Fender Play Guitar Lessons Review
Did you know that 90% of new guitar players quit within the first year? If you don’t want to become part of this statistic you should give some thought to what Fender has built: ‘Fender Play’.
Built with beginners in mind, this guitar lesson site works just as hard to keep you motivated as it does to teach you guitar. But to be honest; Fender play is NOT for everyone. There’s a few simple questions you should answer before signing up to an online guitar lesson service like this.
We gave it a shot and are here to provide you with all the juicy details. Here’s our Fender Play review.
Quick Summary: Fender Play
Fender Play may not have the most extensive library of lessons, but for the novice guitarist, this is an excellent low-cost platform to master the basics. The site is stylish and easy to navigate, the instructors have top-notch resumes, and a couple of unique features help motivate beginners.
- Overall rating: 3.5/5
- User experience: 4/5
- Price: 4/5
- Refund period: 0/5
- Variety in styles: 3/5
- Suitability for beginners: 4.5/5
- Suitability for intermediate/advanced: 2/5
- Instructors 4/5
- Other features: 4/5
- Average: 3.22/5
If you want to learn to play guitar and don’t know where to start this is excellent. For the more experienced however, there is perhaps a better way to go.
The Full Fender Play Review
Fender Play is one of the youngest guitar lesson platforms, and it lags a bit behind its competitors in terms of quantity of content. However, with the backing of a big-name brand like Fender, they’ve managed to pull a lot together in just three years, so we’re excited to see where they head in the future.
The first thing that immediately distinguishes Fender Play from its competition is the design of its website. It has a clean and modern look that’s easy to navigate, clearly put together by an experienced marketing team. You’ll just enjoy every second you spend looking at it. While this doesn’t guarantee it can effectively teach you guitar, it does leave a remarkable first impression.
After signing up, you’ll be asked to choose between acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass, and ukulele. You’ll narrow it down to a particular genre, either rock, blues, country, pop, or folk. These choices will leave you with a custom set of video lessons that progress through 5 levels of difficulty. This stepwise progression is the best way to become a well-rounded guitarist, as opposed to someone who can play a few songs (1).
Your membership gives you access to everything on the site, so once you’ve mastered one genre or instrument, you can repeat the process with a new set of lessons.
As you would expect from a well-established company like Fender, the video production values are high. All the lessons are recorded in HD and from multiple camera angles, so you can see everything the instructor is doing.
Beneath the video, you’ll find lesson information, tabs, tools, and a glossary. If you scroll down, the video automatically moves to the side of the screen to view the video and the tabs or chords at the same time. This is a nice detail that is sure to make it faster and easier to master new songs and techniques.
Along with the main genre lesson pathways, there are additional song and skills lessons. The skills lessons fall under the categories basics, chords, exercises, glossary, technique, theory, and tone. These are a great way to further your progression as both a player and someone knowledgeable about the guitar.
There are about 175 song lessons, with more added regularly, and they cover an array of genres and difficulty levels. Keep in mind that not all of them teach you the whole song. Many focus on just the main riff, which some players may find disappointing.
Variety and Styles of Guitar
When compared with the more established online learning platforms, like Guitar Tricks or JamPlay, Fender Play’s selection of genres is relatively limited.
They offer blues, rock, country, pop, and folk, plenty to satisfy the beginner looking for a solid foundation in the instrument.
With this platform being so young, they may add more variety with time. But at the moment, you’ll have to head elsewhere to master jazz, classical, surf, and so on.
However, FenderPlay stands out by offering bass and ukulele lessons, both of which come with your membership price. As with the guitar lessons, those for bass are divided into five difficulty levels. So far, there are only two genres offered, rock and funk, but this is sufficient to give the aspiring bass player a strong start.
For ukulele students, FenderPlay offers individual song lessons, including traditional ukulele songs and covers that have been rewritten for the instrument. How often do you get a chance to learn ukulele? Exactly!
How Suitable is it for Beginners?
Fender Play was designed primarily for beginners, and it provides an excellent progression from beginner through intermediate. Every course begins with Guitar 101, which starts with the absolute fundamentals. You’ll learn how to set up and tune your guitar and a little bit about basic notes and chords.
From there, the video lessons progress in a step-by-step fashion. Each one is building on the one before in a logical way.
This stepwise progression is ideal for new guitarists as every set of lessons demonstrates the value of the ones that came before.
Such progress is crucial for maintaining motivation, always a challenge for the novice player.
How Suitable is it for Non-beginners?
In short, Fender Play is not particularly suitable for advanced players.
This may change as the program ages and acquires more content, but at present, there isn’t any material that an experienced player wouldn’t already know. At most, you might find a few song lessons that inspire you, but certainly not enough to warrant a membership.
