unique feature that sets Guitar Tricks apart from other online guitar learning platforms is the section called ‘List of Artist Studies’.
While lessons on various guitar techniques and styles are a must, I‘ve noticed a lot of intermediate to advanced guitarists generally get into studying a specific artist and their idiosyncrasies.
This section provides a comprehensive list of extremely well-shot guitar lessons on the songs and playing styles of famous guitarists.
Whether you’re a fan of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix, Dave Mustaine, EVH, or Jimmy Page, you can find a series of lessons on their songs that will help you learn their signature techniques and playing styles.
Their weekly videos on their YouTube channel “Guitar Insider” is also a highly engaging and entertaining series to watch.
The host is passionate about guitars and music, and their enthusiasm is contagious. The videos are professionally produced and feature high-quality footage of guitars and gear, as well as performance jams by the host and guests.
While guitar YouTube channels are dime a dozen, what struck me was that users could ask specific doubts, queries, or raise concerns over something they’re struggling with, and the host makes it a point to address it during the videos.
Guitar Tool Box
The ‘Guitar Tool Box’ as the term states is a tool kit of all the basic things that a guitarist would need.
Right from a tuner to chord charts to scale maps on the fretboard, with automatic playback, Guitar Tricks has pretty much got you covered.
The Jam Station, under the tool kit, is an interesting radio station of jam tracks in various genres, with switchable keys. Beyond being just a collection of jam tracks, which you could find on YouTube for free, there are accompanying lessons to these jams.
Interestingly, when you enter a specific lesson via the jam station, for example. ‘7 String Metal Guitar’ as seen above, you find yourself within a metal technique playlist, which was part of the Metal course under ‘Collections’.
The more I navigated through the platform, the more I learnt about how well-connected and structured the lessons, actually are.
What Do Guitar Tricks Offer That Others Do Not?
Guitar Tricks stands out for a few reasons that make it unique from similar learning experiences.
While a lot of the other platforms focus on music theory in a pedagogical way that is separate from guitar technique, and the act of playing songs, Guitar Tricks is a comprehensive mixture of all three, without making it boring.
While a lot of learners cringe at having to learn the theory behind the songs and would rather skip that part, Guitar Tricks has structured its syllabus excellently well.
To be honest, I specifically look out for the theory sections, as I tend to learn better that way. But with Guitar Tricks, I couldn’t put a finger on the specific lesson where guitar playing got separated from the theory.
I’m sure a lot of learners would end up knowing the song they learn on a much deeper level, without noticing the separation between the theoretical, technical, cognitive, and musical aspects of it.
The videos are also different from what you’d normally find on YouTube – they’re exceptionally well done and quite often include supporting visuals to drive the point home. The content is delivered in an easy-to-follow, step-by-step format that allows you to learn at your own pace.
In terms of guitar gear, Guitar Tricks also offers a lot more information than most instructional websites. They have an extensive library of videos about amps, pedals, patch cables, and other guitar-related accessories, which are usually hard to find or learn about elsewhere.
Who Is Guitar Tricks Best For?
Guitar Tricks have paid close attention to catering to a wide variety of learners.
Whether you’re an absolute beginner or an intermediate guitarist, there is ample room to grow within the platform.
Their emphasis on learning techniques and theory through songs, makes it a fun journey for beginners. While, some of their advanced lessons, especially the mammoth ones on Dream Theatre’s tracks, push the limits of what an online learning platform is capable of providing for its learners.
It’s also great if you don’t have access to a physical instrument at all times but still want to keep your learning going. There are many lessons on mental approach, pedal board patching, and understanding of tone, which can be done without your instrument.
So in a way, you can say that Guitar Tricks is for anyone who wants to learn how to play guitar at their own pace. But at the end of the day, it comes down to what YOU want from playing the guitar — only you can decide what type of program best fits your needs.
Pros & Cons
When it comes to guitar learning platforms, there are pros and cons to everything. Guitar Tricks is no different. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of this particular platform.
A True Guitar Player’s platform – Guitar Tricks provides all the things you wish you had but didn’t know where to find, under one roof. It’s truly designed from the inside out, catering to a guitarist’s everyday needs.
Digestible Structure – All lessons are easy to understand, organized and categorized very well. I never felt lost on the platform. It’s designed in a way that you intuitively know where to look for something.
Vast Collection – The platform covers all styles of guitar playing including classical, country, bluegrass, blues, jazz, metal, and rock, as well as an extensive selection of styles like the Celtic guitar and Ska music to name a few.
Supportive community – There’s also a great online forum on the platform where members help each other out with their questions about guitar playing or anything related to that topic. Being able to ask personalized questions on their YouTube channel does the trick for me.
HQ Bonus Stuff – As an extra value for subscribers, Guitar Tricks also offers a Song-Builder’s Toolkit in an audio-book format, akin to a mini-podcast for guitarists.
Platform constraints – Regrettably, customers have encountered intermittent streaming troubles or lag time while navigating between multiple video lessons on the site, which may be rather annoying when attempting to learn at a constant pace. I, too, had some loading troubles.
No customizable learning curves – Another disadvantage of Guitar Tricks is the lack of individualized learning curves available on other platforms such as JamPlay or Fender Play, which offer tailored programs depending on the user’s current skill level and aspirations as a guitarist or learner.