When I started playing 15 years ago, online guitar lessons were not the all-in-one solution that giant platforms offer today. Many websites have come and gone, and each left behind a lesson on what works and what doesn’t in the online guitar world. The latest to enter the stage, Fender Play, skipped the whole trial and error phase and is now the best platform for beginners and intermediate players.
In this Fender Play Review & Guide, I will help you discover the platform’s full potential and tailor your learning path.
Bottom Line Up-Front: Fender Play offers the best blend of modern online experience with refined to-the-core teaching methods for the guitar, bass, and ukulele. The short, well-structured lessons, the latest online tools, and experienced teachers come at a surprisingly affordable price.
Fender Play keeps players engaged with new lessons and songs from the first steps of playing to when you can play on stage.
Interesting Read: Comprehensive Guide to the Best Songs on Fender Play.
Ultimately reviewing a platform comes down to understanding if the lessons are good and, more importantly, if anything could be done better. Today the standard is much higher than the phone-recorded headless YouTube lesson of 2005, so telling apart the best requires experience in learning and teaching guitar.
Fender Play Pros
- Efficient and well-structured teaching method with short format videos and learning paths
- Excellent backing material and high-end online tools
- Excellent for just starters, beginners, and intermediate players
- Frequently updated lessons, collections, and song libraries
- Standardized high-quality video and audio quality
- Affordable compared to other sources
- Perks from the online community, Fender giveaway, and continuous live streams with teachers
Fender Play Cons
- There is little connection with the teachers as the lessons are standardized, and the same learning path often involves multiple teachers.
- Not many materials for some specific genres and advanced concepts
The Method & Lessons
The first criterion I consider is the entire method used, meaning the sum of all the lessons and the ultimate strategy the teacher is using to provide a step-by-step approach. Learning guitar is a journey that requires daily practice and small chunks of information at a time.
Fender Play couldn’t do this any better, as for every category, song, technique, and skill level, multiple short videos teach the essence and give you time to think and practice before moving on to the other.
The short video lesson format is the most compact and straight to the point to date, avoiding fluff and keeping the player engaged.
Fender was not the first to invent or apply this concept. Teachers like Tim Pierce and Rick Beato did this years before, yet no other big platform with multiple teachers and many learning paths managed to standardize it so well. You will get the core aspect of what you should be playing, properly explained and well divided from the other concept.
There’s no separation in guitar lessons like there is for Squiers and Strats. All are good, with some teachers becoming your favorite in time.
The only downside to this approach is that you don’t get to know the teachers and their playing characters like you would if they had their own courses. They are at their most efficient when teaching at Fender Play, but from my perspective as a teacher, big platforms might over-standardize at times too much to keep quality in check.
Multiple cameras, video, and audio quality meet the standard of any high-value content of 2022.
The Website & App
The Website is one of the most user-friendly for beginners of all the major learning platforms. It makes sense, considering it is the newest and most up-to-date for mobile and desktop.
The most important aspect of a learning website is guiding you where you need to go—the opposite of YouTube lessons, where I went from cowboy chords to sweep picking in the same playlist.
Fender Plays It’s easy to navigate as you find all the main categories or ‘paths’ in the main menu. Different genres, skills, and techniques make it easy to head right to where you left off or catch up like I did on music theory.
The Mobile App is similar and probably even more practical as you can Jam with backing tracks and have the tabs/charts on the screen for guidance in practice mode. When you pause the video, it shows the part you’re playing with a time stamp, and you can change the playback speed to go slower,
Tracking progress in a game-like way is fun and keeps players goal-oriented to make it to the next level.
The Lesson’s Level
It’s no mystery that Fender Play is oriented toward beginners and intermediate players. The teachers, website, lesson, and even backing material aim to teach players with 0 up to a certain skill level.
In truth, advanced players don’t learn in a standardized way as they know what works for them and how they absorb information better.
For example, I would not go through a lesson for 80% of the songs on Fender Play as the studio career made me learn songs by ear or watch only the performance videos in the Fender Play App. My colleagues with a much better ear than me don’t even open covers and just listen and emulate from the records.
Advanced players typically learn from other players, even world-famous ones, concepts and particular techniques or songs that are very hard to figure out on your own. Other platforms like True Fire or Lick Library are more specialized, as they can get guitar stars like Steve Vai or Guthrie Govan to teach their songs and approaches to playing.
The teachers on Fender Play are all professional and experienced in teaching, with the crucial ability to motivate beginners and intermediate players.
Out of all the people who start playing guitar, only a few reach their playing goals, as the struggle to get good is real. With everyday life kicking in, sore fingers and challenging barre chords are better faced with a teacher that is reassuring along with being professional.
That’s not to say that Fender Play teachers are not top-notch players. Some of them have played with the likes of Prince, Jason Newsted, Jeniffer Lopez, and other big acts. Others, like bass teacher Pete Griffin, are Grammy award winners.
I never watched a Fender Play song lesson that has either a wrong note or doesn’t go as deep as to catch the slight nuances of the original recording.
For the level at which Fender Play is aimed, I don’t think guitar stars are fit, as the basics of playing are at times better taught by a teacher who has trained 1000 students rather than a rock star who played 1000 stadiums. Top players are better at offering Masterclasses for upper intermediate and advanced players. They answer questions, share stories from their careers, and show up close to how their unique techniques work.
