I’ve heard about JamPlay in passing from friends and colleagues, seen ads for it on various social media platforms, and have never thought to give it the time of day. It turns out that as a guitar teacher, my take on the do-it-yourself approach to learning guitar might be a little biased.
There’s a whole slew of platforms for online guitar lessons these days and one of the two leading sites right now is JamPlay. It’s advertised as a way for players of any level to improve their guitar skills and after having used the site myself, I have to agree.
JamPlay is actually for anyone who wants to improve their guitar skills, and in fact, if you use JamPlay the way it’s intended, you’ll find that not only will your guitar skills improve, but your musicianship will also.
So let’s start the JamPlay review.
What is it?
JamPlay is one of the leading platforms for online guitar instruction, offering thousands of high-quality video lessons for players of all levels. Just about anyone can find something new to learn or something they can improve on in their own playing.
Is it any good?
After using JamPlay for a few days myself, I can confidently say that JamPlay is a great platform. You need to have a good bit of self-discipline and awareness (because of the nature of being self-taught), but you get everything you need to improve your skills from video lessons, community forums, interactive tools, and even direct access to teachers.
Key Decision-Making Factors
This could be an article on its own as there are dozens of things to consider before deciding to spend money on anything -let alone guitar lessons. With guitar being the world’s most popular instrument, making sure you distill quality instruction from the vast array of quantities on the internet is paramount in this endeavor.
So here are a few things that I find most important to consider:
Your own interests
What genre of music do you enjoy listening to and what style would you like to learn to play? This is the first step in deciding whether or not a lesson program is right for you. You’ll see later on in this JamPlay review that their platform offers plenty of stylistic options to choose from, so even the most experienced guitarists have something to learn.
Who your instructor will be
You may not want to take lessons from Joe at the local guitar shop. Having an instructor with experience and possibly even some notoriety in the guitar world will give you some confidence in knowing you’re getting good, useful instruction. JamPlay gives you 127 different guitar teachers with a combined 5,481 years of teaching experience, so you know you’ll be receiving quality instruction.
The course curriculum
The biggest motivation killer for any student is having no sense of direction. Practicing small, meticulous technical things is important, but knowing what all of that work is going toward makes a huge difference in your daily motivation to continue. JamPlay offers hundreds of courses structured in a way that allows you to progress through new material at your own pace.
How much you are willing to spend on a lesson program
Some private guitar teachers can cost up to $200 per hour. With that level of instruction, you should definitely be receiving the best lessons on the market, but you could also pay rent on a second apartment with that kind of monthly investment.
Luckily, providing online guitar lessons allows platforms to charge much less, and offer access to even more. JamPlay’s monthly subscription costs only $19.95 a month, which is much less than you’d pay for regular in-person lessons, and also comparable to some of their biggest competitors, Guitar Tricks and TrueFire.
How much time you’re willing to practice
You can have the best instructors in the world with perfect lesson plans, at an affordable price, but if you don’t put in the time to practice, you’re not going to see any results. As I mentioned earlier, getting the most out of any online lesson platform requires a great amount of self-discipline and consistency. So when a platform like JamPlay gives you everything you need to succeed, the ball is then in your court.
How Does It Work?
JamPlay works on a monthly or annual subscription basis. Simply put, your monthly or annual payment gives you access to the majority of JamPlay’s features (with the exception of the JamPacks).
This platform offers quite the array of powerful resources and tools for everyone from beginner players just starting out to advanced veterans who just want to continue learning new things and refine their playing. I’ll walk you through some of the main features.
Some key features you’ll find include:
When you click on the Home tab as a member, JamPlay takes you to a page with a conveniently placed chart showing which video lessons you’ve started. Next to each lesson, there are progress bars off to the right indicating what percentage of the lesson you’ve completed.
If you click on “View Progress Report,” JamPlay will take you to another page showing a similar chart that shows things like your progress, your lesson notes, and lesson markers.
As a long-time practice journaler, I find this feature to be extremely helpful. No more flipping through pages trying to find notes you made on a technical issue. JamPlay organizes your notes for you (assuming you make notes and markers when you’re going through video lessons).
It’s pretty cool that JamPlay is attempting to cultivate some sense of community amongst its users. I don’t imagine that I’d personally find myself making friends here, but if you’re into chat forums, JamPlay has a fix for you in the JamChat section found at the top of the main page.
This would be especially helpful for anyone not willing to pay for a private meeting with an instructor since you’re likely able to find answers to many of your questions in the forum section.
