Fender Play Review

Acoustic Guitar Electric Guitar April 6, 2020
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Fender Play Review

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Learning how to play the guitar can seem like a huge undertaking. Whether you want to play the acoustic guitar or the electric guitar, you first have to get all of the necessary equipment and accessories, which can be a huge undertaking on its own.

Fender Play Scorecard
Fender Play
fendor play logo
Overall Score
Pros
  • Affordable price & generous trial period
  • Excellent video quality
  • Learn guitar, bass, and/or ukulele with one membership
  • Site is updated with new content frequently
Cons
  • Homepage is pretty mysterious, not much to see before signing up and entering a payment option
  • You have to provide a payment method before you can access lessons
  • No option to slow down video speed (yet)
Pros
  • Affordable price & generous trial period
  • Excellent video quality
  • Learn guitar, bass, and/or ukulele with one membership
  • Site is updated with new content frequently
Cons
  • Homepage is pretty mysterious, not much to see before signing up and entering a payment option
  • You have to provide a payment method before you can access lessons
  • No option to slow down video speed (yet)
Accessibility & Design
Quality of Visual Aids
Lessons Available
Instructors & Teaching Methods
Unique Features
Trial Period
Pricing & Refund Policy

Once you get all of that settled, you still have to learn how to play, which requires a good amount of time, practice and patience.

The Fender Play home page.

However, Fender Play is an informative, easy-to-follow platform that takes the pressure off so you can enjoy your musical journey.

If you’ve never played before, if you play a little bit and consider yourself a beginner, or if you’re at the intermediate level and want to expand your skills, Fender Play is a very good option.

Fender Play Video Review

How I Tested It

I spent a few days exploring the site using the free trial, and I found it to be very easy to navigate.

It’s definitely geared toward people at the beginner to low-intermediate level, so I wouldn’t recommend this for players who are at a more advanced level. That being said, I’ve been playing guitar for about 35 years but I’m completely self-taught.

I have an acoustic guitar that I play often, but I can’t finger pick to save my life. So, I chose the acoustic folk path to see if I could learn a few things.

Getting started with a lesson.

I followed along with some of the introductory lessons just to get a feel for how the website worked, and then I skipped ahead to get to the nitty-gritty.

It was cool to learn some new terms and a few practice drills, and I started to feel very comfortable with some basic finger picking after a short while.

The production value of the videos is really good and the instructors have clearly done a lot of teaching. Also, I liked that the instructors were all relaxed, friendly and encouraging.

They stress the importance of practicing, going at your own pace and not worrying about making mistakes, which I think is important to point out. It’s not fun trying to learn a new thing that’s supposed to be fun if you feel pressured or nervous!

What It Offers

The 2,500 available lessons on Fender Play are formatted into guided paths containing what they call “bite-sized lessons.” Meaning, they’re short. (The videos are typically between 2:00-5:00 minutes.)

The lessons are easy to follow and, because they’re so short, it’s very simple to rewind or replay them in case you missed something, or want to redo them if you feel like you need a little more practice.

And, at the end of each path there’s a “Self-Assessment,” which is sort of like a final review and skills test. It gives you an opportunity to decide if you’re ready to move on to the next level. If so, move on.

If not, no worries! Just keep practicing at your own speed until you feel like you’re ready.

Choose your path and level, and start taking lessons.

There are so many different features and options on Fender Play, its easy to go at your own pace, skip around from lesson to lesson, and get the most out of your learning experience.

For example, there are lots of great fundamental videos about how to properly tune your guitar, how to hold your pick, how to strum correctly and memorizing the names of the strings. But, if you already know that stuff, you’re not forced to sit through those videos just so you can get to ones that are more beneficial or interesting.

It also offers the chance to learn how to read and play tablature or “tabs” but it’s entirely your call if that’s something you want to learn. Plus, there are lots of different songs in their ever-growing library that you can practice along to, with or without tabs. But, again, not mandatory.

Using “Streaks” to help keep you motivated to practice.

Other options are that you can mark certain lessons as favorites if you want to quickly go back to them, you can set practice reminders to help keep you on track, and you can go on what Fender Play calls, “streaks.”

You’re on a streak when you visit Fender Play three times a week, on separate days, and watch a lesson (or lessons) for at least 7 minutes.

You get notified when you’re on a streak and Fender Play tracks it for you. It’s a nice way to help keep you on track and stay motivated.

Some of the top features include:

  • 2,500 video lessons for guitar, bass and ukulele
  • Switch between instruments and styles
  • Beginner to intermediate level lessons
  • Ever-expanding music library to play along with
  • Tablature option

Signing Up

Once you create an account you can take the lessons on a computer, or download the free app for phone or tablet. Your account is merged across devices so you can switch between your computer, phone or tablet seamlessly and pick up where you left off.

