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Today, learning online is more popular than ever before, with lessons from celebrities frequently appearing in ads posted everywhere. Amazingly, you can now take a guitar lesson from Carlos Santana. However, it's interesting to note that this kind of online learning started way back in 1991. All this time, TrueFire Online Guitar Lessons have been growing and expanding.
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Why Use Online Lessons to Learn Guitar?
If you're interested in playing the guitar, it's never been easier to learn or to buy an affordable instrument. Also, it's more affordable than ever to take lessons online, with prices ranging from free to a few hundred dollars for master classes.
If you're like most people these days, time is limited. So, that's one reason for turning to the internet for lessons. You can fit lessons in whatever spare time you are fortunate to have. If you have just 30 minutes in the evening, you can make it work. Thus, you might be more inclined to continue learning for the long-term.
For many people, learning in the comfort of your home has big advantages. There's no need to drive, and you won't have performance anxiety in your personal sanctuary with nobody watching. For more introverted personalities, this could be a big advantage.
In-person guitar lessons average between $40 and $60 per hour or $30 per half hour. Although expensive, it can be worth it. For example, with one-on-one attention, you could avoid learning bad habits and could learn faster. Also, in-person learning could be perfect for motivating and encouraging your development, similar to having a personal coach. So, if you have the money and time, in-person lessons remain ideal in many ways.
Still, with online courses, you can learn for free or for a fraction of the cost for in-person lessons. For example, you can start with TrueFire online lessons with a free 30-day trial. Afterward, you'll pay a monthly fee that would be similar to one half-hour of private lessons. Thus, you can expect to save a great deal of money in the long-run.
Advantages of Learning Online
Just as with in-person classrooms, you can't fully replace in-person guitar lessons. However, online experiences are better than ever, with private video one-on-one lessons now possible. Plus, online lessons through TrueFire have slowly amassed a fantastic library of lessons since 1991.
So, rather than learning from one person, you can learn from over 600+ top educators. Amazingly, there are now over 40,000 interactive guitar lessons available. Thus, your opportunities to learn are never-ending, so long as you have the discipline and focus needed to stay motivated.
Further Reading: My Top Picks for Online Guitar Lessons
TrueFire: The Oldest Online Guitar Lesson Platform
Way back in 1991, TrueFire started helping people learn guitar online. Back then, videos weren't like today, so they started with audio versions of print lessons that appeared in major guitar publications. From humble beginnings, they have consistently grown and have amassed 40,000+ interactive video guitar lessons and over 800 courses. Plus, there are now over 600+ top educators to learn from at home.The site's content has changed with the times, so some videos feature 1080p HD video and Soundslice interactive tabs with advanced features, while older material features basic controls. Also, there are available apps for Mac or Android like a metronome, tuner, chord charts, and jam tracks. Thus, you can learn on the go with your smartphone or tablet. Note: Many apps, like JamBox, are for iPhone or iPad only.
Options for Beginners
Even if you aren't particularly good with computers, TrueFire's tab menu at the top of the screen is easy to navigate. There, you can select among the menus to find courses, Private Lessons, Learning Paths, and much more. For beginners, the Learning Paths will be your best place to start. However, the site's content is so extensive that TrueFire might be a better choice for more advanced guitar players.
A Treasure Trove for Intermediate/Advanced Players
With TrueFire, there is an endless array of lessons that could keep you learning for over a decade or more. Thus, some people pay the hefty lifetime fee, currently at $2499, because they expect to make the lessons part of their daily lives. With lessons from top professionals and new courses added every week, TrueFire is immersive. So, if you expect to play guitar for a lifetime, the monthly fee won't be off-putting.
As noted, the sheer volume of content could be intimidating for beginners. However, if you're one of those people who like finding your own way, then exploring the site could be ideal. Maybe you also like exploring vast landscapes found in role-playing (RPG) video games? Or perhaps you enjoy "choose your own adventure" stories? Then this is for you.
Learn From a Slew of Educators
Perhaps the biggest strength of the site is that you can learn from so many educators in one place. Among the guitar professionals are Grammy winners like Steve Vai.
