Fender Play Review
An in-depth look at Fender’s guitar training platform
Last Updated: October 2023 | Article Details: 3496 words (18 – 20 minute read)
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In this Fender Play review, we’re going to see how this fairly new player stands up to the competition.
We’ll go over what’s included, what the learning experience is like and whether it’s worth your time and money.
If you’re a complete beginner there are a ton of guitar lesson options for you to choose from.
So, is Fender Play worth it compared to the rest of the picks out there?
Let’s get into it…
Table of Contents
7.7/10 Stars Overall
Key Decision Making Factors
- Ease of Use – 8/10 – The easiest of all the platforms to use – top notch website design, perfect user learning flow and easy to follow content
- Comprehensiveness – 7/10 – not extremely comprehensive, but it does have enough to keep you busy and learn everything you need to know about playing guitar
- Lesson Quality – 8.5/10 – well-shot and produced video based lessons, content is short/concise, not boring and you start playing cool riffs/songs almost immediately
- Affordability – 8.5/10 – very affordable option for – cheaper that competitors for both monthly and yearly price points for first year
- Standout Features – 6.5/10 – best-in-class learning path/user flow, interactive lessons + exercises, most eye catching design, progress tracker. No extras/bonuses really included.
Should You Subscribe: YES, if you’re just getting started with guitar and need a well-structured beginner program that will get you from A to B easily (and if a fun way), This might be the best program for you. (Use Coupon Code learntoplay50 for 50% Off an Annual Plan + a 2 Week Free Trial!)
The main criticism we have for our two favorite guitar training programs (Guitar Tricks and TrueFire) is that there’s just SO MUCH material, it can be overwhelming.
Fender guitar lessons don’t have that problem as much, BUT if you’re looking for a comprehensive program that has content on EVERYTHING you could possibly want, go with something like Guitar Tricks instead.
Overall, though, is Fender Play worth it? Yes we think so. Especially complete beginners who may have short attention spans.
All About Fender Play
Fender is a legendary guitar company, and their relatively new platform is pretty good. It was actually one of my favorite learning experiences of all the programs we reviewed.
It’s a great (not the best) option for beginners, and is extremely easy to use, but is probably not really for anyone who’s got experience playing guitar.
If you’re intermediate and want to really master your craft, another option is probably better.
Fender guitar lessons seem very much like an “add-on,” to the company portfolio but it does have some good content and a great user flow. It makes sense for Fender online lessons, but it’s evident it’s not a focus for the company. Despite that, it has a great price-point (for the first year), has well-shot/produced videos and the best learning path/learning experience in the game.
But as I said earlier, it is NOT the best option for most students out there. It’s not extremely comprehensive, and there aren’t a lot of extras/bonuses included in your membership. And even though your learning path is customized, some of the content (especially the beginner stuff) is recycled across instruments/styles.
So, is Fender Play good?
All in all, it is a GREAT choice for beginners who want a set of short, concise lessons and a hand-held/guided approach to learning guitar. And the best part (beyond the actually fun/engaging content) is that you can learn electric, acoustic, ukulele AND bass all with one subscription.
More About the Program
The lessons are presented in a very step-by-step approach to going from not knowing anything, to being able to play at a novice level in the most popular styles, without much confusion or overwhelm. When we started our review of Fender Play, we found this program had our favorite style of lessons – short, concise and engaging. You start to play cool riffs almost immediately. It’s also very affordable when comparing to other platforms.
The learning path Fender has laid out is the best we’ve seen. You start by answering a couple of questions to determine the best path for you. And then you’re right into playing (after a couple short fundamentals video). These “basics” content are interspersed with more engaging exercises and tutorials based on popular songs/riffs. It’s not 1+ hours of dry fundamentals straight.
And when you’re ready, there’s a great selection of skills, styles and songs you can learn to play in the program, too.
But that’s really where it stops. If you want to go beyond the fundamentals of playing guitar and really hone in on skills or styles, you have a limited amount of content compared to other options. The main criticism we have for other online guitar lessons is that there’s just SO MUCH material, it can be overwhelming.
And to be honest, the Fender Guitar app does feel a bit limited. It’s difficult (if not impossible) to print out the tabs or sheet music you want to practice. It’s easier to just use the app, but that is more cumbersome than just being able to keep a few pieces of paper around for a quick practice session.
