Learning the guitar is easily the most sought after skill by the average person.
Over 10 years of teaching, I’ve asked students from as young as 4 to as old as 70 what instrument they’d love to learn someday.
Most of the time, the answer is the guitar.
But private lessons get expensive, so many folks try to learn via YouTube or books, and it almost always ends in failure.
Then, others try online guitar programs only to quit after a month.
I see it time and time again, which is why Guitar Tricks caught my eye.
Looking into it further, I knew it was different from the rest.
So I decided to dig in and write up this Guitar Tricks review to help you discover if this program is worth the money and time.
Buckle up, friends, and let’s get started.
Guitar Tricks At A Glance
Guitar Tricks was one of the very first places to find online guitar lessons, starting way back in 1998.
Now, the program offers over 11,000 lessons and 1,000 songs to help players of all ages and skill levels master this fun instrument.
The bulk of the program is organized into its Core Learning System.
These are in-depth and sequential courses taking you from the very beginning to much more advanced levels of play.
From there, they also offer skills, songs, and style mini-courses to help you improve even more specific and advanced playing skills.
The organized courses are great, and they go into minuscule details.
As a teacher, I know students need this repetition to form a firm foundation for success later on.
I’ll be honest; I’ve even adapted some of their sequence in my private lessons with new guitar players.
On top of this, they offer a toolbox filled with useful programs to help you practice and get better at everything.
All in all, Guitar Tricks wants to be a curriculum to provide the best levels of guitar playing out of their students.
Who Is Guitar Tricks For?
Guitar Tricks is for every guitar player who wants to improve.
But if I had to pick one group of players who get the most out of it, I’d pick the beginner or intermediate guitar player.
Very few online programs handle new players as well as Guitar Tricks does.
From the clear interface, detailed courses, and engaging progress tracking system, new players will know exactly which lesson and skill they need to tackle next to improve.
Too often, programs offer a huge selection of courses but not enough direction on where to start.
Too often, the courses are smaller and shallower on what they need to improve.
Guitar Tricks may not offer as many as other programs (though 11,000 lessons are nothing to sneer at), but it makes up for this in the practical application of the skills and knowledge.
My students, especially new ones, love how they know the next steps to improving without worrying about where to find it.
Guitar Tricks Price
Guitar Tricks has two levels of membership: Basic and Full Access.
With full access, you get everything.
There are two ways to pay: Monthly or Annually.
Paying monthly results in less money taken out at one time.
The current pricing is $19.95 per month.
They do have sales at times, so be sure to click over right now to check the most current price.
Paying monthly gives access to everything offered in the program (see more on this at the end of the article and in the next section).
Paying for a whole year at one time saves you 25% overall with a price of $179 (again, this is at the time of this review).
On top of this, when you buy annually, you also get 4 extra tools and resources for free.
The pricing is higher than other, low-quality programs, but the amount you get is worth it.
They’re pretty upfront about their 60-day money-back guarantee if you don’t like what you’re getting.
The risk is pretty low because of this.
The other option is basic membership.
It’s free, but the access is quite limited.
Compared to full access, you only see a tiny fraction of what’s out there.
Take a look at this table for comparison.
|Price||$19.99 per month||FREE|
|Active Subscriber Help||Yes||No|
|Personalized Features and Tracking||Yes||No|
Guitar Tricks Free Trial
Still, the price may seem risky to you.
Lower the risk even more by signing up for their Free Trial.
The Free Trial grants you 14 days access to the FULL ACCESS membership resources.
They believe in their program enough to let you try it all out.
At the end of the 14 days, they’ll automatically start charging the monthly fee.
If you’re not sure about the price, give the Free Trial a go and see how the courses and interface work for you.
How Does Guitar Tricks Help?
Later on in the review, I’ll go into the details of the program, but you probably would rather know how Guitar Tricks helps you learn guitar.
Or if it even really helps at all?
Going through the lessons and watching some of my students progress through the learning, I have to admit it does a great job.
The lessons are quality and detailed; they are extremely practical and contain many exercises to develop skills fully.
As a guitar player myself for over 20 years, I’ve seen time and again how important putting in practice is.
Guitar Tricks is a practice-focused program.
The lessons are clear, but they give you so much to go on.
It may not be as flashy as some of the others out there, but if you really want to learn guitar and feel like you’re improving, this is the one to check out.
The Core Learning System is so good.
It tells you exactly what you need to learn and gives enough practical lessons to get you there.
Guitar Tricks Online Guitar Lessons Review
If you want to read the details of what’s in the program, check out the end of the article.
This section covers the strengths and weaknesses of the program and how it impacts its users.
