ArtistWorks Review 2020

Imagine if you could combine the flexibility of online learning with the valuable feedback of a one-on-one private lesson. And then imagine your private tutor is one of the best guitarists on the planet. Now you’re imagining ArtistWorks.

Keep reading for our detailed review of this innovative program – which is one of our favorite online guitar lessons course.

Quick Summary: Artist Works

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ArtistWorks puts a focus on mastering the fundamentals and fostering a sense of community, making it an excellent lesson platform for beginners. Most impressively, you can upload a video of your playing and receive personalized feedback from your instructor. A feature made far more valuable by the teachers’ universally high quality.

  • Overall rating: 3.5/5
  • User experience: 4/5
  • Price: 3/5
  • Refund period: 0/5
  • Variety in styles: 4/5
  • Suitability for beginners: 4/5
  • Suitability for intermediate/advanced: 3/5
  • Instructors 4.5/5
  • Other features: 4/5

ArtistWorks is an excellent source of musical instruction. The instructional material is very complete and structured to take anyone from beginner to advanced stage of playing

The Full ArtistWorks Guitar Lessons Review

If you’re looking for a private tutor’s one-on-one experience coupled with the flexibility and lower cost of online learning, ArtistWorks may well be the site for you. Keep reading to find out.

Playing Guitar

User Experience

ArtistWorks focuses on you becoming a master of guitar playing techniques. So, forget about a quick progression to learning your favorite songs. Your experience as a user will depend on your priorities as a guitarist.

In pursuit of this mastery, ArtistWorks offers two learning formats. First, there are upwards of 50,000 professionally taught video lessons, ranging from 2 to 15 minutes, that form the foundation of the platform. Second, there are one-on-one consultations with instructors, which occur through video exchange.

The video player for the lessons is basic but does feature a slow-motion looping option, which is helpful when learning complicated techniques. A surprising omission from the video lessons is the option to have accompanying tablature or musical notation scroll along with the playing.

Guthrie Trapp teaches electric country guitar.
Guthrie Trapp teaches electric country guitar.

To access the lessons, you’ll select a genre-based course. Each course is taught by a single instructor, providing excellent continuity, and progresses logically from basic to advanced. All lessons are accessible at any time, so you can skip ahead if you’ve mastered the fundamentals.

Along with the main set of lessons, each course page has tons of supplemental material, including:

  • Extra lessons with unique styles and techniques for that genre
  • Extra lessons in specific subgenres
  • Additional study materials
  • A link to that course’s dedicated forum
  • The video exchange platform

The Video Exchange is ArtistWorks’ second learning format and what makes this platform stand out (1). Depending on your membership, you can submit a certain number of videos of your playing to your instructor for personalized feedback. This is how you progress from an average player to a PRO.

This smart way of bridging the gap between online learning and private tutoring has garnered ArtistWorks many fans.

You cannot only submit videos, but all previous submissions are archived and available for viewing so that you can also learn from the feedback others have received. This means that your videos will also be stored and viewable by all other members, something to bear in mind if you’re shy about sharing your progress.

Variety and Styles of Guitar

ArtistWorks operates more like an online music school than a guitar lesson platform, offering instruction in several other instruments. If you’re an aspiring multi-instrumentalist, this will be appealing. Still, if you’re only here for the guitar, you may be disappointed by how few genres are represented beyond the standard rock, blues, country, and jazz guitar.

Guitar Styles You Can Learn From ArtistWorks
Electric RockElectric BluesElectric Jazz
Electric Jazz ImprovElectric CountryElectric Fingerstyle
Acoustic FlatpickAcoustic ClassicalAcoustic Dobro & Lap Steel

Heavy metal and hard rock are notably absent here, so fans of these styles may want to consider looking elsewhere, though even aspiring hard rockers can benefit from a thorough understanding of the fundamentals.

On the other hand, bass guitarists will be pleased to find ArtistWorks offers a “Bass Campus” with several dedicated courses and an acclaimed set of instructors. It’s also nice to see ArtistWorks divide their genres between electric and acoustic guitar, an essential distinction people often ignore.

