How we’re judging if Fender Play is Any Good
Seeing as Fender Play offered a 3 month free trial we decided that someone here at Rock My World was going to have to take a look. We’ll be looking to answer how good, it is for beginners, if there’s anything here for more experienced guitarists and is fender play worth the cost?
The problem we had however, is that everyone on staff plays guitar (some better than others) so it would be hard to come in and take a look at how it was going to be for beginners, well that’s where I (Micky) come(s) in.
What were our levels when we started fender play
My wife (who is going to be our beginner guinea pig) has recently picked up the guitar and I’ll be going through it with her to get both perspectives on the course. And I do mean recently I’ve sat down with her for maybe a couple of hours and I’ve managed to get a rather sloppy rendition of Alkaline Trio Radio out of her, so no great progress.
We’ll also be roping Tony in seeing as he’s played stadiums, I think we’ve got the pro angle covered. Granted his opinion is probably going to be relevant to the minority of people wondering “is fender play any good?”, but we wanted to cover all bases.
So what’s my level, if we were to stick a grade on it in the English system around grade 6, but self-taught (my formal music training was piano) so I’ll be giving you my perspective on what fender play is like for intermediates.
So, we’ll be breaking it down into the 3 potential users and asking is fender play good for beginners, intermediates and pros.
Before getting started, this fender play review does only look at Fender play for guitar, not bass or ukelele, we will be taking a look at the Bass later, when we can find someone who wants to be our beginner.
And if you don’t want all the details, we’ve got the highlights in a nice little summary here.
Fender Play Review Highlights
Ultimately, Fender Play is a beginner’s tool, yes you could learn guitar this way if you stick to it. It would definitely help to have a guitarist around to help, but it’s not essential. If you know one, great, if not that doesn’t mean it’s not useful, it’s still going to be great for beginners to get started with. For intermediates there is some useful bits there and the song lessons could be useful, I haven’t found anything that would stack up as a Grade 8 piece, but, there’s definitely a few things to learn and a couple of the technique lessons will definitely be helpful for the self taught.
The quality is good, it’s easy to use and most of the lessons are broken down into very small sessions meaning you can squeeze in a quick play around most peoples schedules. This can sometimes be a problem with fender play as it could feel a bit rushed for a beginner at times, but this was a rare issue.
- You can definitely learn guitar this way
- Good structure for beginners
- Easy to understand skill and song lessons
- Broken down in to small manageable lessons to fit any schedule
- Loads of songs to pick from
- Nothing here for the advanced
- Song lessons can sometimes feel a bit rapid for beginners
- It’s paid (but, let’s be honest it’s not exactly very expensive)
Think of this the same way you’d look at something like duolingo it’s great if you stick to it, and lessons can be as long and or short as you like. I’d certainly recommend giving it a try if you’re looking to learn.
First Impressions of Fender Play
So, I should start by saying I was pretty sceptical at first that this was going to be a good way to learn guitar. The whole thing looked nicely presented, but I wasn’t sure if this was going to be helpful at all. Starting with it myself to have a poke around I found myself skipping simply to the play along sections in the 1st two levels, which were no bother, but I could instantly see some things here that are likely to frustrate beginners a little bit, by level 2 the song learning seemed to move pretty fast, and by level 4 whilst playing along wasn’t an issue for me, I can imagine that it could become frustrating for some, sure it’s a video so you can pause and the tabs are underneath (which is a nice touch), but this could be a problem particularly my none native English speaking wife who I had agreed to test this system on.
That said, if this was my biggest gripe so far, that it was going to be difficult for some to follow along.
I did also quickly realise there wasn’t much here for me on the “path” setups, and there’d, definitely, be nothing at all for Tony. In fact, I was beginning to regret asking him for his perspective.
That didn’t mean there was actually nothing here for me, but we’ll come back to that later.
Is Fender Play Good For Beginners
In a word yes, and it’s really good if you’ve got someone else around to help with anything you’re struggling with. Can my wife shred after a week with Fender play. Well obviously not, but is she making noticeable progress, certainly. And more than she was making with my half arsed flighty teaching style and her nature of wanting to do too much too fast.
