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Want to learn guitar from home without teaching yourself?
What can Guitar Tricks do that others can’t?
Find out why they’re still great after 20+ years.
While face-to-face lessons are always reliable and effective, going at your own pace with the internet is becoming increasingly appealing – especially considering the current pandemic!
In this article, I look at the legendary GuitarTricks.com, an excellent learning resource featuring a huge range of video courses, sheet music, tablature, and personalized lessons. GT has been around for 20 years and is well known for its amazing resources for beginner and intermediate guitar players to learn from.
Guitar Tricks is an excellent solution for beginners looking to learn the ropes of playing guitar. It’s been around for a long time and has a huge reputation to maintain, but I’m pleased to say that in 2020 it’s better than ever! With a brilliantly structured core curriculum, a huge library of songs to learn, and world-class teaching staff, Guitar Tricks stands out as a premium guitar tuition service that is unrivalled.
Guitar Tricks is one of the most popular online platforms for learning guitar. For years, they have been the industry leader in online guitar tuition.
Since 1998, they’ve been developing and improving their website, and are still adding new lessons and songs every week. Because they’ve been around for so long, they have a huge collection of officially licensed songs to learn.
Oftentimes, many online teaching platforms with a huge collection of songs and videos will lack structure, and you won’t know what order to watch the videos in. But the Guitar Tricks core curriculum is airtight, ensuring you don’t miss any aspect when you learn a new song, technique, or concept.
Regardless of skill level, Guitar Tricks is possibly the best online website to learn guitar from.
They offer highly structured lessons that cover everything from history, techniques, songs, theory, and gear. With over 11,000 guitar lessons and 700 officially licensed songs to learn, it’s hard to imagine a better online guitar learning resource than GuitarTricks.com.
Guitar Tricks has 32 instructors from all different backgrounds and musical styles. Many are professional guitarists with successful careers in their own right.
If you need individualized coaching or have questions, Guitar Tricks has one-on-one lessons with a variety of professionals. You can also ask your questions on the Guitar Tricks forum, which is frequented by these very same professionals!
Still, compared to real lessons, it’s way cheaper to learn through Guitar Tricks. Although Fender Play or Yousician are cheaper than GT, they haven’t been around as long, and have comparatively less to offer.
Committing to a membership plan won’t be an easy decision if finances are tight, so I recommend you try out the free 2-week trial so you can make an informed choice. While I can guarantee that GT will be helpful, good tuition costs money and you certainly shouldn’t rush into anything.
It also depends on how much time you can commit to watching the videos and practicing. If the idea of commitment is scary for you, GT makes it much less daunting with their friendly, engaging content and approachable lesson plans. After all, life’s more fun with a guitar in your hands!
For beginners, Guitar Tricks has a curriculum divided into Guitar Fundamentals 1 and 2. By breaking it up this way, GT ensures you take the right steps towards more and more advanced lessons.
Included in Guitar Fundamentals 1:
Introduction to guitar
‘How does the guitar work?’
Strings and tuning
Basic chords and melodies.
Included in Guitar Fundamentals 2:
Basic song structure
All these topics are divided into multiple subtopics, and each subtopic has multiple lesson videos all with supplementary sheet music and tablature.
With each beginner lesson, you’ll notice an emphasis on explaining music theory in a clear and concise manner. This is particularly vital for beginners and a big part of why Guitar Tricks is so successful.
In the experienced section, Guitar Tricks gives you four main styles of music to focus on – blues, country, rock, and acoustic. These are the most important and popular genres for playing guitar, and each of them is divided into two levels once more.
In addition to music theory and playing techniques, Guitar Tricks covers the equipment and the sound of that style of music. For example, they go into the guitars, amps, pedals and effects behind certain famous tones.
Other than the four main genres, they offer in-depth lessons about bluegrass, classical, funk & soul, jazz, metal, rockabilly, surf, and ‘world’ music. It’s really quite rare to find all these different styles in one single platform.
With each style, Guitar Tricks shows you related playing techniques, exercises, and famous songs to learn.
So for example, in the classical guitar section, you are taught everything from how to hold the guitar, basic left and right-hand techniques, to beginner and advanced songs. You get detailed lessons about iconic classical guitar pieces such as Recuederos de la Alhambra, Bach pieces, to even Pachelbel’s Canon in D.
For truly advanced guitarists that have been playing for many years, the content on Guitar Tricks might be too easy for you. But it’s still a great way to learn all the different styles of music that you might not be familiar with.
