The guitar is easily one of the best instruments of all time.
No wonder so many of us to want to learn it.
JamPlay has a massive range of classes, instructors and resources to get you from zero to guitar hero.
But with so many other platforms out there, how can you tell if this is the right one for you?
That’s why I’m here to help.
I’ve been fascinated by the guitar for ages, but aside from a few lessons in school, I’ve never found the time to truly learn it. That’s why I dived into everything JamPlay had to offer.
And I’m here to tell you all about it.
I’ll be covering everything you need to know about JamPlay, including what you’ll learn, my favorite bits, who it’s for, how much it costs, any refunds or free trials and, of course…
Whether or not JamPlay is worth it.
So, let’s dive in.
- Teaches the guitar as a proper instrument; not just a party trick
- Incredible depth and range of content with 7500 lessons
- Dives deeply into different genres and songs
- Courses are quite long, so there’s a lot to get stuck into
- World-leading instructors
- Lots of extra resources to help you
- Content for advanced players, which is quite rare for online learning platforms
- Could benefit from more of a unified method or ethos
- Video quality not as slick as newcomers
- Other platforms have a more understandable delivery
Best for: Guitar enthusiasts interested in developing in a particular genre or who struggle to find advanced lessons on other platforms.
Overall: JamPlay has a lot to offer. The courses are incredibly comprehensive and there’s a wide range of them on offer. This is especially the case if you're more advanced, as many sites won’t have too much to sell this level of player. If you value substance over style, JamPlay could be a good fit for you as the content itself is very instructive. This isn’t somewhere where you’ll just learn a few songs. However, if you find visuals matter for how you learn and you prefer shorter, more directed lessons, newer sites like Guitareo could be a better option.
Here is a taste of what's to come:
- All about JamPlay
- My review of JamPlay’s courses
- What I liked about this platform and think could be improved
- Who I think this platform is for
- The cost and any potential alternatives and most importantly…
Is JamPlay worth it?
What is JamPlay?
JamPlay was founded back in 2008.
It's since become one of the biggest platforms for teaching guitar on the internet.
Co-founders Chris Dawson and Jeffery Booth have gone on to other projects in the online service game, but have remained committed to the JamPlay ethos.
The site now boasts an incredible range of instructors and lessons (over 7500), with courses devoted to all aspects of the guitar.
How does JamPlay work?
You need to sign up for membership to get started on your JamPlay journey. This can be monthly or annual, and you even have the option to go pro, which has its own perks that I discuss below.
A subscription gets you access to all courses on the site, and boy is there is a big range to choose from.
JamPlay has no direct method or recommendation for taking courses, but they are divided into three phases:
- Everything to do with getting started on guitar
- More advanced courses devoted to specific genres and styles
- A wide range of songs for you to learn
Each phase contains a range of courses, taught by a leading instructor. Their difficulty is marked by a score on the course page. There’s no recommended order to take a JamPlay lesson in and you can come back to them at any time.
There’s also a ton of other resources on offer.
This includes interactive tab and notation pages, live courses, an interactive chat, and the opportunity for one-on-one consultations for the pro or yearly subscription options.
What is a lesson like?
Given the range of courses, no lesson is the same.
From the samples I took, however, there were a couple of things that stood out to me in each lesson.
Normally, a lesson will begin with the instructor describing the concept you're learning, playing it, breaking it down bit by bit and then giving you practice tips.
This formula does vary between lessons depending on what your focus is.
On top of this, each lesson comes with its own set of resources including downloadable sheet music, chord charts and tabs, and a comments section.
My review of 3 classes
There’s a lot on offer with JamPlay. It’s one of its biggest strengths, but that also makes it very difficult to review everything.
To cover the greatest audience possible, I took a class from Phase 1, 2 and 3 of JamPlay.
Let’s take a look…
Phase 1: Basic Guitar With Steve Eulberg – The Absolute Basics
This was the first course I saw advertised on the platform, and therefore the first course I’ve taken.
I’m a beginner at the guitar, but I know the basics, so this was more of a refresher for me.
Even so, I found there were a lot of positives.