The course is well structured (at least the rock path, which we unsurprisingly chose to go through) and should you actually progress through it the way you’re supposed to it should have you able to play some basic songs pretty quickly whilst actually teaching the techniques in a sensible path. The self taught amongst us will know having no structure can lead to relearning things you learned badly.
That’s not to say it doesn’t offer the flexibility to skip ahead, it does. And that’s great, because nobody wants to be totally restricted and you should be able to push yourself. But, overall I think it’s a pretty good set up as does my other half, the actual beginner. I suppose we’ll come back and add to the “is fender play good for beginners” section in a few months when there’s more progress to report on. But, so far, so good. If she does end up better than me, which is the office running joke, as our resident worst guitarist, then I will of course have to give a scathing review.
Fender play for intermediate guitarists
So far we’ve really only talked about if fender play is any good for beginners, the answer is so far a resounding yes. And although it may sound like my review so far means there’s nothing here for those with a bit of practice behind them, but that’s not necessarily true. Are you going to want this program for a year, probably not, but a couple of months could be useful. The skills courses are pretty useful for anything you’ve been struggling with or you know you’ve been sloppy with. I’d recommend taking a track in one of the genres you don’t play too often to broaden your scope a little bit, but in general unless you like the play along song learning there isn’t much longevity here.
Fender Play for Experienced Guitarists.
No, there really isn’t anything here for you, again, unless you really like the play along songs.
What’s included in Fender Play
Let’s start with the little extras, there’s a couple of free tools, tuners etc, nothing too interesting here. The 10% off gear is a great offer for beginners. Now, on to the main parts of what you get with fender play.
Fender Play Paths
Fender play really has 3 ways to use it, firstly you can follow the paths, this is great for beginners or people who’ve been playing around with a guitar and not really learned. This will offer you a blended mix of songs classes and the skills you need to learn them. If you want to learn to play guitar and don’t know where to start this is excellent. For the more experienced however, there is perhaps a better way to go.
Fender Play Skills Classes
The skills classes are really the bulk of the programs at least on the paths, and probably where the most benefit will be for the majority of people looking to learn to play guitar with fender play. You can do these as part of the tracks or simply by themselves. I found maybe one or two of these useful, but being honest with myself could probably use a couple more.
Fender Play Songs
The song book is pretty robust and varied, with a variety of learn along videos. You’re not going to find a large amount of songs, some are simplified in the lessons themselves, for example the level one version of Satisfaction only teaches a simplified version of the main riff, but the idea of this is as a learning exercise rather than a song to learn and the full version is available in the song selector.
Fender play also ranks the songs by difficulty so you know where you are, their 3 stage ranking is a little limited and I’d personally prefer to see something that lines up with the Grading system I’m used to, but it’s not like they have a great deal past grade 5 so perhaps that’s why.
That said, Satisfaction isn’t going to be of any interest to anyone with experience as it’s a bit too easy, that said, there are pieces available that stack up to a Grade 7 in the English system, (8 being highest) one example being ZZ Tops La Grange. This took me a couple of goes, but I did get it down and found the lesson a pretty good way to go.
The selection is constantly updating and I found it a good way to get out of my normal playing patterns, by learning things I wouldn’t normally try. This was actually pretty good and did improve my skills a bit.
Is Fender Play Worth The Cost
I suppose this is really the conclusion, is fender play worth it? Well, it really that comes down to if you have a spare $10 a month, I’d say if you’re a total beginner, and you do, then fender play is worth the cost, 100%. Especially if you don’t have the time, or larger amounts of cash to take proper lessons although this would be a great accompaniment if you do.
For intermediates, I’d say be honest with yourself about what you want to work on, and make a list of skills, take the free trial, and or maybe expect to use it for one month. Hammer those skills out then if you like it for the song lessons great, otherwise can it there.
For the experienced, no, there’s better options out there.
The Verdicts on Fender Play
Tony (Pro) – Not much here for me, but would definitely recommend it for someone learning and I signed my daughter up.
Micky (Intermediate) – Some useful skills courses, songs were enjoyable, pushed me to try some new stuff, was good. Would probably only use it for a few months, also recommended for beginners.
The Wife (Beginner) – Found it very good, (better than Micky’s teaching), and will be continuing with it over the year.