And options like TrueFire, Jamplay or Guitar Tricks, as overwhelming as they can be, have a ton of stuff on specific skills and advanced guitar techniques. They’re the truly comprehensive options when you’re looking to really master the guitar in any way you could think of.
Bottom line, Fender Play is a GREAT option to start your guitar learning journey. But it’s not the best overall, because it’s not the most comprehensive option.
- $9.99 / month
- $99.99 / year (includes 10% off all Fender purchases during subscription for US/UK users)
- Complete beginner training for electric/acoustic, ukulele or bass all in one subscription
- Based on a customized “learning path” featuring 5 to 7 levels/modules (depending on instrument/style)
- Learning path consists of concise videos of fundamentals + skills interspersed with song/riff work from jump
- Styles: Rock/Blues/Pop/R&B+Soul/Country/Folk, Bass Styles: Funk/Rock
- After learning path several “collections” are available for intermediate content (ex/ Blues, Slap Bass, Punk Rock Crash Course, etc).
- Along with “collections” several skills content available on things like finger rolls, alternate picking, etc. and include exercises/drills
- Hundreds of song lessons available in a variety of genres/styles
- Includes “Chord Challenge” game to develop finger dexterity
- Legendary name and brand synonymous with “guitars”
- The most fun/engaging program we’ve tried
- Learn acoustic/electric, bass or ukulele all in one subscription
- High quality video with a large library of songs (more modern music than competitors)
- Simple to follow-along for beginner’s plan with zero overwhelm/confusion
- 14 day free trial
- Get 10% off Fender products with your membership (annual membership only, for UK/US/AUS residents)
- Limited number of styles/genres you can learn in
- Not at all a “comprehensive” course – not as much content as something like Guitar Tricks
- Not enough intermediate/advanced Fender lessons after you learn the fundamentals
- No community section or live lessons or other bonuses/extras
- Fender Guitar App (mobile + web) is limited in features (ex/ printing out tabs easily)
Who Fender Lessons Are Best For
- Complete beginners who want a well-guided + hand-held approach to learning their instrument
- Anyone who wants to avoid the confusion/overwhelm of something like Guitar Tricks/True Fire
- Guitarists interested in Rock/Blues/Pop/R&B+Soul/Country/Folk/Funk
- Anyone that wants to learn multiple types of guitar (acoustic/electric/ukulele/bass) without needed different programs
- Students who have a Fender guitar or plan on purchasing one (or any accessories) in the future
How Fender Online Lessons Stack Up to Competitors
There are a lot of options out there to learn guitar. Many of the programs have been around longer than Fender Play. So how does the program stand up to these other options?
Here’s how it stack up against other guitar lessons we’ve checked out.
Fender Play vs. Guitar Tricks
Both options have a guided, hand-held approach to teaching complete beginners. But there are a few important differences. There’s no doubt, that with over 11,000 videos, Guitar Tricks is the much more comprehensive program. They have more styles/genres to learn and probably additional skills/techniques lessons too.
But Guitar Tricks is nowhere near as good as FP in it’s implementation of the “learning path” and the sequence of lessons/exercises. FP is just a lot more engaging and fun to follow along with, especially in the beginning. Whereas some of Guitar Tricks’ lessons can get dry/boring, Fender Play’s are concise and short and interspersed with fun exercises.
Fender Play vs. Jamplay
Jamplay used to be our favorite all around training program, but they’ve fallen off recently. They’re no longer the one we recommend most. But it is still a more comprehensive option. If you’re looking for a comprehensive alternative, though, we’d recommend Guitar Tricks instead.
Jamplay has a lot more bells and whistles and, of course, more content, but it doesn’t have any sort of hand-held guided approach. There’s no guided learning path. It’s just a ton of content and you’re left to figure out what to take first and what to do next. Further it hasn’t been updated with new content in a while. So we no longer recommend it as our #1 pick.
Fender Play vs. TrueFire
The same criticisms we have of Jamplay above, we have for TrueFire. TrueFire is probably the most comprehensive program out there – it’s got over 54,000 lessons. But it doesn’t have any clear learning path for beginners like Guitar Tricks or Fender Play. However, it has a similar yearly subscription price to FP and also allows you to learn multiple instrument types.
