LAST UPDATED: JUNE-28-2018
Not much had changed with Jamorama since we last took a look at the platform. However, we still tweaked a few things in our review, as well as adding new ratings, pros and cons to make it easier to see what Jamorama does well and not so well!
Although Jamorama is a relatively new learning platform – at least when compared to other online guitar lesson websites – they have developed a decent beginner’s course and a slick website with a focus on the community side of learning guitar.
In 2016 they saw a complete overhaul, which changed the style of website completely – so what’s new?
Thanks to the recent redevelopment, the feel of Jamorama is clean, easy to navigate, and straightforward to get to grips with, allowing students to start playing with the minimal amount of fuss.
When it comes to lessons, the lesson page features a few elements – these include a sidebar with full course contents list and your course progress bar, a button to mark the lesson as complete, and the video player itself.
On this subject, the video player is easy to use, although not particularly advanced – there is no A/B looping, or speed control as you’d find with other sites, including ArtistWorks.
The lessons themselves are very watchable, filmed in high quality. Some tutorials videos will feature a chord chart on the side and scrolling chords at the bottom – this is intuitive and makes the lessons straightforward to follow, but the majority of lessons will feature just the instructor and his guitar.
Many lessons also come with PDF exercise files, which are downloadable from the lesson dashboard page.
Finally, motivation is catered for by the addition of ‘Gamefied learning’. This scheme awards you with points and badges, to reflect your achievements on the site.
Jamorama specialize in lessons for beginners, mainly through their Beginner Guitar Method course. To this course there are two stages that will give you a basic understanding of guitar playing within ten weeks.
Stage 1 offers the complete basics – so if you’ve never picked up a guitar, this is where you should head.
Over five weeks the lessons include introductions to strumming; chord instructions and how to read chord charts; and several riffs, to give you confidence as you develop. All essential material for any beginner.
Stage 2 is another five-week course which follows on from where the first stage left off. You’ll learn slightly more advanced – but still relatively simple – chords, as well as more riffs and strumming patterns.
It’s well-structured, and gives members enough to get up and playing within a couple of weeks.
There are some other courses on offer to help beginners with certain aspects of the instrument, including Lead Guitar for Beginners – where scales and techniques (such as hammer-ons and pull-offs) are taught, and jam tracks are offered.
While the format, lessons and instructor are good for beginners, if you are already competent at playing the guitar, you may find that Jamorama has little to offer you.
This is not to say there is nothing – they do provide a couple of advanced lessons, including courses on fingerstyle and blues guitar, as well as speed picking, which are genuinely useful.
However, it depends on your definition of advanced – if it’s ‘advanced beginner’ then you will definitely find extended use with Jamorama; if it’s ‘experienced/playing for more than a few years’ you may struggle to find much you don’t already know.
Jamorama’s main focus is on the acoustic guitar, although the songs and riffs they teach translate well to electric guitar.
Instructor Mark McKenzie primarily uses the acoustic guitar to teach his lessons, but at times he’ll be armed with an electric.
Through various courses several different styles of music are covered, with the main lessons centering on rock, acoustic, blues and fingerstyle music.
Sorry bassists – there are no dedicated bass lessons on offer through Jamorama. JamPlay is great option though!
Unlike some online guitar schools – such as JamPlay, with 82 different instructors – there’s just one instructor taking lessons on Jamorama: Mark McKenzie.
However, Mark is a good asset to have and – while you do miss having a big range of teachers to choose from – the flip side is that you get a consistent instructor for every lesson.
He’s an international touring musician and recording artist, and has taught guitar for more than 20 years. He is also a regular contributor to Guitar Player Magazine, and created the popular YouTube channel The Guitar Guy.
Mark’s teaching style is friendly, engaging and easy-going, and he patiently explains techniques in a way that beginners can easily follow.
A bonus – he’s also a good singer, so you don’t have to cringe when he sings along to some lessons!
Sadly, this is the weakest aspect of Jamorama, as the actual amount of songs on offer is tiny. We’re not talking riffs and licks, but full songs.
