JamPlay.com Demo and Walkthrough

Is JamPlay.com Right for You? Video Demo and Walkthrough

Have you thought about signing up for a JamPlay.com membership, but weren’t sure if it was worth the price? Have you seen the ads everywhere online but been hesitant to pull the trigger? Well, let me help you decide by taking you through every nook and cranny of the JamPlay.com user interface.

This post contains affiliate links, meaning, if you click through and make a purchase, I may earn a commission. This is at no additional cost to you. Learn more.

JamPlay Video Demo & Walkthrough

Video Track Listing

0:00 – Introduction
5:10 – My JamPlay
5:20 – Detailed Progress Report
5:58 – Custom Playlists
10:06 – JamPoints & Badges
11:40 – User Profile
13:18 – Friends
13:33 – Messaging System

13:58 – Lessons
14:32 – Phase 1: Beginner Lessons
19:22 – Phase 2: Genres & Skills
22:10 – Phase 3: Song Library, JamPlay Lesson Interface
31:20 – Phase 4: Songwriting
32:58 – Artist Series and  “In The Style of…”
36:45 – Lick & Riff Library
39:22 – Performances, Interviews, and Concerts

40:40 – Live Schedule, Live Courses, and Archived Courses


44:22 – Tools
44:25 – Chord Library
47:51 – Scale Library
51:07 – JamTracks Backing Tracks
53:48 – Metronome, Guitar Tuner, Bass Tuner
54:38 – Interactive Chord Namer
56:25 – Interactive Training Games

59:29 – Community
59:33 – Browse Members
1:00:10 – Teachers
1:00:43 – Staff

1:00:58 – JamPlay Extras

1:02:52 – JamChat, Account, Contact, Store, & Search

1:04:05 – JamPlay Email Offers (Examples)

1:05:08 – Conclusion / Wrap-up

Discount Codes for Guitar Memberships:
1BA1E2 – 25% off First Month
33C6CE – 10% off All Memberships

Dude, Why’s the Video so Long!?

If you want a 5-10 minute overview video, you can already get that by just visiting JamPlay.com, or watching one of the many “overview” style videos that people have created. Some of them are good, others are a bit too sales-y for my taste.

This video is for those of you who’ve already seen all that stuff, but are still hesitant about the value of a membership. This video takes you DEEP into every feature JamPlay has to offer, so you can resolve any questions you may still have.

A Look “Behind the Login” of JamPlay

Firstly, as I say in the video, this isn’t really JamPlay review, per se. Of course, in the video I do give my personal opinions on some of JamPlay’s features, and even point out a couple bugs, but it’s not meant to persuade you one way or the other.

Decide Whether JamPlay is Right For You

There are a lot of guitar lesson membership sites out there, and they’re all really good. JamPlay is just one of them. So, I want to take you through the JamPlay user interface, show you all the lessons, artists, and features, and let you decide for yourself if it’s something you think you’d benefit from.

If you do decide to join, I’ve secured a couple discount codes for you to get a few bucks off your membership. They’re listed at the beginning of the video and in the blue “signup” boxes sprinkled throughout this post.

Most of the meat-and-potatoes is in the video above, where I walk you through every nook and cranny of the JamPlay experience. I show the whole interface, warts and all. However, here are a few high-level details and screenshots…

JamPlay Features – At a Glance

  • 5286 lessons (streaming HD, up to 720p), with more being added every day
  • Massive song library
  • Backing tracks in a variety of tempos and styles
  • Lessons from famous artists
  • JamPlay community with thousands of members
  • Structured, step-by-step learning if you want it. Or, the freedom to jump around and learn whatever and however you want
  • Weekly real-time streaming workshops in HD
  • Daily live Q & A with instructors
  • Comprehensive, interactive tools and chord library (950,000+ chords, guitar tuner)
  • Interactive scale library
  • Learning and memorization games (fretboard memorization, music notation, etc.)