Use this section to see what speaks to you and if the program is worth it in the end.
I’ve touched on this before, but the biggest positive for Guitar Tricks is their sequential courses.
You have to walk before you can run.
As a teacher, I admittedly nerd out on discussing the proper order to teach concepts and skills.
To see their course organized in such an engaging and clear way, I knew these people did too.
But what does it mean for you as the user and student?
The people running Guitar Tricks looked at people just like you.
They studied the skills needed to improve and spend time testing and tweaking the order to make sure you have the best possible chance at learning and mastering the guitar.
So many programs neglect one area or teach a concept too early and overwhelm their students.
Not Guitar Tricks.
Each step will feel challenging, but it won’t feel impossible.
By the time you’re done, you’ll be amazed at your progress.
In-depth Technical Practice
I’m a firm believer in practice over talent in music.
If you have the discipline to practice, you will improve and master anything in music.
Talent helps you learn things faster, but everyone can learn.
Unfortunately, most programs are put together by “talented” people who don’t know how to provide enough practice for the majority of their students.
Guitar Tricks doesn’t fall for this trap.
The exercises are detailed and provide ample practical experience to help all types of players at all levels.
It may not be something new players think about when they imagine guitar lessons, but this level of practice is something all guitar players need.
Guitar Tricks offers lessons from over 30 different instructors (the number may go up by the time you read this).
This may seem like a lot to you, but honestly, there are many learning platforms out there with far more instructors.
I believe this is a strength of the Guitar Tricks lessons.
They spent more time making sure the instructors were great players AND teachers; it’s easy to see this pays off.
Going through the lessons I have, I haven’t seen a single instructor who was boring or unclear.
These players can back up their teaching with experience and ability, but they also know how to speak and work with students.
This is great for those learners who need extra explanation.
Not everyone gets things right away, and the time they took to make sure the teachers were good really helps.
Visually Clear Interface
Despite the fact that they have over 11,000 lessons and a massive box of tools (see the detailed review at the end), Guitar Tricks doesn’t feel large or confusing.
In fact, after logging in the first time, I knew exactly where to start.
I also knew exactly what the next 10 steps would be.
Guitar programs aren’t really known for their organization and clarity (neither are the players, to be honest).
Guitar Tricks shows you exactly where to go, what’s next, and where you can find other resources with a clean website free of a million distractions.
When you log back in, it tells you right where you left off.
It tracks your progress for you.
All in all, it does the best it can to help you stay engaged and get to music-making as easily as possible.
I had to get picky to find weaknesses in the program, but this one is a little pet peeve of mine.
The audio and visual quality of the videos themselves is slightly under what they could be.
Some of them are better than others; these ones are probably newer.
I’m not saying the quality is poor.
You’ll always clearly hear and see what your instructor is teaching you.
But with the improvement of sound and video technology, I expected it to be a little richer.
Will it impact the quality of your lesson?
No. If it does, it’ll be tiny.
Still, with music being such a sound-focused art, I would have expected just a little bit more in the recording process.
Again, it’s still head and shoulders above most programs in this area.
Lack Of Community
You’ll notice a theme across reviews of online learning programs:
A good community is tough to foster.
This is too bad because the community is a good indicator of success in music.
Yes, Guitar Tricks has a good forum that’s actually pretty active, but it’s up to you as the students to use it to its full potential.
Without the drive yourself, you may never even open up the forum and use it.
Connecting with others gives motivation.
This is why those in bands or choirs tend to stick with music.
It’s the camaraderie that pushes us to keep going.
If you’re doing Guitar Tricks courses, I recommend convincing a few others to join, too (show them this review if they need convincing), and doing it as a group.
Some Genres Have Thin Content
There are a number of lessons segmented into specific genres.
These lessons go into more detail on performing in the genre and stylistic techniques they may use.
It’s great for those who know what playstyle they enjoy and want to learn about.
But there are some genres with far more lessons than others.
The ones you’d expect have gotten a lot of love:
But the others are much smaller or grouped into larger categories.
For example, my favorite genres are folk and singer-songwriter.
Guitar Tricks combines them into a generic Acoustic category.
For new players or players in one of the popular categories, you’ll be a little disappointed and want more.
Honestly, I expect this to change in the future as they’re always adding lessons and such.
This is just the case at the time of the writing.
Head over there by clicking the link to see the most current offerings.
Feedback Is Scarce
The weakness of any online program is going to be feedback.
If you’re doing something wrong, you won’t have a teacher looking at you to say, “Hey! Your elbow is raised; this is going to hurt your wrist in the long run.”
There’s no good way to get around this unless you work 1-on-1 with a teacher.
