Guitar Tricks Review (2020) – Your Last Teacher?
In the digital age, there’s no better way to learn the guitar than by going online and finding the best lessons and courses in this niche.
And... if you've already performed a basic search, you've likely seen the name of Guitar Tricks popping up more frequently than any other platform.
That's because they've been around since all the way back in 1998! During this long journey spanning more than 2 decades, they've also remained the most popular online guitar lesson platform for the majority of their existence.
Guitar Tricks - Overview
Guitar Tricks is one of the oldest and longest-running online guitar lesson platforms. It boasts an impressive collection of technique videos, song playthroughs, and music theory.
Its award-winning curriculum is constantly updated with fresh ideas and fun and exciting lessons, all designed to help the average guitar player become an accomplished musician.
Keep on reading my Guitar Tricks review to know if it's a good choice for you.
Think of a musical genre that you would like to play. Then just head on over to the genre section and you’ll likely find a ton of materials on the Guitar Tricks website. It doesn’t matter if you want to play the guitar or bass, a 6-string or a 7-string.
It also doesn’t matter if you want to play jazz, classical, bluegrass, or metal. The majority of styles and genres are covered, with enough lessons in each section to get you where you need to be. Or at least point you in the right direction.
Guitar Tricks has the following main genres: acoustic, bluegrass, blues, classical, country, rock, jazz, metal, rockabilly, surf, and world. There are also subcategories which are broken down into popular hits, beginner songs, and similar designations.
There are also genres that have their own subgenres. That’s also something to look out for. And, there are also songs that you may find in more than one category. The level of difficulty is indicated by the number of guitars next to each song.
One red guitar next to a song signifies that it’s approachable or beginner-friendly. Whereas three red guitars mean that you need some advanced knowledge and a few good hours of practice before you can start to learn the song without getting frustrated.
Although you may be interested in playing a single genre, don’t dismiss the opportunity to assimilate techniques from other genres. For example, the average guitar enthusiast may not be aware of the many similarities between jazz and metal.
But ask any progressive guitarist and he’ll tell you. Jazz lays the foundation for progressive, complex songs. Whether you listen to Dream Theater, Meshuggah, or Animals as Leaders – having knowledge of jazz scales, off-beat tempos, and syncopation is what gives you an edge.
Blues, rock, and country also share many similarities. Starting with chord progressions to scales and licks, these three genres often make use of interchangeable fingering and picking techniques.
It’s also important to understand that just because not all genres are equally represented on Guitar Tricks (in terms of lessons availability), you can learn the missing techniques in other sections.
Take tapping as an example. You won’t find many tapping videos in the acoustic section. However, if you follow the likes of Andy McKee, Mike Dawes, and the likes, you should know that tapping is a major part of modern guitar acoustic songwriting. So, don’t be surprised if you run into more in-depth tapping lessons in the electric guitar section.
The number of genres covered also makes Guitar Tricks worth every penny. If you’re only interested in learning some pop songs, you may think that you’re overpaying. But if you really want to unlock the secrets to this amazing string instrument, Guitar Tricks can help you understand its complexities as well as hone your skills until you can jam with the best of them.
Difficulty progression, or the course structure, is highly important on any online learning platform. Whether it’s about music or banking and finance, the key to success is a well-defined learning curve with a steady progression and meaningful rewards at each step.
In your case as a student of Guitar Tricks, you won’t get diplomas, grades, or money for reaching a certain level. But you will definitely notice improvements in your playing, which is great as these are tangible rewards.
For beginners, the recommendation is to start with the “Guitar Fundamentals Level 1” course. That should give you a nice intro to guitars in general, as well as teach you some basics and super-easy songs that will give you some instant gratification. Then you can proceed to Level 2, Level 3, and so on.
By the time you reach the intermediate lessons, the stuff you’ve worked on in the past may very well seem banal at times. And that’s the whole point. You’re encouraged to master the basics and not skip through lessons.
Although, you can of course pick whatever lesson you want and go from there. You don’t have to unlock any genres, techniques, etc.
But following the suggested course progression will get you the skills you crave a lot faster. This teaching method is an award-winning method for a good reason.
What’s also helpful and refreshing is that you can customize your progression based on your command of the guitar and knowledge. Not everyone that joins Guitar Tricks starts from scratch, so it makes sense that more personalized curriculums would be available.
Video Production Value
This is a term that’s often under or overvalued. Most people would assume that an HD or 4K YouTube video that teaches you how to play Maroon 5 – Animals on guitar has exceptional production value.
When it comes to taking guitar lessons, there’s more to making a great instructional video than just clear audio and high resolution video. Playing the guitar involves coordinating your left and right hands, a pick, a tremolo bar, switching pickups, listening to the beat, and so much more.
For most players, the hard part lies in getting that hand coordination down, hitting the right strings, and developing dexterity on their off-hand (the hand working the fretboard) since that’s the one doing the fingering.
