Before I started working on Music Grotto, I wanted to learn about playing the guitar. While I knew of a handful of different guitar lesson services, I had no idea which one would work best for me.
During my learning process, I stumbled upon JamPlay. This course wasn’t the only ingredient in my journey from novice guitarist to journeyman guitarist, but it certainly helped. That’s why, in my opinion, you should learn about JamPlay if you have any interest in learning to play guitar.
Without further ado, let’s jump into this JamPlay review!
What to Consider Before Buying Guitar Lessons
Online guitar lessons are great for people who prefer the flexibility of distance learning without the commitment of having a fixed class time.
Likewise, people who want to dabble in a handful of different guitar styles without committing themselves to the style of a particular teacher will find that learning guitar online is a great choice.
The best guitar lesson services on the internet have a few key features:
- A range of lessons to appeal to players of all skill levels
- The choice of several different instructors
- A range of musical styles to appeal to musicians with different tastes
- A way to test your performance to understand where you need to improve
- Drills for troubleshooting and honing your technical playing abilities
- Workshops for meta-activities like properly tuning and transporting your guitar
- Collections of tabs for individual lessons
- Collections of play-along tracks for individual lessons
- Fully transparent pricing
- Scale libraries
- Enough lesson material to meet your learning goals
There are also a few features that aren’t necessary, but they’re good to have in a guitar lesson subscription. These secondary features include:
- Song libraries
- Practice planning toolkits
- Guest lessons from famous guitarists
- Consistent publishing of new lesson or course offerings
- Progress reports
- Training games
If you think that you will struggle with the format of online lessons, you may prefer to hire a tutor or attend an in-person class. Similarly, if you want personalized assistance, these lessons are probably not the right choice for you.
Also, learning online might be overwhelming for people who have never picked up a guitar before.
While the best available online guitar lessons will have sections for beginners, it can often be very difficult for the freshest players to get the basic assistance they need in an online format.
JamPlay is one of the internet’s largest online lesson providers, with more than 500,000 learners and nearly 120 different teachers. In total, JamPlay has nearly 5000 different lessons spread over more than 200 distinct courses.
On JamPlay, you’ll find lessons catering to all skill levels and all musical genres. You’ll also find a library of 451 songs to practice with, as well as more than 1000 lessons devoted to refining and building technical playing skills alone.
JamPlay has an extensive library of scales, chords (both basic chords and more advanced ones), and riffs. It also has training games, progress reports, play-along tracks, and the ability to build custom chord sheets to suit your needs.
If you prefer the excitement of a live lesson, JamPlay does offer several webcasts of lessons each day. You can also participate in the daily question and answer session with one of the teachers if you’re trying to fix something specific in your practice.
JamPlay is equal to most of its competitors on the basis of its exhaustive lesson set. However, JamPlay isn’t perfect. JamPlay’s weaknesses include its opaque pricing model, a difficult-to-navigate website, and buggy accessory apps.
- Massive library of lessons, chords, and other material
- Huge range of drills, activities, and challenges
- Great selection of experienced teachers
- Accessible teachers and staff
- Excellent for novice and intermediate-level players
- Confusing website layout
- Opaque pricing
- Highly restricted money-back guarantee
- Poor mobile apps
JamPlay has a lot to offer, so we’ll discuss why it’s worth knowing about in more depth in the next section.
JamPlay Features and Benefits
Each part of the JamPlay package is worth a look, but we’ll start with the meat: foundational lessons.
JamPlay’s foundational courses are dedicated to teaching novice players the basic skills and techniques which they need to build the rest of their guitar education. As far as JamPlay’s offerings go, there are more than 650 lessons within the beginner-targeted curriculum.
In fact, JamPlay has three different curricula for novices within its foundational courses. One caters to people who have never played before and teaches lessons like how to hold the pick and proper fret posture.
The next curriculum, intended for self-taught guitarists, aims to teach learners how to read sheet music effectively, address common issues in their practice, and reinforce good habits in basic techniques.
The final foundational curriculum is perhaps the most interesting, as it covers basic music theory, refining practice routines, understanding time signatures, and making connections in melodies.
It’s entirely feasible for someone to start at the first curriculum and work their way through one after the other. This means that if you’ve never picked up a guitar before, you could go from total beginner learning the basics to experienced novice as rapidly as you can complete the courses.
Don’t let the depth and comprehensiveness of the foundational courses fool you, however. The majority of the meat of JamPlay is in its set of materials for intermediates, including its genre and skill-building courses.
There are many different ways to play the guitar. While JamPlay may not teach all of them, it does make an effort to teach more than 20 different genres ranging from blues to metal.
JamPlay has an extensive set of lessons for all of the following popular guitar genres:
Of these, JamPlay’s library of blues lessons is the largest, sporting 868 different lessons spread over 25 courses. This means that you’ll have access to a huge number of different teachers as well as various permutations of the genre.
