If you’re one of the many people who want to learn to play guitar, you may have already seen that private guitar lessons can be astronomically expensive. Luckily, thanks to the proliferation of music education sites, you can now find vast collections of guitar lessons online. Today, we’ll be taking a look at JamPlay vs TrueFire.
Introducing JamPlay and TrueFire
Before looking in-depth into the particular features of both Truefire and JamPlay, let us briefly introduce you to each one:
JamPlay calls itself the world’s best resource for guitar education. And while some might disagree, the JamPlay site does offer an incredible amount of material for the advanced player, the intermediate player, and the beginner. You can find lessons in almost any genre, and thanks to features like looping, a notepad, and the opportunity to ask questions, these lessons are likely to stick.
Pros & Cons of JamPlay
- Given the wealth of material it offers, it’s very affordable
- It regularly adds new lessons and features
- Live-streamed lessons are a great additional feature
- Large lesson and chord libraries mean you’re unlikely to run out of material to learn
- Some of the best features can only be accessed with an annual Pro membership
- Since there’s no dedicated core curriculum, it can be hard for beginners to know where to start
If you are interested, you may also read our one to one comparison of JamPlay with Guitar Tricks.
TrueFire was founded in 1991, making it the oldest and largest library of online guitar instruction. It also offers lessons taught by over 600 instructors, including guitar legends like Steve Vai. The volume of content offered can be overwhelming, but those new to the guitar will likely find the site’s “learning path” feature useful. Though it’s somewhat expensive, TrueFire does offer much more material than most guitar sites.
Pros & Cons of TrueFire
- Generous free trial with no credit card information required
- It includes lessons in a wide variety of genres, including obscure ones
- The genre Path feature is helpful if you’re just starting out
- You can purchase private lessons if need be
- It’s more expensive than many similar sites
- Its smaller song library doesn’t contain many contemporary songs
We recommend you to also read our head to head comparison of True Fire with Guitar Tricks.
Features Face To Face: Truefire Vs JamPlay
Some online learning sites offer a core curriculum for absolute beginners. JamPlay doesn’t do this — instead, it offers over 500 beginner lessons in different styles. If you have the Pro level membership, JamPlay starts you out with an evaluation and a learning plan — a great start for complete beginners. But if you sign up with any other membership level, knowing where to start can pose a real challenge.
However, JamPlay offers over 450 courses made up of thousands of lessons. The quality is excellent for beginner guitar players and advanced guitarists alike — it can just be difficult to know where to start.
If you’re just starting out on TrueFire, you’ll have a clearer guide to what your core courses should be. TrueFire doesn’t offer specific courses for all beginners, but you start out selecting a learning path. You can choose from rock, blues, country, jazz, acoustic, or bass. You’ll answer a few questions to determine your skill level and start from there.
If you’re looking for specialty courses or just want to follow the correct progression path for a new player, you’ll find what you need in TrueFire’s collection of over 40,000 lessons.
The Winner: While both TrueFire and JamPlay offer a huge variety of lessons, TrueFire is a little easier to navigate for complete newbies. We think it wins this round.
2. Genre Choices
JamPlay offers video lessons in both popular and little-known genres, although some genres (like funk guitar) have a limited number of lessons. Here are the genres you can choose from:
- Hawaiian Slack Key
- R&B and Soul
- Acoustic Rock
- Jam Band
Like JamPlay, TrueFire offers video guitar lessons across a huge range of genres, but some genres are limited to a few lessons or courses. Here are the musical genres you can choose from at TrueFire:
- Acoustic Blues
- Gypsy Jazz
- Hard Rock
- Hip Hop
- Jazz Blues
- Jazz Rock
- Smooth Jazz
The Winner: When it comes to genre, TrueFire’s lessons are a little more comprehensive, so we think it wins this one.
3. Lesson Quality
Great video player quality is a must when learning guitar on a mobile app or a web browser. JamPlay’s video lessons come with the online tools you need to help them work for you. Videos are filmed in 4K with multiple camera angles, although they can be streamed at lower video quality if you have a slower internet connection.
Guitar tutorials also include slow-down, speed-up, and looping capabilities. You can bookmark specific spots, and there’s even a note-taking feature. Best of all, any guitar player with a membership can ask a guitar teacher a question on a lesson free of charge.
JamPlay also offers artist master classes and live events, both of which are included with your JamPlay membership at no additional cost.
If you want to see a sample lesson, check out this video lesson on major chords for acoustic guitar or electric guitar.
Similarly, TrueFire’s video lessons are filmed with clarity in mind. Intermediate and advanced players will appreciate the inclusion of sheet music and tablature.
Also, just like JamPlay, you can loop lessons or play them in slow motion.
Beginner lessons integrate theory concepts rather than asking guitar players to study theory separately. For a sample TrueFire lesson, check out this video of Robben Ford teaching essential triads.
The Winner: We think JamPlay’s lessons offer more features that guitarists at any level will appreciate, so we think it wins this round.
In our TrueFire vs. JamPlay comparison, the variety of teachers and teaching styles is especially important to consider. JamPlay offers lessons for every skill level from 127 different instructors. Notable teachers include Sarah Longfield, Tyler Grant, Yvette Young, and Ariel Posen. You can purchase one-on-one music lessons from some instructors.
If you prefer learning in real-time, the JamPlay Live Course platform may interest you. The courses are streamed about every week, and they give you an opportunity to interact with instructors. Plus, you can tune in daily for a live Q&A.