This means that it’s natural for many new players to focus on just one hand when watching a song tutorial. But what about the other hand? – That’s rarely doing nothing. Learning strumming patterns and picking patterns is just as important as studying chords and finger switches.
Good production value often involves showing at least two camera angles: one capturing the right hand and one capturing the left hand’s movements. Great production value involves adding other tools and visual aids to the video.
In the case of Guitar Tricks, you get all of that and more. The video player has two important boxes. In the left box, you have the actual video showing close-up footage of left and right-hand movements, depending on how important or complex they are during certain parts of a song.
The player can go up to 4K in quality with options for lower bandwidth too on some lessons (244p). This is helpful to those with a slow system or bad internet connection.
The other two important features in the player are A/B looping and speed control. Being able to slow down a video is a feature that any middle-aged guitarist would’ve killed for in his teens. Learning by year and rewinding live shows – these were not easy ways to learn songs.
The right side of the player features the tablature for the song or TAB. Reading a guitar TAB is something that you can pick up in seconds. Instead of reading notes, you see the fret position on each string for each note that you have to play. TABs were popularized by Guitar Pro and other similar programs.
Going back to Guitar Tricks, the TAB moves along with the song or the lesson’s exercise. If you slow down the video, you slow down the scrolling speed of the TAB. The TAB feature is very important and very convenient.
If you want to practice major arpeggios, exotic scales, string skipping, or shredding, then following the finger positions in a video can be difficult. But with the TAB right next to the video, you can see exactly where each finger should be at any given time. This should also help you practice learning the notes on the fretboard.
That said, just how good is the production value for video lessons on Guitar Tricks? – It’s off the charts. It may look simple when you look at it, but soon you’ll realize that every feature complements the next one perfectly, creating a fun environment for new players and a familiar environment for those already familiar with guitars.
Big Roster of Instructors
What’s one of the biggest advantages of learning to play guitar online? – You can learn from more than one guitar teacher. You can learn from a huge pool of instructors, each one a master in their own genre. This way, you can diversify your skillset faster and ensure that you’re doing things the right way.
Guitar Tricks started out with a handful of people. Over the years, the roster expanded to at least 30 guitar instructors. Some are more active than others, and some come and go. But the lessons they offer remain immortalized in the archive so you never miss out on any content if you’re a member.
There’s also a good chance of finding more than one instructor in a genre. Or the same instructor teaching two similar genres. That’s because it’s hard to imagine that your personality and drive to learn would mesh with all instructors on the Guitar Tricks platform.
You will also be able to learn from both accomplished male and female guitarists. This should come in handy when you’re studying picking and fingering techniques.
Studying from both men and women should give you a better idea of how to approach advanced chords, with respect to physical characteristics such as hand sizes. You’ll also learn how to hold a guitar (acoustic or electric) to feel more comfortable for your body and your age.
Every bit of detail matters if you want to become an accomplished songwriter. And, there’s no better way to do that than to learn from the best.
Individual or One-on-One Coaching
This feature was rolled out in 2019, which makes it the most important new update to Guitar Tricks in quite some time. Individual coaching sessions have been oft-requested in the past. While the instructors always try to do their best and respond to threads, the lack of personalized feedback may leave some users feeling cheated after a while.
Now, everything looks even better. There are no more group sessions in which you have to share your time with two more people. Individual coaching can last 30 or 60 minutes, depending on how much you’re willing to spend and how complex your questions are.
You can choose your instructor from the list of available instructors, check the calendar, set a date, and pay for a one-off lesson. It’s nice to see that there’s nothing forcing you into a recurring payment plan.
Since this feature is rather new, it’s hard to say just how impactful it will be for the students. But one thing’s certain. Learning guitar, or any other instrument, eventually requires some student-teacher interaction on a more personal level.
As good as the video lessons are, following 1,000 tutorials on Guitar Tricks won’t tell you if your hand positioning is wrong or if you’re not making the most of the blues box when improvising. When an instructor can actually lay his eyes on you, you will be able to get valuable feedback on all those things and maybe even more.
Sometimes, even knowing how to use your finger size to your advantage can make a huge difference in your playing style. Not to mention knowing the capabilities and limitations of your guitar. An instructor would be able to tell you right off the bat if you’re barking up the wrong tree trying to play rock on a jazz guitar.
But, at the end of the day, this feature is only useful if you get your money’s worth. You may not have to start with that if you’re a total beginner. But it may also make total sense for some people. For example, there are those have to do everything proper. And it may sound too improper having to learn something on your own.
If that’s the case, feel free to try a few personal lessons. If not, just get with the online courses and start learning the fundamentals, some music theory, and get some dexterity and precision developing.
Chatting with instructors would become worthwhile when you’re dealing with complex music theory, trying to improvise over exotic scales in syncopated beats, and so on.
