Jamorama Review – My Experience With Jamorama’s Online Guitar Lessons
I’ve worked my way through the Jamorama course of downloadable guitar lessons, and have written this Jamorama review to discuss my experience with it. Hopefully it’ll be helpful to those who are wanting to learn to play the guitar online, and are considering buying Jamorama (especially as a lot of the Jamorama ‘reviews’ that you find online are written by people who haven’t actually used – or even bought – the program!)
First – a bit of background. I’m not a novice guitarist, but have been playing for several years. I also play the piano and other instruments, and have a solid grounding in music theory. So the material in the Jamorama course isn’t really new to me. However, it’s always good to go over the basics again from time to time, and I found the course to be very valuable as a refresher and for filling a few holes in my technique. I bought it partly for my own benefit, and partly because Jamorama is among the most popular and well-known of the online guitar courses, and I wanted to try it myself so I could write a review for this site, which is after all, about all things guitar-related (in time I’ll also be reviewing some of the competing online guitar lesson courses in a similar in-depth way).
On this page I discuss what I liked and disliked about Jamorama. You can also read more about what Jamorama has to offer on the pages about the course content and bonuses (see all the sections of my Jamorama review).
My impressions – I like Jamorama because:
- The materials are high quality – I got the downloadable version of the course, and have found that the bonus software is easy to use, the text books are attractively designed and clearly laid out, and the video and audio materials are professionally recorded and produced to a high standard. It’s also presented by a professional, highly qualified guitarist and teacher.
- I especially like the video parts – you can clearly see the correct positions for both left and right hands, and there’s also a photo of the fretboard, showing the relevant finger positions, as well as graphical information about the chord changes and strumming patterns, which change in real time as the song or exercise is played.
- It’s easy to use – firstly it was very easy to buy and download Jamorama, and the member’s area of the website was easy to navigate. And secondly, the course itself has proved easy to follow so far (yes, I do already know most of the stuff it has covered so far, but I clearly remember what it was like to be a beginner, and this material is certainly better than what I learned from!). I especially like how you can instantly access the relevant videos and audio material from within the software, without having to go off and find the audio and video files to open separately.
- It’s fun – not dry and tedious like some music courses can be. You start playing ‘real’ music pretty much straight away, rather than having to wade through several lessons of pure theory first, as is often the case with more traditional courses.
- It’s flexible – good for those who want to learn popular styles on electric and/or or acoustic guitar. And I also like how the two versions of the course give you the choice of rhythm guitar techniques alone or both rhythm and lead lessons (with the upgrade, which you can get at any time), so you can choose whichever best suits your needs.
- The basic course covers all of the fundamentals of rhythm guitar as well as more advanced techniques too – basically, everything you need to learn to become a competent rhythm guitarist is in here (these skills are essential if you want to go on to play lead guitar too), and it’s laid out in a logical order, so you’ll progress in an efficient way.
- The jam tracks are great for practising playing with others, and can be a lot more fun than just playing solo exercises, even though they include the same techniques. There’s a wide variety of musical styles here too, which is a plus to me (although those who only want to learn a single style of playing might not enjoy them so much – but really, it’s best not to be musically narrow minded, especially when you’re just starting out).
- There are some great bonuses - the Jamorama bonuses will help you to tune your guitar, train your ear, learn to read music, play in time and to learn with maximum effectiveness. They complement the main course very well, and are not just useless filler like some of the bonuses that you get with digital products.
- The course is up to date, and the Jamorama team are responsive to customer feedback – since I purchased Jamorama early in 2009, the course has undergone a major update, and I’m pleased to see that the old Jamorama Maestro software, which was ok but not great (in my opinion), has now been retired in favour of a less resource-intensive format of separate text, video and audio files, and more material has been added to the course too. Some digital product creators just basically abandon their products after launching them, but that’s not the case with Jamorama, so it’s good to know that they are looking for ways to periodically improve the materials and provide even better value.
- It’s great value - Jamorama currently costs $49.95, and provides around a year’s worth of lessons – this is less than you’d pay for a couple of private lessons with many teachers! Really, there aren’t many places where you’ll get this much bang for the buck (both courses are guaranteed for 60 days too, so you can get your money back if you don’t like them).
- It has a one-time fee – this is just a personal preference, but I’m not keen on the membership model of some other sites, where you have recurring payments each month or year. With Jamorama, you make a single payment, and the course (and all future updates) is yours for life.
- You can get started for free. No course is going to be to everyone’s taste, and the people behind Jamorama recognise that, and have provided a way to get a taste of what they have to offer before you buy. If you click here to visit their site, you’ll see a ‘Free Lessons’ link at the top of the page, where you can sign up for some beginner guitar lessons at no cost, and with no obligation. This way you can see if you like the standard and format of their videos or not.
Jamorama’s negative aspects – what I’m not so keen on:
- I’ll admit that I find reading off a screen to be a bit of a pain, especially in the case of the jam tracks that stretch over more than one page. I put the downloads onto a small laptop that’s quite easy to position near where I play, but I’d still prefer a physical book, and I’m sure there are many other people who’d prefer to work with a hard copy. Still, this isn’t a major issue for me, and in the end I printed some of the course out anyway.
