Are you ready to learn how to play guitar? In the not-so-distant past, the only real option for aspiring guitarists was to take private lessons. And while this is still a viable path today, more and more beginner guitar players (as well as some intermediate and advanced players) are developing their skills via online lessons. Today, we'll be looking at TrueFire vs GuitarTricks -- two of the giants of the online guitar lessons world.
Introducing Truefire and GuitarTricks
Before we get into the particular features of both Truefire and Guitar Tricks, let us briefly introduce you to each one:
As one of the earliest guitar lesson websites, TrueFire has been around since 1991. And in the time it's been around, it's developed a great reputation -- Guitar Player Magazine has called it "the planet's largest and most comprehensive selection of online guitar lessons." TrueFire boasts over 40,000 guitar lessons, and players can choose genre paths to help them develop in the style of their choice.
One of its best features is "In the Jam," a collection of songs that simulate playing live. Each is a multi-track recording where you can mute or adjust the volume on any track in order to play along. The sheer variety offered on TrueFire can be overwhelming, but it has everything you need to know to become a skilled and confident player.
Pros & Cons of Truefire
You can also read our head to comparison with JamPlay here
Known as the original site for online lessons, GuitarTricks started out in 1998. Since then, it's grown significantly -- it currently offers over 11,000 video lessons and over 1,000 song tutorials. GuitarTricks offers a great balance of lessons for everyone from beginners to advanced guitar players, and you have the option of following genre courses while also taking technique lessons or artist studies on the side.
This site also offers a jam station so you can practice playing along with other musicians, and you can access a useful toolbox of resources like a reference tuner and a chord finder.
Pros & Cons of guitar Tricks
Features Face To Face: Truefire Vs Guitar Tricks
If you're preparing to learn to play guitar online, it's essential to choose the site that has what you need to develop your skills. TrueFire and GuitarTricks are two of the best sites in the business, but you may find that one is a better fit for you than the other. Here's how they compare.
When it comes to learning guitar, TrueFire offers a uniquely specialized system. In most cases, once you choose a genre, you'll need to fast-forward through lessons covering topics you already know. With TrueFire, after you select a learning path, you'll answer a few questions to assess where you are in terms of guitar skills.
That way, you can skip through what you already know and start learning something new right away. TrueFire also gives you more learning paths than many other guitar courses. You can choose from jazz, acoustic, blues, country, rock, and bass guitar. This video gives you a general introduction to the different genre paths you can select on TrueFire.
For complete beginners, TrueFire offers a quick-start process that will have you strumming chords by the end of your first lesson. And regardless of your skill level, TrueFire makes it easy to customize your lessons. As you move through the core of your learning path, the site will suggest supplementary courses.
For instance, if you choose the rock learning path, supplementary course suggestions include Guitar Gym: Alternate Picking Workouts, Street Theory for Guitarists, and 60 Electric Guitar Techniques You Must Know.
If you want to take lessons outside of your selected path, TrueFire has plenty of options for you. Under its "Guitar Topics" tab, you can find lessons on soloing, scales and modes, style studies, songwriting, and more.
TrueFire also has an interesting collection made up of different series. For example, its "Guitar Lab" series offers a set of technique-focused courses. This particular series includes courses on making chord progressions, ear training, and fretboard visualization.
GuitarTricks recommends that new guitarists take their set of beginner guitar lessons, called the Core Learning System. The system starts out with Guitar Fundamentals Level 1 and Guitar Fundamentals Level 2.
The first set of fundamentals takes you up to playing open chords. The second set takes you through barre chords, scales, reading music, and song structure. This video offers you a sneak peek into the Guitar Fundamentals Level 1 course.
From there, you can choose a set of intermediate lessons. These lessons are offered in rock, blues, and country. These intermediate courses will take you through some of the core skills needed to go forward and take some of the more advanced lessons GuitarTricks offers. You can choose one of the intermediate genres or take all three!
The Core Learning System makes it much easier to learn multiple genres. Often, lesson sites teaching multiple genres start with lessons for the complete beginner, and they do so with every single genre.
So if you've started on a rock learning path and then decide to learn some blues, the blues section starts all over with holding the guitar, basic strumming, etc. With the GuitarTricks learning system, you get the basics out of the way before specializing.
GuitarTricks is somewhat unique in that it offers a good bit of material for intermediate and advanced players. You can select a more specialized genre and take courses focused on it (this is discussed in more detail below). There's a whole collection of stand-alone video tutorials on useful techniques. You can learn how to make use of your guitar's whammy bar, palm muting, hybrid picking, slide guitar, sweep picking, legato, and more.
More advanced guitarists will also enjoy the GuitarTricks collection of artist studies (similar to the "my guitar heroes" section on TrueFire).
If you want to break down some of the techniques used by your favorite player or just see what goes into someone's signature sound, this section will take a look at tone settings, rhythms, and special techniques. The Artist Studies collection designed for the advanced player includes studies on The Edge, Jimi Hendrix, B.B. King, Chet Atkins, and more.
The Winner: Both GuitarTricks and TrueFire have organized, well-developed curriculums. However, since TrueFire offers more extensive lessons on a wide variety of topics, we think it wins this round.
2. Genre Choices
Compared to many other sites, TrueFire has a long list of different styles to choose from. You can take courses in the following genres:
Additionally, while the guitar is the site's main focus, TrueFire offers courses for bass guitar, banjo, ukulele, and harmonica. Under its tab listing for other courses, you can find a few courses for mandolin, dobro, drums, and more.