Still, if this is you, websites like Truefire or ArtistsWorks might be better options. You can skip the stuff you already know and learn straight from living guitar legends like Paul Gilbert, Larry Carlton, Tommy Emmanuel, and Andy Timmons.
Learning A Song
One of the biggest advantages of Guitar Tricks is the amazing system in place for learning songs. There is a huge library of officially licensed songs you can learn, all with sheet music and tablature.
In the library, you’ll find iconic songs by The Beatles, Bob Dylan, The Who, AC/DC, and The Eagles. If you’re into more recent bands, they’ve got the likes of Ed Sheeran, Blink 182, and Coldplay.
One downside is they rarely have the entire catalog from each artist, but there are still enough classic songs to keep you happy. The good news is that the list of songs is growing every week, so you’ll always have something to look forward to.
When you click on a song, it’s quite impressive how much information and lesson material comes up. This is one part that really separates Guitar Tricks from YouTube. YouTube is not built as a platform for learning guitar, so it lacks these specific features that exist outside the videos themselves.
Having said this, the video player on Guitar Tricks is amazing for learning guitar. There’s an A/B Looping system for isolating loops you can play along to. Or maybe you just want to watch the instructions a few times over to really nail what is being taught.
It’s also really easy to change the speed of the video without affecting the pitch. When combined with the loop function, this can really help you to understand tricky, speedy riffs and exercises.
A new function that Guitar Tricks has added is one-on-one coaching. The process of booking a lesson with an instructor is very simple – you either pick a 30 min or 1-hour lesson, pick an available instructor, then set a date and time.
At the moment, there are only 4 teachers you can book these lessons with. The price varies from $40 to $60 for 30 minutes, and $60 to $95 for a full hour lesson. One benefit here is there’s no pressure to check-in strictly every week, it’s entirely up to you how often you book.
Working with an instructor is a great supplement to learning with videos. You can run the content you have already viewed by your instructor and practice in a more personalized manner.
Guitar Tricks has up to 32 instructors that are all professionals in their field. They’re extremely knowledgeable as they’ve been playing and recording guitar all over the world.
Many instructors have worked alongside big names for years, such as Sharon Aguilar, lead guitarist for Cee Lo Green, and Anders Mouridsen who performed and recorded with John Fogerty, Taylor Swift, and Pink. Others like Doug Fearman and Christopher Schlegel have been dedicated teachers for decades.
You’ll find all instructors are very friendly and patient in their lessons, which is crucial for keeping you engaged. Because of course, the last thing you’d want is a grumpy teacher when you’re trying to learn guitar!
Guitar Tricks Forum
Another great feature of Guitar Tricks is the forum. This is essentially an old school message board – the kind that was ubiquitous before Reddit took over.
The topics here are extremely diverse – with more than 30 different sub-forums.
Technique and Style
Listening Post (where you can post your own music)
Tone and Effects
Another amazing thing about the Guitar Tricks forum is the instructors and GT staff are active contributors – if you have a question you can expect them to chime in.
Based on my experience, the instructors seem to respond at an alarmingly fast rate, within a day or two after posting. Having an experienced guitarist like Christopher Schlegel directly respond to your question is obviously really valuable for learning.
Furthermore, any Guitar Tricks member can join in on the discussion, so you’ll get a whole bunch of tips and tricks from the broader community as well.
Not only are you learning through pre-recorded videos and prepared sheet music, but you also get a sense that you are becoming a part of a community when you become a member of Guitar Tricks.
Guitar Tricks vs YouTube
If you’re good at guiding yourself, YouTube is a fantastic resource for free tutorials. But there are definite downsides to learning this way.
These days, videos about any topic can be found on YouTube. There is a huge network of guitar-focused channels featuring lessons and gear reviews, and many guitarists have established themselves through this medium alone.
So why should you pay $19.95 per month if you can access all these videos from professional guitarists for free? The honest answer is you don’t have to pay money, but it takes a lot more effort to teach yourself for free.
If you are someone who is not an experienced guitar player or if you want structured lessons, you would benefit a lot more from Guitar Tricks than scrolling endlessly through a sea of YouTube videos.
With too much information and too many options around, many of you will probably lose interest or have difficulty focusing on a topic, and at least for me, I would get sidetracked very easily to a random cat or dog video on YouTube.
Finally, if you like being able to watch YouTube on your phone, there’s some good news: Guitar Tricks is fully supported on mobile devices! There’s a Guitar Tricks app, but their website also looks great on any device with an internet connection.