Wading into the world of online guitar lessons can be intimidating. With endless options at your fingertips, it can be hard to know which course is right for you.
Today, we'll be looking at one of the most comprehensive options on the web. TrueFire has over 40,000 video lessons divided into over 900 courses, and you have more than 600 instructors to choose from. They also have one of the best free trial options we've come across, which is great for players who want to get a real feel for a site before committing. It's been around since 1991 and grows every year.
Things to Consider Before Signing Up for an Online Guitar Course
Plenty of players turn to online guitar lessons because they're markedly less expensive than private music lessons. However, before you select a program, it's a good idea to ask yourself a few questions:
Truefire - Guitar Learning Program
PRO's & CON's of Truefire
Before we jump into our TrueFire review, let's look at some pros and cons:
Features and Benefits
In this section, we'll take a closer look at all of the features that TrueFire has to offer. It has the largest collection of video guitar lessons that we've seen thus far, so we think that lots of players will find it to be a great option.
Even if you make a free account, TrueFire immediately starts helping you work toward learning guitar or brushing up on your skills. When you start out, you can fill in the instruments you play (although the options are just acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass guitar, and "other instruments"). You fill out your skill level, your learning goals, and the music you like.
From there, the site suggests learning paths, which can help you stay focused on the genre you want to develop. However, we were a little disappointed to see that the genre options are fairly limited. Here's the selection:
As you can see, indie, folk, punk, and other genres are conspicuously absent. And while TrueFire does have courses in even niche genres like gypsy jazz, you can't find learning paths dedicated to these genres. This can make it a little harder to track your progress, but we don't think it's a reason to write off the site altogether.
One of the advantages of subscribing to a bigger guitar lesson site is that you get many different instructors to choose from. TrueFire is no exception -- you can choose courses taught by over 600 instructors, many of whom are big names in the guitar industry. Here are some of their more famous instructors:
Whether you want to take a guitar lesson or to from an artist you admire or just want to make sure you're learning from someone who knows what they're talking about, TrueFire is a great choice. And as an added bonus, with over 600 instructors, you're sure to find one (and probably more) you like. The site also lets you access channels where you can subscribe to see your favorite instructors post additional video content, performances, discussions, and more.If you want to see what a lesson on TrueFire is like, check out this video lesson taught by Robben Ford.
Video Lesson Quality and Progression
Some online lesson sites have a core learning system that all new players are encouraged to take before progressing. TrueFire isn't structured quite this way, but the site is easily navigable, and new players just need to go to the "Beginner" category, where you can find courses for beginners and late beginners.
Alternatively (or after exploring these topics), you can check out some of the relevant series -- The Learn & Play Guitar series is an excellent introduction to the instrument, too. For the new player, it can be a little tough to choose where to start, but we think it's worth exploring these options to see which is right for you.
For those who are just looking around, it's easy to navigate to the free classes on the site. You can sort by skill level, topic, instructor, and more. There are over 6,000 lessons in this category, making it one of the most extensive free lesson compilations we've ever seen.
As for video lesson quality, we've been impressed. Lessons are filmed in 1080 hp HD video with multiple camera angles. This lets you see individual fingerings clearly, and high-quality audio ensures that you hear exactly what's being played.
We also like the interactive synced tabs that come with the lessons. If you don't already know how to read tablature, this is a great way to learn as you play. Videos also have slo-mo and looping features. Whether you're working to master a solo or building your way up to speed drills, this is a great way to make your practice more efficient.If you want to see one of these high-quality video lessons for yourself, check out Kirk Fletcher's blues lesson in this video.
Whether you're just taking free lessons or are opting in for all-access learning, TrueFire has plenty of other resources for guitar players. Our favorite of these is In the Jam, a unique experience that's like a jam track with bonus features. Unlike many jam tracks, these let you adjust the volume level or mute certain instruments. You also get a lead chart that includes chord changes. And if you want some extra guidance, you can tune into artist commentary. Right now, there are 10 of these jam tracks on the site.
You can also check out TrueFire's JamPacks, which are multitrack jams recorded by top session musicians. And even if you don't have a membership, TrueFire has a collection of free jam tracks.
If you opt for an All-Access membership, you also have access to a tuner, metronome, and other learning tools. These extra resources come in the form of apps that you can download for free. This has its advantages -- with an app, it's easier to pull up a metronome or tuner if you need it. However, some of the apps are only compatible with the iPhone and iPad, which is an obvious downside for Android users.
As you learn the guitar, you may find that you would like to take a one-on-one lesson. Doing this periodically can help you address any bad habits or stuck points you have. On TrueFire, you can take a one-on-one lesson with an instructor, although this option isn't prominently advertised on the site.
These lessons vary in price depending on the instructor you choose, and it's worth mentioning that they are not live -- you send a video in and receive feedback. However, we like that you can decide whether to take a one-off lesson or sign up for ongoing private instruction.If you're still thinking about whether you want to go beyond free lessons, check out this in-depth video review that gives you a look inside TrueFire.
Pricing and Free Trial
One of the things we really like about TrueFire is that you have plenty of payment options (and you can even access some things completely free). When you sign up for a free account, you can access some of the video lessons for free. You also can individually purchase courses, which is a great option for players who don't want to commit to a monthly all-access fee. Courses vary in terms of pricing, but many are around $20, which we think is reasonable.
Notably, TrueFire also offers a 30-day free trial for the All-Access pass, which lets you stream any and all courses. If you decide you want all access, it's a little more expensive than some other major guitar sites at $29 per month. If you want to save some money over the year and pay annually, All Access is $249 per year. However, the site frequently runs promos, so if you'd like an annual pass but want a great deal, you can always wait for one.
If you choose an All Access membership, you get plenty of great perks. You arguably get more than you would get out of private lessons for a fraction of the price. Here are some of the advantages:
If you aren't sure whether or not the pricing is worth it, the free 30-day trial is a great option. You also can check out this video review, which goes over what it's like to be a TrueFire member.
Social Proof of the Course
Still haven't decided whether TrueFire guitar lessons are right for you? Sometimes it can help to see what other players think. We've scoured the internet for reviews that we think might help you make a decision. Here are a few we found:
This snapshot is from a TrueFire review over at Guitar Niche. While this site acknowledges that TrueFire has its disadvantages, it recommends TrueFire as a site for beginning and intermediate guitar players. We've found that most sites make this recommendation -- TrueFire has tens of thousands of lessons and interactive tabs, and there are more instructors than the vast majority of sites out there.
This one comes from Guitar Chalk, one of our favorite review sites. Guitar Chalk also recommends TrueFire, as it has an impressive array of courses and lessons. Notably, you can download selected lessons to keep for a small fee.
This last TrueFire review snapshot comes from Beginner Guitar HQ. It does a good job of pointing out many of the site advantages -- you can choose from a range of learning paths, and you even have access to thousands of course downloads without a fee.
While TrueFire doesn't quite get the same amount of attention as Guitar Tricks and JamPlay, we think it's definitely a site worth looking into -- after all, it's the most extensive collection of online guitar lessons in the business. Plus, it has one of the best free trial options. You can get 30 days free after signing up, and you also can access thousands of lessons without even having a membership. Whichever site you ultimately choose to help you learn guitar, we think this one is a great option to consider.