TrueFire Review

Acoustic Guitar Guitar May 6, 2020
truefire

TrueFire Review

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Online guitar lessons seem like a great option. They’re affordable, convenient, you can go at your own pace, and you don’t have to be self-conscious about making mistakes along the way. Also, you’ll find out pretty quickly if learning how to play guitar is something that you want to do in the first place. It takes a lot of time, commitment and patience and, honestly, it’s not for everyone.

TrueFire Scorecard
TrueFire
truefire logo
Overall Score
Pros
  • No payment method required to signup for 30-day trial period
  • Vast library of content
  • Opportunity for individual lessons if you want them
  • Thriving social community on TrueFire and Facebook
Cons
  • Not a lot of popular songs
  • Some things cost extra
Pros
  • No payment method required to signup for 30-day trial period
  • Vast library of content
  • Opportunity for individual lessons if you want them
  • Thriving social community on TrueFire and Facebook
Cons
  • Not a lot of popular songs
  • Some things cost extra
Accessibility & Design
Quality of Visual Aids
Lessons Available
Instructors & Teaching Methods
Unique Features
Trial Period
Pricing & Refund Policy

TrueFire offers guitar players of all skill levels (and aspiring guitar players) an opportunity to take lessons covering a variety of styles.

Courses for rock, blues, country, funk, jazz, classical and flamenco are some of the available styles, and the courses are set up so that you can go at your own pace. They also offer a 30-day free trial that lets you explore their site and take lessons before you decide to make any long-term commitments.

Why You Should Trust This Review

I’ve been playing guitar and making music for approximately 35 years, mostly based out of Los Angeles, CA. I’ve played in several bands, been involved with several recording projects and played countless shows all over the world.

As a band member I have been a leader, a follower and a team player, primarily playing punk and alternative styles of music. I’ve never taken a formal guitar lesson but I have learned a lot from other musicians by simply playing along with them, asking questions and picking up tips and tricks here and there.

I continue to enjoy the experiences I get from playing and touring, and a big part of that is because I’m still able to learn so much from other guitar players.

TrueFire YouTube Video Review

How I Tested It

I spent a few days exploring the TrueFire website using their free trial, and there is a lot to take in. There were a few times where I felt a little lost when I was trying to navigate around the site, but I got the hang of it after a few minutes. There are so many different lessons and features that it might be a little difficult for people who aren’t very tech-savvy or are looking for something geared more towards people who know absolutely nothing about guitar playing.

Choosing a learning path.
Choosing a learning path.

When you create your account you are prompted to answer a few profile questions that help create a custom learning path for you. So, if you’re a beginner, you’ll be directed to a large amount of core classes that teach you the very basics. And once you get started it becomes easier to move through the lessons more and more quickly.

I created a low-intermediate blues lesson path and I was able to watch several very fundamental videos, but it’s easy to skip forward so you’re not wasting your time watching things that you already know. In fact, the instructors suggest that you skip ahead in those situations.

The courses are accelerated but you’re also encouraged to go at your own pace, which I think is important so you don’t get frustrated. I played along with several lessons and learned a few basic blues licks, which was fun. (I don’t know anything about playing the blues which is why I picked that path.)

Tips on getting started.
Tips on getting started.

The quality and production value of the videos are very high, and you’re able to slow down the videos if you think they are going to quickly, or speed them up if you think they are going too slowly.

Also, the videos are presented in a multi-screen format which give you three different views, including close-ups, of what the instructor is playing. Plus, the videos include tablature and chord charts that you can play along with if, and you can even download printable PDF versions.

The instructors themselves are very experienced and knowledgeable and claim to have given a lot of lessons over the years.

I will say that they do a good amount of talking during the lessons which felt like a lot of information to absorb, but I also felt like all of the talking that they do helps to keep things relaxed and enjoyable. And, again, you can always re-watch the lessons and slow them down if you missed something.

What It Offers

The free 30-day trial gives you full access to more than 900 courses containing more than 40,000 streaming video lessons that cover a variety of styles and skill levels. The lessons are formatted into bite-sized chunks, but the study plans are purposely accelerated.

In other words, the videos are short but move pretty quickly and contain a lot of information, so I would be a little cautious and suggest that you take your time with the lessons if you have never played before. However, players at the low, intermediate and advanced levels shouldn’t have any difficulty following along.

Throughout each course are several practice sessions that give you an opportunity to play along with the instructor, and also play along with the instructor and a full music track. Again, you can watch the videos as many times as you like and move on to the next level when you’re comfortable, and you can mark your lessons as completed when you feel that you’ve mastered them.

Selecting a course and lessons.
Selecting a course and lessons.

In some of the lessons, the instructors will talk about things that are important to know but not necessarily things you would get from a formal guitar lesson.