But beyond that, it’s not the best option for beginners. It’s better for novice/intermediate/advanced players looking to level up their skills.
What’s Included and How it All Works
When you first sign up at play.fender.com, you’ll be taken through a quick “survey” to see what style you want to learn in – pop/country/rock/blues/folk – and whether you want to learn acoustic/electric guitar, ukulele or bass.
Don’t worry, you’re not forced to only learn this, you can always change this later.
Once you choose your “path” you’ll be presented with 5 different levels. These lessons will get you to the ability to actually play your instrument.
Then you can access their supplementary/skills lessons:
- Collections (styles beyond the main path)
- “Chord Challenge” training game
Each level of the main course content covers a particular fundamental skill you’ll need as a guitarist.
After that you’re able to drill down a bit, but not as in-depth ad exhaustively as some of the other options out there.
Below, we’ll give you an example of what the learning path looks like. In this specific case, we chose the “electric” and “blues” path for learning. Bonus points if you learn on a Fender Strat.
Level 1: Fundamentals – 17 Sections
This level is where you’ll learn the absolute basics of playing guitar. After a quick introduction you’ll learn the 101 stuff – parts of the instrument, how to hold a guitar and pick, the notes, etc. Then you jump right into learning and playing a simple riff.
After that you get into good strumming habits, reading tabs and chord diagrams, common problems beginners face and then another set of riff/song lessons. Level 1 then gets rounded out with some basic guitar chord formations and more riffs/songs.
Level 2: Building on the Basics – 23 Sections
Next up you’re going to build on the skills you learned in Level 1. You start with a warm-up lesson and then dive into reading rhythm in music before getting to this level’s first riff/song combo.
You’ll also learn more about notes and get introduced to power chords on the guitar and the 8th note strumming technique. They also introduce capo’s, shuffle feeling and how to jam with a bass player.
Level 3: Taking it Further – 22 Sections
The next level is similar to the previous in the way it’s structured. You start with a warm-up, and then more on to a skill to build your fundamentals, before getting to a riff/song lesson to practice what you learn.
In this section, you’ll be introduced to more chords, rhythms and genre-specific styling.
Level 4: Advancing Your Basic Technique – 21 Sections
Now it’s time to learn some more techniques for playing your preferred style. You’ll learn about techniques like hammer-ons, pull-offs and more. You’re also introduced to the pentatonic scale.
Needless to say, there are lots of genre-specific riff/song lessons to help you learn the techniques better.
Level 5: The Final Level – 22 Sections
After the warm-up you’re diving into playing in more keys/scales on guitar while getting introduced to things like diatonic harmony and solfege. They also go over palm-muting and more power chords.
You’ll also have a couple lessons, of bringing everything you learned together, to play like you know what you’re doing.
To be honest, this module seems to be pretty underwhelming.
Other Course Sections
As mentioned above, there are other sections beyond the fundamentals. In the songs section you get a wide variety of lessons from classics like The Rolling Stones and Aretha Franklin, to more contemporary musicians like Billie Eilish.
In the “collections” section you get different collections on various topics. Some of these include “how to read rhythm” or “easy R&B songs.” There are some intermediate concepts here like alternate guitar tunings and picking techniques.
In the “skills” section you are able to dive deeper into specific skills like learning “6/8 time signatures” or exploring the “A Minor Pentatonic Scale” in depth. This is categorized into 7 sections here:
Try Out Fender Play – a GREAT Guitar Program – Today!
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Best Fender Path for Beginners
There’s no one best path for you to take if you’re trying to learn to play guitar or bass.
It really all depends on the style of guitar you want to learn. All of the different Fender learning paths will make it easy for complete beginners to get started.
So the decision regarding the best fender path for beginners will really depend on two questions:
- What Type of Guitar Do You Have?
- What Kind of Music Do You Want to Play?
Based on the answers to those two questions, you should be able to choose a fender learning path pretty easily.
For example, I used the Bass – Funk path initially because I wanted to learn bass in more funky/soulful/R&B styles. It made the most sense for me.