Other notable educators:
- Frank Zappa guitarist, Steve Vai
- Steely Dan guitarist, Larry Carlton
- Australian solo artist, Tommy Emmanuel
- Danger Danger guitarist, Andy Timmons
- Multitalented guitarist and educator, Chris Buono
- Blues, jazz, and rock guitarist, Robben Ford
For beginners or advanced guitar players, it's exciting to learn from such fantastic performers and educators. Does it mean you will play guitar as they do? Probably not, but if there is even a slight chance, it might be worth it.If you become advanced enough, you could even apply to become a TrueFire Educator. The wall of diverse artists' faces is impressive to behold. It makes sense that TrueFire would attribute its long-term success to its high-quality educators and their contributions over the decades.
For those who are just starting out and need more guidance and structure, head to the Learning Paths, where you can choose among genres of music, such as:
Right away, you'll see the Quick-Start Paths for Beginners, intended to get you started as quickly as possible. Then, you'll learn in "bite-sized chunks," followed by jam sessions, you can slow down and repeatedly loop to learn at your own pace.
Just as you might dive into conversations in a foreign language with modern language learning apps, you'll dive into playing guitar without getting bogged down with reading music or learning theory.
The free beginner's videos give you an idea of what to expect before you advance in your lessons. There are also beginner and late beginner courses under the courses tab as you begin to gain experience. As you go, you can track your progress and get a sense of accomplishment.
Intermediate and Advanced Lessons
The reason most would subscribe to TrueFire isn't the beginner section, but the limitless lessons for more experienced guitar players. You'll find lessons covering diverse guitar styles, topics, and series. From the essentials to international music, there's plenty to keep you engaged. However, you'll have to spend some time searching the extensive library to choose the right content for you.
As you reach the advanced stage, some of the masterclasses cost extra, but you might catch them on sale from time to time. These supplemental courses could be worth it to you once you've progressed. There are well-known pros teaching lessons in genres from country to jazz, so you're sure to find lessons hard to resist. On the other hand, the extra costs could be a turnoff for some.
For a monthly tuition fee, you can explore ongoing or individual private lessons. Perhaps it's the next best thing to taking real-life lessons, but as of yet, the interaction is not in real-time. Thus, you will record videos or send messages to your instructor, who will get back to you with feedback. If you aren't sure about recording videos, the easy way is to use your computer's webcam.
Importantly, you have a choice of instructors based on your skill level and what style of music you prefer. You can research the instructor's videos on the site to see if their style, personality, and experience fit what you're looking for. If you've taken online classes, the process will be familiar and straightforward to follow.
If you love an individual instructor's style, you may find more about them in the Channels section. There, you can find free and premium content from a vast list of educators.
The option for private lessons with accomplished guitarists is an exciting option to consider. However, you could use that money for lessons with a local instructor instead.
If you want to try out TrueFire for free, there is a 30-day free trial. However, there is also a selection of free lessons. New lessons are continually updating, and so far, there are over 6,000+ lessons available.
As you would expect from this in-depth site, you can search the lessons to find one that appeals to you. If you like an individual educator, you can search by their name. Or, if you want to learn a particular style of music or just learn the basics of guitar for beginners, you can search the catalog.
With so many free lessons, you could stay busy for months.
When you just want to jam out, TrueFire has an In The Jam section. You can play along with top musicians as you learn from the sheet music. Each session allows you to focus only on the parts you want so that you can mute distracting instruments.
Interestingly, the jams are of interest to people who play more than guitars. For example, there are tracks for drums, keyboards, or bass, and even horns. Some tracks feature options for vocals if you want to sing along.
As they play, there are commentaries by the artist, so you gain valuable insight into the creative musical process. Also, you can follow along with the sheet chart, which always has tab and standard notation for the guitar parts.
Further Reading: How You Can Sing and Play Guitar Simultaneously
Bass Guitar and Niche Lessons
You might be surprised to find lessons for Harmonica, Ukulele, Bass, and Banjo on the site. However, it's a welcome addition for those with interest. Although these sections have fewer lessons, there are lessons for Blues Harmonica and Ukulele for guitar players.For Bass players, the bass lessons could be the main reason to choose TrueFire for learning. Of course, you'll need a quality bass guitar to get started with this section of lessons!
Guitar Song Lessons
One criticism of the TrueFire platform has been that people who want to learn specific songs might be disappointed. The platform has a focus on techniques and developing your skills rather than learning your favorite song. For those who want to focus on performing their favorite artists, this could be a drawback.
However, the site is expanding the Guitar Song Lessons, and you can submit your entries for songs that you want to see included. Notably, most lessons aren't focused on learning note-for-note versions of complete songs. Instead, you will develop the skills, such as fingerstyle arrangements, to play songs based on the popular jams.