Let’s Look at Some Screenshots

Structured Learning OR Freedom to Do What You Want

If structured, step-by-step learning is your thing, JamPlay tracks everything you do (and watch), and shows you a customized progress report of your activities:

Massive Song Library

If there’s a song you want to learn, there’s a pretty good chance JamPlay has it. You you won’t find everything in here, but there are literally hundreds (maybe thousands) of songs available to learn, with more being added constantly:

Discount Codes for Guitar Memberships:
1BA1E2 – 25% off First Month
33C6CE – 10% off All Memberships

Artist Lessons

Is there a specific artist you’d like to learn from? As of the time of this writing, the following artists are available in JamPlay (click to expand the list):

Click Here to See All JamPlay Artists

  • Steve Stevens (Billy Idol)
  • Tosin Abasi (Animals as Leaders)
  • Dave “David J” (Steve Vai)
  • Joel Kosche (Collective Soul)
  • Bumblefoot (Solo Artist, Guns N’ Roses)
  • Emil Werstler (Daath, PRS Guitars)
  • Mike Keneally (Solo Artist)
  • Kris Norris (DArkets Hour, The Kris Norris Projekt)
  • James Malone (Arsis)
  • Guthrie Trapp (Solo Artist)
  • David Davidson (Solo Artist)
  • Steve Smyth (Solo Artist)
  • Jane Miller (Solo Artist)
  • Andy James (Solo Artist)
  • Glen Drover (Solo Artist)
  • Lita Ford(Solo Artist)
  • Erik Mongrain (Solo Artist)
  • Kaki King (Solo Artist)
  • Trace Bundy (Solo Artist)
  • Miche Fambro (Solo Artist)
  • Randall Williams (Solo Artist)
  • Mary Flower (Solo Artist)
  • Preston Reed (Solo Artist)


Detailed Song Breakdowns

One reason I joined JamPlay was because I had specific Dream Theater songs I needed to learn, and I was struggling to learn them by ear. JamPlay’s detailed, section-by-section song breakdowns were a godsend for me.

First, find the song you want to learn…

Then, dive-in and watch the instructor break-down each section, step-by-step, with multiple camera angles:

Lick and Riff Library

I hate to sound like a broken record, but JamPlay’s lick and riff library is massive as well. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of individual little licks and riffs in various styles (Rock, Metal, Jazz, Country, and more). Each includes a video demo and break-down of the riff, along with tablature (and standard notation):

Discount Codes for Guitar Memberships:
1BA1E2 – 25% off First Month
33C6CE – 10% off All Memberships

Learn by Genre, Skill, or Both!

If you know what kind of player you want to be (Jazz, Country, Rock, etc), you can choose a genre and learn. Or, you can study a specific skill or technique. Of course, you can always do both!

JamTracks (Backing Tracks)

Want to practice improvisation, or just spice up your scale/mode practice by playing to something other than a boring metronome? JamPlay provides hundreds of backing tracks in various styles:

Live Streaming Classes and Workshops

There’s ALWAYS something happening live at JamPlay. At any given time, there is usually some kind of live workshop, Q & A session, performance, or all-of-the-above happening. All live events are in full HD:

Discount Codes for Guitar Memberships:
1BA1E2 – 25% off First Month
33C6CE – 10% off All Memberships

Final Thoughts

If you’ve been on-the-fence about joining a membership site like JamPlay, I hope my (insanely long) video helped you come to a decision, one way or the other. If you do decide to join JamPlay, I’d recommend trying it for 1-month first. Be sure to take advantage of the discounts codes I’ve provided, and let me know how you like it in the comments below.

If you still have any questions about JamPlay, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments below. If you don’t want the community to see your question, you can send me a message through my contact form instead.

I’m looking forward to trying a few of the other similar guitar lesson websites out there. When I do, I’ll be sure to create a similar video for you, so you can “spy before you buy.”


