As the name might imply, Jamplay’s Phase 1 section is designed for the complete beginner and features everything that the first time guitar player needs to know about starting the guitar. The lessons actually start before you even pick up the guitar, with some of the fifteen or so teachers going through warm up and posture exercises prior to settling down and starting the serious business of nailing those first few techniques.
And technique is the key word here when we discuss Phase 1. The majority of the teachers concentrate their first lessons on things like holding the guitar properly, fingering the strings, and using the pick. Tuning the guitar correctly, either with the ear or an electronic tuner is also given a lot of attention; for the simple reason that you’ll never sound good if you’re not in tune.
This is the stuff that beginner guitar lessons are made of, and there is an awful lot of it on offer. As mentioned, there are a lot of guitar teachers to choose from, and they all have something truly unique to offer. Peter Einhorn, for example, has over fifty years of experience with the instrument, while Steve Eulenberg has put together a set of lessons for children. A kids section is an important feature that is often overlooked by a lot of guitar sites, and parents know the difficulty of finding a guitar teacher who is good at teaching children’s songs. Too many guitarists nowadays overlook the fun that can be had playing “The Wheels on the Bus” and “Old McDonald”.
For those looking for something a little different, Jessica Baron has uploaded a series of lessons on beginning the guitar in Open G tuning. While it might sound strange to those who might have learned and played for years through standard tuning, her video lesson explaining her reasoning and the advantages to learning the guitar in an open tuning first make for an interesting tutorial.
In the main, however, the lessons tend to veer toward the standard that you’ll find with most guitar teachers, each one providing lessons on things like holding chords, fingerpicking, strumming, and riffs. Because each of the teachers has their preferred genre, it’s interesting to browse around and see what you can find if you’d like to try something different. Orville Johnson, for example, has listed his preferred genre as bluegrass/folk, so in his second or third lesson there is a tutorial on flatpicking. Over in David Anthony’s section then, there are early lessons on dominant and minor 7ths. His preferred genre? Jazz, unsurprisingly.
The one criticism that could be leveled at the Jamplay Phase 1 section is that most of the teachers put off learning actual songs until intermediate level in Phase 2. This is despite the fact that a lot of the techniques in Phase 1 would actually be considered intermediate in themselves by most teachers. The argument for concentrating so much on technique at the start is that the good habits acquired early will stand to the student in the future, but this is to overlook the fact that people buy the guitar to learn songs, not to practice scales. Fun should always be the name of the game.
That said, there is nothing to stop someone from taking in a lesson on basic chords in Phase 1 and then skipping over to Phase 2 to learn a song that uses those same basic chords. That’s the cool thing about Jamplay.
Minor ideological quibbles aside, Phase 1 is full of useful lessons and helpful tips to get the outright beginner holding the guitar in their lap and playing their first notes. Even if you have been playing for a while, it’s worth checking this section out because there is sure to something there that you’ve always wanted to try but never got around to before. This is the best place to start.