Apart from enjoying an extensive library of lessons, tutorials, tips and tricks, and other materials, you can also benefit from GuitarTricks’ forum. The forum is where current and former students often exchange ideas and tips on how to improve certain techniques or how to improvise using advanced and exotic scales.
The forum has many threads, some of which are even dedicated to bass guitar, songwriting, guitar hardware, and other things that may not be covered in-depth in the curriculum.
Both students and teachers contribute their valuable knowledge in the forum. This means that it’s almost impossible to run out of learning material, practice exercises, and techniques that can improve your guitar skills.
In fact, don’t be surprised if the forum offers even more difficult study routines or advanced music theory lessons.
Whether you want to ask for help, ask for clarifications, or post your own thoughts on how sweep arpeggios should be done or how chicken-picking is an underused skill in metal, the forum is open for discussion.
What’s even better about the community is its global scale. People from all over the world have turned to Guitar Tricks for help for almost 20 years. This means that it’s not uncommon to find someone to chat with at all hours of the day.
While it may be tempting to assume that using the information presented in the forums may be enough to become a true guitar virtuoso, things may be different in reality. Some may argue that the same information in those threads can be obtained for free on YouTube, blogs, and other forums.
But that still wouldn’t be enough to help you master the guitar. The lessons featured on the website add real value and teach you what to do and how to do it. The community is just a perk, a sweet bonus for your money, and should be treated as such.
You’re not obligated to pay anything in order to sample some of the lessons on Guitar Tricks. They offer 24 lessons for free to everyone.
However, the freebies are just enough to get your feet wet. The knowledge is not enough to lay out a solid foundation. Safe to say that if you’ve been studying guitar for well over a year, the basic membership won’t impress you.
Guitar Tricks offers a monthly subscription plan for $19.95 a month. This includes access to all instructors, lessons, tools, songs, the community forum, and more. What’s perhaps even more exciting for a lot of people is the ad-free experience that premium members get.
You can also pay for an annual subscription, which is cheaper at just $179.99 for 12 months. This option comes with some added benefits which include extra blues and rock jam tracks and a chord theory eBook.
Note that there’s also a 60-days money-back guarantee for both subscription plans.
Promo Codes & Discounts
If you want to save some money when you’re first starting out with Guitar Tricks, you’re in luck. The website often offers discounts for first-time members, promo codes, and other incentives.
The most notable discount is the 20% off discount applicable to the first payment.
Promo Code: Click Here (applied automatically, alternatively use the code 'SAVE20' manually)
What’s interesting about this discount is that it works for both subscription plans. This means that you can get 20% off your first annual subscription, which is already 25% cheaper than paying one month at a time.
Another cool thing about Guitar Tricks is that the platform is massive. It’s like going to a big box store – they can afford to discount aggressively and still make money from the high traffic. This means that you can often come across discounted monthly subscription offers.
14-Days Free Trial
Two weeks may not be enough to give you an idea if the guitar is an instrument you’ll want to keep studying. But for those with some experience, the 14-days free trial should be more than enough to sell them on Guitar Tricks or otherwise. Click here to get their free trial.
During the trial period, you will have access to almost all features of the website, including song playthroughs from your favorite artists, complete lessons, tutorials, and access to the community.
The free trial is worth considering because it’s at the premium membership level. Therefore, trial members get more access than those using the basic membership plan. But you’ll have to remember to cancel or your card will be automatically charged.
Apps for iOS & Android
In line with various other guitar learning platforms, Guitar Tricks now offers fully functioning apps for both iOS and Android devices. If you have a free account, you can access only a few sample lessons. But, a premium subscription will grant you access to their entire library of lessons to make it comfortable for you to browse them even when you're on the move.
Guitar Tricks Isn’t Going Anywhere Anytime Soon
There are many people who start learning guitar on their own. People do this, or at least try to, at all ages. And why wouldn’t they? – Guitars are amazing instruments, complex, and capable of creating beautiful melody fit for just about any genre.
But learning on your own isn’t always easy. It’s not that fun either. While you may pick up a few songs and figure out how chords work and how strumming works, that doesn’t mean that you can really play the guitar or that you are particularly good.
Learning from professional instructors is much easier, entertaining, and rewarding than trying to learn from amateurish YouTube videos.
When it comes to Guitar Tricks, didn’t just survive for two decades. It’s thrived in the online world as one of the leading guitar learning platforms. Guitar Tricks has won awards, nurtured a large and friendly community, and stockpiled an amazing amount of video content.
It also doesn’t show any signs of slowing down as evidenced by the constant updates and new instructors that are eager to contribute.
Guitar Tricks has a great reputation from both stuck guitarists who were able to get help and find their way or inspiration again, and total beginners who went on to become successful musicians in their own rights.
Though there are some new entrants in this space like Fender Play, you’ll struggle to find a better platform, not to mention one with GuitarTricks’ balance of quality, friendliness, and ease of use.