Last Updated Aug-15-2018.
We now highlight updates to the video player, the new lessons pages and the Full Access face-to-face courses, as well as some other smaller tweaks.
After reading this article you will realise that there is a simple reason we rate GuitarTricks so highly – it is one of the most comprehensive online guitar tutorial sites around today.
For complete beginners, intermediates and experienced players alike, GuitarTricks proves to be the system to beat, with over 1.9 million people using the site to improve their guitar playing.
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Plus, with such a long history, they can boast an archive of 11,000 lessons, with more than 700 songs to learn.
As they hit their 20th anniversary in 2018, it’s clear that GuitarTricks knows a thing or two about teaching guitar online. So, let’s see what they have to offer.
Some quick links to the sections discussed in this review:
Note that, as we write this updated review, GuitarTricks are in the process of implementing an interesting new lessons page with tablature displayed alongside the video lesson.
However, as this format is still in ‘early access’ testing, our review remains focused on the current format.
As an example of this format, let’s look at a medium ability song – ‘The Kids Aren’t Alright’, by The Offspring.
For this iconic song, you’ll be presented with a home page, which includes the Lesson Info section (offering an overview of how the song and lesson are broken down) and a progress bar.
The lessons themselves vary in length and come in a series of individual segments, instead of one long lesson. This makes it easier to learn a tricky solo for example, as you can head straight to the desired section without having to watch the introduction and other aspects of the song multiple times.
With ‘The Kids Aren’t Alright’, the song is broken down into its introduction, verses, choruses and solo, while there are also segments for finding the right gear and tone for the song, and a full performance video so you can play along.
Both the TAB/notation for the specific section, and even song lyrics, are also available at the click of a button, just underneath the video.
Videos load quickly, with accurate A/B looping allowing you to repeat a full video or a specific portion continuously – crucial when learning a difficult song.
Another essential tool for learning songs is their Slow-Motion feature, allowing you to adjust the video down to half the speed (without affecting pitch, which helps when playing along).
In early 2018, GuitarTricks upgraded their video player, making it easy to adjust the video quality from 224p right up to 4K, so you are guaranteed clarity and high resolution, even if you play the videos on a big screen television, via a HDMI cable or internet TV.
As one of the four main categories on the home page, ‘Beginner Lessons’ are easy to navigate to. If you are a complete beginner, you’ll be pleased with how well GuitarTricks eases you into the instrument.
When on the beginner’s page, you can work your way through their Core Learning System, starting on the Guitar Fundamentals Level 1 course, which helps you learn everything about your guitar – from how to tune the strings to playing simple chords, working your way up to must-know open chords and lessons on rhythm.
You will also learn how to start playing instantly, with instructor Lisa McCormick holding your hand right the way through – a good teacher, who is easy to follow but doesn’t patronize.
This is more than enough material to keep you playing for a few weeks, and as much – if not more – than you may learn with a face-to-face instructor.
You can move onto Level 2 whenever you are ready. This course picks up where you left off, showing you how to play and use power chords, barre chords, different scales, and even an introduction to reading music.
If you have never picked up a guitar before, this foundation course will teach you to play songs from day one, allowing you to become a competent player in a matter of weeks.
So, GuitarTricks offers a very comprehensive beginner’s online course – but what does it offer for more experienced players?
Quite a lot, actually. As part of the Core Learning System, after the beginner’s Guitar Fundamentals levels (1 and 2), more advanced players can explore the foundations of three different styles of music: blues, country or rock.
There are two levels per style, with the introduction of new instructors. There are ample lessons to get anyone started on the road to a new style; outlining both rhythm and lead playing techniques as well as well as how to find the correct tone with different equipment.
While the later stages of the Core Learning System will benefit the majority of experienced players – especially those looking to learn a new style (trying country music for the first time, for example) – the true highlight of GuitarTricks for experienced guitarists is their bank of songs, which spans more than 700, over a range of difficulties.
These difficulties are categorized by a small guitar scale: one guitar for ‘Absolute Beginner’ working up to five guitars for ‘Advanced’ songs.
The trio of styles – blues, country and rock – highlighted in the Core Learning System may be the most popular but they are by no means the limit.
