Where do you turn when you’ve become sick of browsing YouTube and free tab sites for good online guitar lessons but not found what you want? You’re one step closer with this JamPlay review.
Jamplay is one of the most long-lived and well-established premium online guitar schools. Their member count exceeds half a million, and they offer over 5,500 guitar lessons from more than 100 high-profile instructors.
While these numbers look promising, they can’t tell you whether these are the right lessons at the right price for you. That’s why I wrote this JamPlay review to help you figure things out.
A Quick Overview
Let’s start with a brief summary of the benefits of using JamPlay.
- More than 6,500 video lessons for extensive learning at various skill levels.
- Full-screen HD format makes it easy to see how to play guitar chords and licks.
- Video looping lets you focus on the parts you find challenging.
- More than 100 teachers provide a versatile and varied learning experience.
- Print-ready sheet music makes it easy to continue your practice offline.
- Lessons cover different genres, hardware, various techniques, and songwriting.
In-depth JamPlay Review
- Lesson and User Pages
- Phase One - Beginner
- Phase Two - Style and Techniques
- Phase Three - Songs
- Phase Four - Songwriting
- Artist Series
- Riff Library
- Live Lessons
- Mobile App
- Free Trial
- Pros and Cons
JamPlay uses the same general format as its main competitors like GuitarTricks. There’s an easily-navigated main page and a sleek dashboard with links to the various lessons and other features.
The lessons themselves mainly reside in four categories: Beginner lessons, Genres & Skills, Learn Songs, and Songwriting. Each one has its own sub-categories.
Choose a lesson and the site takes you to the main page of that lesson. You get a list of videos for each part of the lesson, and written information about everything you’ll need.
As the focal point, the video has a prominent spot and a full-screen toggle. The crystal-clear videos often show you the guitar from various camera angles at once to help you understand what’s going on. Video resolution options range from 240p to 1080p and even 4K on recent videos. You get clear instructions from the experienced instructors before playing each lesson segment.
These videos are highly professional, both in terms of recording and editing. You won’t get quality like this from YouTubers.
What’s even better is the A/B looping feature. You set the two loop points, and everything between them plays on repeat so you can focus your practice. To top it off, you can slow down the video without ruining the sound. The speed options are 10, 25, 50, 75 and 100 percent.
Below the video, there’s another toolbar. Here, you can get the notes and guitar tablature for the lesson. Plus, you can add notes or even get answers to questions with the Ask A Teacher feature. There’s also a download button.
The print-ready tabs come in GIF, PDF, and GPX formats. You also get interactive tabs with audio playback and adjustable speed for easier learning.
In addition to the lessons, you get your own pages. The key point of interest here is the progress report. Here, you’ll see progress bars for the various lessons you’ve taken. It’s a practical way to remember what songs you’re working on.
You can also view the badges and JamPoints you get for achieving various things. These will eventually give you access to special features, discounts, and such.
Phase 1 – Beginner Lessons
Let’s start this closer JamPlay review in the right end. Phase 1 has a plethora of detailed, beginner-friendly videos. Here, you’ll encounter a variety of instructors with different styles and concepts to teach. You’re bound to find a favorite whose teaching style suits you perfectly.
As you begin, you can choose between electric or acoustic guitar lessons. Then, you choose your own path, as there’s no fixed order of lessons. This is especially good if you’re a beginner but already know the basics and don’t want redundant repetitions.
Regardless, finding an order that suits you is easy. Each course and lesson has a description that lets you know what you’ll learn.
For example, there’s a 67-lesson beginner acoustic guitar playing course by Eve Goldberg. It starts out with some open chords, but you’ll soon master common scales and strumming patterns. This course alone runs just over 20 hours, and that’s only the tip of the JamPlay iceberg.
If you’re more interested in electric guitars and want to learn how to play rock and blues, there’s a comprehensive beginner course on that as well. Here, instructor Lisa Pursell guides you from your first power chord to the point where you can dish out solos at will. It’s more than 11 hours of learning material divided into 68 lessons.
There are many more courses covering everything a beginner needs and then some. You’ll learn guitar warmup exercises, proper form, tuning, gear tips, and various techniques.
You can also get high-quality bass courses, but these require a separate subscription.
Lessons for Children
You may be wondering: Is JamPlay.com a good choice for my child? In fact, there’s a specific section for kids. A good place to start is the introductory course led by the instructor Steve Eulberg. This course consists of 19 lessons, specifically tailored for young beginners.
In this section, children can learn how to play simple melodies such as “Old McDonald had a farm.”
Now, that may sound boring to some, so there’s a variety of other stuff, including beginner courses using alternative tunings. For example, there’s one by Jessica Baron where beginners can learn to play in open G major tuning.
Phase 2 – Styles and Techniques
As you move on from Phase 1, lessons branch out further. You can choose your favorite music genre, or multiple ones, to advance your guitar skills in the exact direction you want.