Quality of Instruction
Fender Play has 18 different instructors, spread between the guitar, bass and ukulele categories. They are a relatively young bunch with a decidedly hip feel, and some older guitarists have said they found it difficult to relate.
Despite their youth, however, they all have the credentials and qualifications to justify their position, and they communicate their material clearly and competently. Here are just a few examples.
- Matt Lake teaches both guitar and ukulele. He’s been playing for 31 years and teaching for 14 of them, and he holds a Doctor of Musical Arts from USC.
- Sydney Ellen graduated Summa Cum Laude from the famed Berklee College of Music, and she’s now a teacher, lead guitarist, and composer. Her music has even been featured on Nikki Sixx’s radio show (2).
- Adam Hawley is both a performer and educator. He currently teaches at Musician’s Institute, Chaffey College, and Saddleback College, and he regularly plays guitar for Jennifer Lopez, Brian Culbertson, Natalie Cole, Brian McKnight, and American Idol.
What this online learning platform lacks are the big-name professionals, like Dave Weiner or Bumblefoot, that you might encounter at the more established sites like JamPlay or ArtistWorks.
Other Unique Features
Many of Fender Play’s unique features are geared towards helping with motivation, a smart move for a platform geared toward beginners, especially one that also wants to sell guitars. It’s well known that 90% of aspiring guitarists quit within the first year, so anything that makes them excited to practice is worthwhile (3).
We have a problem getting the consumers who buy their first guitar to commit for life. We just need to reduce abandonment of first-time players by 10% to double the industry.
There’s a Progress Tracker that lets you monitor how far you’ve progressed along your lesson pathway and which skills and songs you’ve mastered. This is an excellent visual way to track your accomplishments.
Another motivational feature is known as Streaks. If you open the app and watch at least 7 minutes of video three times per week, you’ll be “on a streak.” This rewards students who practice consistently, which is particularly important as a beginner.
Lastly, a new addition to the platform is Practice Mode. This update lets you play with auto-scrolling tabs at whatever pace you choose, with an optional metronome accompaniment. Slow down a song to make it easier to learn the notes and chords, or speed up a song to train your fingers for fast play.
Fender Play has a mobile app for learning guitar, compatible with Android and iOs, so that you can take your lessons on the go. Like their site, the app is beautifully designed, with a spare aesthetic that’s both attractive and easy to follow.
Is it Worth the Money?
At just $9.99 per month or $89.99 for the whole year, Fender Play is one of the cheaper online learning sites. Along with this low base rate, there are typically sales and deals available year-round, including 10% off if you sign up for their newsletter. For beginners, this is an excellent value.
|Free trial period||14 days|
On top of their low rate, a membership with Fender Play entitles you to 10% off all Fender gear; guitars included. Another feature designed to attract novice players.
On the other hand, Fender Play holds little value for advanced players. Even a cheap rate is too much to pay for no dedicated content.
They offer a 14-day free trial, so there’s no harm in checking it out, but unfortunately, they don’t offer a refund policy.
Don’t Choose Fender Play If….
You’re an advanced player – Experienced guitarists won’t find enough content at Fender Play to make it worthwhile. If you’ve already mastered the basics, check out JamPlay or TrueFire instead.
You want to learn a variety of genres – If you’re going to venture beyond the standard styles of pop, country, blues, pop, and folk, you’ll have to look elsewhere. Both JamPlay and ArtistWorks offer a more comprehensive range.
You have a bigger budget – Fender Play is relatively inexpensive because it is still a young program and lags behind the more established sites in the quantity of content. If you’re willing to spend a bit more, Guitar Tricks is a better choice for beginners and advanced players.
For a beginner guitarist looking for a straightforward and inexpensive way to master the basics, Fender Play is an excellent choice, with a well-structured set of lessons and experienced teachers. Experienced players, however, will find it lacking in advanced content.
How fast you learn guitar with Fender Play depends on a lot of variables, but with regular practice, you can make good progress in 4 to 6 weeks.
Fender Play and Yousician are very different, but the former offers a much more comprehensive learning experience than the latter.
No, this is not yet available.
- Young, M. (2017, May 8) Are You Learning to Play Songs or Learning to Play Guitar? Retrieved from https://www.guitarworld.com/lessons/bach-rock-are-you-learning-play-songs-or-learning-play-guitar
- Faia, P. (2020, June 13). Sydney Ellen Rocking Through 2020. Retrieved from https://chinohillshowler.org/12012/arts/sydney-ellen-rocking-through-2020/
- Constine, J. (2015, September 10). Fender Goes Digital So You Don’t Quit Guitar. Retrieved from https://techcrunch.com/2015/09/10/software-is-eating-rocknroll/