Taking online lessons has steadily become one of the most cost-effective and convenient ways of learning an instrument. In particular, there are countless sites offering guitar lessons online. For those interested in learning guitar or just looking to improve their skill, these lessons can be a great option.
Today, we'll be taking a look at Fender Play, a course that was developed by industry leader Fender. Fender is known for making world-class musical instruments, but are their lessons just as good? Let's find out
Things to Consider Before Signing Up for an Online Guitar Course
Online guitar lessons have opened up the world of professional guitar instruction to just about everyone. However, the online learning platforms you have access to are seemingly endless. Before you choose one, it's a good idea to first ask yourself a few questions.
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Features and Benefits
If you're considering using Fender Play to learn guitar, you'll probably want to get an idea of how the site works. Here's what you need to know:
When you first start out with Fender Play, you will get to choose a couple of different parameters to customize your lesson plan. The first is easy enough -- you decide whether you're playing acoustic or electric guitar (if you play both, just choose your favorite).For the next choice, you get to specify a genre pathway you want to play. You get five different genres to choose from:
You might notice that this list is a little short -- noticeably absent is jazz guitar, and players who do a lot of genre-bending might have trouble choosing a path. In researching various online lesson sites, we've found that some more comprehensive sites offer courses in just about genre there is.
We don't think there's necessarily anything wrong with this path approach, but there is something we noticed that can be frustrating. Each path starts at the beginning, and the foundational concepts and lessons are essentially "recycled" across each genre path, so you'll run into a good bit of repetition if you play multiple genres.
Some lesson programs start with a core curriculum that teaches you guitar fundamentals, and only after that do they split off into genre-specific learning. We think this is a more logical approach, but the fact remains that Fender Play can get you playing songs quickly -- something many beginners want to do. Applying knowledge is always good, but Fender Play doesn't give you a whole lot of foundational knowledge or theory -- something that may make playing more difficult as you progress.If you want an inside look into this program and the paths it offers, check out this helpful video review.
Now that you know a bit about the general structure of the program let's take a look at how lessons work. As you may have guessed, lessons are via video, and they're taught by a revolving cast of instructors playing different Fender guitars. The instructors are very personable, but it can be a little jarring to have lessons taught by several different people.
The video quality is excellent, and it can even get up to 4K on supported devices. We especially like the multi-angle approach -- most lessons also features over-the-shoulder shots that let you clearly see fingerings. You also get to see the tablature for whatever you're playing right below the video.Fender Play's lessons are generally bite-sized, making it easy to repeat them as needed. We like that each video has a brief exercise at the end -- a built-in metronome helps you keep time as you practice what you just ran through with the instructor. If you want to see what a lesson looks like, check out this sample lesson.
Lots of online guitar programs come with bonus features -- some include looping capabilities and bonus e-books. This program doesn't necessarily come with a lot of extras, although you can use it in app form or on a computer, which makes it easy to learn on the go.
One notable bonus feature is that those with an annual membership save 10% on all Fender guitars, amps, and gear. This is a definite perk, but it does give credence to a theory a lot of critics seem to have -- that Fender Play was designed to boost Fender's sales.One other useful feature is the fact that the program does have some lessons that fall outside of the set genre path you follow. You can take tutorial lessons on different songs, which is a fun way to mix up your learning. Here's a sample video tutorial on how to play "La Grange" by ZZ Top.
Lastly, Fender Play offers courses in more than just guitar. If you find you want to branch out, you might want to try their courses in bass and ukulele too.
We've mentioned before that learning guitar online tends to be less expensive than taking lessons in person. However, there's a wide range of prices when it comes to these lessons, and Fender Play is on the less expensive side.
Notably, you get a 14-day free trial that gives you full access to the site. After that, you have a couple of billing options -- you can opt for the monthly membership, which only bills you $9.99 per month. If you want to save money over time, you can purchase a year-long membership for $89.99.
It's worth mentioning that Fender periodically runs sales on the annual membership. This is a great option if you want to avoid a monthly bill.If you aren't sure whether or not you want to choose this program, check out this comprehensive video that addresses whether or not Fender Play is worth it for the price.
Social Proof of the Course
Fender Play offers a 14-day free trial. But before you get invested in the platform, you might want to see what some users had to say. We've scoured the internet for helpful reviews -- here are a few we found.
This review is from a full Fender Play review that appeared in Tech Advisor. This reviewer found the video lessons to be helpful and structured. Like many people who have used Fender Play, this reviewer also appreciated the integration of popular songs into the guitar lessons.
This snippet is from Guitar Chalk's very thorough review of Fender Play. While this site acknowledges that the learning platform has its benefits, they maintain that the recycled material and lack of depth of information make it ultimately not worth the time.
This review snapshot comes from PD Music. Like many people who have used Fender Play, this reviewer thinks it's a great option for beginners. But like many reviewers, this person points out that it falls short on options for intermediate and advanced players.
Alternatives to Fender Play Course
Before committing to Fender Play or any other guitar lesson site, it's a good idea to check some of the other options out there. Here are three alternatives we've found that we think you might like.
How it Compares to Fender Play
If you've spent any time looking into online sites for learning guitar, you've probably heard of Guitar Tricks. This site is extremely comprehensive, and it features both thorough lessons for the beginner and new ways for experienced players to challenge themselves. Beginners can complete 24 free lessons before deciding whether they want to upgrade to a full membership.
The full membership is remarkably affordable -- it's $19.95 per month when billed monthly and $179 for an annual membership. If you want to be able to do a deep dive into many different guitar styles, do artist studies, and access constantly-updated video tutorials, this is a good one to check out.
If you have a little more to spend and want something with seemingly endless lessons, be sure to check this one out!
How it Compares to Fender Play
TrueFire is one of the top-rated learning platform options for guitarists. Like GuitarTricks, it has plenty of options for the experienced player, but it's also beginner-friendly. You get access to over 40,000 video lessons -- some come in the form of genre-specific courses, and others come in the form of stand-alone lessons.Interactive synced tabs, progress tracking, and slo-mo and looping features make it especially easy to follow along and learn at your own pace. TrueFire has a somewhat complex price structure -- limited access is free, you can get a free trial of full access for 30 days, and full membership is $29 per month. A yearly plan is $149, and you can purchase a lifetime membership for $1,499. If you prefer, you can purchase courses individually -- they usually range from $10-$60. If you want seemingly endless courses to choose from, make sure you check this one out!
How it Compares to Fender Play
You've probably heard of the Berklee School of Music, one of the most renowned music education institutes in the country. Berklee's online learning is a lot different than most courses -- you can get college credit for each course, and each is taught by an instructor over 12 weeks. There's no all-access option, but you can choose from a range of courses from foundational guitar to advanced jazz guitar improvisation.
These courses are considerably more expensive than most options on the list -- an uncredited course is about $1000, and taking a course for college credit is about $1200. Still, if you want expert instruction, Berklee's classes are a great option.
If you have a little more to spend and want to take a course from a renowned institution, make sure you check these courses out!
Hopefully, our Fender Play review has helped you decide whether this is the right way for you to learn guitar. While we definitely think this could be a more comprehensive program and that it isn't without its flaws, it's a great way for new players to familiarize themselves with the guitar and start playing quickly. Click here to check it out!