The cost for Fender Play is either $9.99 per month or $89.99 per year. They offer a 14-day free trial but, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they are currently offering a 3-month free trial by visiting fenderplay.com/playthrough (The current 3-month offer expires on April 20, 2020 or after 500,000 redemptions. Offer not valid for existing subscribers.)

You do not need to enter a credit or debit card number to use the free trial.

You must be 16 years of age, or the age of majority in your province, territory or country, to become a member of Fender Play. Individuals under the age of 18, or applicable age of majority, may utilize the service only with the involvement of a parent or legal guardian.

After your free trial is up and if you wish to continue with a paid subscription, you can upgrade at any time, and access to your lessons will not lapse.

They accept Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover for credit cards, and Visa, Mastercard, American Express and JCB for debit cards. (Credit and debit card subscriptions are auto-renewed monthly or annually, depending on which subscription you choose.)

They also accept prepaid Fender Play gift cards, which can be purchased at fender.com for either 6- or 12-month subscriptions. (Offer not valid with PayPal or ApplePay.)

You can cancel your free trial or subscription at any time and, while there are no refunds or credits for partially used periods, after canceling you can continue to access your account and use Fender Play through the end of your billing cycle.

  • Free 14-day trial (Limited time 3-month free trial)
  • $9.99 per month or $89.99 per year
  • Merge devices with free app for phones and tablets

What I Liked

One thing that I really like about online lessons is that you can go at your own pace and you can do it in whatever environment is comfortable for you.

In other words, you can be alone when you watch the lessons, and you don’t have to worry about feeling self-conscious or even embarrassed about making mistakes along the way. This is another advantage of being able to use Fender Play on your phone or tablet.

Another great thing is the variety of instruments and styles offered.

For instruments, you can choose guitar (acoustic or electric), bass or ukulele, and also choose what style you want to learn; rock, blues, folk country and pop for guitars, and funk or rock for bass. (Ukulele only has the one, standard style of learning.)

Choose your instrument and style to start learning.

Also, you’re not locked into whichever instrument or style you select. You can do some lessons for country-acoustic guitar, then easily switch to rock-electric guitar, and then funk-bass.

It remembers where you left off for all of your lessons so you can pick up where you left off at your last lesson. And, many of the basic lessons for guitar are duplicated between acoustic and electric guitar, as well as for style.

So, again, if you’re on a path and come to a lesson that you’ve already done, you can quickly skip ahead and not have to sit through lessons that you’ve already completed.

The online tuner.

Another thing that I liked about Fender Play was the online tuner, which I thought worked really well and was easy to figure out. They also offer lots of articles with tips and insights from all kinds of experienced musicians.

There’s also a Fender Play facebook group that allows you to connect with other players and instructors, and watch live lessons.

Fender Play Pros

  • Easy to navigate
  • Short lessons
  • Go at your own pace
  • Watch only the lessons that you want
  • Switch between instruments and styles
  • Knowledgeable instructors
  • Great video quality
  • Free app for phones and tablets
  • Online tuner
  • Informative articles
  • Private facebook group

What I Didn’t Like

I didn’t find many downsides to Fender Play other than it’s definitely not something that an expert-level player would get much out of.

It’s targeted more towards people who have never played before and want to learn, or for beginners who want to play better.

If you’re an intermediate-level player you can find some good lessons for learning a new style in a genre of music that you’re not used to playing, but you’re not going to become a master overnight and start shredding solos after a few lessons.

As for the styles of music offered, I understand that learning the basics is very important. (You have to learn to crawl before you can walk!) But I felt like there could have been a few more style options.

Considering that so many players are attracted to metal, punk, emo, ska and other kinds of alternative music, I think Fender Play might be better if it offered at least a few lessons geared to those types of music. Even a little jazz would have been nice, too!

Fender Play Cons

  • Not good for advanced-level players
  • Somewhat limited styles of music in lessons

Final Thoughts: is Fender Play Worth it?

The cost for Fender Play seems like a really good value considering everything that it offers, and the free trial is a great option to see if it’s something that you want to continue doing in the first place.

I’ve heard and read that practicing anywhere from 10-20 minutes daily or every other day can be extremely beneficial when learning how to play an instrument, or just to brush up on your skills.

So, if you think about it, you can pack a lot of lessons into 14 days. You might realize that playing the guitar is not for you, or you may get hooked and want to continue. Either way, you really don’t have much to lose with Fender Play.

Michael Vogelsang

Michael is a musician, writer and voice actor who has played and recorded music with several bands, mostly connected to the hardcore punk scene. In his spare time he enjoys spending time with his wife and their ever-growing family of animals.
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