You will learn:
- How the guitar makes a sound
- Tuning the guitar and the string names
- Playing up and down the fretboard
- Difference in pitch on strings
- Using the left hand to strum
- Numbering your fingers
- What fingers to play on what fret
- Playing in mirror and with the thumb
- Holding the pick
- Music theory of the guitar and its relationship with piano
- Very in-depth, but not too overwhelming for a beginner
- Covers all the essentials succinctly and clearly
- Methodical; gradually increases in difficulty
- Delves into the music theory of guitar
- Uses the above theory effectively to enlighten beginners
- A warm and engaging teacher
- Could divide lessons into more digestible chunks
- A little low quality, and could do with an update
Length of Course: 45 minutes, divided into 7 video lessons
Best for: Any beginner guitarist, especially if you are interested in what unites guitar and piano, as that's a very unique aspect of the course.
Overall: This is a strong way to become introduced and accustomed to the guitar. All the basics are covered here in a clear, understandable way and by an instructor who clearly has a wealth of experience in teaching. On top of that, it provides excellent insight into the relationship between guitar and musical theory, which is incredibly rare at the beginner level but essential for developing general musicianship. The camera quality is a poor, with the visual element looking like it hasn’t been updated for a while, but this is still a solid introductory course.
Phase 2: Intros, Outros and Turnarounds
Phase 2 is all about delving into specific concepts with even more detail, and even harder content.
I chose to dive into the blues, a genre I love and something I’m eager to master on the guitar.
You will learn:
- Intros to apply to your own blues guitar
- Turnarounds in different keys
- Endings that you can add to your blues playing
- 12 bar blues form
- Walkups and walkdowns
- All of the above was influenced by major blues figures like Skip James and Big Bill Boozy
- Very specific teaching of intros, outros and turnarounds
- Directly applicable to your playing
- Deeply comprehensive, with a massive range of intros and outros to learn
- Content for more advanced
- Delves deeply into a core aspect of one specific genre
- Does what it says on the tin
- Could talk more broadly about blues playing
- A bit of a weird structure; for example, the course is reintroduced in each lesson
Length of Course: There are 21 video lessons, each lasting about 3 minutes.
Best for: Those interested in the blues, particularly if you're looking for ideas to add to your own playing. You need to be familiar with the 12 bar blues form and style.
Overall: This course does exactly what it sets out to do. You get a range of blues intros, outros and turnarounds to apply incorporated into your playing. 21 video lessons mean 21 licks and snippets of playing for you to get familiar with, and each one is taught in great depth and clarity. You’ll need to be familiar with the blues (this might not be for you if you don’t know what a “turnaround” is). But everything is explained very clearly, so there’s no need to be a blues superstar going into it. It’s simple, and there’s no broad insight into becoming Robert Johnson or Stevie Ray Vaughan. But not every course has to have such ambitions. Sometimes, you just need someone to break down things clearly and directly, without any pizazz.
Phase 3: Can’t Buy Me Love
Phase 3 is all about teaching specific songs.
So it’s not any more or less difficult than Phase 2.
There’s a big range of songs to choose from. I decided on “Can’t Buy Me Love.”
The Beatles are essential learning for any aspiring guitarist, and I’ve always loved this tune. So I was excited to see whether I could conquer it.
You will learn:
- The intro
- The verse
- The chorus
- The intro
- Differences between the acoustic and electric part
- Chord breakdowns
- The song structure
- The strumming pattern
- Why the song emphasizes the backbeat
- Teaches the same song for a range of skill levels
- Teaches the song comprehensively
- Both the electric and acoustic parts
- Insight into the wider theory behind rhythm and song structure
- Delves into why the key and form of the song matter
- Teaches the acoustic part on the electric guitar
Length of Course: Around 10 video lessons, lasting around 5-10 minutes.
Best for: People who want to learn an excellent Beatles tune. Not much else to it.
Overall: As with the course above, this course does exactly what it says on the tin. You’ll learn all the composite parts of the song, and both the acoustic and electric guitars. But it goes deeper, and you’ll also get a little insight into musical factors like form, structure and rhythm. This level of detail makes this course stand out and ensures that the learning doesn’t stop at just playing all the right chords in the right order.
