JamPlay Review 2020: Is Their Guitar Lesson Good?
When we set out to review JamPlay, we heard over and over from veteran players how the site helped them overcome a plateau in their guitar progress. There are quite a few good online guitar lesson platforms screaming for your memberships these days. So what is so special about Jamplay?
Have you been playing guitar for years, but feel like you’re not progressing as fast as you should? Keep reading this Jamplay review to see if it can help you take your guitar skills to the next level.
Quick Summary: JamPlay
JamPlay’s 4-phase course format offers plenty of content for everyone, but where this platform really shines is in their offerings for more advanced players. JamPlay has the biggest variety of genres, a sizable song library, and Master Classes in the style of famous artists, often taught by the artists themselves!
- Overall rating: 4.5/5
- User experience: 4.5/5
- Price: 4.5/5
- Refund period: 4/5
- Variety in styles: 5/5
- Suitability for beginners: 4/5
- Suitability for intermediate/advanced: 5/5
- Instructors 5/5
- Other features: 4/5
The lessons are clear and short, covering just enough to master a skill before moving on. Best of all, almost all lessons come with supplemental materials to help you learn to read music, chord charts, scales, etc!
The Full JamPlay Review
Whether you’ve never picked up a guitar before or you’re a 20-year veteran looking to get over a plateau, JamPlay has something to offer. This review presents a deep dive into the details you need to know before you buy it.
There’s nothing more frustrating than having to learn to navigate a website before you can start learning guitar. Good user experience will keep your motivation high. As one of the top few online guitar learning platforms, it’s no surprise that JamPlay offers a high-quality user experience to nearly half a million members.
As a member, your JamPlay login leads to your dashboard, the centerpiece of the site. This is the jumping-off point for everything JamPlay has to offer. You can track your progress through the courses and lessons, see what’s new on the site, and view a social-media style news feed that alerts you to upcoming live events and recent community discussions.
At present, JamPlay offers over 5,000 lessons, and they’re regularly adding more. Lessons have four phases, which generally progress from beginner to advanced:
- Phase 1: Beginners
- Phase 2: Genres and Skills
- Phase 3: Songs
- Phase 4: Songwriting
However, unlike other sites like Guitar Tricks, JamPlay doesn’t provide an obvious path for completing the lessons. Once you’ve finished with the beginners’ section, you can tackle any of the remaining three phases, picking and choosing the lessons that interest you. While the freedom and variety are sweet, you run the risk of missing out on crucial development steps to become a well-rounded guitarist (1).
The lessons are in the form of short videos. These videos are of high quality and made professionally in a dedicated studio. For all but the oldest video lessons, you can expect high-definition video and top-tier audio, with the most recent lessons offering 4K resolution and up to six camera angles. Some lessons are even filmed from the player’s perspective, allowing you to check your posture and hand positions (2).
JamPlay’s user experience will save a lot of your precious time. First, JamPlay uses its video player, rather than outsourcing to YouTube or Vimeo, which has a few particularly useful features for guitar lessons. You can play the video lessons at 10, 25, 50, 75, and 100% of full speed, and an AB looping system makes it easy to practice any difficult segments repeatedly (3). Second, you can bookmark specific spots in the video and even give it a custom title, so it’s easy to stay organized.
Along with the video player itself, several additional toolbars contain everything else you need for each lesson. This includes a scene selection bar, a list of other lessons by the same instructor, access to tabs, and a space for notes and comments. These sidebars can be moved and minimized so that you can customize the lesson screen to your liking.
For your enjoyment, JamPlay has an impressive song lesson library that you can access at any time, even as a beginner.
There are currently 451 songs that you can sort by artist, title, instructor, genre, time, and difficulty.
Plus, they regularly add new songs. They offer an impressive collection of big-name artists, like the Beatles or CCR, but the diversity of songs and artists is a little lacking compared with their main competition, Guitar Tricks.
Variety and Styles of Guitar
If you’re a fan of various music genres, you’ll be happy to learn that JamPlay thrives in this field. It offers more genres of guitar playing than any other online lesson provider, 20 in total. Still, they don’t represent all genres equally. Unsurprisingly, the categories like Blues and Rock have far more content than Celtic or Reggae. For metal lovers, this genre is particularly well represented.
If you’re looking to learn a particular style of guitar, you may want to check how many lessons are available before signing up for JamPlay. But if you’re going to be an all-arounder and dabble in a wide variety of genres, this platform will suit you very well.
|Guitar Styles You Can Learn from JamPlay|
|Flamenco||Folk||Soul and R&B||Reggae|
A bonus for aspiring bassists is that JamPlay is one of the few sites to offer dedicated bass guitar lessons taught by their roster of instructors. However, access to the bass lessons requires its separate subscription, which is priced the same as the guitar lessons and offers significantly less content.