How Suitable is it for Beginners?

ArtistWorks works with beginners in mind, and thus it caters well to this demographic, though more so for adult beginners than children.

They’ve recently added an entirely separate course just for beginners, which emphasizes developing core skills—priced at only $20, the class taught by David Butler, the co-founder of ArtistWorks, and longtime acoustic guitarist. It offers hundreds of simple guitar lessons, starting right from how to hold and tune your guitar and progressing through beginner chords, reading tabs, and basic musical concepts.

ArtistWorks offers a special 1-month dedicated beginner course.
ArtistWorks offers a special 1-month dedicated beginner course.

The beginner course also introduces the individual genres, like rock, country, and blues, so that you’ll know what courses to carry on with as you progress.

The beginner course introduces the individual genres, like rock, country, and blues, so that you’ll know what courses to carry on with as you progress.

Even before the dedicated beginner course, this site served new players well. Within each course, lessons start with the fundamentals and progress in a step-by-step fashion. ArtistWorks puts a priority on mastering the necessary skills before moving on to higher-level material (2).

If there is a general method, it would just be focusing on smaller and smaller parts of a phrase or technique until it becomes easy to play. Then after the student practices it enough to make it indestructible, they’re ready to add something on.

While this can seem tedious to the impatient student, it’s undoubtedly an effective way to build well-rounded guitarists.

How Suitable is it for Non-Beginners?

ArtistWorks is a platform best suited for beginners, though there is a bit for more experienced players. At present, there are 24 intermediate and 32 advanced guitar lessons.

These focus on higher-level skills like pentatonic soloing, string skipping, arpeggios, and scales. The content is good, and the teaching is excellent, but advanced players probably won’t find more than a few months’ worths of material.

Quality of Instruction

Along with the availability of video exchanges, the instructors’ quality is one of the stand-out features of ArtistWorks. You’ll feel like you’re hanging out with guitar legends!

  • Paul Gilbert, the founder of Grammy-nominated group Mr. Big, teaches Electric Rock Guitar. He’s a graduate of and teacher at the Guitar Institute of Technology and one of Guitar World’s “50 Fastest Guitarists of All Time.” (3)
  • Guthrie Trapp teaches Electric Country Guitar. He’s the famed Nashville session guitarist who has accompanied the likes of Garth Brooks and Dolly Parton, as well as releasing his solo material (4).
  • Jason Vieaux teaches Acoustic Classical Guitar. He’s the winner of multiple prestigious awards and competitions, including a Grammy for Best Classical Instrument Solo.

Bass guitarists will be pleased to find their courses offered by equally renowned players.

  • John Patitucci teaches Jazz Bass. He’s played with Dizzy Gillespie and Wynton Marsalis, among others, and is now the Artist in Residence at the Global Jazz Institute at Berklee College of Music (5).
  • Missy Raines teaches Bluegrass Bass. Raines is the most decorated bass player in the history of the International Bluegrass Music Association.

Other Unique Features

The most valuable unique feature of ArtistWorks is the Video Exchange system, where you can upload a video of your playing and receive personalized feedback from your instructor. Such individualized instruction is lacking in most online guitar lessons, causing many aspiring players to opt for private lessons.

Artist Works archives all instructor-student video exchanges on the site. They’re also available for all members to view. So, if you’re shy and don’t feel like uploading your video, you can review others’ feedback and still gain essential insights.

The other unique aspect of the ArtistWorks program is the community, of which the Video Exchange is only one part.

Most online lesson platforms attempt to foster a sense of community among members.

Still, ArtistWorks is perhaps the best because of its founder, David Butler, one of the original developers behind AOL, and an early adopter of instant messaging (6).

Each course has a dedicated forum where you can interact with other students and answer the instructor’s questions. Your central member’s dashboard also has a ‘Shoutbox,’ essentially a chatroom and instant messaging platform for communicating with other members. They have a bustling Facebook page as well, with more than 50,000 followers.

Is it Worth the Money?