- For those who (like me) prefer to read from traditional notation rather than tab, some parts of the course may be a bit annoying. I personally found the more complex rhythms that feature in the later lessons to be more difficult to read in tab, and Jamorama doesn’t cover much in the way of rhythmic notation, so the rhythms aren’t written out in traditional form too. I guess this won’t be an issue for most people though, since so many guitarists seem averse to learning to read music, or prefer to read tab (and you can always write them out yourself on the blank stave above the tab line anyway).
- It’s a bit limited in scope compared to some other online courses – you don’t get lessons covering specific songs, for example, or in-depth tuition in particular styles. You also don’t get lessons from a variety of instructors with different specialties – this means you won’t get overwhelmed by too many options, but sometimes I was thought it would have been nice if the material had delved into the topics more deeply. What Jamorama will give you is a very solid grounding in all the techniques you’ll need to pursue the guitar at a higher level, and it’ll do so in a clear, easy to follow way. But once you’re past the beginner stage, if you want to become a truly advanced guitarist and/or study one style (blues, rock etc) in more depth, you’ll probably be looking elsewhere after finishing the course.
- Following on from the above point, although Jamorama has been updated since I bought it, it doesn’t have new material added on a regular basis like some other programs. They basically have a more static structure (which is reflected in the one-time payment, as opposed to the ongoing membership costs of some courses), and this shouldn’t be an issue for beginners, as there’s plenty to keep most people going for at least several months or more, and too much new stuff to learn each month could quickly get overwhelming. But if you’re a more advanced player who wants a constant supply of new songs or techniques to learn, this isn’t the program for you.
- The forum is a bit quiet – it’s friendly enough, but not exactly a bustling community. This doesn’t detract from the value of the lessons, but you’re not going to find a lot of online support via the forum, if that’s what you’re looking for.
- I’ve come across a small number of typos in the text – no more than I’ve seen in other music books, but it’s a bit annoying nonetheless, especially as the course is so professionally put together otherwise. However, these few mistakes are pretty obvious, so I don’t think that any student who is understanding what they’ve learned will be too confused by them.
Is Jamorama right for you?
My overall opinion of Jamorama is a positive one, but I don’t think it’s the best choice for everyone. I’d recommend it to those who:
- Want to learn to play the guitar in the comfort of their own home
- Want to learn rhythm guitar (electric or acoustic), or who want to learn lead guitar, but don’t yet have a grounding in rhythm techniques (it’s best to learn rhythm techniques first). If you’re only interested in learning rhythm guitar, choose the standard version, and if you want to follow up with lead skills too, go for the upgrade to get the additional material that covers lead playing.
- Want to learn in their own time and at their own pace without having to conform to someone else’s schedule.
- Have a decent computer and internet connection (it doesn’t have to be super-fast – but there is a lot of stuff to download).
- Are beginner or intermediate level guitarists who want a solid grounding in the fundamentals as well as to learn more advanced techniques (I don’t recommend it for advanced students, who will probably know most or all of what it covers already).
- Want a course that covers various musical styles (but with a focus on popular styles – it’s not a good choice for those wishing to focus on classical or flamenco guitar).
- Want to learn the techniques that will enable you to play your favourite songs (but it’s not for those who need to be spoon fed the actual songs – Jamorama doesn’t show you how to play any specific songs. Instead you’ll need to learn them by ear, or find the tab/notation elsewhere). Having said that however, remember that one of the Jamorama bonuses is a free trial membership to SongPond.com, which does provide video lessons which show you how to play a huge range of popular songs.
- Are self-motivated and don’t need continual prodding from a teacher to keep going (don’t get it if you’d rather learn from a teacher in person, or if you can’t motivate yourself to keep going).
- Want to get a great value complete guitar lessons course for less than the cost of a couple of lessons with a private teacher.
Jamorama Review – Summary
I’ve found Jamorama to be a very good course overall, and it provides a solid grounding in rhythm guitar techniques, making it a great choice for those who want to learn rhythm guitar, and the additional material you get if you upgrade is equally well-suited to those who eventually want to play lead guitar, as you really do need a good grasp of rhythm skills in order to play lead guitar well. The multi-media format makes learning easy and fun, the bonuses are genuinely useful supplements to the main course (not just ‘filler’ to make it look like a good deal), and on the whole the course is very professionally put together.
It’s not perfect however – as mentioned, there are a few typos (though not a lot), and the downloadable format isn’t as flexible as physical products in some ways, although printing out the books helps a lot. It’s also not the best choice for everyone, but if you want a great value, easy to follow, fun guitar course that will provide a thorough grounding in the practical and theoretical knowledge you’ll need to play popular music (and get you playing ‘real’ music quickly, rather than getting bogged down in theory), I can definitely recommend Jamorama. Remember that it’s guaranteed for 60 days, so you can try it with confidence. Click here to learn more about Jamorama, and get started for free (to sign up for the free lessons, click the link at the top of this page).
The Course In Detail: Jamorama Review Blog
If you want to read more details about the various components of the Jamorama lessons, check out my individual posts below:
Jamorama Book 1 – Beginner Lessons
Jamorama Book 2 – More Advanced Lessons
More Jamorama Articles
I’ve also written a couple of other Jamorama-related articles that might be of interest: