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Whether you’re a six-string picker looking to improve your playing and add to your bag of tricks or a complete beginner with big dreams of rocking the stage one day, you ought to consider signing up for an online guitar learning platform, especially if you live in an area where in-person guitar instructors are few and far between.
GuitarTricks and TrueFire are arguably the two most popular online guitar learning platforms today; both flaunting literally thousands of guitar lessons in video format, well-structured courses for different skill levels, numerous guitar teachers, and private lessons for the willing.
We understand just how challenging it can be for aspiring guitarists to choose between these two giants, which is why we’ve decided to conduct a comparison between them in order to find out which one reigns supreme. Buckle up for GuitarTricks vs. TrueFire.
GuitarTricks vs. TrueFire – Feature for Feature Comparison
|Ideal For||All||Intermediates and Advanced|
|Price||$19.95/m or $179.99/y||$19/m or $199/y|
|Free Trial Period||14 Days||30 Days|
|Private Online Lessons||Yes||Yes|
GuitarTricks vs. TrueFire – In-detail Comparison
Before we break down aspects such as video quality, aspects, user-friendliness, and so forth, we feel the need to compare Guitar Tricks and TrueFire from a skill level standpoint to find out which platform is best suited for beginners, intermediates, and advanced players.
Beginner Guitar Lessons
Guitar Tricks flaunts one of the best core learning systems for novice guitar players. Even if you’ve never picked up a guitar in your life, the beginner-specific lessons that Guitar Tricks has to offer will help ease you into learning all of the fundamentals. You’ll also love it’s super easy to navigate their section for beginner video lessons.
The Guitar Tricks core learning system starts with the ‘Guitar Fundamentals Level 1’ course, which, as the name suggests, introduces you to preliminary topics such as how to tune your guitar and how to play simple chords/melodies. It also touches on rhythm guitar playing quite extensively.
Beginner lessons are conducted by instructor Lisa McCormick, who, in our opinion, is a fantastic teacher, mainly because she doesn’t come across as patronizing or overly technical.
Lisa is very friendly and simple with her choice of vocabulary. So, you don’t have to worry about taking lessons from a teacher that continues to overwhelm you with fancy gibberish just to seem knowledgeable.
The ‘Guitar Fundamentals Level 1’ course is jam-packed with enough material to keep you busy for weeks. Note that the material is divided into seven chapters that you must follow in order to build a solid guitar playing foundation.
Upon finishing the first guitar lesson, you move on to the Fundamentals Level 2’ lesson, which is also given by Lisa McCormick. The course is also divided into seven chapters that cover topics like power chords, barre chords, the major scale, the minor scale, and reading music. This guitar lesson is among the very best beginner-specific courses we’ve seen.
Note that if you’re somewhat experienced with guitar playing, you don’t have to take the first fundamentals course; you can just skip it and jump straight into the second guitar lesson.
When it comes to providing guitar technique lessons for absolute beginners, there’s a lot of debate around TrueFire’s value. Before we give you our two cents, we feel the need to stress the fact that TrueFire does offer a ton of value for beginners. The problem that’s causing the debate has less to do with the content itself and more to do with how the content is delivered.
So, to put it simply, TrueFire isn’t a great platform for pure beginners. And by pure beginners, we mean the ones that have never picked up a guitar in their life and have no idea what a chord is. Per contra, if you’re a beginner that has somewhat of an experience with guitar playing, you’ll find TrueFire to be an excellent option.
Now, on to the whole delivery ordeal. We can’t deny the fact that TrueFire has enough content to keep a beginner busy for months, but where the heck is the starting point? Their delivery of beginner’s lessons is a complete spiral. You have no idea where to start from and no idea if you’re consuming the content in proper order. It’s not at all intuitive for pure beginners, simple and plain.
Having said that, TrueFire boasts a feature that sets it apart from other guitar learning tools, and that’s its ‘Learning Paths’ system, which is more geared toward beginners who don’t mind a bit of initiative. With the ‘Learning Paths’ system, you get to choose a favorite style of playing (learning path), be it acoustic, blues, rock, or other, then you begin taking video lessons from a standpoint that suits your ‘learning path.’
You start with the ‘Learn Guitar 1’ course, conducted by guitarists Jeff Scheetz, who happens to be the Direction of Education at TrueFire. Scheetz does an awesome job of taking students through a guitar initiation, if you will. He covers everything from guitar anatomy and how to tune a guitar to how to play your first chords.
The video lessons are formulated in such a way that after you’re done viewing the lesson, you get to practice with Scheetz rather than by yourself. It gives you the feeling as if you’re having an in-person lesson. Speaking of which, TrueFire offers private lessons.