You’ll find everything from staples like country and jazz to flamenco, brazilian, bluegrass, and more. What’s cool is that you’ll sometimes get lessons directly from actual big names of these genres.
For example, the metal section features lessons by Megadeth guitar player Glen Drover and bassist David Ellefson. The former offers a 27-lesson covering everything from shredding techniques to dropped tunings and how to play in sync with drummers.
Whether you want to learn funk, R&B, or surf rock, you’ll find lessons on everything you need to know. In fact, you’ll learn some very advanced tricks. If you want to master flamenco, metal, or jazz guitar, you’ll need such techniques.
Phase 3 – Song Lessons
This is where you’ll start learning how to play songs on your guitar. It may seem a bit strange that the previous phase teaches advanced techniques before moving on to simple songs. However, you’re free to choose your own order and mix and match from all the phases.
Regardless of your skill level and music tastes, you’ll find cool songs that make your learning experience fun. While there’s no shortage of beginner-friendly songs, the biggest value lies in the advanced lessons. Although the highest difficulty level mostly revolves around metal songs, you’ll also find various tunes ranging from Mozart to Jerry Reed. If you’re up to the challenge, you can also learn Bumblefoot songs from the man himself.
I like how they have famous recording artists teaching you their own songs. This way, you know that you learn everything just right, which isn’t always the case with YouTube videos or free guitar tabs. That earns them some extra points in our JamPlay review.
Plus, both the in-house instructors and the guest artists make an effort to make everything easier to learn. Combined with the many camera angles, looping, and speed settings, this makes for effective learning.
To make progress easier, the song list displays the difficulty on a scale of one to five notes along with the instructor and style.
Unlike most competitors, JamPlay offers a wide selection of popular songs by acts such as:
- The Beatles
- Jimi Hendrix
- Fleetwood Mac
- Eric Clapton
- Willie Nelson
- Black Label Society
- System of a Down
- Machine Head
On the other hand, they don’t cover as many bands or songs as GuitarTricks.
Phase 4 – Songwriting
Writing your own songs is one of the best things about learning how to play the guitar. The feeling of achievement and creative expression released by writing a good song are hard to beat. But getting there can be hard without help.
Enter the JamPlay songwriting lessons. In this section, you’ll find a few different courses on how to write different styles of songs. For example, Hawkeye Herman offers a comprehensive 305-minute course on how to write blues songs in 23 lessons.
Another interesting pick is the Dustin Prinz songwriting course, with 26 lessons dedicated to writing songs around parapicking and percussive strumming techniques. It’s 338 minutes long and likely to breathe new life into covers and songs you’ve already written.
There’s a total of eight songwriting courses for acoustic guitars at the time of writing, and one 41-episode course for electric guitars spanning 542 minutes with the accomplished guitarist Lauren Passarelli.
The artist series section is something we must look closer at in this JamPlay review. This is an entire section dedicated to courses where famous skilled guitarists teach you how to play like them.
You’ll find classic recording artists like Preston Reed, Steve Stevens, and Lita Ford along with modern trailblazers like Kaki King and Sarah Longfield. Throw in a dozen or so guitarists from some of the most acclaimed metal bands out there, a few virtuosos, and various specialists, and you’ve got a real powerhouse roster.
This is especially good if you’re an intermediate player who wants to learn those really technical styles and don’t know where to begin. For example, Djent heads can learn 8-string mastery from Tosin Abasi of Animals as Leaders. Similarly, Miche Fambro shares the secrets of his flamenco magic, and Phil Keaggy teaches his loop pedal skills.
Some series in this section have different instructors teaching you to play in the style of a famous guitarist, but you’ll generally learn straight from the source.
Now, there aren’t as many artist classes for bassists. However, the selection is pretty good and includes in-depth courses by iconic figures like Billy Sheehan and Freebo.
Riff Library and Other Lessons
The Lick & Riff Library is a separate section that works much like the song lessons, but each lesson focuses on a specific riff or lick. Some of these come from famous songs or mimic them, but others are original ones designed specifically for learning. Since these lessons are only a few minutes in length, they’re excellent choices when you want to squeeze in some practice on a busy day.
In the Interviews section, you can find additional tips and insights from various big guitarists. Similarly, the Performances page contains videos of artists performing songs that didn’t fit in their courses, and these can teach you more of their tricks.
The Live Section
You’ll find daily webinars under the Live tab. If you connect to the live feed, you can ask the instructors questions and get useful tips or follow-along lessons live.
Next, there are live courses where artists live stream lessons on specific styles and techniques. You’ll typically get tablature and exercises to practice in between sessions. At the time of writing, active courses include Learning to Loop and Masterful Melodies.
If you miss lessons or join too late for a course you were interested in, there’s an archive where they store videos of old live courses.