They discuss how to get started if you’ve never played before, how to quickly identify and skip lessons that you already know, learning the best techniques for practicing on your own, watching and learning from other guitar players, and how to play along with others.

I strongly believe that offering a comfortable and laid-back approach takes a lot of the pressure off so you can enjoy the learning experience, as opposed to getting frustrated because you feel like you’re doing everything wrong.

Other features with TrueFire include being able to mark lessons as favorites so you can quickly go back and re-watch them whenever you want, and you can also create playlists of your favorite lessons.

Each lesson has a written description so you know what you’re getting into before you start the video, and there’s also a discussions section where you can leave comments and read comments from other players.

 

One of the TrueFire lessons.
One of the TrueFire lessons.

As for instruments and styles, TrueFire is mostly aimed at guitar players. But they also offer a pleasantly large number of courses for bass, ukulele, banjo and harmonica. These courses aren’t nearly as encompassing or varied as the guitar courses, but it’s still a nice option if you already signed up and want to switch between instruments to give yourself a little variety.

Additional options include a free app for tablets and phones which syncs your account across your devices, there’s a blog containing articles written by several different musicians on various topics, a forum that allows you to connect with other TrueFire students and join in on music-related discussions, and they also have exclusive live sessions by many accomplished players on a mostly weekly basis.

There’s also a live chat feature that allows you to speak to a customer service representative if you have questions or are having issues with your account.

  • 40,000+ lessons available
  • Custom learning paths
  • Beginner to advanced level lessons
  • Multi-view videos
  • Adjustable video speed
  • Tablature and chord charts available

Signing Up

Signing up and creating an account is easy and you’re not required to give them a credit or debit card number to use the free trial, which I loved!

The cost for a paid All Access membership is $29 per month, $249 per year or $2,499 for a lifetime membership.

If you sign up for a paid membership and later decide to cancel, it’s easy to do that through your profile page on the TrueFire website.

They also offer a “100% Satisfaction Guarantee” if you are dissatisfied with any item. Contact them within 14 days of delivery for an exchange, credit or refund of the purchase price.

It’s important to note that there are several additional options that you can purchase which are not included in the paid membership. You can download or order DVD copies of additional courses taught by several different instructors, which can vary in price anywhere from around $15 to $100 per course.

TrueFire also offers private lessons from several different instructors covering various styles. You can choose a one-time, one-topic-specific lesson that includes skill assessment, video messaging, file attachments and discussion thread, and you get to save the lesson for viewing later.

You can also choose an ongoing plan with unlimited lessons, skill assessment, video messaging, file attachments, discussion thread, access to everything published in the instructor’s channel, and you get to save the lesson for viewing later. The prices for the private lessons vary depending on the instructor, but they usually start at $40 for a one-time lesson and go anywhere from $90 to $150 for the ongoing lessons. (The one-time lessons are a one-time fee, and the ongoing lessons are billed monthly.)

  • Free 30-day trial
  • $29 per month, $249 per year, or $1,499 for lifetime
  • Merge devices with free app for phones and tablets
  • Additional lessons to purchase and download
  • Private one-on-one lessons available

What I Liked

TrueFire is so packed full of lessons and features that it’s really hard not to really like it. It’s great that you can create a custom lesson plan for yourself based on your skill level and preferred style, but you’re also not locked into whichever skill level and style you choose. It’s really easy to skip ahead, skip around and try all kinds of different lessons until you find what works best for you.

As for the styles and instruments available, they really cover a lot of the bases. You can take some electric rock guitar lessons, then switch over to reggae bass lessons, and then take a few banjo lessons if you want.

Also, the instructors are very knowledgeable and full of helpful insights to make your learning experience enjoyable, like encouraging you go at your own pace and not being worried about making mistakes.

  • Large selection of courses
  • Custom learning paths
  • 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

What I Didn’t Like

There really isn’t much that I didn’t like about TrueFire, but there were a couple of minor things. In many of the lessons the instructors tend to do a lot of talking and it’s not always easy to follow along, especially if you are a beginner with no playing experience.

But, you get used to their style of instruction, and you can easily re-watch any lesson you want and slow down the speed of the video if it’s moving too quickly for you.

Also, there is so much content on the website that I felt a little lost in the beginning and it took a while for me to get the gist of it. Again, you get used to it pretty quickly so, like I said, these are minor dislikes.

  • Beginner lessons move quickly
  • Website is very large and expansive

Final Thoughts

The cost for TrueFire seems reasonable considering everything that it offers. It might seem a teensy bit steep, but there are so many lessons with so many different styles, you could easily become completely engrossed in all of it and certainly get your money’s worth.

Plus, a 30-day free trial should be ample time for you to decide if playing the guitar is something that you want to continue doing. So, what have you got to lose?

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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