Last Updated Jul-31-2018.
In this installment, we are taking a head-to-head look at two of the oldest, most content-packed guitar lesson platforms on the internet. It’s GuitarTricks vs TrueFire!
TrueFire was established in 1991 – probably before half of our readers were even born! – and have since amassed more than 33,000 lessons.
Not too far behind in terms of content or experience is GuitarTricks, which was created in 1998 and now has over 11,000 lessons to offer.
Both sites are incredibly popular and undoubtedly pushing for the title of the best online guitar lessons, but only one can emerge victorious. Let’s see what they both offer…
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Let’s begin with the overall design and format of TrueFire, which is very uncluttered and easy to get around via the top menu bar. GuitarTricks is equally clean in design, if a little more modern, but there is no separating them here.
The lesson pages are also very similar, with the lesson video naturally taking center stage, with supporting lesson materials (including tablature) and course progression information available either below the video or on nearby sidebars.
Both TrueFire and GuitarTricks feature very good video players, both with slow-motion playback and looping capabilities (although the video player sometimes changes on TrueFire, particularly if it is an older video). Nevertheless, they are both very solid offerings.
Finally, both platforms offer the majority of videos filmed in high definition (again, some of the older videos are filmed in lower quality), with multiple camera angles and dedicated studio setups that make the lesson content very clear to follow.
You guessed it – this section is a tie. There is no separating either of them. To us, GuitarTricks feels a little more modern, but it’s not enough to call it an outright winner.
As noted, TrueFire offers more than 33,000 lessons, which is just jaw-dropping in terms of content – you can literally never get bored (this goes for both beginners and advanced players).
Members will choose a style from one of the several different ‘Learning Paths’ and then use judgement on how to progress. Most beginners will start at the universal ‘Learn Guitar 1’ course, then work on from there, completing core courses and supplementary courses as they see fit.
GuitarTricks is very sensibly structured with its Core Learning System, although there is still a lot of freedom in the way you progress. The Guitar Fundamentals Level 1 course will be where most beginners start, although there is plenty for intermediate and advanced players to work through too (for example, one of the three specific styles – rock, blues or country).
TrueFire would win this section for the extra content it offers, although – truth be told – you are only ever going to use a certain amount of it depending on your musical tastes. By this we mean if you love rock, you probably aren’t going to touch the hundreds of jazz technique lessons.
In comparison, GuitarTricks has less content, but the overall structure and progression system is still the one to beat for all other sites.
Ultimately, this is another section that is just too close to call – it’s another tie!
GuitarTricks offers 33 different instructors, all of whom are friendly and experienced. These instructors all cover different genres and levels, and they are genuinely a pleasure to learn from. There are also some notable tutors, such as Anders Mouridsen (who has performed with Taylor Swift, Faith Evans and Pink, among others) and Cee Lo Green’s lead guitarist, Sharon Aguilar.
GuitarTricks clearly has a talented bunch of instructors to learn from, but TrueFire’s selection is astounding. To begin with, there are 140 different tutors to learn from, which is 107 more than GuitarTricks – you are spoiled for choice. There are no fillers either, with true guitar icons such as Steve Vai and Tommy Emmanuel taking some lessons, while the others are notable and highly experienced.
For this reason, TrueFire wins this section hands down.
It’s worth pointing out from the start of this section that TrueFire doesn’t offer endless lists of songs to learn. Of course, there are tunes and riffs, covered in the thousands of technique lessons, but if adding classic tracks to your repertoire is something that interests you, TrueFire is probably not the platform for you.
GuitarTricks may have been outdone in the previous section, but it clearly wins this category as the platform offers more than 700 complete song lessons to learn from. While a couple of notable bands are missing from their lineup, there are songs from all genres, representing huge artists including The Beatles, Blink 182, Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, Sting, The Eagles, ZZ Top and many, many more.
GuitarTricks has plenty of extra features in addition to its core lessons, including a good community forum and a toolbox featuring a range of online tools (such as a tuner, a metronome and a scale finder). It has also recently introduced a new ‘Full Access’ feature, allowing members to take either live one-on-one or small group lessons with an instructor. These lessons are excellent for instant feedback and work in a similar way to an actual physical lesson, although they are subject to additional charges.
TrueFire also offers a basic forum and tools, as well as a few other extras. These include a series of artist channels – focusing on one artist and a more detailed look at their style of music – and TrueFire Live, which are interactive sessions where the tutors talk about their courses and music.
TrueFire also offers ‘In The Jam’ – offering members the chance to jam along with TrueFire artists, and ‘Private Lessons’, which aren’t face-to-face, but allow members to upload videos of their playing to receive personalized feedback. All very useful at developing your chops as a guitarist, although the latter two extras are subject to additional charges.
That was a tough comparison – harder than we thought! If we had to declare an overall winner it would have to be GuitarTricks for its simplicity in design, well-structured courses and excellent song list. For complete beginners, GuitarTricks feels like the most sensible choice.
However, TrueFire offers an incredible amount of content for all levels and an unrivalled list of instructors, which makes it a platform worth checking out – especially if you want to aspire to reach Vai levels of talent!