From Fender Play to YouTube and Yousician, find out who offers the best price and learning option for you!
By Mike Duffy and Eliza Shamshian
Learning to play guitar - or any new instrument - is a big decision, and getting started can be overwhelming. From online lessons to private instructors, there are many options to choose from with prices ranging from free to hundreds and thousands.
If you're serious about learning guitar, bass or ukulele, there are options for every budget, but not all of them are created equally. Here are some questions to keep in mind when researching your options.
The answer depends on your budget. There are free lessons on YouTube, monthly and annual subscriptions for various learning platforms, and private, in-person instruction.
Before getting started with guitar, decide the best option to maximize your learning potential. Is an in-person instruction better suited for your learning style? Do you prefer to learn on your own? Are you looking for online lessons that can supplement private lessons?
It depends. The cost of private guitar lessons is influenced by four key factors: the instructor's level of experience and education, lesson duration (and frequency), geography (where you live), and location of the lessons (the instructor comes to you, you go to them or private online).
More experienced teachers typically charge more for private lessons. If you're looking for an instructor, find out how long they've been teaching, research their educational background and get references. Typically, instructors with over five years of teaching experience charge more than those with less experience.
Most instructors offer an option of 30-, 45- and 60-minute lessons. The cost of the lessons will depend on the duration and frequency of the lessons. Look for an instructor with solid references and reviews, and who offers lessons that meet your budget and accommodate your schedule.
Do you want the instructor to come to you or are you willing to travel to the instructor's place of business? Or maybe you're looking for a private instructor offering online lessons online via phone or Skype. These are options that can factor into the cost of private lessons.
And last, but not least …
Where you live plays a big factor in how much to pay for private lessons (along with instructor's experience, duration of the lessons and lesson location). Here are some estimates for 60-minute private, in-person, guitar lessons based on your geographic location.
New York - $55-110+ for in-person, private guitar lessons Los Angeles - $40-100+ for in-person, private guitar lessons Chicago area - $45-$75+ for in-person, private guitar lessons Dallas - $50-65+ for in-person, private guitar lessons
Fender Play offers monthly subscriptions for $9.99 per month or annual subscriptions for $89.99 (a discount of 25 percent vs. monthly). Compare that to a 60-minute lesson, starting around $40, depending on the instructor's level of experience and location.
Fender Play and other online learning platforms are also great options to supplement private lessons, to save you money and to get the most out of your in-person instruction.
For free guitar lessons, YouTube offers plenty of free tutorials. But as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. Not all instructors are reputable and have the same teaching standards as more established music schools and instructors. Look for lessons with good reviews and experienced instructors.
How does the cost of Fender Play compare to other online learning platforms? Here are some prices from Yousician, Guitar Tricks and TrueFire to help you decide.
Yousician offers monthly and annual plans for four different instruments: guitar, piano, bass and ukulele. The cost of the subscription depends on whether you're looking to pay for one instrument or if you want option to learn all instruments. If you're interested in learning only guitar (or another single instrument), the price is $9.99 for a monthly subscription or $119.99 for an annual plan. If you'd like the option to learn all instruments, the all-access price is $179.99.
Fender Play's monthly ($9.99) and annual ($89.99) subscriptions offer guitar, bass and ukulele lessons all-inclusive, and include a free trial.
GuitarTricks offers two subscription options - $19.99 for a monthly or $179.99 for an annual plan. GuitarTricks costs 2x as much Fender Play's $9.99 monthly and $89.99 annual subscriptions. Plus, Fender Play's annual subscription offers 10% off Fender guitars and gear all year, any time you make a purchase.
Truefire offers three types of subscription plans - monthly ($19 a month), annual ($199) and lifetime ($1,999).
Fender Play costs $9.99 for a monthly subscription or $89.99 for an annual, 12-month plan. Fender Play's annual plan offers a 25-percent discount vs. the monthly plan, and comes with a 10-percent discount on all Fender gear for an entire year.
Whether you choose a monthly or annual subscription, you have access to a wealth of guitar, bass and ukulele lessons. Both plans come with a no-risk, free trial period.
With new songs added every week, Fender Play's ever-growing song library outpaces other platforms like Uberchord and Guitar MasterClass.
Fender Play's curriculum offers song selections from modern and classic artists like Shawn Mendes, the Strokes, Brad Paisley, Elvis Presley, the Doors and David Bowie. The lessons guide you through hundreds of genre-spanning songs on both acoustic and electric guitar, bass and ukulele.
Based on your chosen instrument and genre, Fender Play offers a guided path of lessons designed to track your progress and have you playing songs in no time. Other platforms, like CoachGuitar, are more self-directed. This means that lessons are not structured based on student's progress and experience level.
Fender Play takes a micro-learning approach with bite-sized tutorials that allow you to progress quickly on your own time.
Other platforms, like JamPlay, have lessons that run more than 40 minutes, requiring a more significant time commitment to make it through a single course.
Fender Play's video tutorials are led by world-class instructors with years of experience in the teaching world. The curriculum was created with a panel of educational advisors from prestigious music programs, such as the Thornton School of Music at University of Southern California in Los Angeles and Musicians Institute in Hollywood.
Yousician and Rocksmith take a more gamified approach to learning. While this is a fun approach, it might not be that effective in the long run.
Fender Play videos are professionally shot with multiple camera angles. In other words, they don't look like they were shot in a basement with random pets wandering into frame. Each video also offers split-screen visuals and different perspectives which means you can easily see finger placement with close-up shots and a unique over-the-shoulder camera angle to capture the player's point of view.
Fender Play offers free apps (such as Tune and Tone) and educational content to help with the learning journey. Players are encouraged to take a "brain break" with educational articles and other informative editorial content, including tips on choosing the right guitar pick or how to best care for your instrument.
The Fender Play Beginner Community is an active, supportive Facebook group created to bring new players together and share their journey. Members get exclusive content and practice tips, live weekly sessions with Fender Play instructors and the ability to interact with other players.
Having a supportive community gives you more motivation to practice and above all, have fun. If you're ready for the next steps, sign up for a free Fender Play trial and join our community.