D'Addario NS Micro Soundhole Tuner - Product Review

D’Addario NS Micro Soundhole Tuner Review

This post contains affiliate links, meaning, if you click through and make a purchase, I may earn a commission. This is at no additional cost to you. Learn more.

This post contains affiliate links, meaning, if you click through and make a purchase, I may earn a commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Tired of Headstock Tuners?

Up until this review, I’d used a couple different headstock-mounted, clip-on tuners.

My biggest complaints about these clip-on tuners are that they’re either too “micro” or too big. I liked the tiny, inconspicuous one, but it could be difficult to situate among my tuning pegs and could also be difficult to see. The bigger one was definitely easier to see, but I did’t like having this big appendage hanging off my guitar headstock.

Other Soundhole Tuners Available Today

I’m not sure exactly how long soundhole-mounted tuners have been around, but there are a couple others available. Both are semi-circular designs that fit just inside the lip of your guitar’s soundhole. Those include:

Enter the D’Addario NS Micro Soundhole Tuner

In a departure from the typical semi-circular design of those other soundhole tuners, in 2016 D’Addario/Planet Waves unveiled the new NS Micro Soundhole tuner. It’s the soundhole-mounted sibling to their wildly popular NS Micro Clip-on (headstock) Tuner.

Eager to try an alternative to my headstock tuner, I pre-ordered my NS Micro Soundhole Tuner about a month ago, and it has finally arrived. Actually, it arrived 2 weeks ago, but I’ve been putting it through its paces for 2 weeks now so that I could write this review for you.

Let’s have a look at it…

Features

The NS Micro Soundhole tuner is a simple and straightforward little unit. That said, here are the main features:

• Mounts inside the soundhole
• Multi-color display (green, yellow, and red)
• Suitable for acoustic guitar, acoustic bass, ukulele, and “other acoustic instruments”
• Can be calibrated from A435Hz – A445Hz
• Automatic shut-off after 10 minutes
• Just 2 buttons: power and calibration

So, How Does it Perform?

Effectiveness Effectiveness: 3.5 Stars

When the NS Micro Soundhole tuner is in place, it's nearly invisible to the audience.

When the NS Micro Soundhole tuner is in place, it’s nearly invisible to the audience.

Only 3.5 stars here because the NS Micro Soundhole tuner performed just fine in the relative quiet of my house. Similarly, normal everyday sounds and noise did not aversely affect it, and it accurately tracked notes as I plucked them. I also tested it with several alternate tunings, like drop D, open C, open D, etc. and it did fine.

However, the tuner didn’t do so well when other “musical sounds” were playing in the background at decent volumes. Anything that caused my guitar’s soundboard to vibrate significantly, especially (electric) bass guitar, caused the tuner to either struggle or fail to pick up my notes. I did 3 unscientific tests in this regard. All 3 sounds were pretty loud, but still nowhere near what I’d consider “full stage volume.”

In the first test, I had my girlfriend sing loudly, directly in front of my guitar. The soundhole tuner didn’t like this, and had quite a bit of trouble tracking the notes of my guitar strings. Instead, it wanted to track the notes she was generating.

In the second test, I blasted the isolated bass track from the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s “Give it Away”–to simulate a bass player noodling on stage while I tried to tune. The tuner didn’t like this at all. It jumped around from note to note and often failed to register any note at all. It was impossible to tune with the bass track playing.

In the third test, I played the isolated rhythm guitar track from Dream Theater’s “On the Backs of Angels.” The tuner did a little better here. It struggled occasionally, but was still generally able to pick up my notes and allow me to tune.

So, the verdict here is that this tuner is completely fine for “normal” conditions, but it will probably be ineffective in a noisy stage environment. This is also true of headstock-mounted tuners as well, so keep this in mind when passing judgement.

Ease of Use 4.5 Stars

From the player's perspective, the NS Micro is in the perfect position.

From the player’s perspective, the NS Micro is in the perfect position.

