One of the major problems with choosing an online guitar course is that it’s hard to find anything other than positive reviews about all of the possibilities. To make an informed decision, you need to know about the good, the bad and the downright useless aspects of a program. You don’t need people telling you that you will be a virtuoso within a week or that you’re going to write the next “Master of Puppets” within the year if you sign up for a particular course. You just need to know what you will learn, and more importantly: what you need to learn. Jamorama is one course which has its fair share of hyperbolic reviews, but is any of it really true?
The content you get with each guitar course can tell you a lot about how good it is. The rule is pretty simple; the more stuff you have, the better. It is possible to be overwhelmed with content, but as long as there is structure to the lessons, the rule holds true. Jamorama aims to provide masses of content in a variety of formats to help you learn the instrument, and there are also some additional tools to help you while you learn. You get:
- 148 high-quality video lessons to help you grasp the techniques you need.
- A lesson book of over 250 pages, which provides step-by-step instructions.
- A library of 216 common chords, as well as a reference book designed to help you put the knowledge to good use.
- 26 jam tracks to play along to, recorded from real instruments in studio quality.
- Indispensible tools like a tuner and a metronome.
- Ear-training and sight-reading games.
Jamorama is unusual in that videos are essentially supplemental to the downloadable ebook. The book is over 250 pages, and there are only 148 video lessons. They are both integral to your learning, so it’s important that they are both easy to follow and clear in their instruction. The Quicktime videos make use of multiple camera angles and split-screen views to make sure you always know what’s going on. Additional details like strumming patterns and chord charts are also displayed on-screen so it’s easier to play along. You can check out a sample video on the official website.
The book leads you through the core lessons in a comprehensive, step-by-step format. Beginners need lessons that build up your knowledge gradually, not jump right into the difficult stuff assuming you already know the basics. Jamorama is perfectly catered to beginners, and everything in the book is easy to follow. There are even diagrams to teach you the parts of the instrument. The more complex techniques are also supplemented by video content.
The lesson book, which contains the real bulk of the instruction, is split into two parts: the beginner’s book and the intermediate book. The beginners’ book helps you get to grips with the basics, and then the intermediate book moves on to more complex techniques. The learning process basically consists of picking up the core lesson from the book, viewing any videos which help with it, and then putting it into practice with the aid of the jam tracks. This ensures you have a good knowledge of the techniques and then shows you how to put them into practice.
The beginner’s book starts with the very basics, from how to hold the instrument to how each hand should be used. These are essential skills, which you have to get right before you can move on to the cool stuff. Even though sorting out your posture and forming a perfect, statuesque representation of how to hold a guitar seems boring, you’ll be happy you did it later down the line. Then you’ll learn basic chords, progressions and melodies, building up your knowledge step-by-step. The book concludes with lessons on seventh chords, suspended chords, bass note rhythms and the C major scale. This gives you the raw skills you need to move on and start learning about the really cool stuff, and you can rest assured that the basics are all covered.
For Intermediate and Advanced Players
The intermediate book picks up where the beginners’ book leaves off, teaching you about minor chords, barre chords and increasing your knowledge of strumming patterns. The book will teach you about dead strums, palm muting, percussive playing, more advanced rhythm techniques and strumming patterns for different genres. You’ll pick up strumming patterns used in rock, metal, blues, country, hip hop, funk, reggae and jazz. These are great for intermediate players, but the book, and Jamorama as a whole, has precious little to offer advanced players.
Ease of Use
One thing Jamorama definitely has going for it is ease of use. As the book comes in downloadable format, you always have to be at your computer, but that won’t be a problem the majority of the time. The book is simple to follow, and the videos give an extremely clear representation of what you need to do, complete with strumming pattern graphics. The lessons are linear, so there’s no risk of getting lost or rushing ahead of yourself. You also get a chord book, which is a great reference tool, and one you’ll likely use even after you’ve mastered the course.
Community and Support
With a purchase of Jamorama, you get access to the forum, which is stuffed full of other learners and the course’s instructors – they are on hand to help you if you get stuck at any point. This is a key feature, because you will inevitably get stuck. One place where online lessons can’t stand up to private tuition is feedback. The fact that your teacher is there in person means he or she can correct problems you didn’t even know you had, but when you’re self-teaching, resources like forums are invaluable.
Jamorama has its fair share of extras. You get a couple of simple games; one for ear training (recognizing pitches or keys by ear) and one for sight reading (identifying notes in standard music notation on the fly), which are useful for improving your musicality. There is also a metronome, which can aid you in staying in time and building your playing speed, and a tuner, which is vital for obvious reasons. The chord book is arguably the most useful extra, because it is indispensible for reference when you’re learning songs or writing your own.
Although there is limited support for more advanced players and it’s fairly anemic on content, Jamorama does have an extremely reasonable price tag. The entire course costs $49.95, which is extremely cheap compared to subscription sites and DVD courses.
If you aren’t happy with the course, you can get a full refund within 60 days of your purchase. This refund doesn’t come with the third degree; no fuss, just your money back.
Overall, Jamorama is a great way for absolute beginners to pick up the instrument, particularly if they’re on a budget. If you have a little more money to spend, you should consider signing up to a subscription site like Guitar Tricks or JamPlay, because these have more content and can take you further with your learning. Jamorama can, however, give you an excellent grounding in the basics; providing the raw tools you need to take your playing career anywhere you want it to go.