JamPlay also has a smaller set of lessons covering how to get started playing guitar in these more obscure genres:
- Hawaiian Slack Key
With these genres, you’ll probably only have access to one or two different courses and potentially only one teacher. However, JamPlay is constantly updating its repertoire, so be sure to check back frequently.
When you view a genre course, you’ll see the instructor, the number of lessons in the course, the suggested skill level, and reviews from learners who have completed the course. If you aren’t sure about whether a specific genre course is for you, read the reviews to find out.
All of the genre courses are included with a basic JamPlay membership, so you don’t need to worry about your membership plan providing access to any genre you want to learn using their platform.
Guitar skill-building is difficult, and many websites claim to help students with their trouble areas. JamPlay has more than 50 skill-building courses, each of which uses the downloadable JamPlay software hub.
In the skill-building courses, you’ll get help from instructors after practice sessions, understand how to improve your technical and conceptual abilities, and run through the assigned drills to make sure that you understand the material.
In some skill-building courses, you’ll also be evaluated on your performance at the end of every lesson. These evaluations are only for your enlightenment, however, so don’t worry about passing or failing.
JamPlay’s skill-building courses are divided into playing skills and music theory lessons. The technical guitar skill courses offered on JamPlay’s platform include categories like:
- Instrument care and maintenance
- Speed and technique
- Ear training
- Core techniques
In contrast, JamPlay’s conceptual skill-building courses are more substantial. In the conceptual skill-building courses, you can choose from categories like:
- Theory and improvisation
- Reading music and rhythms
- Ear training
- Core concepts
In other words, if you’re still figuring out how to hold the guitar properly, there’s a course for that.
At the same time, if you understand how to hold the guitar and play chords at a basic level, there’s a significantly larger amount of material catered to advancing your knowledge and capabilities.
I think stacking JamPlay with one of the top singing courses online would suit aspiring musicians well. Just something to chew on!
JamPlay’s song-learning courses are the smallest offered on the platform, but they’re also the most interactive. When you take a song-learning course, you’ll usually learn three or four similar songs with the help of the software platform.
Learning a single difficult song in one lesson can take as long as 40 minutes, so you shouldn’t think that the shorter length of the song-learning courses makes them less worthwhile.
At every step of learning a new song, the instructor will help you to play the instrument properly while also invoking the musical theory information you need to navigate a more difficult song the next time around.
In other words, the song-learning courses are a great way to build on your foundational guitar skills as well as your music theory skills. If you find that it’s a bit too intimidating to take on a new genre course or a new foundational course, try your hand at a few different song-learning courses.
There are over 400 different song-learning courses on JamPlay’s platform. Each one has anywhere from 10 minutes to 90 minutes of guided assistance to internalize the lessons from the song.
The big advantage of JamPlay’s song learning course library is that it has a ton of different songs that you’re already familiar with.
If you love the idea of playing Billy Idol songs, the song learning course library has plenty to offer you. On the other hand, John Mayer and Jimi Hendrix are equally well represented.
The one disadvantage of the song learning course library is that classical, rock, and modern songs are over-represented. It might be hard for you to find international guitar songs to learn, but anything produced in the US in the last few decades is fair game.
Master Classes are where JamPlay’s celebrity instructors offer their courses. The Master Class courses are typically oriented at intermediate to expert level guitarists because the instructors themselves are a legendary set of people.
If you’ve ever wanted to have the lead guitarist of Guns ‘N Roses teach you a guitar lesson, the Master Classes are the right place for you.
The important thing to remember about the Master Classes is that they are expressions of the instructor’s artistic style first and learning opportunities for technique second.
Thus, if you want to learn how to emulate a specific guitar style within a genre, the Master Classes will give you the insight you need to nail it. The majority of this education will be in style elements rather than in technical tips, however.
Likewise, if you want to learn how to capture a specific sound in terms of a song’s composition or chords, the Master Classes are the right place to be.
Remember, the Master Classes aren’t intended to teach foundational concepts, nor are they intended to teach the basics of a genre or style. You won’t get the technical drills you need to shred from a Master Class. You’ll get a lesson in how to compose a song where shredding works.
If you keep your expectations for the Master Classes in line with their stated goals, you’ll find that they’re immensely enlightening and fun.
Live Courses and Sessions
Every day, JamPlay has two ways for learners to interact directly with the instructors: live guitar courses, and the daily question and answer sessions.
The daily question and answer sessions are exactly what they sound like: office hours with the platform’s instructors. You can troubleshoot your issues, talk about composition, or just jam out if that’s something you’re trying to work on.
In contrast, live guitar sessions are a bit different. Most of the live guitar sessions are structured as workshops for specific technical skills, genre tidbits, elements of music theory, or for composition.