GuitarTricks also offers a thorough set of genres to choose from. Here are the genres you can learn:
GuitarTricks doesn't teach other instruments, but as their support page mentions, most of the concepts they teach can also work as bass guitar lessons.
The Winner: Although both sites have several genres to choose from (and each offers some genres the other doesn't), we think TrueFire wins this one for its more expansive guitar lesson offerings.
TrueFire boasts a list of hundreds of music educators -- in total, the site has worked with over 600 instructors, including Grammy winners and renowned session players. Some of their most well-known instructors are Steve Vai, Matt Schofield, Anna Popovic, Andy Timmons, Kirk Fletcher, and Jennifer Batten.
GuitarTricks also has an impressive list of guitar instructors, although their list is shorter than TrueFire's. Some of their notable teachers include Anders Mouridsen, Sharon Aguilar, J.D. Jarrell, and Dave Celentano.
The Winner: We think TrueFire wins this GuitarTricks vs TrueFire comparison -- it has a wider variety of instructors, many of whom are high-profile guitarists.
4. Lesson Quality
In terms of lesson quality, TrueFire is an impressive site. Lessons feature multiple camera angles so you can clearly see what the instructor is doing -- you can check out this sample lesson for a general idea of video quality.
You have the option of slowing down and looping any video lesson, which is a valuable practice and learning tool (especially if you're working on something especially challenging). Lessons include tabs and musical notation, too. The only real complaint some guitarists have about TrueFire lessons is that they tend to be very short.
This can be advantageous if you have a short attention span, but sometimes it's nice to get into a longer, more detailed lesson. You can download the tablature and notation for each lesson. If you want to download TrueFire guitar lessons, you can purchase any course for an additional fee. TrueFire periodically hosts live streaming lesson events, too -- many of these are full-course streams.
TrueFire also offers you the option of taking lessons with a private instructor. You have the option of purchasing a single video lesson with any current instructor, and some offer ongoing lesson subscriptions.
The price of the lesson varies based on the instructor, but it's important to realize that these aren't live lessons -- each private lesson uses asynchronous video messaging. This means that you'll be able to send the instructor a video of yourself playing, and they will send you specific feedback.
GuitarTricks also offers very high-quality video lessons using multiple angles. Generally speaking, these lessons are a little longer than TrueFire lessons. Depending on your learning style, that may or may not be an advantage. This example guitar lesson takes you through the first scale you should learn on guitar.
GuitarTricks also lets you loop each lesson, and they also include tabs. But this site offers a major advantage -- you can download any lesson you want at no additional cost. This lets you save lessons and practice later when you may not have internet access.
If you prefer the individual attention you get with private guitar lessons, you'll be pleased to hear that GuitarTricks also offers one-on-one lessons. Unlike TrueFire, GuitarTricks offers live lessons, and you can choose from 30-minute or 60-minute time slots. You can purchase private lessons individually or sign up for a subscription.
The Winner: Since GuitarTricks lets you download lessons for free and offers real-time live lessons, we think it wins this round.
5. Song Library
For most people, song lessons are an important part of guitar playing. TrueFire offers different song lesson types, making it a bit different from most other lesson sites. You can choose lessons on rhythm, fingerstyle covers of songs, and song elements like riffs and licks. While this breakdown is very helpful, TrueFire's song library is only limited to a few hundred songs, and most are older or in the public domain.
By contrast, the huge library of songs is a major selling point for GuitarTricks. This site has over 1,000 song tutorials across multiple genres. Every song is licensed, so these video lessons can teach you the entire song-- not just elements of it. If you're interested in learning to play classic and contemporary songs, GuitarTricks is likely the site for you.
The Winner: We think GuitarTricks wins this round -- it's a much better choice for guitarists who really want to learn to play songs.
6. Learning Tools
TrueFire offers many of the standard learning tools you get with online lessons. Here's what you can access:
GuitarTricks has a more extensive toolbox that can be helpful to anyone -- regardless of guitar playing ability. Here's what you get:
The Winner: When it comes to teaching guitar with extra tools, we think GuitarTricks is the clear winner.
7. Pricing and Free Trial
If you want to start playing guitar with TrueFire, you can sign up for a free account and get 14 days of all-access membership. A major selling point here is that you don't need to enter any credit card details, and your membership won't be upgraded to a full-price one when the trial expires.
If you want to upgrade, a monthly subscription is $29, while an annual pass is $249. With this membership, you get a 20% discount on separate purchases like In the Jam tracks.It's important to note that some content, including In the Jam tracks, are not included in an all-access membership -- you'll need to purchase these separately.
GuitarTricks also offers a 14-day free trial, although you do need to enter payment information, and your membership will be upgraded if you don't cancel before the 14 days are up. If you don't want to do this, you can also sign up for a completely free basic membership that lets you access 24 lessons.
If you want access to all of the site's guitar courses, though, GuitarTricks is cheaper than TrueFire -- it's $19.95 per month. An annual subscription is $179 per year.
The Winner: Both of these sites offer great beginner lessons and material for advanced guitar players, but GuitarTricks is significantly more affordable. We think it wins this round.
Stand Out Features
While they have a good bit in common, both TrueFire and GuitarTricks feature some things that the other sites don’t have. Here are some of the standout features of both.
When it comes to the question of TrueFire vs GuitarTricks, we don't think you can go wrong with either one. But depending on what you're looking for in a guitar course, one may be the better choice for you.