A Unique Course Curriculum Divided Into Phases
What I find most interesting about JamPlay is their ultimate goal. Instead of teaching players the mechanics of the guitar, how to learn songs, and some fundamental music theory, they’ve tailored their curriculum to take complete beginners, and transform them into individual creative artists. This is done in four phases.
Phase 1: Beginner Lessons
In this section, you’ll find lessons designed to teach the absolute beginner, and get them to a place where they can play some music. The page is divided into acoustic guitar for beginners and electric guitar for beginners.
Scroll down and you’ll find the content for beginner electric guitar.
Altogether, in the beginner section alone you’ll find over 170 hours of material broken up into over 700 lessons. Anyone with a membership has access to all of these video lessons, and you have the freedom to choose any teacher’s series that you like.
Let’s be honest here for a second though, it’s a massive volume of video content to sort through, and there are lots of different teachers, so finding a teacher that you enjoy learning from can seem a little daunting at first.
Don’t let that scare you though -JamPlay doesn’t allow just anyone to post lesson videos. You can rest assured knowing that you’ll be receiving quality instruction no matter where you start.
Phase 2: Advanced and Genre Specific Lessons
From what I can tell, this section is where you’ll find the meat and potatoes of JamPlay’s lesson content. While I’m sure many of JamPlay’s members are curious beginners and intermediate players, this section offers instructional content that can be valuable even to seasoned players.
On the landing page, you’re able to switch back and forth between genre-based instruction and skill-based instruction.
The genre-based instruction covers:
Blues, Fingerstyle, Classical, Jazz, Flamenco, Brazilian, Jam Bands, Metal, Hawaiian, Bluegrass, Rock, Celtic, Country, Surf, Funk, Folk, R&B, Reggae, Gospel, Pop, and Acoustic Rock
Under each genre heading, you can find numerous lesson series’ from loads of different teachers. Some of the less common genres have less content, but I don’t doubt that in time JamPlay will fill these sections out as well.
Bottom line – if there’s a particular style you’re interested in starting to learn, or expanding on something you already know, you can probably find some helpful material here.
The skill-based instruction covers:
Speed & Technique, Helpers & Tips, Singing with Guitar, Reading Music and Rhythms, Lead Concepts & Techniques, Theory & Improvisation, 12 String, Rhythm Training, Ear Training, Studio Skills & Engineering, and Instrument Care & Maintenance
I think this section has a lot of potential. While there are plenty of lessons on concepts such as speed, lead guitar, and improvisation, there’s much less instructional content for things like reading music, ear training, and studio engineering.
Yes, JamPlay is primarily geared toward giving people the information they need in order to improve their own guitar playing, but this section left me wanting a little bit more than what is offered… for now.
This is a minor deficiency after all. You’ll see later on in this JamPlay review that they make up for some of this, but I’ll let you decide for yourself.
Phase 3: Learning A Song
This section is essentially just a very long list of “learn-how-to-play-this-song” videos. It’s absolutely wonderful if you want to learn to play songs that you hear on the radio or in movies.
When you click on a song, it takes you to a video lesson or series of video lessons. Every song has some sheet music or tablature associated with it as well, which definitely facilitates learning efficiently.
You can sort the list of songs to learn by Artist, Song Title, Teacher, Genre, Difficulty, Video-length, and your progress.
Phase 4: Song Writing
Phase four is where JamPlay begins to get interesting. You’ll find lessons to challenge your technical prowess, as well as your creative ability. Learn to write songs, riffs, and more.
I don’t know about you, but in my experience, there’s not much in this world that’s more satisfying than writing an original song or composing an original piece of music and then being able to perform it (or at least capable of performing it).
Phases 1-3 give you the tools you’ll need in order to accomplish this ultimate musical feat, and Phase 4 gives you over 30 hours of guidance on song-writing and arranging for both acoustic and electric guitar.
After going through the first four phases of JamPlay and achieving the goal of creating an original song on the guitar, it’s only appropriate for JamPlay to offer us some inspiration to continue moving forward.
This section offers a near-goldmine of lesson content from heavy-hitters like Preston Reed, Phil Keaggy, Lita Ford, Glen Drover, and Steve Stevens. These lessons give you some insight into how these players approach music, the guitar, their creative inspirations, and more.
As a guitar teacher, I always love to give my students a point of view other than my own. Sometimes hearing the same thing but from another (and probably cooler) person just makes a concept stick better!
This area also allows you to toggle back and forth between lessons from artists and lessons in the style of artists. So if you want to play like Jimi Hendrix, there are lessons designed to teach you just that.
