Jamplay is a membership site, where you can get access to a wide range of video guitar lessons. They have several different instructors, who specialise in particular genres and styles, from rock to metal, jazz, classical and blues.
There's a huge range of video lessons, which they're adding to all the time.
Course Author / Instructor
At the last look, I counted 45 instructors on the Jamplay site. They're quite a varied bunch, but one thing they seem to have in common is years of playing and teaching experience. Many also seem to have taken formal musical education at some point.
Each instructor has a particular style/genre that they teach on the site. Having many instructors available means that there are a mixture of perspectives and teaching styles, which makes for more varied lesson content.
Course Contents - What You Get
Membership of the Jamplay site gives you a whole range of different lessons and tools, as a brief summary, you'll get access to the following:
Course Description - What's in the Lessons?
The Jamplay lessons cover a wonderfully diverse range of styles, required skill level, and teaching approaches. In contrast to some of the other lesson prodcts reviewed here, it's the sheer variety of lessons available that is quite different about Jamplay.
The video lessons themselves are provided by streaming in your web browser. There are 3 modes - low, medium and high quality, depending on the speed of your internet connection. I found the 'low' quality to be actually quite reasonable, and it's also the quickest to download & start watching.
Each video is split up into several scenes (chapters), which is good if you want to skip ahead to some of the later lesson content.
Below the video pane, there is a 'supplemental content' section where you can see the chords or tab that are used in the lesson, and print this out if necessary. Another section - 'my thoughts/notes' - lets you make your own notes on that lesson, which are saved for when you revisit that particular page. Yet another section - 'comment/discuss' -lets you posts comments on the lesson that can be seen and responded to by the instructor / other Jamplay members.
Here are a few screenshots of the Jamplay site:
Most of the lessons seem to be around 30-40 minutes in length, which is just about right for a practice session, and they don't take too long to download.
Each lesson is marked with a 'skill level' indicator, which is a good way for you to tell if it's right for your level of guitar playing or not.
Another feature is the 'progress report' control, this is available on all lessons, and lets you add a particular lesson to your own specific 'progress report' page. This is a great facility that helps you keep track of the lessons you're working on at any one time, and gives you a visual perspective on how far through them you've got.
The lessons on particular songs are very detailed, and break down parts of the song into sections that are analysed in depth within the lesson. In particular, fast sections of the song are played more slowly to give you a chance to see exactly what's going on.
There are about 60 or so full backing tracks recorded by the Jamplay instructors. As well as letting you play the track, there are also fairly detailed notes on each track, that give you info about the chords used, and scales you might utilise to solo over the track. You can also see and print out the guitar rhythm part in full.
Support for Jamplay is provided in several different ways.
Firstly, there is an issue ticketing system which lets you send messages to the Jamplay staff about particular issues.
In terms of support for the lessons, there is the 'Video Q&A' section, which is where you can ask a question which is best answered with a video clip, and these are recorded by the various Jamplay instructors. However, the response to these questions can take a while, and not all questions get a response.
The Jamplay forums and member community are also a good ways to get support. The member community section also features a live member chat facility, which is great for getting some instant info.
Overall - Our Verdict
Jamplay provides quite a range of different video lessons, so pretty much whatever your level of guitar playing, you should be able to find something of interest to you.
A great feature of the site is the number of different instructors and styles / genres they cover.
If you're a beginner, then the lesssons in Phase 1 will give you a solid grounding in the basics, such as open chords and simple strumming, as well as going on to some more advanced topics, introducing barre chords for example.
For me, the Phase 2 lessons - specific genres / techniques, and Phase 3 lessons - songs were the most useful. I tried out quite a few of the different lessons here initially to get an idea of which instructors' lessons I liked best, and then went in to try a whole lesson series from that instructor. I got some useful tips from Matt's rock lesson series, and also Steve's fingerstyle lessons.
The Phase 3 section where different actual songs are analysed is a great facility to browse - even if the particular song you want isn't on the list, you can usually find something similar. I liked the way you can filter the song list by things like genre and skill level.
The presentation of the video lessons is good too, you don't just get the video clip, but a whole section with the tab for parts of that lesson, and other sections where you can post comments / notes, it's very well laid out.
In the same way, I thought the jam tracks were well presented, as well as the track audio, there were some reasonably comprehensive notes on the chords used, and the ability to see the full rhythm tab. If you're just starting out with practicing soloing / improvising over jam tracks, then it's very useful to get an idea of what scales would work with a particular track, and the notes with these jam tracks usually do that.
One minor negative - I thought that in some areas, they could do with a few more lessons. In the Phase 2 section on 'Metal' for example, there are just 7 lessons, I felt this could be expanded on. Other genres though, e.g. Rock, have better coverage.
The other thing with the Jamplay site, is that you need to be online to watch the video lessons, in contrast to the other DVD-based lessons say, where you can watch them offline.
Overall, Jamplay membership gives you a lot of good quality guitar lesson content for a relatively low monthly fee. It's well worth a look, even just signing up for a couple of months to check out all of the different lessons available, and make contact with some of the other members in the Jamplay community section.
Price and Guarantees
Jamplay membership is currently priced at US$19.95 per month. There are also options to pay for 3 months at a time - US$49.95 (US$16.65 monthly equivalent), or annually - US$139.95 (US$11.66 monthly equivalent).
Update: Jamplay Xmas Sale 2011. From Dec 24th - 28th 2011, Jamplay are offering a discount of $40 off the price of the annual membership, so for this limited time, you can get a year's membership to Jamplay for US$99.95. Check out details of this offer here (see the 'Get $40.00 Off' link at the top of that page).
They also offer a money back guarantee, claimable within 7 days, if you're not happy with the site membership for whatever reason.
For more info on Jamplay, or to join up, visit the Jamplay website.
They also have a lot of free lessons available, just select the 'Lessons' tab from the top area on Jamplay, then browse the lesson categories from the menu down the left-hand side.