Guitar Tricks does offer the chance to book 1-on-1 lessons at reasonable prices.
It’s on par, price-wise, with what live lessons usually charge, but you’ll be doing a video lesson in either 30, 45, or 60-minute video calls.
If going through Guitar Tricks, you may want to get a live lesson every time you finish one of your big Core Courses.
This would get you some feedback and catch any big mistakes you’re making.
Depending on how fast you progress, this would be every 1-3 months.
The Verdict: Is Guitar Tricks Worth It?
Looking at the pros and cons and pricing, is Guitar Tricks worth it?
A wholehearted yes, especially for new and intermediate players.
The clear interface and organized courses show exactly where to go and what to do next.
Then, the lessons themselves are presented with the love and attention of great guitar players AND teachers.
For most people, I’d say this program is the right one for you.
The price is a little higher than most of the other ones out there, but the clarity and quality make it worth it.
Don’t forget; it’s possible to get that 14-day free trial to check it out and see if it’s right for you.
14 days won’t be enough in the long run, but it will give you a good idea of the lessons and if the style is right for you.
Yes, the lack of community and feedback is hard to swallow, but there aren’t many programs that handle this either.
It’s overall clarity, practicality, and quality are what make Guitar Tricks get my recommendation.
What’s In Guitar Tricks Online Guitar Lessons?
You know how Guitar Tricks may help you, but for some, you’ll want to know more about what’s including in the Full Access membership.
In this section, I’ll briefly go over everything Guitar Tricks offers at the time of this writing and how it helps (or doesn’t in a few rare cases).
Use this information if you’re still not convinced how their well-planned courses will help you.
Core Learning System
The Core Learning System is the flagship part of Guitar Tricks.
Just by looking at the image above, you see how clear and organized it moves you from beginner to advanced lessons.
Each of these courses is a full-on set of lessons covering hours of instruction.
As the flowchart suggests, you’ll be going in-depth on different topics including the following.
I’ll cover each of these briefly.
Guitar Fundamentals Level 1 and 2
This the place to start.
Each level has multiple chapters covering important topics with several lessons inside each chapter.
Level 1 starts with learning how the guitar works and slowly putting playing together piece by piece and step by step.
Along the way, you’ll learn chords and tips for how to practice effectively.
Where appropriate, the teachers offer specific exercises as homework and songs within your ability to play are shared.
These songs, of course, are linked to the helpful learning videos and programs for you to spend time mastering.
By the end of level 1, you’ll be able to play most songs with simple chords and strumming patterns.
The majority of people would be happy to be at this level of playing, but you’re only getting started.
Fundamentals Level 2 expands on level 1 with more chords and introduces details on how to read guitar music, whether tabs or sheet music.
They also offer specific tips and exercises for more advanced techniques such as barre chords and scales.
This is setting you up for great success in more advanced lessons.
As before, they share other resources and put out songs matching your ability level.
Blues Style Level 1 and 2
From here, you move into the advanced courses.
These courses keep the same level of detail and practical experience as the previous ones.
Now, though, we’re focused more on specific genre and style elements.
Technically, it’s up to which style you choose to follow, but I recommend doing the Blues course first before trying the others.
Blues is really the birthplace of modern guitar playing.
All other genres owe the Blues in some shape or form.
By starting here, you’ll develop basic skills that apply and evolve to the other genres.
In Blues 1, you’ll learn about the chord structures of the blues (which evolve later in modern genres) as well as playing in the style and the beginnings of solo work.
They even include a gear review and suggestion chapter to go after the true, Blues sound.
Blues 2 pushes your understanding and skill even further.
It fully develops your ability to solo and push harmonies.
The course also makes connections from Blues to other genres.
Of course, if you’re a huge fan of the Blues, you’ll go into even more detail on the differences in regional and specific artist Blues.
Country Style Level 1 and 2
The level 1 and 2 for each style is split up similarly to what the Blues courses do.
Country Style level 1 goes into how country music is typically put together.
It offers specific advice on performing and how to create that country sound with your gear.
With the Country course, we see the first real split into “Rhythm Guitar” and “Lead Guitar.”
The rhythm guitar plays chords with rhythms that augment the beat and drum set.
The lead guitar plays licks and solos that augment the melody.
Both are important, but with country music, we see the different skills each one takes.
Best of all, the course builds your way up to mastery by moving from easy to hard and taking its time.
Level 2 is shorter than level 1, but it has more difficult material.
Essentially, it pushes your knowledge of everything into more difficult areas.
They also go into more specifics on sub-genres of country and special techniques such as Travis picking.