For example, whereas you will find 700 different song lessons on GuitarTricks (although this can be expected as the latter has been around since 1998), there were just eight song lessons on offer on Jamorama at the time of writing.
These were all acoustic-based songs, and included Fields of Gold (Sting) and Wake Me Up (Avicii). Perhaps with time, the website will offer a deeper list, but for now it definitely under-delivers in this aspect.
In addition to the free lifetime membership and a couple of beginner’s courses, Jamorama offer a handful of free lessons, which include the eight song lessons highlighted earlier.
Aside from the lessons, course materials, and community aspects of Jamorama (which will be discussed shortly), there are no dedicated tools such as metronomes, tuners or note finders.
The downloadable (as a PDF) Jamorama Chord Book – as the subtitle suggests – is a practical, useful chord reference book, that is available to Jamorama members.
At 76-pages in length, it’s packed full of essential chords illustrated by high quality color photos of both the marked fretboard and what the chord would look like when played by a hand, along with suggestions for chord variations and chord progressions.
It’s a very useful extra that’s well worth downloading, for beginners and intermediate players alike.
There is no dedicated Jamorama mobile app, however the website is very mobile friendly, and works on the majority of smartphones and tablets. This means logging in and accessing videos, lesson materials, and the community on the go is no problem and quite an enjoyable process.
One of Jamorama’s taglines is ‘Learning guitar is better with community’, while they promote themselves as ‘The Social Network for Guitar Students’ – so it’s obvious that they have a big focus on community and the social side of learning the guitar.
And the site does indeed function like a social network. Members can create and update their profile, add friends, write status updates, like posts, join groups, receive notifications, and share photos and chat with like-minded guitar students – in many ways it is similar to Facebook, although with more of an emphasis on guitar and less annoying cat photos!
Jamorama also offer an active forum, allowing members to chat and vent about lessons, music or whatever is on their minds.
Jamorama offers a relatively active blog, which provides a stream of guitar-fueled chat on topics ranging from Jamorama lessons, to gear, videos, news, and artist profiles.
These blog posts – from an archive of around 400 – are interesting and entertaining, and written by several authors, including Mark McKenzie.
To give you an idea of the content, a couple of recent articles included ‘5 Reasons You Don’t Feel Like Playing Guitar’ and ‘5 Tips For Perfect Barre Chords’.
You may be content with the social side of things, in which case the free membership may satisfy you. But for full access to Jamorama you will need to pay a one-time payment of $99.95.
That’s right – no monthly fees, just one payment allows you access to everything Jamorama has to offer, for life.
This includes all course videos, access to the course supplementary learning materials, and access to the course jam tracks.
There are currently no active promotional codes for Jamorama, although you can check their Facebook page for regular offers and promotional updates.
Instead of a free trial, Jamorama go one step further and offer a free lifetime membership.
This grants you access to several areas of the site with no time restrictions, including allowing you to set up a personal profile and access the social network, as well as the forums and blog.
This free membership also grants users access to a couple of courses. These are Beginner Guitar Method, Stage 1, in addition to the Beginner Guitar Chords course and the Acoustic Guitar Maintenance course.
Jamorama’s main content is packaged as a ‘Comprehensive 10 Part Guitar System’ so it makes sense to start at the very beginning – especially if you are a beginner.
Head to the ‘All Courses’ tab on the home page, and select Stage 1 of the Beginner Guitar Method course, where you will learn everything from the basics right up to your first licks over a five-week period.
With 275 lessons, there’s certainly enough material on Jamorama for a complete beginner to make good use of.
The website is slick, good-looking, and simple to get around, while the videos are just as easy to follow – thanks to the high quality playback and engaging instructor.
The community aspect of Jamorama is also very worthwhile, and – providing you can make some friends and join in with the chat – could be a refreshing alternative to non-guitar social media networks.
However, there are some limits to what Jamorama can offer – especially to those who are not complete beginners.
Experienced guitarists may find some use learning a new style (such as fingerstyle or blues), but with a lack of songs and advanced skill tutorials, it’s hard to find a reason for advanced players to stick around.
Despite its limitations, Jamorama could be a good call for beginners and signing up for a free membership is a risk-free way to try the site out for yourself.
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