Fender Play Review
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Last Updated: August 2022
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.
Let’s get into it…
Quick Review of 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 Play very much seems 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 to get into guitar training, 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.
All in all, Fender Play 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.
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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.
Review Table of Contents
- 2 Cost, Features, Pros + Cons
- 2.1 Fender Play vs. the Competition
- 2.2 What’s Included in Fender Play
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), Fender Play might be the best program for you.
The main criticism we have for our two favorite online guitar lessons is that there’s just SO MUCH material, it can be overwhelming. Fender Play doesn’t have that problem, 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.
Fender Play Video Review
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More About the Program
Fender Play is 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 Fender Play review, 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 in Fender Play vs. other options. The main criticism we have for other online guitar lessons is that there’s just SO MUCH material, it can be overwhelming.
But 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)
An easy and fun way to learn guitar
- Limited number of styles/genres you can learn in
- Not at all a “comprehensive” course – not as much content as Guitar Tricks
- Not enough intermediate/advanced lessons after you learn the fundamentals
- No community section or live lessons or other bonuses/extras
Who This Program is 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 it Stacks 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 our Fender Play review makes it stack up against other guitar lessons we’ve reviewed.
Fender Play vs. Guitar Tricks
Both Fender Play and Guitar Tricks 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 Fender Play in it’s implementation of the “learning path” and the sequence of lessons/exercises. Fender Play 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 than Fender Play. But if you’re looking for a comprehensive alternative to Fender Play, 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 learning path like with Fender Play. 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 for Fender Play 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 in Fender Play 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 chords 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 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/guitar scales 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 in this Fender Play review, 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 fingerpicking 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:
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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 reviewed here. 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 Fender Play 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. At the beginning of this Fender Play review 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.
Product Design and How it Affects Use
As mentioned earlier in this review, we think Fender Play 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 we’ve reviewed. 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 Fender Play 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.
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 as good as Fender Play is, it’s still not our first choice for where to learn guitar.
When compared to other programs we review, it just falls a bit short in terms of quantity. The quality is fantastic, but it isn’t super comprehensive when compared to other options
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, Fender Play is a solid program. Especially if you’re looking for an “all-in-one” membership program to learn multiple instruments.
Thanks for reading our complete Fender Play review – we hope you found it helpful!
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