How Suitable is it for Beginners?
In the past, people criticized JamPlay for its beginner lessons section, which was overwhelming and challenging to navigate. However, in 2019 they took those criticisms to heart and revamped the beginner phase, a move that has been widely applauded. Today, JamPlay recognizes how stressful and confusing these first steps of guitar playing can be.
When you first enter the beginner area, you’ll see that they cleverly divided it into three categories: Never Played Before, Self-Taught Guitarists, and The Forever Beginner. This is a bit of a departure from the standard Level 1, 2, and 3, making it easier for new guitar players to know where to start. Twenty-one beginner-level courses comprise nearly 700 individual lessons.
For those that are brand-new to the instrument, there are beginner lessons on tuning your guitar and finding the proper posture and hand positions. You’ll progress through learning scales and chords, reading sheet music, and basic music theory.
How Suitable is it for Non-beginners?
While JamPlay doesn’t have a dedicated curriculum for more advanced guitarists, it is still one of the best sites for non-beginners due to the sheer quantity of its higher-level material. While you won’t find a distinct pathway for progression beyond the beginner level, you will find plenty of opportunities to enhance your playing, whether that be learning a new genre, mastering a new song, or dabbling in writing music.
One of the best features for expert players is the Master Class section, which makes JamPlay stand out from the competition when it comes to satisfying more experienced players. The masterclasses are a set of highly specialized lessons divided into two categories, the Artist Series and In The Style Of.
In the Artist Series, you learn how to play guitar like a particular artist with that very artist as your teacher! Want to learn how to play metal like Glen Drover of Megadeath or country like Guthrie Trapp (4)? They’ll show you first-hand. The In The Style Of courses have some of JamPlay’s best instructors teaching you to play in the style of a particular famed guitarist, like Eric Clapton or Carlos Santana.
JamPlay also offers a set of courses on songwriting for advanced players. While there isn’t a ton of content here, particularly for the electric guitar, it does provide a good foundation and some helpful tips. Each course follows an instructor as they move through the varying techniques and theories that go into creating a song (5).
Quality of Instruction
Compared with its competition, JamPlay has the largest roster of instructors, which allows them also to offer the greatest variety of genres and styles. With a good instructor you’ll feel you’re in good hands. JamPlay also has some of the most recognized names in the industry, both touring pros and music education experts. When it comes to instructors, JamPlay has managed to nail both quantity and quality.
Here are just a few examples:
- Dave Weiner is a long-time member of Steve Vai’s band, having amassed eight world tours and 4 Grammy nominations.
- Kaki King is a solo artist named a “Guitar God” by Rolling Stone Magazine in 2006 and has received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Score for her work on the movie Into the Wild.
- Dave Isaacs is one of Nashville’s top guitar instructors, where he teaches at his studio, Music Row, and at Tennessee State University.
A nice feature allows you to browse lessons by the instructor. This is a useful option if you find someone whose playing or teaching style is particularly compelling.
JamPlay also schedules Live Q&A sessions with instructors, which happen daily and sometimes stream for as long as 8 hours. These are a great way to get specific questions answered as well as to develop a relationship with your teachers, which can be difficult in the online setting.
The bass guitar section has its own dedicated set of 13 instructors whose resumes are no less impressive than those of the guitarists. They include, for example, Steve Vai’s bassist Bryan Beller and David Ellefson from Megadeth.
Other Unique Features
The unique features are what it comes down to when deciding between similar platforms, and JamPlay has a few that are noteworthy.
The most impressive, which we’ve already discussed, is the Artist Series, in which you can take a song lesson from the actual artist who recorded it. These will be particularly inspiring to expert players not only for the technical playing but also for the opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look into what went into writing and recording each song. These are a guitar geek’s dream courses.
Another specialty lesson style offered by JamPlay is the Live Lesson, which are live-streamed lessons in webinar format. An instructor delivers the content, and viewers with a Year Pro membership can interact and ask questions. Some live courses even come with downloadable homework for those looking to maximize their value, and each one is archived, in case you missed it live or want a chance to review.
Gamification is an increasingly popular learning technique, especially when it comes to subjects like music theory that people often find “boring.” There’s nothing like a bit of playful competition to turn a topic from dull to fun (6)!
You only have to look at the early success of the Guitar Hero video game to see how motivating it can be to turn guitar music into a game. It’s a fact that humans love to play, love to win, and learn better when doing so.
JamPlay has three games right now, with plans for more, and tracks high scores to stay motivated, trying to one-up your friends.
