Jamorama consists of a series of easy to follow downloadable guitar lessons, which incorporate written, audio and video elements, using downloaded software that presents the material on your PC. It doesn't assume any knowledge of guitar playing, so is ideal for total beginners.
Course Author / InstructorThe Jamorama course was put together by several different experienced guitarists, who are passionate about teaching and helping people learn to play the guitar.
Course Contents - What You Get
You first get access to the Jamorama members area, from where you can download all of the course materials:
Each book is divided up into a number of lessons, and these may be downloaded individually as you need them, rather than downloading the whole lot at once. Downloading these lessons is all handled from within the Maestro software package, using a straightforward interface, you just select the lessons you need, and click to download them.
Course Description - What's in the Lessons
The Jamorama lessons, once downloaded, are presented on your PC by using the 'Maestro' software that you download from the Jamorama site. The lessons combine several different types of material - written (tab and chord notation), audio (e.g. Jam tracks and other audio samples), and video clips. There are a total of 148 video clips, and 26 full jam tracks in the course.
The Maestro software combines all of these types of material together, which makes for an extremely integrated learning environment. A couple of screenshots from the lessons are shown below:
As you read through the lesson content, there are audio and video icons shown throughout the text. Clicking on these activates the audio (e.g. jam track) or video clip relevant to that part of the lesson.
The video clips are very clear, with a nice combination of 3 views, one view showing the right hand (strumming / picking action), one showing the left hand (chord fingering), and the other showing a standard fretboard diagram with the notes and left-hand fingering being used. You can easily pause and rewind the video clip, say, if there's a section you want to see in more detail.
The Jamorama course lessons are divided into two main sections, Beginners and Advanced.
The beginners section starts right at the basics, showing you how to hold the guitar, and read & understand the TAB notation that's used throughout the course.
The lesson modules in each section are in easily digestible 'bitesize' portions, just right for going through the whole lesson module once in a single practice session. Each module usually incorporates some video clips to explain the technique being covered, and often finishes with an audio 'Jam Track', where you get to put what you've learned in the lesson into practice, by playing along with the Jamorama 'band'.
The jam tracks themselves are very well done, good quality, and a full band sound. They can be played in 2 modes, 'play guitar' and 'mute guitar'. The first time through, you'll probably want the 'play guitar' option, where you can hear the guitar part being played on the track as you play along. Using the 'mute guitar' option lets you 'be the guitarist' in the band, which is great for your confidence once you've practiced it a few times.
Support for Jamorama is handled through their website, there are some FAQ topics, if your question isn't answered there, you can submit a support ticket. A ticket we submitted was answered fairly promptly, within the time they specified.
Overall - Our Verdict
Jamorama is a good solid, reasonably priced introduction to learning the guitar for beginners and early intermediate players. It will give you an excellent foundation in playing a variety of different chords, reading musical notation, and practice at playing rhythm guitar along with band tracks (good practice for the real thing!).
It's not aimed at teaching soloing / lead guitar, which is why we probably wouldn't recommend this course for advanced players, and more advanced intermediate players.
We had some minor issues with the Maestro software, in particular navigating from one lesson to another seemed a little clunky. Since you would mostly be spending practice time on a particular lesson though, this isn't a massive issue.
Overall, the integrated presentation of written lessons, video clips and audio jam tracks works very well, assuming you're OK with using your PC while practising your guitar (you can print out the lesson modules also, for 'offline' study), just by clicking on the audio / video icons accompanying the lesson text.
We liked the fact that throughout the lesson text, they have placed occasional motivational tips, to help keep you going, just as a personal guitar teacher would do.
The GuitEarIt bonus software is good fun too, and really achieves the aim of getting you to recognise chords just by their sound, which is a vital skill to learn when playing along with CDs and other musicians.
Price and Guarantees
Jamorama is currently priced at US$99.95, with a 60-day refund guarantee period. Quite often on their site they have a special offers, where you can get the Jamorama course at a discount.
This is the 'download' version of the product, where the course content needs to be downloaded to your PC. They do also have a 'hardcopy' version of the Jamorama course, which is usually priced at US$299.95. This includes DVDs and printed books for the course videos and lesson written content.
Update: They're currently having a sale on the 'hardcopy' version of the product, and between January 26 - 30 2011, you can get the hardcopy version of the Jamorama Standard edition course for half price, i.e. US$149.95. This offer also includes free shipping within the US and internationally. The offer ends at midnight, US Pacific Time on Jan 30th 2011, so take a look at this special offer page for more details.
To get more info on Jamorama, check out the details on the Jamorama website.