If you’re already familiar with the basics of guitar playing and don’t want to waste time learning about basic chords, you can jump straight into the ‘Learn Guitar 2’ lesson, which goes more in-depth on the materials taught in the first lesson.
TrueFire flaunts plenty of other courses that are dedicated solely to beginners. We just wish they figure out a way to present the course in a more intuitive fashion. After you’re done with the beginner’s curriculum, you’ll jump into the intermediate and advanced courses where TrueFire truly shines.
Winner: Guitar Tricks
Intermediate and Advanced Guitar Lessons
The competition between Guitar Tricks and TrueFire with regard to which platform offers the best courses for novice players might have been pretty decisive, but comparing the two as far as their offerings for intermediate and advanced players is a whole different story.
Starting with Guitar Tricks, the website offers a ton of value for the intermediate/experienced guitar player. Assuming you stick with the platform’s default learning system, you’ll learn everything there is to know about the foundation rock, blues, and country music, with each style having two levels.
The advanced lessons are conducted by totally different instructors. In our experience, we found it fairly easy to follow all of the instructors’ guidelines. They do an excellent job of helping you build a solid understanding of the above-mentioned styles of music.
Further, each genre flaunts numerous technique lessons that shed light on the lead and rhythm playing techniques utilized in every style. You’ll also be instructed on how to find the perfect guitar tone with various tools.
The strongest selling point of Guitar Tricks is its outstanding song list. The website boasts a bank of licensed songs that spans over 700 hits, while maintaining a promise of adding at least a new song on a weekly basis.
The variety of artists is insane, from guitar iterations of classical pieces by Beethoven, Bach, Tarrega, and Pachelbel, to classic rock bands like The Beatles, Van Halen, and The Jimi Hendrix Experience, to fairly modern grunge and punk bands like Pearl Jam and Blink 182.
And if you’re a heavy-metal fanatic, you get to enjoy various song lessons in the style of giants such as Iron Maiden. Keep in mind that some popular artists may not have a single song lesson due to licensing issues, but you’ll still be able to learn how to play guitar like them.
For example, there are zero Steve Vai and Joe Satriani song lessons in Guitar Tricks’ song list, but the instructors do touch on how to play in a similar style to the aforementioned guitar virtuosos.
The song list is categorized by difficulty levels that are alluded to by a five-guitar scale. Songs for absolute beginners are highlighted by one guitar, whereas songs for advanced players are highlighted by five guitars.
All things considered, there’s nothing overrated about Guitar Tricks being dubbed as the best online website for guitar lessons. It’s suitable for the absolute novice as well as the experienced guitarist who’s looking to take things to the next level. Now, let’s check out if TrueFire is in the same league as Guitar Tricks.
As mentioned previously, the true value of TrueFire as an online guitar teaching website is in its courses for intermediate and experienced guitar players. The amount of material that TrueFire boasts in comparison to other platforms is simply unreal. There are enough courses for you to keep busy for years to come.
If you’re still using the ‘Learning Paths’ feature, you can simply skip all of the core courses and jump straight into the ‘Late Intermediate to Advanced’ courses. You’ll be redirected to a section that consists of core and supplementary courses. The core lessons are pretty much the meat of your chosen ‘Learning Path,’ whereas the supplementary lessons are simply there for more insight and tuition.
Just to give you an example, the ‘Play Jazz Guitar 4: Rhythm Approaches’ is a core course that we consider essential, whereas courses such as ‘Magic Gypsy Chords and Rhythms’ and ‘30 Jazz Guitar Rhythms You Must Know’ are considered supplementary.
One of our favorite things about TrueFire is its ‘In the Jam’ feature, which, if you’re a member, enables you to jam with well-known artists in various music styles. This feature is to kill for if you’re someone who’s looking to improve their improvisational skills.
Some platforms claim to have such features, but they’re all just basic backing tracks. With TrueFire, however, you get adjustable backing tracks. You can adjust the volume as well as mute certain lines, be it the bass, drums, or rhythm. You’ll also get to enjoy adapting and improvising to sudden chord changes and notations. Note, however, that this feature comes at an added cost.
Generally speaking, the way TrueFire presents its intermediate/advanced courses is excellent, and the lessons themselves contain a lot of value that will help you become a master of your instrument with time and dedication. Where it falls short with respect to Guitar Tricks, however, is its song list, or lack thereof.
If you’re expecting dedicated song lessons that cover hits by your favorite artists, you’ll be pretty disappointed. TrueFire’s song list is very limited and doesn’t really contain thorough song lessons. Rather, it contains riffs, licks, and samples from certain songs, but no complete songs whatsoever.
