First, thanks for stopping by. If you're like me, you're a little hesitant to buy something online without getting someone else's opinion first. When I decided to try to learn guitar (again) I wanted to get a tool to help me stay organized and focused but also didn't want to have the obligation of driving somewhere for lessons every week. Who wants to be judged on how much you suck at first?! So I hit the interwebs and started looking for a tool that would bring me value. Then I discovered Jam Play. The site itself was so impressive that I thought I would take a chance, and I'm really glad I did. Below is a very detailed description of the product including the good, bad, and the ugly of every aspect of this program. I'll do my best to be thorough but if you think of anything else, just email me at email@example.com. I'll get back to you the same day.
Jam Play is an online learning tool with a ton of content for any guitar player and skill level. The fact that it's online is both a positive and a negative. Functionally, it's outstanding because you can access it from anywhere, you don't need CD's or DVD's, and you don't need to keep track of anything (like facebook). The downside is that means it's a subscription model for pricing so there is an ongoing fee (monthly, quarterly, or annually with corresponding discounts), and you'll have to make sure you have a decent enough internet connection to run the videos. If you can watch youtube you should be fine. After using the program for six months, I can honestly say it's far less expensive than lessons and it's available 24/7 on my schedule.
The first thing you'll notice is how easy it is to pick up where you left off. Right at the top of the page is the last three lessons you were looking at.
Phase 1 - BeginnersThe program has three phases, the first of which is "Beginners." This area is a huge strength of the service because you have 15 instructors to choose from. They all have different teaching styles but they each have the goal of taking a complete beginner and increasing their skill set to the intermediate level with a structured lesson plan. I can't tell you how many times I said to myself, "why would anyone take in person lessons when they can do this?" First, you don't have to feel embarrassed when you screw up a hundred times. Second, you can repeat the same lesson, or just a part of a lesson, over and over for as long as you need. There are certain instructors who are more geared towards acoustic, electric, and one is even aimed at kids.
Click here to learn more about the Beginners section.
Phase 2 - Genres and SkillsJust when you've progressed through the beginner lessons and you're feeling good about yourself, you jump into section 2 and check out Genres and Skills. It is then that you realize the virtually unlimited ways to learn and master this instrument. This section gets more focused on certain styles including: Blues, Fingerstyle, Metal, Hawiian Slack Key, Bluegrass, Rock, Celtic, Classical, Country, Jazz, Funk, Flamenco, Folk, and R&B. Each section has a few instructors with lessons geared towards that style.
Click here for more information on the Genre's and Skills Section.
Phase 3 - SongsThis is what it's all about! I'm often tempted (and do) skip over to this area of the site to pick up a piece or two of a song. What's great is that they label everything by difficulty so you don't get in over your head to fast. Here's an example of a song lesson:
Click here to learn more about the songs section.
Artist SeriesThe Artist Series section is rather interesting in that it basically gives free reign to the instructors to teach whatever style they are passionate about and add in their own twists. There is also a "In The Style Of" section here where you can pick up tips and tricks from some of the greats like Tom Morellow, Jimi Hendrix, Santana, and more.
Click here to learn more about the Artists.
Live SessionsOne big differentiator for Jam Play is that they actually put live people up on webcam and you can jump in and talk with them about something your struggling with or just hear what others are working on. If you're brave, you can turn on your own cam and show them what you're doing as you practice. It's a really interesting way to quickly get a variety of opinions and see how others are doing on their guitar journey. This section isn't just a teaser either. There's someone on there A LOT.
Click here to learn more about the live sessions.
This is a GREAT section of Jam Play. This is basically where you find all the stuff you scour the internet for but it's all organized in one place. Looking for a chord? Want to practice a scale? Need a metronome or a tuner? Backup band? Games to mess with at the office when you should working? How about a full Riff Library where you can pick up cool little parts. It's all here and easy to use. The only gripe is that in the scale section they tease you with videos for most of the scales, but not all. Not a big deal but the videos help validate that you're doing it right.
CommunityJam Play is sort of like the facebook of learning guitar. They have full fledged chat rooms, forums, and messaging. It's also a great place to be able to contact the instructors who actually will respond to you believe it or not!
Click here to learn more about the Community features.
InstructorsI'm blown away by the backgrounds and experience that these instructors have. It also doesn't seem to be a revolving door of random teachers. There seems to be a collection of genuinely dedicated people who continue to grow the platform. One of my favorite guys is Mark Brennan. He's been playing 38 years and is in a Pink Floyd cover band. He's a great instructor and credentials like that are not uncommon in the Jam Play instructor pool.
LessonsThe actual lessons are where you will spend a lot of time, especially at the beginning so it's critical that they be of the highest quality. When I did my first lesson with Jam Play I felt a great relief because I could immediately see that my money had been well spent. I'll list a few of the features and briefly state how they add to the experience:
- Video Quality - Here's where Jam Play puts youtube and other tools to shame. The video quality is top notch. I've learned that's critical when trying to learn chords. You need to be able to see which strings the instructors fingers are on! The videos are also incredibly well edited showing up close shots of the fingering and strumming (often simultaneously).
- Looping - Ever think, I need to see that a few more times? But then have to take your hands off the guitar to keep clicking back to a time stamp you're trying to remember? Not anymore. You can easily set up "A" and "B" and the video will just keep looping between A and B until you say stop. This has been invaluable to me in learning intricate parts of songs and chord transitions.
- Bookmarking - If you're half way through a lesson and need to take off for any reason, just stick a bookmark in there and come back tomorrow. Also, if you're learning a long song, you can put in multiple bookmarks and label them things like "Intro," "Verse," etc.
- Supplemental Content - This is what you miss with all the other services. This program is not just a collection of videos. Each lesson also includes things like pictures of the chords you need in that lesson, tabulature, notes from the instructor etc. It's great to pull it up underneath the video so you can keep up when the instructor says, "ok move to A minor" and you can't remember what that shape is.
- Progress bar - The progress bar is a manually controlled slider that is completely subjective and up to you. The guitar doesn't plug into the PC for this program so there is no feedback. The progress bar is basically just a way for you to remind yourself later how you're doing with that lesson.
MobilityWhen I first joined the site, not every video was compliant to work on my iPad which was a major disappointment because I like to lay in bed and watch a lesson to get my mind working on it for tomorrow. Recently though, all videos have been converted so they can be played on your mobile devices, including iOS.
PriceOk, it's great, it's awesome, it works... How much? First, consider the cost of lessons. Even at just ten bucks a week you're looking at over $500 per year and you only have access to the instructor once per week. With Jam Play, you have access 24/7 to instructors that probably dwarf the experience level of your local guy. Below is a screen shot of the pricing on the site. The best part is, you get a 7 day money back guaranty! Sign up and see how you like it for a few days. Their return rate is less than 4%.
ConclusionIn conclusion, I really think this is a great program and very well worth the money. I know when I first saw the price I realized it was not the cheapest option out there. But when you really put it into perspective and compare it to lessons, it's very inexpensive. You get what you pay for and if you're serious about learning guitar, Jam Play is the best resource I've found on the web. I've done my best to illustrate most of the features, but if you have any other question please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll get back to you the same day.
Click Here to Sign up and start rocking out in the next 5 minutes!
Please feel free to comment below if you're a Jam Play subscriber and help others make a good decision.
Hopefully you're a follower of one of my other sites or twitter accounts including:
Pearl Jam Tribute - Website, Twitter is @ComeToThePorch
Foo Fighters Tribute - Website, Twitter is @TheBestofFoo
Guitar Journey - Website, Twitter is @Guitar__Journey