When you’re learning how to play the guitar, the instructors matter a lot. JamPlay has courses by more than 100 guitar teachers on their site, plus 22 bass teachers.
Among these teachers, you’ll find guitarists like Trace Bundy, also known as the acoustic ninja. If you want to learn advanced capo uses, looping, and harmonics, this is the teacher for you. For additional creative ways of playing the guitar, there’s also Kaki King.
If you’re not familiar with Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, you may want to check him out to get an idea of the kind of mind-bending guitar magic you’ll learn from his lessons. In addition to his quirky solo projects, he’s also played in Guns n Roses.
Are you into country, folk, and bluegrass? You can learn both from big names like Brent Mason and lesser-known but influential ones like Andy Wood and Orville Johnson.
If you’re looking for shredding lessons, you’ll be pleased to find some of the godfathers and front figures on the team. In addition to ‘80s speed metal and thrash pioneers, you’ll find lessons by the likes of Steve Smyth, known from Nevermore and Testament. Also, both Phil Demmel and Robb Flynn of Machine Head are there to teach you their riffs.
The list could go on, but I’m sure you get it by now. JamPlay’s resident teachers have a lot to teach you, and you may find some that appeal to you more than the big names. Each one specializes in certain styles and techniques. For example, the jazz specialist David Anthony offers lessons on things like dominant seventh chords, whereas the folk and bluegrass teacher Orville Johnson teaches flatpicking and related playing styles.
In addition to the lessons, you get a toolbox with useful browser applications for guitar learning. Firstly, you’ll find the typical guitar tuner, bass tuner, and metronome.
Next, there’s the chord finder where you can choose a key and a chord, and it’ll show you a few ways to play that chord. You can also put in the notes of a chord to get the name. Similarly, you get a scale finder too.
Also, massive guitar chord database showing over 900,000 voicings.
Last, but not least, there’s a variety of music theory learning games. For example, there are timed quizzes and games where you have to place the right notes on a fretboard. These games have leaderboards and present a more exciting alternative to dusty music theory books.
The JamPlay App
If you want to learn on the go, the mobile app is a lot more convenient than the website. You can get it for iOS and Android devices and even Kindle tablets.
Overall, there’s nothing too special about it. However, it’s very practical, especially if you have an Apple Watch or similar device.
Finding like-minded guitarists is a big part of the learning journey, and JamPlay has some community features that are fairly active. For example, you can chat with other members via the JamChat instant messenger on-site. Other classic functions like private messages and friend lists are also there, but unlike GuitarTricks, JamPlay has no user forum.
On the other hand, there are daily Q&A group sessions in the live section. And you can always check out their Facebook page if you want to discuss with other members.
Jamplay Free Trial
If you want to see for yourself what this JamPlay review is all about, you can try it out for a week at no cost. There’s no catch and no need to enter payment details. You get full access to the site.
Moreover, you can find some lessons that are free to everyone.
Also, there are monthly giveaways and Christmas bundles that give you additional premium courses and jam tracks for free.
Pros and Cons of JamPlay
Do you need a recap of the JamPlay review? Here are the key takeaways.
- Over 100 teachers
- Famous guitarists teaching their songs
- Detailed high-quality video lessons
- Suitable for absolute beginners and advanced players
- Live courses and Q&A sessions
- Big, diverse lesson library
I think the main positive thing worth repeating in this JamPlay review is the elaborate video player and the format of their lessons. Up-close footage of the fretboard and picking hand, adjustable slow-motion capabilities, and loop points give you a powerful learning experience.
Beyond the impressive number of lessons, the well-organized structure is convenient. It’s easy to find lessons in the right style and difficulty range for you, and ones by the teachers you prefer.
What Could Be Better
- Somewhat limited song library
- A few styles are under-represented
- Irregular difficulty curve
Compared to GuitarTricks, JamPlay has a smaller selection of actual songs to learn and doesn’t cover as many artists. Plus, some of the more advanced lessons and artist series don’t cover the entire song. On the other hand, JamPlay offers more specialized lessons.
Another potential downside is the genre bias. It seems JamPlay places heavy emphasis on blues and metal guitarists, which is great if you are one of those but not so great if you came to learn surf or funk guitar.
Without a doubt, JamPlay belongs among the top guitar lesson providers when it comes to premium courses. You’ll get nearly 6,000 lessons spanning every difficulty and major style of guitar music, plus songwriting lessons. The site and app are easy to use, and you get elaborate guitar tabs along with the video lessons.
Although the song library could be better – and eventually will be – there’s still enough material here to keep you occupied for at least a year or two.
Price-wise, it’s about the same as the main competitors. You can try a month for $20 or sign a whole year for $160.
If that price is too steep, you may be interested in my Fender Play review.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this JamPlay review and learned enough to make your decision. Stay tuned for more guitar lessons and reviews.