Lick & Riff Library
This section is similar to the Phase 3 section, except instead of a massive list of songs, there’s a massive list of guitar riffs. I’ve never been one to just learn guitar riffs for the sake of knowing guitar riffs, but luckily they’re all organized by genre and difficulty.
What’s more, is that each riff on the list takes you to its own video lesson, and every video lesson has the riff in both standard notation and tablature!
Ideally, you won’t just go onto JamPlay and only learn guitar riffs. There’s a whole lot more that this platform offers, but it’s great that they’re giving you so many tools to use in your playing.
Performances, Interviews, and Concerts
On top of the vast amount of educational material, you’ll find some performances and concerts by some of JamPlay’s instructors, as well as interviews with players like the world-renowned Tommy Emmanuel, John Jorgenson, and Lawrence Juber.
Access to Instructors
The Live feature allows you to log in and communicate with JamPlay instructors live in the chat room. Every teacher is scheduled for a certain amount of time on a rotating basis every few days.
This is great because there will always be something you might need some clarification on or something you’ve been struggling to play. Just don’t be shy!
If you’re busy and you miss a live lesson, don’t worry because they all get archived and you’ll be able to access them later. Other websites limit access to teachers by having you pay for a private lesson, so JamPlay comes out in front here.
Jamplay Tools: Chord Library, Scale Library, Jam Tracks
This section really touched on my nerdy side in the best way. The chord library boasts 950,000+ chord voicings in dozens of different tunings. Just for an example, the “A chord” page gives you 50 different voicings for an A-chord (all chords with a root of A, A#, & A). The chord library also gives you the option to print, so if you’re a teacher or a dedicated student, JamPlay gives you this library as a useful tool beyond the online platform.
The JamTracks section of your JamPlay toolbox is likely the most useful if your ultimate goal is to play lead guitar and improvise. There are HUNDREDS of tracks you can practice improvisation over, each track is accompanied by a lead sheet, AND each JamTrack comes with a suggested key/mode/scale to use when improvising over it.
I’ve always sent YouTube videos to my students for this sort of thing, but honestly, this beats the heck out of it.
More JamPlay Tools: Metronome, Guitar Tuner, Bass Tuner, Chord Namer, Training Games
Pros & Cons
Now that we’ve gone through the main features that make JamPlay great, let’s recap and take a look at some things that could be better.
- Affordable monthly or annual membership plan
- Massive library of lessons, songs, and interactive tools
- Bass guitar lessons are offered
- Based around the idea of developing artists and not just guitarists
- Great for beginners, intermediate, and advanced players
- 30 day money-back guarantee
- Might seem a little complicated due to the abundance of material and the layout of the website
- Many styles are offered, but some styles don’t have nearly as much content as others
Who Is This Course Best For?
JamPlay is good for anyone interested in improving their guitar skills, but it’s best for the self-starting, highly motivated beginning-intermediate player. I say this because a player at that level is usually beginning to take off, and during this period, they’ll make improvements by leaps and bounds with consistent effort.
A teacher’s role during this period should primarily be to guide the students’ practice habits, as they’ll want to play everything they can get their hands on. So as long as the student stays disciplined, follows the video lessons closely, and can practice well, JamPlay’s massive library of content can serve as a breeding ground for some monstrous players to be born.
As I’ve mentioned several times already though, JamPlay has a massive library of lessons in many styles, so just about anyone could benefit from a lesson subscription.
Two of JamPlay’s biggest competitors are Guitar Tricks and TrueFire. These two platforms have been around longer than JamPlay, and because of that, they have more well-known instructors, but in terms of quality, there’s almost no difference.
If you’re torn between Guitar Tricks, TrueFire, and JamPlay, you should consider the financial cost, what style you’re most interested in playing, and how much access you’ll want to have to the instructors.
Of the three platforms listed, TrueFire will cost the most, especially considering the added expenses incurred if you decide to sign up for any TrueFire Channels.
In terms of stylistic choice, you’ll be well off going with almost any of the three, unless you’re determined to learn classical guitar (in which case, JamPlay and TrueFire will offer you the most in terms of upward mobility.
All in all, you won’t be making a bad decision with any of these platforms.
The one thing that sets JamPlay apart from its competitors is its learning system. Instead of starting you with beginner lessons, getting you up to a certain level, and then leaving you to fend for yourself, JamPlay takes you through 4 Phases, developing creative artists rather than mindless shredders.
JamPlay Review – Final Thoughts
JamPlay is one of the newer platforms for online guitar lessons. Its major competitors like Guitar Tricks and TrueFire have been around for longer, but it’s impressive how quickly JamPlay has caught up.
I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend JamPlay to anyone looking to push themselves to a higher level of musicianship.