In 2004, the National Guitar Workshop recruited me to help bring their analog curriculum into the digital world. Imagine this, I’m sitting in the War Room with guitar experts as we hammered out how we felt that guitar should be taught.
It was exciting, and I absolutely loved my job. But you’ve heard the saying, “The early bird gets the worm,” right? There’s a counter to that saying, “The second mouse gets the cheese.” And that was true in our case.
We were early in the online-guitar-teaching game, and it was the early days of YouTube. It was hard to gain the public’s trust, and we couldn’t compete with free YouTube lessons. But, I don’t regret my time with the Guitar Workshop. They are a great bunch of guys, and it was an honor to be involved in that project.
Then, in 2006, I was at Summer NAMM in Nashville and met with Brad Wenkos, the founder and CEO of TrueFire. Truefire was also in its early days, but they were doing great things then and still are today. We had coffee and chatted about working together. I hoped to become part of their team, but the timing wasn’t right. Nonetheless, I’m still a fan of Truefire and online guitar instruction.
But, I have firm opinions on the topic, and we’ll see if Guitareo can measure up.
Bottom Line Up Front
My biggest gripe with online guitar learning is where you go to ask questions. And, Guitareo offers Forum and Live Q&A sessions and a Comments section for each lesson. The other pluses are a graded curriculum, deep dive courses, song lessons, etc.
It’s challenging to be a one-size-fits-all solution for guitar lessons, but Guitareo has done a damn good job. And, for a little over $10 per month (annual subscription) or $15 per month (monthly subscription), it’s a reasonable deal. You’ve gotten your money’s worth if you take one lesson a month. I encourage you to read on as I’ll cover much of the Guitareo experience in this article. It’s impossible to cover it all, but I’ll do my best,
Overview of Guitareo
Guitareo falls into the online-guitar instruction category and does a great job of offering a graded curriculum system. But, it has so much more to offer, and the way the content is presented makes Guitareo a heavyweight contender.
To begin with, Guitareo boasts three main features: Method, Songs, and Coaches. So, let’s take these apart one by one.
There are 9 Levels designed to take you from Absolute
(Author’s note: some lessons are as short as 6 minutes, and others can be as long as 25 minutes). Most of the lessons are presented by Ayla Tesler-Mabe, and you can see more of her on YouTube. I’ll talk more about her in the Coaches section below.
Each lesson is presented with a well-produced, well-paced video that includes lesson assignments. And the lesson assignments include chord and scale diagrams, tabs, audio examples, playalongs, and loops. Everything that you need to practice.
The lessons and courses are easy to navigate. You can also create your own curriculum list, track your progress, see your completed lessons, and gain awards points.
The method shows the attention to detail and care that went into designing the UI/UX.
Oh, Guitareo, we were doing so well. Not necessarily a deal breaker, but more of a feature that they really want to offer, and it’s just not quite ready. But, not all is lost. Let’s start with the good stuff and what Guitareo does excellently.
Before you get to the song library, there’s a lesson series about how to approach songs, play them with a singer, use a capo, add rhythm and style, use bar chords, etc. This advice is fantastic for those just starting out or learning songs for the first time. And it teaches you how to make the most out of the chord charts.
I get it. Everybody picks up the guitar with a favorite song that they can’t wait to play. But, copyright issues make it difficult for a legitimate site to present these songs without infringing copyright laws.
Also, monthly tuition costs would go through the roof if sites like Guitareo were to approach paying the sync and performance licenses to present the songs properly. So, maybe I’m too hard on them. My gripe is that offering something that you can get with a simple Google search as a feature is a little misleading.
The song charts are your typical lyrics with the chords above, but Guitareo has reformatted them to make them easier to read, more attractive, and print-friendly. They also took the time to offer them in the original key and the guitar-friendly key of G (or Em).
The library stands at around 500 song charts at the time of the writing of this article. And this is a good start for beginners who want to build their song repertoire with guitar-friendly tunes.
The site is built around Ayla Tesler-Mabe. As a presenter, Ayla can play and, more importantly, she can teach. But, the icing on the cake is that she has a great personality and friendly demeanor, which is essential when choosing a guitar teacher.
I can certainly understand why Guitareo chose her to present. And I received a personalized welcome email from her where she introduced herself as my new guitar teacher. It was a nice touch.
Also, in a completely unrelated sidebar, the heroine in Jean Auel’s Earth Children’s Series is named Ayla. And, as a fan of that series, I read it twice. Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.
The site has six active coaches, each with their own area of expertise, and forecasts six upcoming artist coaches. The in-house coaches provide feedback to the comments area of the lessons and present their own courses.
My Guitareo Experience
I actually signed up and created an account to properly evaluate this site. So, in this section, I’ll share my Guitareo experience.
First off, the site is beautiful and well thought out. My questions were answered on the landing page, and I got a good feel for the site. Next, I wanted to sign up, and the site states, “It takes less than a minute to sign up.” They were right. I clicked on “Get Started,” filled in my information, and was good to go in under 60 seconds.
The dashboard is pretty straightforward and easy to navigate. The top section is your go-to information. You get the idea of the layout and how to navigate quickly, beginning with “Home,” where you’ll see the latest news, event reminders, quick links to the method, songs, and coaches, your previous views, and new lessons.
If you sign up, my suggestion is to take an hour or so to familiarize yourself with the site. But, when you see something that you like, click the “+” icon to add the lesson to “My List.” You can always delete it later. The only drawback here is that it puts the newest lesson you clicked on top and can’t change the order.