Operating the tuner is simple: there are just two buttons: one for power and another for calibration. Visibility of the tuner’s display is excellent–more visible than the headstock-mounted sibling I’d been using previously. You simply look down at your soundhole and there it is, shining up at you. Turning it on/off is easy as well, just hit the power button with your thumb:

There are 2 reasons I deducted half a star here:

  1. Each time I placed and/or removed the tuner (which I did 3 times), the process felt very precarious–like I might drop it into the soundhole. I never actually dropped it into my soundhole, but it sure felt like I might.
  2. If you got lost in the moment and went completely beserk on your guitar, I can see how it might be possible to knock the tuner into the soundhole on an upstroke. Again, didn’t happen to me because I don’t beat my acoustic guitar to death, but it’s a possibility if you’re a crazy person on stage.

Price Price: 4 Stars

If we’re comparing apples to apples, the NS Micro is in the lower price range of the available soundhole-mounted tuners out there. So, in that regard, it’s a very good value. If you want to compare it to all clip-on tuners in general, including headstock tuners, it’s in the low-to-midrange. Still a pretty good value, in my opinion.

Speed Speed: 4 Stars

When I say “speed” here, I’m referring specifically to how quickly the tuner picked up my plucked notes. The NS Micro soundhole tuner picked up notes as I’d expect any tuner to: quickly, almost instantaneously. So, it met my expectations here.

During my tests, I also had its headstock-mounted sibling going, and both tuners picked up and displayed notes with the same speed. So, nothing earth-shattering to report here.

Safety Safety to the Guitar: 4.5 Stars

The tiny metal clip presses (gently) against the inside the lip of your soundhole. The other surface is rubberized, so it won't scratch your guitar.

The tiny metal clip presses (gently) against the inside the lip of your soundhole. The other surface is rubberized, so it won’t scratch your guitar.

By “safety” I mean safety to your guitar. The NS Micro soundhole tuner won’t scratch your guitar’s finish when placing and removing. The small lip that comes into contact with the outer edge of your soundhole is backed by a rubber pad, so it’s gentle.

The reason I deducted half a star here is because I wasn’t able to test this tuner on a wide variety of acoustic guitars. I only tested it on my Breedlove steel-string acoustic and my nylon-string Classical guitar. Additionally, I don’t know if there would be any ramifications to leaving the tuner in place for long periods (e.g. months). So, to be fair, I deducted half a star for these unknowns.


A Little Demo From D’Addario


Recap: What I Liked

  • The NS Micro soundhole tuner, like it’s headstock-mounted sibling, is fairly invisible to the audience. All they’ll see (if they’re looking for it) is a tiny black triangle at the bottom of your soundhole.
  • For me, soundhole placement is much more visible and convenient than a headstock mounted tuner.
  • Auto shut-off preserves battery life.
  • Simple operation. Only two buttons, one for power and another for calibration (which most people won’t have to do).

Recap: What I Didn’t Like

Putting the NS Micro in place felt unstable--like I might drop it into the soundhole. However, I never actually did.

Putting the NS Micro in place felt unstable–like I might drop it into the soundhole. However, I never actually did.

  • Each time I placed or removed the tuner, the process felt very precarious–like I might drop it into the soundhole. To be fair though, I never actually did.
  • The tuner didn’t perform well when other loud instruments were playing. Anything that significantly vibrates the guitar’s soundboard will interfere, to some extent, with the tuner’s ability to pick up your notes.
  • I’m speculating here, but if you’re a crazy person on stage, I can see how there might be a risk of knocking the tuner into the soundhole on an up-strum. Again, didn’t happen to me.

Conclusion

I don’t perform live anymore. The places I play guitar are usually fairly calm, quiet environments (home, amongst friends, etc). So for me, the NS Micro soundhole tuner works just fine. It’s performance, overall, was on-par with the headstock mounted tuners I’ve tried, but I actually prefer it over the others because I like its inconspicuous and more-visible placement inside the soundhole.