JamPlay’s Learning Games
- Fretboard memorization
- Note recognition trainer
- Music notation trainer
Along with the games, JamPlay’s members’ toolkit also includes a chord library, metronome, guitar tuner, scale library, chord namer, and backing tracks. This is a pretty standard set of apps, but JamPlay stands out for its vast chord database, over 900,000, and growing.
Another thing that makes JamPlay stand out from the crowd is their focus on the community. Their Facebook page is full of useful content like videos and giveaways for its 300,000 followers.
JamPlay website itself is operated a bit like a social network just for guitar players.
You can make a profile and use their instant messenger system, JamChat, to interact with players and instructors.
Want to learn guitar from your Apple watch? With JamPlay, you can. For those who like to take their lessons on the go, JamPlay has one of the best mobile apps in the industry, available for every device you can think of.
Is It Worth the Money?
JamPlay provides excellent value for money, particularly given the considerable quantity of material on their site. For intermediate and advanced players, there is probably no better place to spend a little cash.
Their base subscription model is similar to comparable sites like Guitar Tricks, and it is identical whether you want to learn guitar or bass. You pay $19.95 per month, or you can purchase a full year for $159.95. However, they also offer a Year Pro membership, at the cost of $299.95. This adds additional perks, the most valuable of which is the option of one-on-one consultation with instructors. JamPlay also offers regular sales and promo codes, so you will likely never pay the full prices.
|Year Pro membership||$299.95|
|Free trial period||7 days w/o credit card30 days with credit card|
|Return period||30 days|
If you’re not sure if JamPlay is the right learning platform for you, it’s easy to give it a try without financial commitment. You can sign up for a 7-day JamPlay free trial, and you can extend it to 30 days if you’re willing to provide your credit card information.
Even after you’ve committed, they offer a 30-day no-questions-asked refund policy. In their own words, “If you don’t enjoy our service, then we don’t want your money.” Only 0.12% of users ask for a refund of the JamPlay cost, a good sign for customer satisfaction.
Don’t Choose JamPlay If….
You want free lessons – In our opinion, JamPlay offers incredible value for money, but that’s not the same thing as free. If you’re strapped for cash, a site like Justin Guitar is a great option.
You want structured progression – JamPlay provides a lot of content, but it’s up to you to decide what to learn and when. If you prefer a guided path from beginner to expert, a site like Guitar Tricks, with its Core Learning System, might be more up your alley.
You’re a beginner – While JamPlay does have quality beginner content, its forte is its more advanced material. If you’re just looking to master the basics, you will probably get better value from a site dedicated primarily to beginners. Check out Jamorama or Fender Play (which we reviewed right here).
JamPlay is one of the best online guitar lesson platforms regardless of your skill level, but we particularly recommend it for intermediate and advanced players. With the most instructors and the most genres, as well as Master Classes and the option of one-on-one consultations, you’d be hard-pressed to ever run out of material.
Check it out by signing up for the weeklong free trial. You’ve got nothing to lose and plenty of skills to gain.
Generally, JamPlay is considered better for more experienced players, while Guitar Tricks is better for beginners. However, both are excellent, and your learning style could dictate your preference.
Yes, JamPlay teaches theory. The Genres and Skills phase offers an entire section titled Theory and Improvisation, with 17 courses and 538 lessons. Many other courses and lessons touch on aspects of music theory as well.
Yes, all of JamPlay’s song lessons are licensed.
You can download JamPlay lessons to watch offline, but only if you have the more expensive Year Pro membership.
- 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
- Crow, K. (2014, March 23). How to Hold a Guitar – Proper Posture and Hand Positioning. Retrieved from https://www.guitarhabits.com/how-to-hold-a-guitar-proper-posture-and-hand-positioning/
- Klein, J. (2012, October 4). In The Loop: An Introduction to Looping. Retrieved from https://www.guitarworld.com/blogs/loop-introduction-looping
- Fanelli, D. (2018, February 13). Song Premiere: Nashville Session Ace Guthrie Trapp Unveils “Commodity”. Retrieved from https://www.guitarworld.com/artists/song-premiere-nashville-session-ace-guthrie-trapp-premieres-commodity
- Songwriting 101: Start With Melody. (2018, February 16). Retrieved From https://guitar.com/features/songwriting-101-start-melody/
- Learning the guitar made easier through gaming. (2019, July 18). Retrieved From https://www.techguide.com.au/news/gaming-news/learning-guitar-made-easier-gamification/#:~:text=Although%20visual%20games%20cannot%20fast,for%20maintaining%20motivation%20and%20enjoyment.