The live courses are immensely valuable for anyone using the JamPlay platform. If you want to follow a live course lesson by lesson, you can download the relevant tabs directly from the platform.
Many of the live courses have homework, office hours, and other attributes of a traditional online course. While you sacrifice a lot of flexibility with the live guitar courses, you make up for it with the amount of exposure you get to your professor.
There’s no limit on the number of live courses you can participate in while using a basic JamPlay membership. This means that you could ostensibly follow three or four different live guitar courses and have entire days where you go from course to course.
The live courses range in difficulty from novice to expert. The expert-level live courses are especially strong, though all of the instructors devote a great deal of their time and attention to providing a great experience for their students.
On the other hand, the live courses intended for beginners are also exceptionally good. While you should probably get the most basic fundamentals out of the way before showing up to a live course, the instructors will help you every step of the way, no matter your skill level.
JamPlay’s libraries feature a huge amount of reference material, which is helpful for learning how to play as well as composing your own guitar songs.
JamPlay’s libraries include resources for:
- Jam tracks
- Licking and riffing
- Assessing your progress and skill level
There are nearly a million different chords in JamPlay’s chord library, making it one of the most developed on the internet. You can also use the chord library’s software platform to build new chords of your own, which is a big bonus.
When you load a chord library, you’ll see the chord chart for finger placement, the tablature charts, and a photograph of the appropriate hand and finger placement.
While technically the photograph is redundant with the chord chart, it’s a great feature that really helps for people who learn by doing, like me.
If you want to adjust tuning or voicing while you are practicing using the items in the JamPlay libraries, you can do so.
It’s easy to get lost in JamPlay’s libraries if you are just browsing. The best way to use the libraries is to have the guidance of a course to set you on the right path. Then, when you’re ready to practice and put your skills to use, delve into the library for ideas.
It’s important to note that the libraries aren’t necessarily tagged by skill level. If you’re a total novice, there are a lot of very difficult concepts and things to learn within the library, which you may not be ready for yet.
What JamPlay Users Say
After scouring the internet for reviews, we can say with confidence that most JamPlay users rate their experience on the platform favorably.
In this section, we’ll show you three reviews of JamPlay so that you’ll get a sense of what other learners think are the strengths and the weaknesses of the site.
As you can see, JamPlay members speak very highly of the service. If you’d rather see for yourself, you can take advantage of JamPlay’s money-back guarantee so long as you can decide within one week of starting your membership.
If you’re interested in learning about a few alternatives to JamPlay, we have you covered.
In this section, we’ll briefly discuss the major JamPlay alternatives so that you can get a few ideas about whether they might be a better fit for your learning needs than JamPlay.
However, keep in mind that JamPlay is our favorite option for online guitar lessons, so these other services aren’t as good as JamPlay, in our opinion.
The Guitar Lesson is a smaller service than JamPlay, and it has a narrower focus. Most of the lessons are built around one of the site’s several teachers walking you through a specific song while taking time to skill-build as necessary.
Where The Guitar Lesson shines is that it captures the one-on-one feeling of an in-person guitar lesson better than JamPlay. On the other hand, the range and depth of its lesson content are much less than JamPlay’s, and the website is even more confusing to navigate.
Ultimate-Guitar is unique in that it allows anyone to contribute their guitar courses to a central marketplace. This means that there’s a huge amount of lesson content that you’d never find anywhere else, including several diamonds in the rough.
The issue with a marketplace for lessons is that it’s difficult to know where to start. Furthermore, the lessons vary widely in quality, meaning that many people might get frustrated with a low-effort course.
Guitar Tricks is larger than JamPlay in terms of the number of learners who have signed up. It’s also older than JamPlay by about nine years, meaning that its libraries of lesson content are substantially larger. You can check out my full review of Guitar Tricks too to get more info on this alternative!
Where Guitar Tricks slightly falters is in its content targeted at intermediate-level players. The majority of Guitar Tricks’ lessons are for beginners and novices, and more skilled players may find that there isn’t anything suitably challenging enough.
One other lesson program to consider is Fender Play. Great for beginner guitarists but probably not for intermediates to advanced!
That wraps up this review of JamPlay. I hope that you have a good understanding of what to look for when you’re shopping around for a good lesson service.
The bottom line for JamPlay is that it’s a great tool. If you’re an intermediate-level guitarist looking for the breadth and depth of material that will help you power up your musical repertoire, JamPlay’s courses will be right up your alley.
Likewise, if you’re a newer guitarist looking for a guided curriculum to finalize your understanding of the basics, JamPlay’s beginner-oriented classes make it a great choice.
In our view, JamPlay is worth a try no matter what area of your guitar education you’re working on. At the end of the day, JamPlay has served thousands and thousands of guitar learners well, and it might serve you well too.
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