Since its inception in 2003, Justin Guitar has remained one of the most popular guitar learning platforms, especially for those who have never touched a guitar in their life.
Justin Guitar is backed by guitar virtuosos such as Steve Vai and Brian May, giving its name a ton of gravity. However, name association alone isn’t enough to get us sold on an online guitar learning platform.
For Justin Guitar to prove its worth, it has to get past the oldest and arguably the most notable online guitar learning platform available: TrueFire.
In this in-depth Justin Guitar vs. TrueFire comparison article, we attempt to figure out which of these two platforms is best for beginner, intermediate, and advanced players.
TrueFire vs. Justin Guitar – Feature for Feature Comparison
|Price||Free||$19/m or $199/y|
|Free Trial Period||No (Free)||Yes|
|Money-Back Guarantee||No (Free)||Yes|
|Private Online Lessons||No||Yes|
TrueFire vs. Justin Guitar – In-Detail Comparison
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, we feel the need to compare Justin Guitar and TrueFire from a skill set perspective so that it’s easier for you to determine which platform suits you best.
Justin Guitar flaunts one of the best online courses for beginner guitarists, which, for us, comes as a surprise considering the course is offered for free.
To access the course, simply head to the website, navigate to the “Lessons” sidebar on the left, and you’ll see the lessons sorted in order. You have Grade 1, Grade 2, Grade 3, and Classic.
The beginner’s course is delivered in video format by founder Justin Sandercoe. The course is like no other when it comes to taking a complete beginner guitar player through different stages of learning the guitar.
It starts out covering the essentials, from how to tune a guitar to the anatomy of the guitar. You then move on to learn about power chords, picking routines, and more.
In Grade 1, Sandercoe takes you on an 8-episode odyssey that covers fundamental chords. In Grade 2, you get to enjoy 7 more tutorials about power chords, the blues, fingerstyle, and more. Grade 3 is all about effective practice, blues guitar studies, and other material aimed towards “advanced beginners,” as Sandercoe calls them.
The Classic course is pretty much the older version of the above-detailed 3-grade course. The course is still available on the website because Justin Sandercoe believes that it still holds lots of value for a beginner guitar player.
The Classic course is divided into 3 grades: White, Yellow, and Orange. Each grade features 3 guitar lessons, making for a total of 9 lessons in this course.
In addition to their free beginner’s course, Justin Guitar also features a page that’s packed with songs that beginners will be easy to learn. All the songs on that page use the very same chords tutored in the beginner’s course. Further, the songs are divided into various difficulty stages so that it’s easier for you to pick the ones that match your skill level.
All things considered, stating that the Justin Guitar beginner’s course is excellent would be an understatement, especially when you take into consideration that it’s completely free. But how does it compare to what TrueFire has to offer for beginners?
TrueFire has a lot of material to offer aspiring shredders. In fact, if you’re serious about taking your guitar playing skills to the next level in little time, you’ll find TrueFire’s offerings to be way more fruitful than Justin Guitar’s.
However, there are a couple of problems with the TrueFire beginner’s course. The first is that TrueFire isn’t really friendly towards pure beginners. If you’ve never picked up a guitar in your life and you don’t know what a chord is, TrueFire simply isn’t for you. To benefit from TrueFire, you need to be slightly knowledgeable about guitars.
The second problem with the TrueFire beginner’s course is its layout. There’s no set starting point to take flight from. You’re left to scour the course for anything you can relate to. There’s nothing intuitive about the course. It feels like a guitar purgatory for pure beginners.
This isn’t to say that the TrueFire beginner’s course is total trash. On the contrary, it’s packed with valuable information, but you just don’t know where to start. Compared to Justin Guitar’s beginner’s program, or even that of GuitarTricks, TrueFire just pales in comparison.
Assuming you’re not a complete beginner, TrueFire’s learning system is going to be of great value to you. Basically, it prompts you to choose a favorite style of playing from a broad selection that covers everything from blues and rock to acoustic playing.
From there, you start the “Learn Guitar 1” course, presented by Jeff Scheetz, who happens to be the Director of Education at TrueFire. In this course, you’re taken through the fundamentals of guitar playing and practice. Thereafter, Scheetz starts tutoring you about guitar chords.
One of the best things about this course is that instead of practicing offline by yourself after you’ve learned the course, you get to enjoy practicing with Scheetz, which makes it feel as if you’re having an in-person practice session.
If you already know the fundamentals of guitar playing and you feel like “Learn Guitar 1” isn’t going to be of value to you, you can jump right into “Learn Guitar 2,” where Jeff covers more ground about chords and technique.
To sum, there’s definitely a great deal of value in TrueFire’s beginner’s course, only if you can navigate your way around it without feeling lost and overwhelmed. This is why we think Justin Guitar secures the win when it comes to beginner-friendliness.
