There are 2 really big online video guitar lesson websites at present: Jamplay.com and GuitarTricks.com
Deciding on which one to join can be a bit tricky, since they are both very similar in so many respects. This is where a side-by-side comparison between GuitarTricks and Jamplay will come in handy, but first, lets discuss the history of these sites to get a better understanding of what they can do for you.
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It's important to know that GuitarTricks is the older site, established in 1998. As such, they practically invented online guitar lessons. JamPlay is the follower, who is set out to overtake the pioneer, as can be seen from the video editing quality, and the rate at which new lessons are added onto JamPlay.
Have a look at this handy Jamplay vs Guitar Tricks comparison table below, to find the nitty-gritty differences between the 2 sites:
JamPlay vs Guitar Tricks Feature Comparison
As you can see, both websites are very similar, but you can still find differences beneath the hood. Let's have a look at a few more things that I noticed while using both sites, these may be of interest in your decision as well.
GuitarTricks pros & cons
There are a few things I really enjoy on GuitarTricks.com:
- The lessons are short and to the point, nothing redundant. This is really important, since if you save just 5 minutes on each lesson, watching lets say 20 lessons will be 100 minutes shorter. That much more time to practice or do the dishes
- "Artist style" lessons are great for intermediate / advanced players, since instead of learning a song, you get in depth knowledge about the given artists' characteristic style and techniques, which is really cool.
- There are a gazillion songs to learn in detail.
- One of the coolest, most laid back, yet most informative teachers I have seen is Anders Mouridsen. If you go with GuitarTricks, you'll see a lot of him.
I also like Christopher Schlegel a lot, he is so full of energy and enthusiastic.
And of course there are always things you would change:
- They could have more genre based mini courses, JamPlay has this.
- The Jam Station is not downloadable. It's a really cool tool, but you need to be online to use it. I don't know why they don't make a downloadable version. Maybe because it would be too large of a download?
- The quality of a few older lessons are subpar, they should just remove those or reshoot them. For example, there is a teacher called Hanspeter Kruesi, who seems like a nice guy, but the lessons shot YouTube style at his house in front of his PC don't live up to my expectations. I'm just talking about a few lessons here, but still.
Some teachers at GuitarTricks have a dedicated forum section, where you can get in touch with them. Some teachers don't have this, I think it's because they don't work for GuitarTricks any more.
No matter which membership level you sign up for (monthly or yearly), you can ask for a refund within 60 days of your payment, and GuitarTricks will send the money right back onto your account, no biggie.
JamPlay pros & cons
As with GuitarTricks, there are a few things that are especially cool with JamPlay:
- The production quality of the lessons is just beautiful, they really care about how their lessons look and feel.
- The user account panel is more intuitive than on GuitarTricks.
- You can contact other JamPlay members, so basically form your own little community. I'm not much of an online community person, but I can see how some Facebook addicts might like this feature.
- JamPlay has a few teachers who are either solo artists or were even part of really big bands. These artist-teachers aren't really the best at teaching, since they are more artisty than teachery, but nevertheless, it's cool to see them teaching their own songs and techniques. This is a nice-to-have feature for advanced guitarists.
- I need to mention a teacher from JamPlay who is just a thrill to watch, Marcello Berestovoy. His lessons are really good and his style of teaching is great as well, too bad he only has a few lessons. Same goes for Michael Ripoll.
And for the ugly:
- In their quest to innovate, I think JamPlay really took the camera angle thing overboard. Sometimes they show so many angles of hands on the screen, that it can get confusing and not intuitive at all. There is an camera angle which I really dislike, the "teacher angle", which is a camera above the teacher aiming at his fretting hand. Mixing angles of the same hand on a screen is not cool, I literally get dizzy watching it.
- I'm sure they put a lot of effort into it, but I think the live lessons are just silly and not useful. Whenever I watched them, the teacher was usually just doing something arbitrary, and I didn't see much value in them.
- As with GuitarTricks, some of the older lessons should be reshot. There is too big of a gap between the quality of lessons they release today vs the ones from a few years ago.
- The video player doesn't let me fast forward to a point of the lesson that hasn't been downloaded by the player yet. Hopefully they get this fixed, it's frustrating.
Each lesson has a comments section, where you can post your comment and the instructor will generally reply. Artist-instructors don't reply.
Also, there is the live session thing JamPlay has, which I don't really like, but you can chat with the instructor in real time. He/she may or may not reply, since other people are writing him at the same time.
If you need a refund, you gotta be quick, you have 7 days to ask for it from the day of your original payment.
So basically you have a week to test drive JamPlay, which isn't much actually, given the amount of content they have and the amount of time an average adult can dedicate to playing guitar per week.
Yes, JamPlay has discount codes which you can use to save a few bucks off their membership prices.
So which site is better?
Objectively speaking, I would say that GuitarTricks is better for learning guitar. Some may agree, some not. Read my reasoning below, and leave a comment if you agree/disagree.
The reason why I think GuitarTricks is the winner versus JamPlay, is because:
- Most video lessons and guitar tools are downloadable, which is nice when you're not connected to the Internet. You can't download song lessons due to licensing issues.
- Longer refund period, so you have more time to evaluate it and see if you like it.
- A bit cheaper, just by a few dollars, but that may make a difference to some.
- NEW: Check out the new GuitarTricks.com Free Trial Membership for 14 days, where you'll get access to all lessons and tools on GuitarTricks.com for $0.
But than again, JamPlay does have a cool scale library tool (which is great for intermediate-advanced players), the production quality of JamPlay videos is generally higher (the educational value is about the same), and they release more new lessons and mini courses in different genres for intermediate-advanced guitarists, which might make them a better choice if you're an established player.
You be the judge, take your pick. You could even sign up to test both, and just get a refund from the one you're least satisfied with.