As with any instrument, the guitar isn’t something that’s easy to master, nor are there any shortcuts to make it happen overnight. The learning curve for string instruments can be a strenuous journey that will pick at your ambitions and present frustrations that may drive you to put down the strings for good. The biggest challenge, however, isn’t beginning; it’s persistence.
Fender, one of America’s most famous manufacturers of guitars and amplifiers, has taken notice of this retention issue and created a bold solution that’ll make the learning process easier and more enjoyable: the Fender Play app.
“Fender Play offers the tools in order to achieve your musical goals, whether it’s to play in a band, satisfy a life-long goal, or to write new music,” said Digital Product Vice President Jennifer Schwartz. “By learning basic chords and rhythm techniques, you build upon that foundation and take it in any direction you like, whether it’s songwriter, performing, or just strumming along to your favorite song.”
According to a recent Fender study, about 72% of new players pick up the guitars as a means of finding a way to better themselves and find something that is joyful and rewarding. Unfortunately, about 90% of those new players put the guitar down after just a few months.
Personal lessons are great, but sometimes even those can seem more frustrating than productive. Similarly, Youtube tutorials can help your development when trying to figure out the in-and-outs of your instrument, but it’s hard to rely on poor quality videos from a man across the world who might not relay absorbable information.
This is when that retention problem we mentioned begins to surface. It can be tough to find the motivation and continue along your journey if you feel like you’re not progressing. Maybe your daily grind is lengthy and exhausting, giving you the impression that you’ve never had enough time to really learn how to play guitar or simply overwhelming your ambition to keep playing. Fender Play delivers its lessons with quick and accessible videos that are as easy as scrolling through the internet on the couch, but admittedly more fun and fulfilling.
The Fender Play app relieves players of any doubt and apprehension when dealing with the daunting task of learning how to play guitar while building a groundwork of understanding and music language that will encourage you to keep strumming.
Designed by experienced music educators and application developers, the Fender Play app gives players of all skill levels the ability to swot on their own terms. Users choose every aspect, including the instrument they want to learn and which genre path and style they like most, and have the ability to track their progress.
It might not sound like much, but having the opportunity to track your progress is a game-changer when learning to play guitar. It makes you feel like you’re accomplishing something, effectively diluting any self-doubt or frustration that arises.
Each lesson is presented with pocket-sized videos, as Fender Play’s seasoned string axe instructors go through tutorials on chord retention, how to fret, how to play specific riffs, proper strumming techniques, etc.
If you’re a beginning player, you’ll probably want to start from lesson number one so you can digest the basics: learn how to hold and tune a guitar; become familiar with chords and keys, and so forth. A lot of these step-by-step videos are shown from multiple camera angles, including a first-person point of view, which helps each user visualize these lessons in a way that is digestible and easy to learn because it shows what you see from your perspective.
If you follow through with these lessons, you could learn a full song in just a few weeks.
For you seasoned vets, even if you may not need to use Fender Play’s basic learning paths it could still offer some useful information to help strengthen your craft such as teaching you a specific guitar riff or offering some handy tips from some of the guitar world’s goats.
“In addition to the on-platform curriculum, we also produce supplemental content for subscribers, like a weekly live show simulcast on Fender’s social channels that take deeper dives into genres, styles, and topics, like songwriting techniques,” said Schwartz. “In fact … we’ve had famed songwriter/musician Butch Walker as a guest on the show. We allowed viewers the opportunity to ask Butch real-time questions about songwriting. Butch, who’s worked with artists including Taylor Swift, Weezer and, most recently, producing Green Day’s new album, was available to give real tips and inspirations to emerging songwriters in a way most other platforms can’t.”
Being the world leader it is, Fender is aware of the retention problem in the guitar industry. Again, it’s not easy to learn an instrument, let alone something as meticulous and complex as the guitar. In response, Fender is doing everything it can to “help those who would otherwise quit … and get them to a place where they can create sounds that help inspire them to continue the journey,” said Schwartz.
Fender has also partnered with the Hutton Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee for its launch, providing guests with not only the rampant inspiration blanketing America’s Music City, but also the experience to explore their talents with the Fender Play learning app in the midst of it all.
“Through our new partnership with Hutton Hotel in Nashville, we’re providing the Fender Play In-Room Experience — which provides guests with access to a selection of guitars, basses and ukuleles during their stay, along with the use of the Fender Play app, said Schwartz. As more aspiring and lapsed players are exposed to the app, it’s our hope that we can chip away at the abandonment rate.”
Dubbed the Fender Play In-Room Experience, the opportunity is great for both experienced and beginning players, as it provides users with the space and equipment necessary to hone-in on your existing skills and reach your personal music goals with the helping hand of state of the art equipment, technology, and most importantly, motivation.
That’s what the Fender Play app is all about: “to help first-time players overcome those initial obstacles so they can embark on their own personal musical journey,” said Schwartz.
As an admitted first-time guitar player, I was able to comprehend basic chords, muscle memory techniques to help with fretting, and even add the riff from Train Kept a Rollin’ by Johnny Burnette in my bag of tricks for the next time I want to impress one of my guitar playing friends.
Beginning with a 14-day free trial, the Fender Play app offers subscriptions monthly ($10) and annually ($90). Lessons for guitar, bass, ukulele, and the song learning portion are included in both memberships. All you need now is your instrument of choice (Fender provides a 10% discount on gear for members), an amp, a tablet or smartphone, and a pair of headphones so you don’t piss off the neighbors.
If you haven’t given the guitar a go, but you’ve been thinking about it since middle school, there’s no better time than now. On the other hand, if you’re struggling to understand the instrument, we at The Manual encourage you to try the app out and keep playing, whether it’s for you or the world to hear. The music-verse always has a space for fresh fingered guitar players to continue its thunderous dance with tradition and innovation. Besides, a self-expressive hobby goes a long way for a man’s sanity.
Fender Play is accessible across Android, iOS, and most browsers, meaning you can take your lessons with you to the beach, the bakery, or wherever you feel inspired when home isn’t your fancied creative space.
And if you’re looking for more inspiration to convince you of your music goals, sift through our collection of vinyl albums every man should own.