Winner: Justin Guitar
Justin Guitar’s course for intermediates is designed to introduce intermediate guitar players to 5 different foundations. No matter the playing style you adopt, JG’s intermediate’s course will help you play with absolute confidence and grace. It’s able to do so by focusing on promoting proper playing technique.
If you decide to take on JG’s intermediate’s course, expect to learn about different keys, barre chords, major scale, the fretboard, bending strings, rhythm training, fingerstyle technique, and dynamics.
By the end of this course, you’ll find lots of songs that implement all the learned techniques so that you can work on honing your skills.
Oh, did we mention that Justin Guitar’s intermediate’s course is also free? However, there are DVDs that must be purchased if you wish to expand your knowledge about music theory.
If you have plans to become a recording artist or a live performer, we recommend purchasing the DVDs because knowing about music theory can help you with creating music. Without the DVDs, you’ll still be able to expand your arsenal of guitar tricks without any problems.
Of course, you can’t enter the intermediate’s course if you haven’t gone through the beginner’s course or if you haven’t had any former training. Even if you’re a self-taught guitarist, we highly recommend entering the beginner’s course before the intermediate’s.
If you decide to use the website’s style modules, you’ll be prompted with a combination of free and paid guitar tutorials. There are some courses that are strictly available through a paid DVD such as Master the Major Scale and Solo Blues, whereas others are available in both free and paid DVD formats such as Blues Rhythm Guitar, Blues Lead, and Folk Fingerstyle.
TrueFire may not be as awesome as its competitor when it comes to beginner courses, but for intermediate and advanced guitar players, TrueFire is a guitar learning heaven.
If you can already pick up the guitar and have a specific style that you would like to learn, you will be impressed by the limitless lessons that TrueFire has to offer. Their intermediate’s course covers virtually all guitar styles and series.
Now, keep in mind that TrueFire isn’t going to suggest particular songs tailored for the style of playing you’ve selected. However, it’ll teach you all of the basics required to play that particular style.
Every genre of music is associated with specific chords, riffs, licks, turnarounds, and so forth. These are the cornerstones of guitar playing that TrueFire aims to teach intermediates. Also, each style of music is tutored by an instructor that’s well-established in that style, so you can rest assured that you’re getting practical advice.
Justin Guitar’s lessons for intermediate players offer a great deal of value, but in our opinion, TrueFire is the way to go for intermediate and advanced online guitar lessons.
Justin Guitar is well-known for its excellent beginner’s course, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not that great for advanced guitarists. If you head to the “Lessons” sidebar upon visiting the website, you’ll notice the “Advanced Modules” item, which is where Justin Sandercoe teaches advanced guitar playing techniques. There are 10 modules that you can explore.
The first module is the “Rhythm Fills 1: Mayfield & Hendrix,” in which Justin teaches you how to build lead fills into your rhythm playing. The second and third modules are all about coloring and key changes. Then, you go through a 5-module journey into the world of jazz music. The final 2 modules are guitarists Ariel Posen and Chris Buck showcasing some advanced techniques.
Justin Guitar offers a good deal of value for expert guitarists, but we can’t really help but feel like something is missing. Compared to TrueFire’s courses for advanced players, Justin Guitar feels a bit too juvenile and it’s not that comprehensive.
TrueFire truly shines when it comes to courses aimed at advanced guitar players. Its extensive library of courses is vast enough for adept guitarists to keep busy for years.
Assuming you’re still using the “Learning Paths” feature, as an advanced guitarist, you should be at the “Late Intermediate to Advanced” part of the timeline. This section is home to gold’s worth of courses, the most prominent of which are “Magic Gypsy Chords and Rhythms” and “30 Jazz Guitar Rhythms You Must Know.”
There’s also a vast selection of core courses that you can engage in to hone your skills, or you can skip all of that and jump into the supplementary lessons where you can learn more intricate playing techniques. It’s entirely up to you.
All things considered, we feel like TrueFire is a more comprehensive alternative to Justin Guitar when it comes to advanced courses. To add, TrueFire covers lots of niche sub-genres that may be lacking in Justin Guitar’s curriculum, including bebop, gypsy jazz, surf guitar, and even good ol’ 80s power ballad soloing that resembles acts like Aerosmith, Journey, Foreigner, and more.
If you’re a bass player, Justin Guitar isn’t going to be of much value to you, as it doesn’t provide any bass guitar lessons. Justin Guitar focuses mainly on six-string instruments.
It does offer lessons for ukulele players, though. It’s not as thorough as other dedicated ukulele courses, but it offers a good deal of value.
TrueFire is the way to go if you play bass and are looking to take things to the next level. TrueFire offers bass guitar lessons for both beginners and advanced players.
TrueFire offers bassists a similar core learning system to the one it uses for its guitarists. It also offers supplementary courses that will help you, as a bassist, take your skill set way past all of the basics.
