Today, two leaders in the world of online guitar tuition are going head to head. Both are well-established, both are packed with content and both have big armies of loyal members. It’s JamPlay vs TrueFire!
Created back in 1991, TrueFire is the oldest site to offer online guitar lessons and has built up an impressive archive of more than 33,000 lessons.
In comparison, JamPlay is fifteen years younger, born in 2006. However, with over 5,500 lessons and loads of extras, the younger site still has plenty to offer.
Let’s see how they both stack up…
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Looking at the design of each site, they are very different although with big similarities. By that we mean that they are both clean and easy to navigate, although TrueFire has a brighter, fresher color scheme. In comparison, JamPlay has an all-round darker theme and perhaps one with a little more attitude.
When it comes to the lesson pages, both platforms again share similarities. The lesson video is obviously the main focus, with course progression information in sidebars and course material (including tabs) underneath the video player.
On that note, both platforms offer a solid video player, featuring slow-motion playback and looping capabilities. Most of the videos on both are filmed in high definition and use multiple camera angles for a slick, professional feel and easy-to-follow lessons.
Depending on your style, you may feel attracted to one site more than the other, but it’s hard to separate the two – so we are settling with a tie to open this comparison.
Both TrueFire and JamPlay give quite a bit of freedom in how you progress through their various courses.
TrueFire allows members to choose a style from one of its several different ‘Learning Paths’, then progress as they wish. That may be at the very start or by jumping in wherever feels right. There are both core courses to complete, as well as supplementary courses for a well-rounded knowledge of the topic. With so much content, it is nice to find a site that caters for advanced guitarists as much as it does beginners.
Meanwhile, JamPlay offers members four phases (Beginners; Genres & Skills; Songs; and Songwriting), which also allows them to jump in wherever they want to. There is no correct progression path either, so – providing you can use a bit of initiative – the freedom to choose your own course, instructor and approach is great. JamPlay’s offering is equally as good for experienced players in addition to complete beginners.
Ultimately both platforms feel similar in their course offerings, but, for the sheer amount of lessons on offer, we will hand TrueFire the win in this section.
This section will be another tricky one to call because both platforms lead the way when it comes to the quantity and caliber of instructors on offer.
JamPlay has a catalog of 89 different tutors, many of whom are big stars in the world of music. For example, you have Mike Mushok teaching Staind songs, as well as Nick Catanese (Black Label Society), Glen Drover (Megadeth), Shane Gibson (Korn) and a host of other rock and metal stars. There are also many tutors for lighter styles too, such as the respected country guitarist Brent Mason, acoustic virtuoso Tyler Grant, Dustin Prinz, Dave Isaacs, Orville Johnson and Mary Flower.
TrueFire’s selection is even more astounding. Firstly, they offer more than 140 different instructors! These are all experienced, talented tutors too, some who are incredibly notable in the world of guitar, such as Steve Vai, Robben Ford and Tommy Emmanuel. You also have very teachers full of experience, such as Pat Martino, Dweezil Zappa, Stu Hamm, Rusty Cooley, Fareed Haque, Neil Zaza and Frank Vignola.
Pitted against any other online guitar tuition, JamPlay would win this section hands down, but in this case, it is TrueFire that takes the victory.
We finally come to a section that doesn’t need much consideration, as TrueFire doesn’t actually offer a dedicated song list. There are naturally plenty of different tunes and riffs covered in the 33,000 technique lessons, but the platform doesn’t put any focus on teaching individual songs.
JamPlay, on the other hand, does have a dedicated song list – and quite a list it is! You can learn big hits from bands and artists such as Fall Out Boy, Fleetwood Mac, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Goo Goo Dolls, Creedence Clearwater, System of a Down and Slipknot, among many others. These lessons are complete and accurate, and a great feature for members.
A bonus of this – particularly for fans of metal – is the fact that some of metal’s greatest guitarists are on hand to teach you their own hits!
So, when it comes to songs, JamPlay comfortably takes the section.
Let’s begin this section with JamPlay, which offers a great selection of extras that come at no additional cost. In addition to the strong community feel and online tools, JamPlay offers its excellent Artist Series (where an individual artist will provide in-depth instruction about their own style over a few weeks), as well as a wide range of live courses and daily live Q&A sessions with the instructors.
TrueFire also offers a basic forum and tools, as well as its own series of artist channels – similar to JamPlay’s Artist Series. Another feature is TrueFire Live. These interactive sessions allow the tutors to talk about their courses and music, while members can ask questions. These compare to JamPlay’s live Q&A sessions in that respect. TrueFire also offers a couple of other paid-for extras, such as ‘In The Jam’ and ‘Private Lessons’.
TrueFire does quite well, but we really appreciate the amount of extra content and overall feel of JamPlay’s additional features – there is always something going on, and the site feels very alive and fresh.
As comparisons go, this one was very even, with two wins for each site and a tie. The youngster certainly matched – and even bettered – the stalwart in most areas, although TrueFire’s mammoth amount of content still remains the one to beat.
For these reasons, it is very difficult to declare an overall winner!
While both sites are packed with famous instructors and are clearly worth checking out, JamPlay is a must for you if you prefer to learn hit songs and have a slight leaning towards rock and metal. If you want to dive into an unmatched archive of lessons, TrueFire will appeal.