In fact, GuitarTricks also includes dedicated sections on the majority of guitar styles: acoustic, bluegrass, classical, funk and soul, jazz, metal, rockabilly, surf, and world.
You can navigate to these different styles directly from one of the four main categories on the home page, ‘Learn Styles of Guitar’, although they are also listed throughout the site when browsing songs.
Unfortunately for bassists there are still no dedicated bass guitar lessons available on GuitarTricks, as they focus solely on six-string electric and acoustic guitar.
Who knows, in the future this may change, as the site tends to regularly update their offerings, but – for now – bassists are out of luck.
As you may expect from a site that has been running for two decades, GuitarTricks features a huge roster of instructors – 33 at the last count!
They all vary in age, gender, and style, with some specializing in one genre (such as Ned Luberecki for country, and Kenny Echizen for funk), while other instructors will pop up teaching many different styles – Doug Fearman, for example, takes lessons on blues, rock and jazz.
All instructors come across as knowledgeable and friendly, although some perhaps a little more enthusiastic than others.
The majority of instructors have played and recorded with artists around the world – Andy Gurley, Jinx Jones, Michael Eisenstein, and Henrik Linde in particular, while Sharon Aguilar is the lead guitarist for Cee Lo Green, and Anders Mouridsen has performed with the likes of John Fogerty, Taylor Swift, Faith Evans, and Pink.
Other instructors such as Dave Celentano and Tom Finch are renown across the industry for their playing and teaching skills. So, it is a varied bunch of tutors, all with a good pedigree.
As we have mentioned, GuitarTricks boasts a huge collection of officially licensed songs to learn – more than 700, with approximately one new song added once a week, although sometimes more often.
The songs you can learn on GuitarTricks are a big mixed bag – everything from The Beatles to Blink 182, Pearl Jam to Poison.
Every style of guitar music is covered including a range of classical guitar pieces, with Bach, Beethoven, Pachelbel and Tarrega all well represented.
Whether or not your favorite band is featured is the luck of the draw (and possibly something to do with licensing issues). For example, some huge artists such as Paul Simon and Iron Maiden do not feature at all, while some smaller artists feature heavily.
The choice of songs for some of guitar’s most beloved icons are also a little limited – for example, there’s just one Metallica track, two Eddie van Halen tracks, and nothing from Steve Vai or Joe Satriani.
Those wanting a taste of these megastars can find ‘style lessons’ where an instructor gives a lesson or study in the style of Maiden, Hendrix, Vai, Satriani and so on, although if you are looking for specific songs you may be disappointed.
Having said that, with more than 700 songs in the GuitarTricks bank, as well as hundreds of style and technique lessons, there is more than enough to keep both beginners and experienced guitarists playing for years.
In 2018, GuitarTricks released a new monthly subscription bolt-on called ‘Full Access’, which comes as either ‘Full Access Plus’ or ‘Full Access Pro’.
Essentially this is GuitarTricks’ way of offering personal face-to-face online lessons – in a similar way to ArtistWorks – with one of their dedicated guitar coaches.
Before committing to anything, it is worth noting that Full Access is an add-on, meaning you pay for this in addition to your regular subscription.
Full Access Plus grants you three group sessions with your instructor every week. Imagine a group Skype call but with guitars and that is pretty much the format.
These lessons prove a very good way to complement the learning you do by yourself, as it gives you opportunities to ask your tutor questions and receive instant feedback on your playing, as you would a regular guitar lesson.
Full Access Pro is a more expensive option, but you will receive a series of personal one-on-one lessons with your guitar instructor.
This is pretty much exactly the same service as you would get in a physical face-to-face lesson although much more convenient.
In addition to its lessons and songs, GuitarTricks offers a helpful toolbox, featuring a range of basic web apps that are essential for both the beginner and experienced guitarist alike.
The nine tools comprise a metronome, a reference tuner, a scale finder, a chord finder, a jam station, and a fretboard trainer, as well as three new additions: chord charts, a tab guide, and a glossary.
While these all vary in their degree of usefulness, the fretboard trainer in particular is an innovative way to find your way around the fretboard.