This brings us to a critical point of comparison between Guitar Tricks and TrueFire. Basically, TrueFire is more concerned with technique, speed, and overall understanding of the instrument, whereas Guitar Tricks puts more emphasis on teaching you your favorite songs.
We’re now brought to a final conclusion that Guitar Tricks is the way to go for those who are looking to learn specific songs without wasting time on techniques that may or may not add value to their playing.
TrueFire, on the other hand, is more geared towards technical players who value intricacy and have plans of becoming the next Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen, Jimmy Page, David Gilmour, or Eric Clapton. We’ll call it a draw since it all boils down to personal preference.
Bass Guitar Lessons
It saddens us to say that Guitar Tricks, dubbed as the king of web-based guitar teaching platforms, doesn’t offer any dedicated lessons for bassists. Guitar Tricks focuses primarily on six-stringed guitars. One thing we’ve noticed about Guitar Tricks, however, is that their courses get updated pretty frequently, so who knows, maybe they’ll have something for bassists in the near future.
Unlike most competitor platforms, TrueFire shows bassists some love by offering dedicated courses for beginners as well as advanced players. The courses have the same structure as the ones for six-string guitar in the sense that they’re divided into core and supplementary lessons.
The lessons are conducted by professional instructors, namely Stu Hamm, Ariane Cap, Andrew Ford, and David Santos. They’ll guide you through all sorts of stuff related to bass playing, from preliminary knowledge to advanced playing techniques. Oh, TrueFire also offers Andrew Ford’s very own course; Motown Bass Survival Guide. All in all, TrueFire is excellent for four-string finger-pickers.
The Detailed Breakdown of Each Platform
Now that you have a solid understanding of what Guitar Tricks and TrueFire have to offer for different skill levels, let’s get a bit more detailed by breaking down things such as user-friendliness and pricing.
Guitar Tricks flaunts a simple yet feature-packed video player. It enables you to adjust the quality of the video lesson you’re watching from low resolutions like 224p up to ultra-high 4K quality. The video player is packed with advanced functions like accurate A/B looping, which enables you to replay entire videos or certain parts of the videos continuously.
The Guitar Tricks video player also enables you to adjust the speed of the video without compromising the pitch. This comes in handy when trying to learn a difficult song. Multiple camera angles are available for convenience.
TrueFire’s layout doesn’t deviate much from that of Guitar Tricks. The video player takes center stage on all lesson pages, with a sidebar that shows relevant lessons on the right-hand side of the page.
Please note that TrueFire utilizes two different video players. It uses a basic one with limited functionality for older videos, and it uses SoundSlice player for more recent tutorials. Luckily, the vast majority of TrueFire guitar tutorials are quite recent.
Both Guitar Tricks and TrueFire sport clean and user-friendly interfaces. There’s nothing to write home about as far as the design of both websites, but sometimes simplicity and minimalism go a long way, which is the case for these two amazing platforms.
Guitar Tricks, quite simply, trumps TrueFire when it comes to having the better song library. It flaunts over 700 hits from artists of different musical styles, including rock, heavy metal, country, punk, and more. TrueFire, on the other hand, has a very limited song library that consists mainly of licks, riffs, and samples.
If you’re looking to learn specific songs from your favorite artists, your chances of learning these songs are better with Guitar Tricks than they are with TrueFire. B
Winner: Guitar Tricks
With Guitar Tricks, there are two payment options: $19.95/m or $179.99/y. There are also promo codes that can help save you up to 20% on your first payment. With TrueFire, there are three payment options: $19/m, $199/y, or a lifetime subscription for $1,999.
As far as free trials, Guitar Tricks offers a 14-day free trial, whereas TrueFire offers a generous 30-day free trial. Obviously, the two services are quite similar in pricing, but we’re edging it to TrueFire because of its generous trial.
Is TrueFire Any Good?
If you're an intermediate or advanced six-string picker, or if you’re a bassist having a hard time finding an online learning website that offers quality bass guitar courses, TrueFire is right up your alley.
Is Guitar Tricks Any Good?
It’s not the most popular guitar learning website for nothing. Guitar Tricks is excellent for novice, intermediate, and advanced players alike.
Is Guitar Tricks Free?
No, it’s not. However, Guitar Tricks offers a 14-day free trial period, so you get to enjoy two weeks of free content before deciding whether or not a subscription is worth it.
Choosing between Guitar Tricks and TrueFire is like choosing between The Beatles and The Rolling Stones; both are great, and it all boils down to personal preference. We urge you to read this entire Guitar Tricks vs. TrueFire article through and through in order to form your own decision. You can see more guitar lesson options here.
Side note, do you want to learn to play guitar songs the easy way? Learn how here – results are guaranteed!