So, if your goal is to start a cover band with a lineup of your favorite Fleetwood Mac songs, then this might not be the right place for you. However, the skills you develop will certainly help you learn or create your own music. For learning songs, you'll need to learn how to read guitar tabs, so just keep that in mind when going through this section.
Videos with Synced Sheet Music
With these newer videos, music notation plays in sync with the audio and video at one time. There's no need to install any additional software on your computer since it works through the browser, even on smartphones or tablets.
By clicking on the notation, you can jump to the point in the recording when the note plays. To make learning easy, you can loop selected parts and slow down the music. Thus, you can practice as much as you want until you've got it. Plus, you can hide distracting parts of the music and focus only on what you want.
Along with customizing your experience with Soundslice, there are also multiple angles of the guitar and performer. That way, you can get a clear picture of each moment as it's happening. It's the next best thing to being in the room and watching the musician up close.
There are over 5000 individual video lessons that feature the Soundslice tab. Older videos on TrueFire may not feature the Soundslice tab, but most popular courses now have the option. Consequently, it's never been easier to learn at your own pace.
Compatible Apps for Learning Anywhere
The TrueFire 3 desktop app works with Windows, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Apple TV, and Android. Thus, you can access TrueFire with almost any device. Once installed, you can download purchased courses and then play them offline whenever you like. So, if your internet isn't always dependable, this offers a solution.
The files will take up considerable space on your device's memory, so saving them to an external hard drive may be a better option.
Other Apps for On-the-Go Practice
Some of the compatible apps work only with iPhone or iPad. One such app is Lictionary. The app opens up hundreds of free guitar licks lessons on your device. There's also an app for Private Guitar Lessons that makes it easy to interact privately with your instructor.
With the Notes on Call app, you can relive the glory days of audio lessons by phone, which is how TrueFire began so many years ago. Thus, you can listen to the lessons while you're driving or riding in the car. There are over 1,200 audio guitar lessons to choose from.
An innovative app called the Eye and Ear Exam for Guitarists challenges your chord recognition abilities. Similar to a gaming experience, you achieve ranks and scores that go to a leaderboard. Thus, the challenges can help motivate learning through new techniques.
If you prefer learning on-the-go, then these apps let you take advantage of the TrueFire platform wherever you happen to be.
Further Reading: Basic Guitar Chords for Beginners to Master
TureFire's live events and Q & A Sessions are a welcome extra. A wide roster of guitar pros discusses music and their courses. Plus, you can interact and ask questions in real-time. Each event is then archived so you can also watch the past performances.
For example, the Fireside Festival features 14 different guitar players and runs throughout the day. Some of the live events take place regularly on Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube, so you can post comments as the artists play and leave feedback and support.
Community Forums and Blogs
A Facebook Community of over 131,300 people are there if you want to reach out to fellow guitar players. At present, the TrueFire Student Forum generally offers a place for community discussion.
The site has an in-depth blog with new content almost daily. The posts highlight news, new lessons, interviews, and various articles of interest and inspiration. There, you might find the motivation you need before diving into an experience in your favorite genre of music. Plus, there are sometimes articles that offer deals, sales, and giveaway contests.
If you want to go further, the Riff Journal is a beautifully-designed digital publication to explore more about artists and educators. You can read online or buy print copies if you prefer. The journal also has its own Facebook presence.
Reviews from Around the Web
To see what people who use TrueFire are saying, it's as easy as checking out their Facebook page. We all know social media users tend to say whatever comes to mind, but the comments look mostly positive.
For example, this user bought a lifetime membership but said he'd like to see more songs from his favorite artists, the Grateful Dead. Others chimed in and expressed similar sentiments.
Another subscriber suggests that the site is good for guitar players who are beginners or more advanced. Plus, he praised the production value of the lessons.
For in-depth reviews from verified users, you can search through the Facebook page under the Yotpo Testimonials section on the left. Then, you can see a stream of reviews on many topics and educators. One example below from Jim C. couldn't be more complimentary of the Blues Speak lessons and Matt Schofield.
The classes on the website also show content ratings along with the verified buyer comments.
Another great way to see what users are saying is on the TrueFire YouTube channel. There, you can see how videos get thousands of views very quickly, as well as many comments. It quickly becomes evident that many subscribers love the experience and the value they get from the site.
Below, see comments on a video from the founder of TrueFire, Brad Wendkos.