What I liked about JamPlay
Incredibly Comprehensive With A Wide Range Of Courses
JamPlay’s biggest strength is just how deep it goes.
There is simply so much on offer here.
With over 7500 lessons, I seriously didn’t know where to start when looking at the courses on offer. And given that you can complete them in your own time, this can only be a good thing.
On top of this, the courses themselves go deep.
There are hours and hours for any guitarist to dig into. Each lesson is meticulous and in-depth, rather than just the broad explanation of general concepts you can get on other sites.
Again, this would only be a problem if you were tight for time. But because you can complete the lessons whenever you like, having lots of them is a real advantage.
Another advantage of having a wide range of courses is the choice it gives you as a learner.
It means that by investing in the site you’re not paying for one specific type of learning. You can construct your own lesson plan based on your needs.
Music is all subjective. We all have different needs and priorities when it comes to learning new instruments.
This also means that they genuinely go in-depth with the instrument as well. Other sites will often just teach songs, but here you can get into the theory behind the guitar, even in beginner lessons.
So this amount of choice is a real asset.
Lots Of Extra Resources
On top of the range of courses, there's also a wide range of resources.
By resources I mean anything that's outside the video lesson. This could be anything from sheet music to workbooks.
And, boy, there’s a lot of it.
Each individual lesson is accompanied by a wealth of additional resources.
This must’ve taken a lot of time to complete, but it is worth it.
This is because it enhances your experience as a learner. The education continues outside the lesson, as all good education should.
There are also great resources elsewhere on the site.
For example, there are entire pages dedicated to developing your theory and musical intuition through chords and scale practice.
Another benefit is the comment section, where you can interact with fellow JamPlay subscribers.
All of this plays into the wider point I made above:
By having this range of resources, you can choose how and what you learn.
Delves Into Specific Genres And Offerers Content To A Range Of Audiences
This is kind of a repeat of the first point I made; I just want to add a few specifics.
Part of the beauty of having such a range of courses means JamPlay can be really specific with its content.
For example, their courses in Phase 2 cover a massive range of genres, from Blues to Classical, Bluegrass and Surf music.
Other sites might have one or two courses dedicated to genres outside of rock, but JamPlay lets the subscriber get stuck into very specific sub-genres of music with their guitar.
A key advantage of this is that there is more for advanced players.
Because, by and large, they constitute the biggest chunk of the market, beginners are the target audience for most sites.
As a result, not only the lesson content but the general vibe of the site is aimed at novices.
But because JamPlay has so much content, it can afford to direct lessons for a wider audience.
This means more courses are directed at advanced players than you might expect.
This is a particularly strong pro given the limited spaces for anyone beyond intermediate to find resources and teaching online that matches their skill level.
What could be improved?
Slightly Low Quality Video
This is a bit of a weird criticism.
One thing that I did notice about JamPlay was that the whole site felt a bit outdated.
With the internet rapidly progressing and the site being founded in 2008, this is hardly surprising. Within the space of even the past couple of years, music education has rapidly developed, let alone the last decade.
To the site’s credit, this does mean it has over a decade of experience under its belt, and has remained popular since then. But the whole look and feel of the site make it seem like there hasn’t been an update recently.
The videos, particularly for The Absolute Basics, seemed to be quite low quality. The visual aspect looked like it had been filmed quite a while ago.
So, why does this matter?
Well, maybe for you it doesn’t. But I do feel that, especially if you’re a beginner, the learning environment is important. How something looks, how something feels, how intuitively you can engage with it is all consequential for your experience.
The videos themselves aren't in 4k and the lessons can be a bit long. That being said if you value substance over style you will appreciate what JamPlay has to offer
Could Benefit From A More Coherent Organization Of Courses
I know I should focus on and critique what JamPlay did offer instead of what they didn’t.
But I’d like to make this point anyway because the quality of teaching is impacted just as much by what you don’t say as what you do.
As I mentioned above, I was very impressed with the range of courses.
I just wish they were organised a little better.
Instead of having a method to follow, or any kind of learning objective or pathway, the courses are thrown at you, and it’s up to you to decide what to focus on.