The Lesson Experience
Although I did cover this above in “The Method” section. I’ll go into a little more detail here. The coaches are all experienced players and have a relaxed manner of teaching that allows you time to absorb the instruction.
But, what really makes this a good learning experience is the assignments after the lesson. Depending on the lesson, there are multiple assignments that you work your way through. Once completed, you can move on to the next lesson. Although I was a little disappointed at the midi sounds accompanying the guitar notation for the exercises, it doesn’t detract from the application.
The assignments are a real difference maker to most other sites. Many sites tell you what to practice, whereas the Guitareo assignments show you how to practice.
The Main Features in a Nutshell
- A community guide helps you navigate the site and improve your experience. And the community guide is a real person and one of the coaches.
- Each lesson pack (that’s what they call a group of lessons) starts with an overview video.
- You can follow a graded curriculum or cherry-pick through courses.
- The lesson assignments help you apply what you just learned and practice with looped audio and notation (music and tab).
- Track your progress and completion.
- Receive achievement points.
- Song Lessons and Play-Along Track Lessons deliver valuable advice.
- Forums and Comments encourage interaction and provide a community culture.
- Student Focus allows you to submit a video for Student Reviews and Live Q&A sessions with a Guitareo coach.
- Plus, additional non-instructional content.
There is no free membership. You have to sign up to the site and pay. But, there is a 90-day money-back guarantee.
There are two pricing tiers:
- Monthly $15 per month
- Annual $127 per year (29% savings vs. Monthly)
Pros and Cons
- Easy signup and simple payment options
- 90-day money back guarantee
- Easy to navigate
- Step-by-step curriculum
- Great for beginners to early intermediate players
- Community feel
- Not much for intermediate to advanced players
- Not much for specialized styles
Who Will Benefit from the Guitareo Experience
This site attempts to cover most of the bases but excels at helping students form a solid foundation. The step-by-step method and how to approach songs lesson packs will help get you ready for your first band.
- If you’re just starting out and unsure what to look for or where to go, you could learn a lot from Guitareo. I suggest the annual subscription.
- If you’re returning to the instrument after a break or a not-so-positive online-learning experience, you should try Guitareo. I also suggest the annual subscription.
- If you’ve been playing for a while and, after some soul-searching, realize that there are a lot of holes in your foundation. Then I suggest the monthly subscription.
- Also, if you’re a
beginner-level player and want to explore different styles, then Guitareo offers specialized courses focusing on rock, blues, jazz, classical, and metal. But, these work best for beginners exploring the style. I suggest that you sign up for a month and test it out.
Who Will Struggle with the Guitareo Experience
The site is not aimed at specialized study, although they offer it. Yes, there are metal lessons and some blues, jazz and classical courses. But, if you already have an interest in these styles, then you may be disappointed.
- If you’re an intermediate or advanced player interested in different music styles, then Jam Track Central or Truefire might be a better fit.
- Maybe you’re a
beginnerwho’s interested in jazz. Here I strongly suggest Matt Warnock Guitar.
- Also, if you’re a
beginner, the monthly subscription might be a financial burden at this time. And, you want a graded system that’s free. I suggest Justin Guitar or Marty Music on YouTube.
I also suggest an article that the Guitar Space team put together, How to Find the Best Online Guitar Courses, which can provide you with more information.
Finding an online-guitar lesson site these days can be overwhelming because of the many available choices. The good thing about that is that the stiffer the competition, the more challenging sites like Guitareo have to create interest and keep students motivated. This benefits the buyer.
I was really impressed with this site, and if I were starting on guitar, I would love to jump on Guitareo. They do a great job in addressing the needs of the
I fondly remember the music-store culture that I was a part of when I was learning. I’d show up early for lessons and hang out after the class. I’d play the guitars for sale and eavesdrop on the older players’ conversations. While there is no way to duplicate this experience in the digital world, Guitareo is heading in the right direction.
Being one of the newer sites to join the online guitar-teaching party has allowed Guitareo to learn from other sites’ shortcomings. Is Guitareo the new standard? I don’t think so. But, I applaud them for knowing their audience and addressing their needs.
My “I don’t think so” is not a negative reflection on the Guitareo team. It’s a critique of the industry as a whole. No one site will fulfill all of your requirements. But, Guitareo will get you started in the right direction. I’m interested to see what the future holds for Guitareo and the online-guitar-teaching industry in the next 5-10 years.
Answer: For starters, convenience. Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to learn using your computer or mobile device. The lessons are available whenever you need them, and you get to work at your own pace.
Answer: The pros I mentioned above are the convenience. If you’re not disciplined enough to commit to a regular practice/learning schedule, online lessons may not be for you. You would benefit more by being accountable to a weekly class with a teacher. The good news is that you can still do that online.
Answer: Most courses provide a free trial or a money-back guarantee, as in Guitareo’s case. My suggestion is that if you’re still reading and still considering a membership, then you should give Guitareo a try. If you’re not motivated after a week or two, then cancel your membership and try another course or find an online teacher.
Answer: Songs require a certain amount of skill before you can perform them at an enjoyable level. You need to have a working knowledge of a handful of chords before playing songs. The good news is that after a few months of taking lessons you should be able to switch chords and strum effectively.
Answer: There are two pricing tiers:
• Monthly $15 per month
• Annual $127 per year (29% savings vs. Monthly)
Answer: Everybody’s different. But, if you put in the time (2-3 hour practice sessions, 3-4 times per week), you should be able to play songs in a few months.