In our last post, I did a complete Guitar Tricks review where I went over everything including what was included in the course outline, the tools they offered, their membership options and much more. In this post, I wanted to contrast the Guitar Tricks post with a review post outlining what you need to know about another popular premium lessons provider. Therefore in this post, I’ll be doing a complete JamPlay review.
JamPlay and Guitar Tricks are currently the top two premium guitar lesson providers out there. Therefore, I figured it would make sense to follow up on my previous post with a JamPlay review so that you can read both reviews and then make a decision for yourself which online guitar lessons provider is right for you.
This post won’t directly compare Guitar Tricks to JamPlay (maybe I’ll do that in another post) but rather it will outline what JamPlay has to offer in terms of their course outline, what additional features and learning resources they provide, what the membership cost is, etc.
Table of Contents
What Is JamPlay?
JamPlay is a premium online guitar lessons provider. The company was founded back in 2006 by three co-founders who set out to offer a subscription-based service to users seeking how to play guitar online. JamPlay currently offers 5,300+ lessons covering a variety of topics. A few notable facts and features about the JamPlay guitar lessons services includes:
- They currently offer lessons from a total of 82 different instructors.
- They currently have over 450,000 members.
- The average lesson is 16 minutes.
- Typically publish 5 new lessons every week.
- They also offer a separate bass guitar lessons service.
- Provide a full 30-day money back guarantee if you aren’t satisfied with the service.
Being the second largest online guitar lessons provider, in term of the number of lessons offered, JamPlay has a comprehensive library of resources to help guitarists advance their playing skills. In the next section, I’ll provide an overview of what each phase in their lessons section has to offer.
The JamPlay’s lessons section is broken into four distinct phases. The way each phase works is that JamPlay provides you with a list of instructors who have each prepared their own video lessons and material for a particular topic. For example, phase 1 is broken into two sections: acoustic and electric guitar. The acoustic section has 13 instructors that each provides their version of beginner guitar lessons. Therefore, for each phase you go through, you have many options in regards to which instructor you want to learn from. Read up on their lesson curriculum, how much experience they have, and watch a few minutes of their videos. If you don’t like one instructor, you can simply move on to the next.
Phase 1: Beginner Lessons
Phase 1 is specifically built for beginners just starting to learning how to play guitar. As mentioned in the section above, this phase is broken into two section: acoustic guitar and electric guitar. Although many of the techniques you’ll use are the same for both, there are a few intricacies that distinguish them. Therefore, depending on which type of beginner guitar you have, you can take lessons tailored to each type.
The acoustic beginner guitar lessons section currently offers 13 lesson bundles (mostly from different instructors).
For each lesson bundle, you get a brief overview of the instructor, how many lessons are within the bundle, and the total length of all the lessons combined. Clicking on the “Go to Series” button will take you to a page that outlines the complete list of lessons offered and you can either start from the beginner or skip to a specific lesson.
Similar to the acoustic guitar beginner lessons, the electric guitar beginner lessons provide 8 different instructors to choose from. Everything in this section is formatted the same as above, only the lessons are electric guitar-specific.
Phase 2: Genres & Skills
The second phase of the JamPlay course overview is really cool because it offers guitarists so much to choose from. This section will really allow you to learn the specifics of a particular genre of music or hone certain skills such as playing lead guitar, rhythm training, ear training, and more.
Focussing on the genres section, JamPlay currently offers students an impressive collection of 20 different genres to choose from which include:
- Acoustic Rock
Similar to the layout in phase 1, there are many times multiple instructors you can choose from. For example, if you want to learn more about playing blues, there are 14 different lesson bundles available. Each bundle specifies whether the instructor will be using an acoustic or electric guitar and the number of lessons offered in each bundle as well as their average video length is also displayed.
The second part of this phase is intended to focus on building specific guitar playing skills and techniques. For instance, if you want to learn how to play guitar and sing, there are lessons for that. If you want to learn how to improve your playing speed there are lessons for that too. The full list of guitar skill-based topics include:
- Speed and Technique
- Helpers & Tips
- Singing with Guitar
- Reading Music
- Lead Concepts and Techniques
- Theory and Improvisation
- 12 String
- Rhythm Training
- Ear Training
- Studio Skills & Engineering
- Instrument Care & Maintenance
To get to the skill-based lessons be sure to click on the button on the left-hand side as I’ve outlined in red in the screenshot below.
Phase 3: Songs
Phase 3 of JamPlay’s lessons section is all about learning songs. Their library of song lessons includes a collection of over 350 songs in total. There aren’t many sorting options on JamPlay’s songs lessons page however, you can click on the header of any column in the table to sort the songs in ascending or descending order.
Like their regular lessons, song lessons are broken down piece-by-piece covering all aspects of the song you need to learn. There are also multiple camera angles used so that you can get a clear picture of what the instructor is doing.
Phase 4: Songwriting
As a musician, learning how to play songs is great. It allows you to work on your playing skills and you can perform recognizable songs for others. However, writing your own songs is a whole other world that ends up being even more rewarding once you get the hang of it. That’s why I’m really happy to see that phase 4 of JamPlay’s lesson plan is all about songwriting.
This phase will really allow you to understand how a song is written. From chord progression to melodies and lyrics, the instructors of this phase provide you with the knowledge to give you a solid songwriting foundation. This phase, just like the beginner’s lessons, is also broken into two categories: acoustic guitar and electric guitar. The acoustic songwriting section offers lessons from 7 different instructors whereas the electric songwriting section offers only 1 lesson bundle (although it is quite comprehensive with 41 lessons totaling 542 minutes of video content).