For some, this will be a pro. That level of choice isn’t something you often get in music learning.
But, I think if you’re new to the instrument, you could do with a bit more guidance.
Even the 3 phases weren’t obvious, and I think given the spectrum of courses, dividing them into just 3 sections doesn’t make much sense.
On top of that, each course felt a little disjointed, and I didn’t get the sense that JamPlay had a unified ethos.
This is by no means essential for a music platform, but it can make a difference if you are trying to develop your students' general musicianship, as well as their specific ability on the instrument.
Other Options Have Better Usability
Both of the above points culminate in this one.
There is nothing inherently wrong with JamPlay.
I just think other sites don’t suffer as many flaws.
Now, I may be a little biassed here, as I’ve already tried several guitar courses and I’m comparing them to JamPlay, which means I have a strong sense of what works for me and I’m even more in tune as to when something is included that I don’t like.
But I still think it holds true that other sites offer more in terms of delivery.
The guitar is the same instrument across every platform. So most sites will teach you the same ideas as a result.
The way you distinguish yourself is by what your lessons emphasise, how you actually teach and your general approach.
I believe other sites can help a little more with the two main criticisms I’ve made.
I’ve come across sites with a much stronger aesthetic and higher quality webpage. I’ve also come across sites that offer specific learning pathways, as well as the opportunity to direct your own learning.
I’ll talk about alternatives later in this review. Some of the stronger ones include TrueFire and Guitareo. It’s truly a matter of personal preference, but these sites just appealed to me more in what they offered.
These are minor points in reality, but when it comes to investing your money, I suppose they matter.
JamPlay’s saving grace is still its range of courses. This means that they can target niche groups of guitarists, and normally ones with more experience. Advanced players are often overlooked by other platforms.
So JamPlay certainly still has merit. But if you’re a beginner, I believe there are better options out there for getting comfortable with the guitar.
Who JamPlay is for
JamPlay is for anyone with an interest in guitar.
That’s how they market themselves and the range of courses makes this possible.
However, there are a few specific groups who I think could benefit from a subscription:
- Advanced players who struggle to find courses for their skill level
- Independent learners not looking to be restricted to a single method
- Guitarists who like extra resources, on top of just the lesson
- Anyone looking to dive into a particular genre or song
- Musicians with the time to delve deeply into a course, rather than get quick results
How much does JamPlay cost?
By signing up to JamPlay, you get access to all of their premium content.
There are two main ways of doing this.
You can either go for the monthly subscription, which will cost you $19.95 per month.
Alternatively, you have the option to pay for your JamPlay subscription annually. This will cost you, overall for the year, $159.95.
There’s also a pro subscription offer for $24.99 per month, which gives you access to everything on the standard subscription, plus more one on one consultations and 150 ownership credits for lessons.
JamPlay will often have special offers, deals and sales for special occasions, so check their site for updates.
Free trial & Refunds
There is a one-week free trial on offer with JamPlay.
To access this, you need to create an account, and it gives you everything a standard subscription gets you for 7 days.
There is also a money-back guarantee if you don’t like what you get.
With the dawn of the internet, the task of learning the guitar is easier than ever. So if you see yourself up on stage with a six-string, but don’t actually know how to play, now is an excellent way to get started.
But which site do you choose?
You can check out our Best Online Guitar Lessons Review which rates the best 10 courses and classes of 2022.
But if you're short on time, here's a few other choices:
The site has a method based on goals, where you can start as a beginner. From here you can continuously progress with your guitar journey, delving into different styles, topics and techniques.
There are also 500+ songs available to learn on the site and a 5-day boot camp where the aim is to learn songs fast.
Guitareo posts regular content up on Youtube, so you can check those videos out if you're interested in purchasing a membership.
TrueFire was founded way back in the 1990s, so their instructors know a thing or two about teaching guitar online. Among the guitar community, this site is known for offering courses that can go in-depth and technical with the concepts they approach. I’ve even seen some guitarists warn novices against it!
Another cool thing about TrueFire is that you can purchase courses individually. So if you aren’t sure about the whole site, but like the look of a specific teacher or idea, that’s another option.