But if you want to play Country music styles on an acoustic guitar, on the other hand, your best fender path would be Acoustic – Country.
Especially in the beginning stages of your learning, whatever path you take will be as easy/difficult as the others.
The Evolution of Fender Play Over Time
Although it’s been around for a few years now, Fender Play is still not as old as other options we’ve looked at. But so far, it’s been a promising evolution of the program. They seem to be adding new content every now and then and keeping things interesting. They also add new songs to their song library, and they’re often much more modern songs than some of the competitors.
So I have hope that this platform will stand the test of time, and continue to evolve in a positive direction. But I don’t think it’s going to change or evolve much. If you remember, at the beginning of this post (and in other reviews we’ve seen) we mentioned that this really does just feel like an “add-on” and not something that will be a large focus of Fender the company – which does kind of suck.
Product Design and How it Affects Use
As mentioned earlier, we think Play.Fender.com is the best designed guitar training website we’ve come across. It’s clean, easy to use/navigate and has a clear starting point and path for students to follow. There’s no confusion or overwhelm that are inherent to all the other main options. Fender really did a good job here.
The lessons and the sequence of material is also very well structured and designed. The videos are high quality and the exercises are completely interactive. It’s a very well designed program overall. And the video lessons are short, concise and engaging – not long and drawn out.
What’s more is you’re not left to be bored by theory and basics for hours before getting to actually play. As soon as you start the program, you spend a few minutes on fundamentals and then get right into playing a really cool riff from a popular song. I was using the program for Funk Bass and by lesson 3 I was practicing the iconic bass riff from “Boom Boom” by John Lee Hooker.
That’s why Fender Play is by far my personal favorite learning experience, even if it isn’t the most comprehensive program.
Frequently Asked Questions
Fender Play is definitely worth it for anyone who’s a beginner on guitar and doesn’t like long, drawn-out lessons. If you have trouble focusing on “lessons” for long periods of time and want to get right to the playing/practicing, this is the best set of lessons for you. But it’s not as comprehensive as some other programs.
Fender Play is best for beginner guitar players. It’s a great way to learn and master the basics and fundamentals of playing. But if you’re an intermediate or advanced player, you’re better off subscribing to a more comprehensive program like TrueFire.
Yes, if you’re a beginner at guitar this will help you learn exactly how to play and give you a lot of practice material that is fun to do. The lessons are short and snappy and interspersed with practice material so you get right to playing quickly. The overall program will definitely work to get you playing guitar fast.
Fender Play does have some information on basic music theory and how to read music so that you’re able to follow along with the lessons. However, since it’s not a hugely comprehensive program, it’s not the best place to get in-depth theory lessons. The focus of the lesson program is to get you playing guitar as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Yes, sometimes you can find offers to get a free year of membership if you purchase a Fender Guitar. Make sure the particular guitar you’re buying comes with the free offer.
The Final Verdict
I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this guitar course for beginners – it’s the simplest, funnest and most engaging way to learn, even though it’s not the most comprehensive set of lessons out.
Fender is a trustworthy name in the world of guitars. There’s no doubt. But it is still not our first choice for learning guitar online.
When compared to other programs, it just falls a bit short in terms of quantity.
That’s why our overall #1 pick for most people is Guitar Tricks.
And even though the main “learning path” you take is well laid out and easy to follow, the supplemental sections of Fender Play may give you a bit of overwhelm when choosing what to do next.
All in all, though, this is a solid program. Especially if you’re looking for an “all-in-one” membership program to learn multiple instruments.
If you really want to become a better guitar player fast, I highly recommend you check out Guitar Tricks (14 Day Free Trial) – they’ve got a TON of in-depth video lessons on everything you could possibly want to learn.
Thanks for reading our complete Fender Play review – we hope you found it helpful!
Other Guides You Might Like:
- Fundamentals of Playing Guitar
- Advanced Guitar Techniques
- Guitar Tricks Review
- Our Guitar Mastery Method Review
- Our Review of TrueFire
- Practice Guide for Guitar Players
- Good Strumming Habits
- Reading Tabs and Chord Diagrams
- Basic Guitar Chord Formations
- Power Chords on Guitar
- Scales on Guitar
- Picking Techniques
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