Artist series is another feature offered to JamPlay members. Essentially, this section is broken into two parts:
- Artists lessons – These lessons focus on an artists’ style and are often taught by the artist themselves. A few artists JamPlay has in this section include:
- Steve Stevens – plays in Billy Idol,
- Dave “David J” – plays in Steve Vai
- Joel Kosche – plays in Collective Soul
- In the style of lessons – These lessons focus more on learning the habits of legendary guitarists such as Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, etc. The instructor for each “In the style of” lesson goes into detail about certain chords each artist used, particular scales, gear, etc. Although not everything artist study follows the same format, they are all fairly comprehensive.
Another really interesting aspect I’d like to highlight in this JamPlay review is the fact that their platform seems to be very community-based. For instance, they have a section called “Live” which offers students the opportunity to join in with an instructor on a live broadcast to ask questions, receive video response and more. If you are the type of person that needs feedback from a professional to make sure that you’re headed in the right direction then you’ll LOVE this feature. Here is an example of the live webcam schedule. Funny enough, at the time of writing this review there was actually a live session already started so I was able to sit in on it and experience it for myself.
Once you connect to the live broadcast, you have a couple of options for interacting with others including live chat and starting your own video broadcast.
Apart from the live broadcasts, JamPlay also offers live courses that are a little more structured and cover a specific topic. Although there is more structure to these types of live broadcasts, you can also ask the instructor or community questions and get instant feedback, pretty cool!
Like any good online guitar lessons provider, JamPlay comes with a few tools to help you progress in learning how to play guitar. The basic tools included in the JamPlay dashboard are:
- Chord Library
- Scale Library
- Jamtracks (huge collection of sortable jamtracks to choose from)
- Guitar Tuner
- Chord Namer (this tool will help you figure out what a particular chord is called)
Apart from the tools mentioned above, JamPlay also offers another neat feature called training games. It is basically 3 games that you can play to help you memorize or learn certain concepts. The games are based on a point system and if you score high enough, you’ll rank on their training games page amongst others in the community. The 3 games that they currently offer are:
Progress Report Page
JamPlay’s progress report page gives you a nice overview of which lessons you’ve completed and which ones you are still in the process of watching. This report page doesn’t break down the lessons by phase, therefore they are all bundled into one unified table. If you watch a lot of lessons this might get to be a little cumbersome after a while. However, to fix this, JamPlay gives you the option to create custom playlists allowing you to sort the lessons yourself (just drag and drop).
Before you decide whether or not you should signup for a membership based on this JamPlay review, you’d probably like to know what the actual video quality is like. How many camera angles do they use, is the video high-def, etc. To help answer these questions I’ve included a free sample video below that you can check out below. This video is hosted on YouTube, however the video player that you’ll see as a JamPlay member will be much different (I’ll talk about this next).
Video Player Layout
JamPlay’s video player is definitely something that should be highlighted. It isn’t just your normal video player. Rather, it is a complete dashboard that gives you so much more than just the video itself. Within the video dashboard, you can access supplemental information provided by the instructor specifically for a certain lesson, add your own notes, make a comment, ask the teacher a question, and even download the lesson.
It really is a cool dashboard that provides some features that I believe are beneficial to students. A couple things I will say about the dashboard are that 1) I think the overall look and feel could be updated as it feels a bit outdated to me and 2) since there are so many additional add-ons it can be a little slow to load at times compared to just loading a regular video.
Membership Options – What’s the Cost?
Hopefully, this JamPlay review has given you a better understanding of what JamPlay has to offer. At this point, you may be wondering what the membership cost is. Well if you don’t want to pay anything, JamPlay does offer a few free lessons that you can learn from. These lessons however certainly aren’t as comprehensive as the ones you’ll get if you signup for a paid membership.
As for the paid memberships, you have 3 options:
- You can either choose to go on a monthly payment plan at $19.95 per month,
- a one-year plan regular $159.95 (currently running a sale offering this option at $109.95),
- or a one-year PRO plan at regular $299.95 currently on sale for $199.95.
For additional savings, I’ll provide a couple of coupon codes that you can use to save a few extra bucks. If you want to sign up for 1 month use coupon code: 72D4D0 for 25% off the first month’s fee. Furthermore, if you want to buy a full one-year membership, use the coupon code: A7ECB81ADC for 10% off.
Before making a final purchase decision I would recommend checking out JamPlay’s 7-day free trial to see if this guitar lessons provider is the right choice for you.
JamPlay Review – In Summary
I think JamPlay is a really solid choice for a premium online guitar lessons provider. A few things that really stand out about JamPlay are its abundance of features and “extras” such as live lessons, community chat, training games, lick and riff library and so much more. A large part of their lesson videos are high-quality and comprehensive (although I did find some oldies). JamPlay also offers a pretty comprehensive list of intermediate to advanced lessons through their music genres and style & technique lessons section.
A couple downfalls that I did find with JamPlay was that one topic can be covered by various instructors, and although that’s great since it gives you options, it can also cause some confusion. Certain instructors may go more in-depth on a particular subject than another so you don’t really know if you’re missing out on certain information if you choose one instructor over another. You almost need to have a quick read through the lessons offered by each instructor to see if they cover the same topics, which can be a time suck. I also thought that the overall look and feel of the dashboard and video player was a bit outdated. Although they both did their job well, the design could be touched up a little.
Overall, JamPlay is a great product that’s offered at a great price. If you have any questions about JamPlay that I didn’t answer in this JamPlay review please leave them in the comments section below and I’ll do my best to answer them for you!