Rock Style Level 1 and 2
Rock Style lessons follow the same format.
First, they introduce specific rock elements and techniques.
Then, they push it to advanced and specific technique levels.
All the while, they do so slowly and clearly building up your skills.
As with the other courses, they offer songs appropriate to your skill level throughout.
Level 1 introduces more on power chords, pentatonic playing for quicker soloing, and special rock techniques such as hammer-ons and pull-offs.
It covers what riffs are and how rockers use them to build a structure in their style.
Of course, rock being rock, there’s some time spent learning about the electrical equipment you need to produce types of sounds.
There’s even a chapter on the Blues and how Rock drew inspiration from that (if only someone suggested you start with the Blues for this exact reason…).
Level 2 naturally takes it all up a notch with more technique such as palm muting and specific lessons on different sub-styles of rock such as:
- Southern Rock
- Punk Rock
- Heavy Metal
Acoustic Style Level 1 and 2
The acoustic style courses were the ones I was personally most excited about (being a folk and singer-songwriter fan), but it attempted to do too much without going into enough detail on either of these styles.
Yes, they introduce fingerpicking and offer great exercises in all the different forms.
But overall it feels not as fully developed yet.
They have sections on acoustic in relation to the other genre and styles, but not a lot on acoustic playing for its own sake in level 1.
Level 2 does do more advanced techniques but it feels much less strategic than the other styles do.
Still, it’s a good introduction overall to acoustic guitar.
Learn To Play Songs
The Learn to Play Song lessons blew me away.
Most programs will do some kind of tracking tool, where they show you the notes as they go by.
You can slow the learning track down and set up loops for practice.
Guitar Tricks does something even better.
Each song is a mini-course on every element of the song.
The teacher walks you through how to play every part with practice tricks and more.
There are even 1,000 of these song courses on the platform.
Yes, other programs will have more songs, but they don’t go into this detail.
Look at this relatively simple song by Joan Baez in the image above.
It has 12 video lessons to help you out.
Not many other programs offer support to their players.
Those using Guitar Tricks will love this.
I know I do already!
There is a larger number of rock, blues, and country songs in the library with fewer on the acoustic side of things.
Still, it’s nothing to write off, and there is enough here to keep you busy for years.
And they keep adding more!
Learn To Play Styles
These style lessons are cool, and they’re essentially mini-courses like from the Core Learning System.
Each course covers specific style techniques, gear and sound creation, and songs in this style.
- Fun and Soul
*These four are the course lists in the Core Lessons.
The size of these courses ranges from several chapters with many lessons inside to just a few video lessons.
I believe they’re adding to these categories and filling them out all the time.
Tracking your progress is deceptively important.
If you don’t feel like you’re making progress, you’re more likely to quit.
If you can’t remember where you were, you may not start again after taking a break.
Guitar Tricks helps with its clear and attractive progress interface.
You see your lessons, how far you’ve come, and how far you have to go.
Even though I know it’s just a trick, I not-so-secretly love filling up the progress bars, so the image pops up in color.
Even being an adult with decades of playing, I still think it’s fun to light up the icons.
So simple, but effective.
Most platforms will offer a few tools to help you.
Usually, it’s a metronome and tuner or maybe a chord speller.
Guitar Tricks apparently thought this wasn’t nearly good enough.
They created 10 different tools to help you out.
Here is what each one does briefly.
Helps you find, see, and practice every scale imaginable.
Pick a backing track in many styles, keys, and tempos to practice soloing over and playing along with.
Keep track of your tempo or speed to make sure you don’t speed up or slow down.
The chord finder shows you exactly where to put your fingers for almost every chord ever imagined.
The reference tuner plays the pitches to help you tune a guitar.
It’s great for practicing tuning by ear.
This is a simple but fun quiz game for learning which notes go where on the fretboard.
This is similar to the chord finder, but by clicking on the starting note, you’ll be able to see all the variations of a chord at one time.
Guitar Tab Guide
This is a simple but useful reference guide for learning to read guitar tabs.
As the name implies, this is a list of guitar terms and their definitions.
This is a simple diagram for where the notes are on the fretboard.
Guitar Tricks has a large list of instructors.
It’s easy to check them all out sorted by genre and style.
Clicking on their button allows you to see their bio and experience.
Even better, you’ll be able to see the lessons they’ve taught.
If you find one you like, check out his or her lessons to continue learning from them.
Guitar Tricks also offers a full and expansive forum.
This is a great place to post questions and answer each others’ questions.
The forum itself is awesome and active, but there isn’t a direct connection with the lessons.
Most people will use the lessons and never even realize the forum exists.
This is a mistake; it’s worth checking out.