Fender Play is a site with courses devoted to electric guitar, founded by one of the instrument's most legendary manufacturers.
Whilst some sites devote all of their time and attention to guitar, others have begun to expand beyond one discipline to include courses for a range of different skills and trades.
Platforms like SkillShare and Udemy have been dominating the e-learning game, and their guitar courses certainly don’t let them down.
Udemy has a range of guitar options on offer. Some of the most popular include Henry Olsen’s Ultimate Beginner Guitar Masterclass and Michael Palmisano’s Professional Guitar MasterClass.
SkillShare also has options for you, with Guitar Fundamentals: Learn Quick With Mike Boyd standing out.
If you’re thinking “hmmm that’s all cool, but I wanna be taught by a celebrity” then MasterClass has you covered. Like with the sites above, there’s a range of disciplines for you to dip into here, but this time each course is taught by an outright legend in the given field.
Music courses on MasterClass cover a range of topics through a range of instructors, but when it comes to guitar, your best bet is checking out Tom Morello’s MasterClass.
What others have said
To keep this review balanced, I’ve scoured the internet looking for the different comments on JamPlay.
This way, when it comes to deciding whether this course is for you, you can take my word for it as well as the word of anyone else with something to say about the site.
There are actually not too many comments on JamPlay on the internet. The usual guitar forums I visit had nothing to say on the site.
The only real comment I found was this one:
“I also have a Jamplay subscription and prefer JustinGuitar because of the structure. Justin has some newer paid content, I’m not certain how he monetizes the free stuff but it’s excellent and free. No need to look much further than that.” - Reddit Commenter
It’s slightly unfair to include this comment, as it’s basically about another website that I haven’t reviewed. But I think this does demonstrate one of JamPlay’s flaws.
Sure, it does a good job with what it does offer, but it feels like other sites have accelerated past that.
The interactive chat and comment section function is another way to source direct opinions on JamPlay.
Most of these are asking for tips with the lesson content, but some offer great insight into how people feel about a particular lesson, course or the site in general.
Below is one of the more succinct and expressive comments, which I found on the absolute basics course.
“3rd teacher I've tried here on Jamplay and by far, the best. I have extensive music education and have been a pro pianist/instructor. Guitar is a bucket list thing and I'm a rank beginner. But Steve's communication and the "why" of things is really great.” - JamPlay community member
I chose to highlight this comment, because it spoke to my own perspective on JamPlay, and this specific course.
As a musician from another instrument myself, I relate to the value of understanding the “why” of the guitar. I think this comment also gives some insight into the broader pros of the whole website.
Most platforms want to get you from Point A to Point B. But by delving deep and taking the time to explore the “why”, JamPlay can offer comprehensive and expansive courses in guitar.
Is JamPlay worth it?
Is JamPlay worth it?
The answer always depends on your background, and what you want to learn.
This is my philosophy when it comes to learning anything, and it usually prevents me from recommending anything outright.
Unfortunately, when it comes to this site, I have to say whilst it could be good for more advanced players, I’d recommend beginners look elsewhere.
It’s not that there's anything inherently wrong with it.
I think there are pros. Particularly the fact that the guitar is treated with massive respect here. They’re not trying to just teach you Smoke On The Water and then move on. You have the opportunity to get into the theory.
It’s just that other sites have been able to develop stronger methods and ethos for their teaching, their websites are more intuitive and they even can be cheaper. I’d personally move to TrueFire or Guitareo to start your guitar journey.
So, is there nothing of value here?
Well, all the good points still stand. The content is comprehensive, there is a lot of it and the teachers know what they're doing. If you’re an advanced player it might be worth taking a look at it for these factors, especially if you're underwhelmed by what else is out there.
And, with a free trial, there is no harm in doing so if you do think this site has something to offer.
Frequently asked questions
A monthly plan with JamPlay will cost you $19.95 per month. Annual membership is $159.95.
Yes, there is a money-back guarantee.
A wide range, including over 7,500 guitar lessons.
Yes, there is a 7-day free trial.
Charlie is a student reading politics at King’s College London. He is also a passionate musician with over 14 years of experience. In his free time, he also enjoys cinema, long-distance running and learning new things.