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Guitar Tricks review

The OG guitar tutorial site is still the benchmark for online learning

Guitar Tricks review
(Image: © Guitar Tricks)

Our Verdict

A comprehensive but concise learning experience with plenty on offer for intermediate and advanced players, as well as beginners.

For

  • Comprehensive lesson plans
  • Covers the basics well
  • Content for intermediate to advanced players
  • Eclectic style tutorials covering genres like surf and classical
  • Great instructors
  • Excellent resources, including tone guide and scale finder

Against

  • Interface isn’t as slick as some of its counterparts
  • Pop fans will find the song library a bit limited
At a glance

Best online guitar lessons 2021: Lady playing guitar at laptop

(Image credit: Getty/Westend61)

Price: $19.99 monthly, $179.99 yearly, free 14 day trial Key features: Guided paths; digestible lessons; comprehensive song tutorials which include amp and guitar settings; artist and genre studies that cover all the basics of a range of styles; additional resources such as scale charts and maintenance tips. Genres: Acoustic, Rock, blues, bluegrass, classical, country, jazz, funk and soul, rockabilly, surf, world Platforms: Desktop, iPhone, iPad, Android Contact: Guitar Tricks

While online music lessons and tutorials may seem like a relatively new trend, there is one site that has long stood tall. Guitar Tricks has been working in this area since 1998 – well before most people even had stable internet connections – and is rightly regarded as a pioneer of online guitar lessons

As a result, Guitar Tricks certainly has a head start on its competition in a couple of different ways. Firstly, they have had years of testing, developing and upgrading their approach to online learning, ensuring their teaching methods work for their students. Secondly, they have been able to build up a huge amount of content and resources in that time. With over 11,000 videos on their database, as well as 900+ songs and counting, Guitar Tricks has the most content of all these sites. Unlike some of their contemporaries, a lot of this content is also aimed at intermediate and advanced players, making Guitar Tricks one of the best sites for players with experience who are looking to improve their ability. 

Guitar Tricks review: How does Guitar Tricks work? 

After signing up and logging in, users will see four main lesson categories on the home page; beginner, experienced, songs and styles. After making your selection you are taken to a portal that contains the lesson plans for each category. Here’s what you get from each section:

  • Beginner Lessons: Offers two levels of guitar fundamentals – covering the basics from how to hold the guitar to learning open chords in level one, to how to play power chords and read music in the second. Outside of this there are four style specific lessons, blues, country, rock and acoustic divided into two levels of difficulty, covering the basic standout elements of each genre. Additional resources in this module include simplified versions of famous songs, as well as practice and maintenance tips.
  • Experienced Lessons: Has the exact same layout as the beginner module including the same playing styles but with – as you’d expect – more advanced content. Fundamental lessons cover everything from perfecting chord transitions to playing major and minor scales. The additional sections here include tone guides and gear settings for different types of playing, plus techniques you can use to add more emotion to your playing, like bends, harmonics and hammer-ons.

Guitar Tricks review

(Image credit: Guitar Tricks)
  • Learn to Play Songs: This is where you go when you have a specific song you want to learn. With over 900 popular songs and more being added on a regular basis, you’ll have no trouble finding something you like here. You get a guided run through of how to master the song, covering everything from tone settings to tips on improving playability, over 8-14 bite sized lessons. The level of detail is exceptional and covers everything they possibly could to perfect these songs. One area of criticism is that there isn’t a great deal on offer for fans of pop music. For example, given the amount of people who were inspired by Taylor Swift to pick up a guitar, Swift is definitely an overlooked artist (this is certainly the case at the time of writing). You can add to that list Adele, Billie Eilish, Avril Lavigne and P!nk - a fair oversight for such a sizable market of potential players. At the same time it’s understandable that they’ve chosen to focus on styles that largely feature more prominent guitar styles like rock and metal.
  • Learn Styles of Guitar: Here you get a breakdown of the elements that make up specific styles of playing. Covering a dozen different styles from metal to “world”, users should get a good understanding of how to play their chosen style after completing this. Some styles, such as country and metal have pretty extensive resources that users will spend a lot of time unpacking, while more niche genres like surf have less ground to cover but still make for a rewarding learning experience. Guitar Tricks should be commended for the diversity of the styles they cover here – many of their counterparts have a far narrower scope and only cover styles with a broad appeal.

Outside of the main lesson plans, you can also access artist studies that give you a rundown on how some of your favorite guitarists approach the instrument, and features the likes of Angus Young, Keith Richards and BB King, to name a few. You can also pick lessons based on instructors. There are 34 instructors on Guitar Tricks, each specializing in different areas, so if you find one particularly inspiring it’s easy to access all their lessons and tutorials. For an additional cost, users can also book one-on-one lessons with Guitar Tricks’ instructors, which is a useful tool if you’re having trouble getting your head (or fingers) around a particular lick or style of playing, or just need some feedback.

Progress is easily tracked through a dedicated page that details what percentage of the courses, songs and lessons you have finished, and allows you to easily dive back into where you left off. You can also do this effectively with the ‘last lesson’ tab, which drops you straight back into the last thing you did.

It must be said, however, when compared to some of the newcomers to this market, Guitar Tricks isn’t quite as slick looking or user-friendly as it could be. This could perhaps be down to the fact that the sheer amount of content the website hosts has made it hard to neatly present and tie in all the odds and ends. Or it could be that it’s been around the longest and is just showing its age a little. Whatever the case, it still works; it's just not the most impressive looking or simplest to navigate.

Guitar Tricks review: Who is Guitar Tricks for?

Guitar Tricks is for anyone looking to improve their skills as a guitar player. Whether that’s somebody who has never held a guitar before to those with extensive experience with the instrument and who are looking to sharpen their skills in specific areas or styles. Either way, there’s plenty on offer here.

Guitar Tricks is for anyone looking to improve their skills as a guitar player

As a result of the extra time people have had on their hands in recent months, and the imposed limitations on doing things in person during the pandemic, online guitar lessons have become incredibly popular. However, rather than being a lesser version of more traditional lessons, many learners have found the flexible nature and ease in which they can slot practice into their busy schedule to be one of the main appeals for going the online lessons route. For many, platforms like Guitar Tricks have made learning guitar an attainable goal. 

As we've established, Guitar Tricks has had a massive head start in this market and has been able to build up a lot of content that goes well beyond the beginner level. In fact, it’s fair to say there is more on offer here for intermediate level players than most other platforms. This is probably the market Guitar Tricks caters for the best, though there is plenty on offer for advanced players as well.

Guitar Tricks review

(Image credit: Guitar Tricks)

Guitar Tricks review: Conclusion

After more than 23 years in business, Guitar Tricks has not only played a huge role in shaping and developing online learning, but continues to be a major player in the market to this day. This is largely because the platform gets so much of it right. They have managed to strike the right balance between detailed and concise, meaning everything you’d want to know is covered but you shouldn’t feel too overwhelmed by the process. 

While it’s not as easy to navigate for beginners as some of its competitors, the content is certainly there. It’s also one of the best platforms of it’s kind for intermediate to advanced players, and those who fall within this range won’t find themselves running out of things to explore on Guitar Tricks in a hurry.

Chris Schwarten

Chris is a contributor to Guitar World and MusicRadar with around 20 years of guitar playing experience – including writing for and recording various projects for around 15 of those. Outside of practical experience, he’s studied music throughout his life, with a particular focus on composition at university. He’s something of a 90s tragic and a sucker for anything with a groovy, metallic edge or psych and stoner vibes. Outside of music, he’s an avid cook, gardener, and rugby league lover.