This one’s replacing my headstock-mounted tuners. The NS Micro soundhole tuner is now my main tuner for my two acoustic guitars.

What is the best beginner electric guitar?

Reader Question: What’s the Best Beginner Electric Guitar?

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Andrea asks:

“What’s the best electric guitar you’d recommend for a beginner?”

Hi Andrea:

Since you specified that you want an electric guitar, I can jump right in and talk about just electric guitars, rather than first answering the whole acoustic vs. electric question.

I don’t think a total beginner should spend a lot of money on their first electric guitar–regardless of how much free cash you have available to burn. Since electric guitars come with some extra requirements, like an amplifier and guitar cable, I’m going to recommend some solid “starter packs” for you. These include everything you need to get started. Honestly, some of the included accessories aren’t the best quality (like the included gig bags), but these all-inclusive packs are still still a very good value for a total beginner.

For those out there with a slightly higher budget, I’ve written a separate article: Really Great Beginner Electric Guitars. That’s my hand-picked list of really great-quality electric guitars, but all are under $300.



My Recommended Beginner Electric Guitars

Epiphone Les Paul Special II Guitar Player Pack

Epiphone makes some damn-solid guitars. Though this is the entry-point of their product line, the Les Paul Special II is still a fairly well-made, solid guitar–perfect for a beginner interested in rock, hard-rock, metal, etc. If you don’t like black, other colors are available on Amazon.com.

What I Like:

  • Dual humbucking pickups: The two-humbucker configuration is my personal favorite due to the overall versatility. They’re great for rock and metal, but you can have them rewired for added tonal options.
  • Fixed bridge: If you’re not interested in doing dramatic whammy bar acrobatics, then a fixed bridge is perfect for beginners. A little less hassle and fewer moving parts than a tremolo.
  • The pack comes with everything you need to get started playing guitar right away including the items & accessories that beginners often overlook or can’t afford separately. If you don’t like the black finish, other colors are available.

Potential Downsides:

  • As is true of all “starter packs” the gig bag is cheaply made and provides almost no protection from bumps and falls. The strap is probably pretty low quality too, but neither of these are terribly important accessories.

 

Fender Squier Affinity Strat Pack Bundle

Ahh, the Stratocaster–one of the most versatile and iconic guitars of all time. Strats have been used by guitar heroes throughout history for everything from country to rock to heavy metal. I personally know a couple people who’ve bought this pack and love it. Along with an entry-level Stratocaster, you get a genuine Fender amp that includes overdrive right out of the box.

Squier by Fender "Stop Dreaming, Start Playing" Set

What I like:

  • The tremolo: This “tremolo” bridge allows you to create some dramatic, expressive tremolo or dive-bomb effects, beyond what you can accomplish through other means.
  • The amp: The 10 watt Fender Frontman amp is a great little practice amp, which includes a “gain” control (gain = overdrive). This will allow you get a basic blues, rock, or metal guitar tone right out of the box.
  • Instructional DVD: I’ll be honest, I’ve not seen the DVD personally, but a co-worker (who bought this pack) said the DVD was pretty helpful in getting started.

Potential Downsides:

  • The tremolo: I cited it as something I liked, but not everyone uses or needs a tremolo, and for those people it’s better to just buy a fixed-bridge guitar, like the Epiphone I listed up above.
  • Single coil pickups: Single coils have what’s known as “that single-coil hum.” It’s nothing terrible, and really only noticeable if you’re using overdrive at high volume. You shouldn’t let it stop you from buying this guitar, just be aware of it.
  • Included gig bag provides only minimal protection.

Final Thoughts

I generally recommend these “starter packs” to beginners who have a low total budget, or who may simply be curious and aren’t 100% sure they’ll stick with it. However, if you have a slightly higher budget and want a really solid guitar, check out my newer article: Really Great Beginner Electric Guitars. As the title suggests, I’ve hand-picked a bunch of really solid, high quality, entry-level guitars that are all $300 or less.