ArtistWorks is one of the most expensive online lesson platforms, so this is an important question. The answer is a qualified yes.

For beginners, the value for money is very good, especially considering the availability of individualized feedback. You get the teaching quality of private lessons at a fraction of the cost. Multi-instrumentalists will also find good value here, given the sheer number of instruments you can learn.

For more experienced players, however, it’s more challenging to justify the cost, as there isn’t enough advanced material.

The price structure is relatively straightforward. You can pay $105 for three months, $179 for six months, or $279 for a full year, each giving you access to the full roster of courses. The longer your membership, the more money you save per month. Thus, the more video exchanges you can make.

ArtistWorks Prices
PricePrice per monthVideo submissions allowed
3-month membership$105$35Up to 5
6-month membership$179$30Up to 12
1-year membership$279$23.25Unlimited
Free trial
None
Refund period
No refunds

Unlike many online tuition sites, ArtistWorks doesn’t offer a free trial. While unfortunate, it’s not surprising given the feedback demands of every student. To compensate for this, they encourage everyone to try a 3-month membership to start and offer permanent promo codes for this option. You can also view several free example lessons to get an idea of what to expect.

ArtistWorks doesn’t offer any refunds, and their memberships are auto-renewing if you forget to cancel. This policy has led to customer complaints, so be sure to read the fine print when you sign up.

Don’t Choose ArtistWorks If….

You’re an experienced player – If you’ve already mastered the fundamentals, you’ll probably get better bang for your buck from JamPlay or TrueFire.

You stay motivated by learning songs – A lot of beginner guitarists get started and stay motivated because they want to play their favorite songs. If you’re one of them, consider Guitar Tricks or JamPlay, both of which have hundreds of licensed song lessons.

You want your online lessons on the go – ArtistWorks is strictly a desktop platform. If you like to learn on the go, check out Yousician, an app that uses a Guitar Hero style gaming interface redesigned for real instruments.

The Verdict

If you’re a new guitarist who does best in a learning environment that offers personalized feedback, we recommend ArtistWorks. It’s the only online guitar lesson platform with one-on-one instruction built into their base fee structure.

However, it is one of the most expensive sites, and we believe that advanced players, or those who prefer a hands-off teaching style, can find better value elsewhere.

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FAQs

Both ArtistWorks and Fender Play are great for beginners, so the better one for you will depend on your priorities. ArtistWorks has higher profile instructors and offers one-on-one teaching, while Fender Play is less expensive and provides song lessons.

Yes, ArtistWorks does teach music theory. They do so better than most of their competitors, with a Music Theory Workshop in every membership plan.

ArtistWorks has female instructors, but all ten guitar instructors are currently male. If you prefer to learn from a woman, you’re out of luck.

  1. Johnson, Scott. (2019, January 14). Why Take Private Guitar Lessons. Retrieved from https://www.scottpauljohnson.com/blog/2019/1/11/why-take-private-lessons
  2. Fanelli, D. (2012, June 7). Interview: Guitarist Paul Gilbert Discusses His New Online Rock Guitar School. Retrieved from https://www.guitarworld.com/features/interview-guitarist-paul-gilbert-discusses-his-new-online-rock-guitar-school
  3. Need for speed: The 50 fastest shred guitarists of all time. (2015, March 11). Retrieved from https://www.guitarworld.com/magazine/50-fastest-guitarists-all-time
  4. Laing, R. (2020, July 8). Session ace Guthrie Trapp shares some of the best lead guitar advice you’ll hear. Retrieved from https://www.musicradar.com/news/session-ace-guthrie-trapp-shares-some-of-the-best-lead-guitar-advice-youll-hear
  5. John Patittuci. (n.d.). Visiting Scholar in Performance Studies, Bass. Retrieved from https://www.berklee.edu/people/john-patitucci
  6. Sklar, J. (2017, December 14). AOL Instant Messenger Made Social Media What It Is Today. Retrieved from https://www.technologyreview.com/2017/12/14/67582/aol-instant-messenger-made-social-media-what-it-is-today/