Alternatives to TrueFire
As you can tell from the extensive history, features, and reviews, TrueFire is an awe-inspiring resource for guitar players. However, there are alternatives to consider, particularly for beginners. Plus, you may prefer to start with something more affordable or even free. Or, maybe you are more inclined to learn complete popular songs?
For beginners picking up a guitar for the first time, you might prefer the Guitar Tricks lesson site. The core learning system is ideal for beginners. Thus, you can learn the fundamentals and graduate to the next level before diving into your favorite genre of music. I have an in-depth Guitar Tricks review you can check out too for more information.
There are over 11,000 video lessons from which to choose. So far, over three million users have learned from the site since 1998.
If you want to learn songs by your favorite artists, then Guitar Tricks may be your choice. There are over 1,000 songs to choose from, with more added regularly. Plus, songs include recent modern hits as well as classics.
With a full access subscription of 19.95 a month, it is similar to the monthly cost for TrueFire. However, you can start for free with a basic membership with 24 lessons included.
- Might be easier for beginners
- Focus on learning popular songs
- You can download video lessons on your computer
- Apps for iOS or Android
- Don't have to pay more for premium content
- Not as in-depth for advanced players
- Not as many well-known instructors
- 11,000 versus 40,000 lessons on TrueFire
You can try out Guitar Tricks for free here.
When you navigate the JamPlay site, you'll enjoy the streamlined, modern look. The company started in 2006, so it's relatively new, but already has over 500,000 members served. What sets it apart from other sites: over a hundred genres and a good balance of courses for beginners and more advanced players.
If you prefer to learn songs, there are over 450 of them. Plus, you can perfect skills such as music theory and ear training. With over 6,500 lessons, it's not nearly as extensive as TrueFire, but you can video chat with instructors in real-time. JamPlay currently has over 100 teachers versus 600+ with TrueFire.
For an annual membership fee, JamPlay is significantly more affordable per month without the extra charges for premium content.
- More genres to choose from
- Wide range of content
- No extra charges
- Live discussions with instructors
- Cool, modern website
- Downloadable Guitarist Toolkits, libraries, and tools
- It's a newer site with fewer overall lessons
- Not as many courses for beginners
- Fewer overall teachers
- Requires high-speed internet connection
Again, see my full review of JamPlay before making a purchase decision.
From the guitar icon Fender, this guitar lesson platform is the newest one we'll review. Fender Play was released in 2017. The platform was designed for beginners and allows you to learn your favorite songs. Rather than starting with fundamentals and theory, you dive in with video lessons. Thus, you learn by watching the guitarist play and pick up techniques along the way. Also, I have a Fender Play review on this site - find out more about the platform there.
In practice, the educational style is similar to Guitar Tricks and JamPlay. Also, you can start with a free trial, and, currently, there are three months of free online lessons in guitar, bass, and ukelele. Plus, the monthly rate is the lowest of those we have reviewed. Overall, the site seems more geared to new guitar players, with a modern look and a focus on hundreds of popular songs by artists you recognize.
- Modern website, apps, and feel
- Appealing for beginners
- Popular, modern artists and hits
- Easy to track your progress
- Apps work for iOS and Android
- Live lessons
- Fewer instructors
- Less focus on theory and technique
- Fewer genres
- Not as many lessons
- Not as comprehensive for advanced players
Which Guitar Lessons Platform is For You?
After thoroughly researching TrueFire and the competition, the choice boils down to this: How much depth do you want? If you foresee regularly using the content for a lifetime, then TrueFire is unsurpassed. The massive library of content and the number of top instructors are incredible.
For beginners, Guitar Tricks and JamPlay may have an edge, with JamPlay possibly making more sense as you progress in your skills. Lastly, while Fender Play has a modern appeal, it would not be our first choice as it is currently. However, the current lower cost and regularly added new content could be deciding factors as you consider the best platform for you.
Whatever you choose, we hope you'll soon be on the road to playing guitar and loving the music you create.
As the Head Editor and Writer at Music Grotto, Liam helps write and edit content produced from professional music/media journalists and other contributing writers. He works closely with journalists and other staff to format and publish music content for the Music Grotto website. Liam is also the founding member of Music Grotto and is passionate in disseminating editorial content to its readers.
Liam’s lifelong love for music makes his role at Music Grotto such a rewarding one. He loves researching, writing and editing music content for Music Grotto.