Since TrueFire has been around for so long, its various courses are taught by over 600 guitar instructors. You can find online lessons taught by Tommy Emmanuel, Steve Vai, Andy Timmons, Dweezil Zappa, Mimi Fox, and more.
Both TrueFire and JamPlay offer some kind of live instruction, and TrueFire’s live events are mainly full-course streams. That means you have an opportunity to take an entire course while getting the opportunity to ask questions as you go along.
TrueFire also offers private music lessons via a subscription or as a one-time purchase. Just like with JamPlay, not every guitar instructor offers live lessons.
The Winner: If you want to round out your music education by taking online guitar lessons from as many different instructors as you can, we think TrueFire is the right choice.
5. Song Library and Learning Tools
Plenty of people start learning guitar because they want to be able to play their favorite songs. In addition to its wealth of beginner material, JamPlay also offers very complete song lessons. You get videos of each part of the song along with mp3 examples and complete tabs. An interactive fretboard lets you clearly see the fingerings needed. There’s even a notepad section where you have the option to ask a guitar teacher a question. This feature reaches across all types of JamPlay lessons and does not cost extra.
JamPlay’s song library is limited to a few hundred songs, but given the depth of the online tutorials, we think that’s understandable.
When it comes to other tools for aspiring guitarists, JamPlay has a pretty standard collection. The very useful chord finder tool lets you input a set of notes on an on-screen fretboard, and it will tell you the chord. The site has a free online guitar tuner/bass tuner that listens through a device microphone, as well as an online metronome.
You can access a chord library with hundreds of thousands of chords, and you also can read hundreds of free articles. You can access the JamPlay archive of guitar help questions and follow their free blog for more advice and guidance. Plus, you can get to know other players on the JamPlay forum. Plus, membership lets you access free practice jam tracks.
TrueFire also has a somewhat limited selection of song lessons. Many of these are for older songs or those in the public domain. However, they do offer a variety of types of song lessons. You can choose a tutorial on playing the rhythm or solo elements of a song, and learning fingerstyle covers is also a great way to build your repertoire.
TrueFire has a similar list of learning tools to JamPlay. It also lets you access free practice jam tracks. But it’s more comprehensive Jam series costs extra. A free online tuner and metronome are useful for helping beginner guitarists get started, and the blog and forum can provide additional guidance when needed. Plus, a chord chart helps you expand your playing.
The Winner: When it comes to teaching individual songs and accessing bonus tools, we think JamPlay wins out — it includes more popular songs, and it also uses multi-part tutorials to provide in-depth instruction.
6. Pricing and Free Trial
JamPlay offers a generous 30-day free trial. If you cancel before the trial membership ends, you’ll be automatically enrolled in the $19.95 monthly subscription.
JamPlay also has a similar pricing structure to many online guitar lessons, but higher levels of membership offer more perks. A monthly all-access membership is $19.95/month and gives you access to all lessons and basic site features.
Annual membership is typically $159.95/year, although JamPlay frequently runs promotions with lower pricing. With this membership, you receive what you would with a monthly membership, but you also have access to one guitarist toolkit. Toolkits are specialized bundles of lessons, courses, jam tracks, and tabs that focus on a specific skill. Example toolkits you can choose include Beginner Practice Plan, Unlocking Lead Guitar, Singing and Studio Essentials, and Fingerstyle and Folk.
Lastly, with an annual Pro membership (usually $299.95, but sometimes on sale), you get the additional perks of all nine Guitarist Toolkits, three one-on-one video private lessons, a JamPlay shirt, and 25 ownership credits. Each credit lets you permanently download one lesson.
TrueFire’s free trial will appeal to players who frequently end up enrolled in memberships because they forgot to cancel a free trial. With this site, you can make a free account and receive full access for 14 days. You don’t need to enter credit card information — the trial simply ends after two weeks.
TrueFire also has a somewhat more straightforward pricing plan. For an all-access membership, the price is $29/month. If you’d prefer an annual membership, it’s $249/year. Some features, like In the Jam tracks, still need to be purchased separately, but All-Access members get a discount.
The Winner: Since JamPlay is generally more affordable and includes more of its features in membership, we think it wins this one.
Stand Out Features
- All-Inclusive Membership — Only JamPlay includes everything in its membership. Even with a membership to TrueFire, you still need to pay for In the Jam tracks and some other features.
- Ability to Ask a Guitar Teacher a Question — JamPlay lets you ask a question on any lesson, free of charge when you’re an all-access member.
- In the Jam Tracks — These tracks, offered only by TrueFire, give you the option to mute any instrument in a pre-recorded session. This lets you play along in a way that’s remarkably similar to playing in a band.
- Chord Finder — This useful tool for teaching guitar is only found at JamPlay. Chord Finder lets you put a set of notes into a fretboard, and it will tell you what chord you’re playing.
TrueFire and JamPlay are both great sites to choose if you want to learn guitar. When it comes to the question of JamPlay vs TrueFire, here are our recommendations for when to choose each one:
Use Jamplay if:
- You value in-depth instruction on how to play songs
- You want a collection of very useful supplementary learning tools
- You want to be able to check in with instructors for no additional fee.
- You want the option of taking courses based on skill-building in trouble spots
Use TrueFire if:
- You want access to a huge collection of learning material
- You want some help setting up a learning plan
- You want to be able to learn different elements of songs (fingerstyle covers, chord melodies, etc.)
- You want to be able to access lessons from a large variety of instructors