There are almost as many bass and ukulele lessons as guitar ones for the same subscription. At best, I’m still a lower intermediate bass player, and I got the chance to get schooled by Darren McGuire and Chelsea Stevens on how to play bass properly and not in my guitar player makeshift way.
For $9,99 per month or $89.99 per month for three instruments, it is more convenient than other platforms that typically charge double the price. You could save the price of a new ukulele or your first budget guitar in a year.
Tools and Backing Materials
Almost all the major lessons companies offer excellent backing materials such as backing tracks, tabs, and online tools. What makes the difference in how the material adapts to today’s and tomorrow’s technology?
Modern online tools almost entirely replaced the once heavy-duty Guitar Pro software. Writing and playing tabs with midi sounds is something a website can do. The same, I suspect, will happen soon with a large part of guitar teaching.
Practice Mode lets you play around with the backing track and mute the instrument you want to play. You can mute the guitars, play bass, and use the website as a mini DAW.
The Fender Play “Feedback Mode” will improve in listening to your playing through the device’s mic and rate your accuracy. It is still in beta mode, but like all things technology, it will evolve faster than the instrument.
Fender Play Guide
I went through the painful first month of playing guitar and the stage when the pentatonic felt insufficient. Looking back, I have some ready tips for how to use Fender Play at its best for different types of players.
I Have Never Touched a Guitar Before
The process with fender Player is very straightforward, choose your learning path and start from the very first level.
“First Things First” will take you from naming the string to playing open chords and your first campfire songs. Once you get the basics done, it will be easy to customize your learning experience according to how much time per day you can dedicate to learning.
This way of laying down lessons addresses the common issue we adults have of finding time to practice and, most importantly, laying down a step-by-step process.
I Want to Improve on a Specific Style or Learn Songs
You can choose any from Rock, Pop, Blues, Folk, and Country guitar styles. The teachers are great at showing you the techniques, approaches, and songs of each genre. At times the line blurs, and you get some RnB, metal, and slight glimpses of Jazz.
Collections are the category to look out for as it is continuously updated and addresses a specific style.
If you want to specialize in more extreme genres, like heavily down-tuned metal, djent, or complex jazz, other resources are more fitting as long as you have the basics down.
I Have Some Gaps I Want to Adress
As I mentioned, I needed to brush up on some music theory and did that on Fender Play. You can pick the music theory category, techniques, exercises, and even more specific ones, like getting a good tone on the menu with budget gear.
Most intermediate and advanced self-taught players have learning gaps and often need to get back to the basics. Getting the basics solid is the main criterion for going from intermediate to advanced, as no technique in the world will help you more than knowing the major scales in recording sessions with a singer that wants to change keys.
Does Fender Play Offer Any Perks?
Being a sub-brand of the largest guitar manufacturer in the world comes with a few perks. Fender Play subscriptions are offered for free with the newest Fender affordable guitar series, while members get regular giveaways (yes, new guitars sometimes!).
I even suspect the affordable price of the platform comes from the significant financial backing it gets from the guitar business. While other big websites only depend on the subscription business, Fender Play has the luxury of attracting more and more students with a lower price and higher quality. At least for the time being.
Fender Play Alternatives
As a long-time online guitar student, I have been lucky enough to be taught by the best. I have written a detailed article on Fender Play alternatives, yet I’ll list a few sites to consider here.
The experience session man shares his tips and knowledge of playing on hundreds of records through his masterclass. It’s one of the best online resources for becoming a better performing musician and learning tricky concepts, like modes or music theory, in a practical way.
What I like about Tim are his down-to-earth attitude and non-virtuoso playing. At times he seems just like any average persona who loved music and practiced enough to become great. I think that’s the image we need more than rock stars who never show their process of trial and error like Tim does.
I mentioned it before in the article, as this is where you will most likely find your guitar idols’ lessons. It is an expensive alternative and not as friendly for beginners as Fender Play; however, if you are an intermediate or advanced player passionate about a style or player, I suggest you explore their vast library.
I suggest sticking to Fender Play for ‘general’ learning and purchasing separate lessons from TrueFire, as I did with the Larry Carlton series.
Justin is one of the few that started it all decades ago on YouTube. Justin’s method for beginners was refined almost to perfection when published 15 years ago and is still arguably the best to get you started.
Compared to Fender Play, there’s not a huge selection of songs, styles, and techniques. However, you can start playing your first chords and songs with Justin for free before switching to anything else or sticking to it.
Here’s our complete Justin Guitar Review.
Answer: There is a criterion that I call being rich in musical nutrients. Out of the thousands of songs on Fender Play, some are better at teaching concepts and techniques. Here are my top picks detailed for every player level.
Answer: The Trial is seven days long for the monthly subscription and 14-days long for the yearly one.
Answer: The teachers are highly engaging and motivating and keep basic concepts simple. There are even resources dedicated to teaching children guitar.
Final Thoughts on Getting the Best out of Fender Play
A massive platform like Fender Play is a world to explore in which you should find what works best for you. I agree that the first lessons are the same for everyone, yet some players tend to have a unique learning method early in their playing.
I suggest you go beyond the monthly subscription free trial; seven days are not enough to see improvement, especially if you tend to skip some practice days. Ultimately, even if you choose another platform, you will have a clearer idea of what to look for.
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