TrueFire boasts an exceptional roster of bass guitar teachers, including Stu Hamm, Ariane Cap, Andrew Ford, and David Santos. They’ll take you step-by-step through the journey of becoming an adept bass guitar player. The course also includes Ford’s Motown Bass Survival Guide.
We’re actually very pleased with the fact that TrueFire is showing bassists some love, as most guitar learning platforms tend to put bass guitar courses on the back burner.
The Detailed Breakdown of Each Platform
Justin Guitar relies on YouTube as its video player. If you’re able to navigate your way around YouTube, you won’t have any problems navigating Justin Guitar’s tutorials. There’s a good host of functions that you can make use of, including different speed settings, screen options, and subtitles.
As far as video and audio quality, it’s nothing to write home about, really. The quality continues to enhance over time, but let’s keep in mind that Justin Guitar is a predominantly free platform, so they probably don’t feel obliged to deliver the best possible video/audio quality. Regardless, the quality of Justin Guitar videos is quite decent and it shouldn’t be hard for you to enjoy them.
TrueFire utilizes two different video players for its content. The first one is quite basic with very few functionalities. It’s used mainly for older tutorials. Some of its functions include play, speed selection, forward, rewind, loop, and full screen.
The vast majority of TrueFire’s videos, however, rely on the more advanced SoundSlice player. This video player is equipped with top-notch features such as visualization bars, music notation, and different speed controls.
The interactive music notation feature is one of the strongest selling points of TrueFire’s player. It basically displays in-sync tablature underneath the video, which makes it easier for students to follow the instructions.
As far as video quality, it all boils down to when the video was posted. If it’s an older video, it’s not going to have multiple camera angles and high-definition resolution. There aren’t too many old videos, though, as they all got updated pretty recently.
Justin Guitar sports a clean-looking user interface that’s extremely easy to navigate. You can access all sorts of content via dropdown menus found at the top of the interface. The website feels pretty intuitive and the content flows in a very streamlined fashion. This wasn’t the case one year ago, so it pleases us to see that Justin Guitar decided to up their game.
The pages in which the lessons are listed look quite similar to the ones on GuitarTricks. Each guitar lesson page combines the lesson itself in video format with instructions and tips in text format.
TrueFire also sports a pretty clean layout that’s easy to navigate. Everything is simplified and quite intuitive. At the top of the page is a black menu bar from which you can navigate to your destination on the site. The design of the menu bar is quite simple and uncluttered, adding to the user-friendliness of the site.
The format used to display the lessons is similar to the one big-name platforms like JamPlay and GuitarTricks utilize, which, in our opinion, is a big plus. Granted, it’s not the most original format, but hey, why fix that which isn’t broken, right?
All lesson pages are comprised of a video player through which you can watch the tutorial as well as a sidebar on the right-hand side where the rest of the lessons are displayed, similar to the “suggested/relevant videos” sidebar that YouTube has.
Additionally, the guitar lesson pages feature an area where supplemental material is found. There’s also a discussion area where user comments are left, video description, and other helpful features like song tablatures and jam tracks.
Justin Guitar’s library of songs is impressive, to say the list, boasting around 600 different songs that cover everything from classic rock bands like Led Zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Pink Floyd to more modern acts like Ed Sheeran.
TrueFire doesn’t flaunt that extensive of a song library. The platform’s library is full of riffs, licks, and brief samples, with complete songs being very scarce. This is disappointing news for those who are looking to learn specific songs.
Winner: Justin Guitar
Justin Guitar is completely free! Whether you seek advanced, intermediate, or beginner guitar tutorials, Justin Guitar hands it all to you on a silver platter without asking for a single penny. As mentioned previously, however, there are supplementary DVDs that come at a price. They deal mainly with music theory.
TrueFire has 3 pricing plans: monthly ($19), annual ($199), and lifetime ($1,999). Whichever pricing plan you opt for, you’ll be able to access every single piece of content TrueFire has to offer, including 700 courses and over 40,000 lessons.
Is Justin Guitar Any Good?
Definitely! Especially if you’re a beginner player. The platform also has a lot of good content for advanced players, but beginner-focused content is where it truly shines.
Is TrueFire Any Good?
If you’re an intermediate or advanced player, you’re going to find TrueFire quite valuable. But if you’re a pure beginner, you should consider a different platform.
Who Owns TrueFire?
Brad Wendkos is the founder and CEO of TrueFire.
Taking all the information shared in this TrueFire vs. Justin Guitar article into consideration, we urge you to opt for TrueFire if you’re an advanced or intermediate guitarist.
If you’re a total beginner, however, it doesn’t get better than Justin Guitar, and it’s totally FREE!
Hopefully, the information provided in this article has helped you make an informed decision. If you have any questions, feel free to let us know.