It is a straightforward game that randomly highlights a note on the digital fretboard, offering a range of multiple choice answers and a timer. You just have to tell the system what the note is. Simple in theory, but actually quite addictive to play and a fun way to learn your notes.
While the majority of these tools may be something you already have, it’s very convenient to have them in one central location – close by when you are learning your songs.
All the apps operate well, are clean and aesthetically pleasing, and easy to use.
In addition, GuitarTricks also offers a regularly updated blog that is available to both members and non-members alike.
Blog authors talk about a plethora of different topics and share interesting guitar-fueled lists – such as ‘10 Easy Guitar Songs for Beginners’ and ‘11 Most Innovative Guitar Brands You’ve Never Heard Of’ – as well as interviews with instructors, gear reviews, announcements, special giveaways and competitions.
As is now an essential offering for tuition sites, GuitarTricks provides a free iOS and Android app, so you can take lessons on the road.
The free version of this app offers a range of free lessons on rotation, although you are very limited in choice. However, if you upgrade to full membership, you will have access to all the content GuitarTricks has to offer.
The app itself – on both platforms – is nicely designed, and as smooth as the website is to get around. You are offered a simple dashboard, which makes navigating to songs, styles and lessons very easy, while the videos retain the same high-quality resolution as you’d find on the web version.
GuitarTricks nurtures a full forum for their users, offering you the opportunity to chat with fellow guitarists of all levels, ask and reply to questions, and see what other guitarists are up to.
With dedicated sections on guitar basics, music theory, songwriting, recording and technique, among many others, there’s something for everyone on this easy-to-use forum.
Guitar Tricks are also very active on social media networks including Facebook, with nearly half a million followers, and post regular guitar tips and videos, and even the occasional free lesson.
Their Twitter page – @GuitarTricks – is also an active stream, keeping followers up-to-date with what’s happening on the website and blog.
There are two ways to pay for full membership to GuitarTricks. You can pay $19.99 every month, or an annual fee of $179.99 which saves you $60 in the long run.
For such an extensive course that pretty much guarantees you will make progress with guitar – providing you actually practice – this offers very good value.
To add Full Access Plus (for face-to-face video lessons) you will pay an additional $39 per month, while prices vary with Full Access Pro.
GuitarTricks have a very generous permanent promotional code, which will save you 20% off your first payment.
Even better, this works for both monthly and annual subscriptions, so you can save up to $36. Enter the code SAVE20 or visit this page where the coupon has already been applied.
For curious readers, the good news is that GuitarTricks offers a generous 14-day free trial. This proves a risk-free way to see if the songs and lessons suit you, and whether full membership is worthwhile.
And they don’t hold anything back – you are able to access to everything a full member would, free for two weeks.
If you are a complete beginner and have never even held a guitar, you will want to start with Guitar Fundamentals Level 1 as part of the GuitarTricks Core Learning System.
As mentioned above, this course will teach you how to hold the guitar and plectrum, right up to learning your first basic chords and songs.
You can then progress to the slightly more advanced – but still beginner friendly – Level 2, where you’ll learn power chords, barre chords, and be introduced to both major and minor scales.
If you are an intermediate or advanced player, you can start pretty much anywhere. We suggest diving into a few of your favorite songs to get to grips with the lesson formats and video player.
Then you can start on a short course to try a new genre of music – Blues Style, Country Style, or Rock Style courses are all part of the Core Learning System.
It is genuinely hard to fault GuitarTricks – the company has been around for nearly two decades and have finetuned their system to near perfection.
They really impress with the amount of songs and lessons on offer, especially when compared to some of the other online guitar lessons around.
The group of instructors are talented and friendly, while the video player and website are easy to use and navigate. It is also good to see the newer videos filmed in 4K with superb quality, highlighting every pluck of every string.
In truth, there are very few weaknesses. Perhaps the song choices are a little arbitrary, with some more popular bands and iconic artists poorly represented, while others – who are less popular – have a bigger catalog.
There are also no bass guitar lessons, which is a shame for wannabe bassists, or those who play both instruments.
However, for well under $200 for a full year’s membership, GuitarTricks offers great value for beginners and experienced players alike, and a free trial is the least you should check out.