Fender Play Review
- Song-centric learning method
- Learn at your own pace with bite-sized lesson design
- Attractive pricing when compared to competitors
- Self-learning platform requires dedication and motivation
- Song-centric approach may not be best for those wanting to write their own music
- Lack of advanced topics
Learning to play the guitar is one of the most satisfying accomplishments you may ever make. But let’s be honest – it’s not the easiest thing in the world.
If it was that simple then anyone could do it, right?
There are many ways available to make guitar playing easier to learn. One that stands out based on reviews we have seen is the Fender Play system of online guitar lessons.
Let’s take a look and see if Fender Play could be the answer you are looking for.
Things to Consider Before Signing Up For Fender Play
Fortunately, there are many ways to shorten the learning curve, and one way that can work really well is learning how to play guitar with online lessons. But they aren’t for everyone, and there are points to keep in mind if you’re considering taking the plunge.
Levels of difficulty
Learning to play guitar can be considered a journey of sorts, and every journey has a beginning. Make sure that the system you chose has enough depth and content to keep you going as you progress from beginner to intermediate to advanced playing levels.
Levels of content
Some of the concepts with playing guitar can be confusing, so having lessons broken down into bite-sized pieces is a big help. This can also increase your motivation level as you’ll mentally achieve mini-goals along the way.
Ease of use
Some of the courses online offer simple text-based lessons similar to that which you can find in most guitar magazines. Nothing wrong with that, but more advanced systems utilize the benefits of video and sound clips to help guide you through. This can be a big deal as being able to “see” and “hear” what you’re learning may help your overall comprehension.
The Fun Factor
Most people start to play guitar to learn how to play their favorite songs. One downside with the beginner stages is that there are theoretical rules which you have to learn that are…well…boring.
Being able to take what you’ve learned and actually use it by playing a song can get you closer to your goal in a faster manner, while keeping it fun at the same time!
Private lessons can be expensive, and so can online courses. Keep in mind that the cheapest classes may not be the best and that the more pricey ones may offer features that you may not need. Look for the system that best fits your needs, playing level and the way you like to learn. And – it goes without saying – make sure the price fits within your budget.
Introducing: Fender Play
Fender Play is a guitar lesson system backed by one of the biggest and most respected brands in the guitar business. Launched in 2017, it can be delivered as a desktop application in addition to iOS and Android app support. It is song-centric in approach, meaning that it uses popular songs by top artists to show real-world applications of the music theory and techniques that we all love to hate.
So far we have been talking about guitar lessons specifically, but Fender Play isn’t just for guitar players. It has recently added lessons for both the bass guitar and ukulele as well.
Fender Play may be your go-to resource for learning to play if you are self-motivated and like to pace your learning. At the same time, if you are a person that does better with accountability and face-to-face interaction then private lessons may be a better choice.
I recall how much I hated when my private teacher got on my case about not learning what I was supposed to learn for the week. I was young and a little lazy, but admittedly he held me accountable. Online lessons are like online college courses – the information is there but it’s up to you to put the time and effort into it.
Fender Play Review – What Makes It Tick?
Fender Play’s overall design takes it past a simple collection of videos as you can find (for free, I might add) on YouTube. Let’s review some of the main features and benefits of Fender Play and see if it may be a good fit for you…
Fender Play offers a free 14 day trial period (it was 30 days at launch) so you can give it a test run before forking over your hard earned cash. You won’t learn to play Van Halen’s “Eruption” in two weeks, for sure, but that’s more than enough time to figure out if the overall package is something that you’ll use – at least, use enough to pay for it on a monthly (or annual) basis.
The current trial offer also will give you a 10% discount on all Fender gear – guitars, amps, you name it (except the high-end Custom Shop). This discount only applies if you buy the annual subscription but still – if you’re looking at making a few major gear purchases (and happen to be a Fender fanatic) you can save yourself a few bucks.
Once you join you will be taken to a few screens where you tell Fender Play what your preferences are. Right off the bat, they ask you what you want to play (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, ukelele, or bass).
From there you then select the style or genre of music that you are most interested in (rock, blues, folk, country, or pop). Sorry – no jazz or classical options are available.
Fender Play then will show you songs, basic lessons, and articles that are geared toward your preferences. They are presented in levels of difficulty ranging from Level 1 to Level 5 (this is called “My Path”). While some of the information is pretty general and can span across all styles, it’s convenient to have lessons and songs geared towards your taste all in one place.
Small Lesson Size
One drawback of some other guitar instructional courses is the length of the lessons. Let’s face it – most people (no matter how motivated they are) may have a hard time spending an entire hour focused on one particular topic.
Fender Play takes this head-on by having small, almost nugget sized lessons that give you just enough information as to not overload your brain and make your head explode. I didn’t see one lesson (or set of lessons) on a topic that was over 20 minutes.
I can say from personal experience that having trouble understanding something can be one of the main reasons why people give up trying to play the guitar. This approach makes it easier to comprehend and learn because it’s not all thrown at you at one time.
Yeah, I know – information is information. That’s true, but if the information isn’t being presented in a way that’s easy to understand then why bother?
It’s obvious to me that Fender made sure to have the videos look great from a professional level. Featuring multiple camera angles (which are great for showing how your hands are supposed to be positioned), they also have timelines for each video where you can click ahead or go back to review certain points.
The lessons themselves are broken down into three categories:
Skill lessons are where theory, techniques, and other general aspects related to playing guitar are discussed. They range from “Guitar 101” at Level 1 up to how to play a 12 bar blues at Level 5.
The information does seem to geared towards beginning to intermediate levels, as even on Level 5 I did not see any sort of lessons on advanced rock soloing techniques such as finger tapping, sweep picking, pinch harmonics, etc.
For those just starting down the path, though, what Fender Play does offer is more than enough to get you started.
Similar to the “Song” lessons, learning a riff is more focused on just one part of a song. Think of the beginning to “Satisfaction” by The Rolling Stones – that’s a riff.
Fender Play has literally hundreds of song lessons across all of the styles you can select for your customized path. From Incubus, The Police, and The Oak Ridge Boys, I think it’s a safe bet to say that you’ll find at least a few songs that you’ll want to check out how to play.
Fender Play also has an Articles section as well. Topics range from “5 People Who Should Learn To Play Guitar” to talking about the day that Hendrix killed it on The Star-Spangled Banner. Some of the information is pretty basic, and none of them are excessively long. I could see myself spending a good bit of time just perusing what’s there.
It’s a good way to take a break from your practicing or just to kill a little time.
A minor feature but handy nonetheless, the Toolkit is where you can find online tuners for guitar, bass, and ukulele in addition to links to the Apple iTunes store and Google Play to download the apps.
In addition, there are links to the Fender Tone apps where, if you have certain types of Fender amps (Mustang GT and Rumble), you can change settings and load presets right from your phone.
What Do Others Have To Say?
Taking a look at the multitude of reviews from around the web, it seems that the opinion on Fender Play is somewhat varied.
Most agree that the overall presentation is of top quality, while at the same time mentioning the lack of more advanced topics (and that much of the information presented can be found online for free).
The general consensus is that Fender Play is a good tool for beginners, but there are other options on the market that would be a better choice for the long term.
The beginner phase of learning to play guitar can be the most difficult. It’s true that once you get to the advanced level that you’ll run into challenges as well.
At that point, though, you’ll have already gotten past learning the basics and have a good grasp on a lot of the ideas and concepts that seem foreign at the start.
The concept and design of Fender Play make it a great tool for a beginning guitarist. One of the hardest things to do with any topic is to make difficult concepts easy to learn. It does a solid job of breaking things down to where it’s easy to digest.
Additionally, the vast number of song lessons available help to apply what you’ve learned; that in and of itself can be a great motivator to keep pushing to get better!
You can find out more about Fender Play by clicking here. With the 14 day free trial there really isn’t much at risk, right?