A while back I posted enthusiastically about Truefire. It seems almost too good to be true. Just over $100 for an annual all-access pass to what seemed like thousands of lessons. Well, I’ve had a few weeks to look through it now and I’ve cooled a little from my initial enthusiasm.
So, what’s the problem?
Well, I will start by saying if you are a multi-instrumentalist and are looking for guitar AND bass tuition this is probably still the best value out there. They boast over 45,000 and I am not going to count them, but I’m happy to take their word for it. Unfortunately, well over 44,000 of those lessons are for guitar so if you want to learn anything from African rhythms to Baroque Madrigals from the Russian Empire for guitar and everything in between sign up today. As is often the case bass players are less well-served.
When you sign up, they ask you your skill level and your genres of interest and then they create a learning path for you to guide you through the modules. Sounds cool but as there are only about 60 bass modules, I think most learning paths would look the same regardless of skill level. Actually, it’s not even 60 because on closer examination the ‘bass section’ includes at least eight modules for guitar. In fairness you can access any course, not just bass so although they are buried in other sections courses like ear training and sight reading are there.
My learning path started with First steps for Bass Beginners and Next Steps for Bass Beginners by Stu Hamm and whilst there is nothing wrong with these modules and Stu is a good educator, they offer nothing new to anyone who has completed Josh’s course.
After that the next two modules in my path are categorised as ‘supplementary courses’ and these are ’30 Rock Grooves for Beginners you must know’ and ’30 Beginner Bass Grooves you must know’. I must be old school because to me ‘grooves’ seem to be just what I called riffs and apart from having something to play at parties or in music shops I don’t see a lot of educational value in learning a lot of riffs in isolation. The big problem I have with these though is that whereas you can slow the lessons down on a slider by degrees (so 100%, 90%, 80% etc) on these tracks you only have a choice of half speed, normal or 1.5x. Half speed is ridiculously slow and I find it much harder to play slower and why on earth would you want to learn something 1.5 times faster? So really the only useful speed is normal, so no speed control at all then.
I pretty much abandoned these to move on to Play Bass 3: Essential Skills and Play Bass 4: Groove Vocabulary listed respectively as late beginner to intermediate and intermediate to late intermediate courses. I was looking forward to these as I expected these to get into the meat of the course taking me where I left off with Josh into intermediate territory. Imagine my disappointment then to find that these two modules and just re-hash’s of the various lessons from 30 Rock Grooves and 30 Beginner Bass Grooves. So, no new lessons at all, just the same lessons under another title. Before those there are three more ‘supplementary courses’: Ryan Madora’s Bass Café Foundations, Stu Hamm’s Funk Bass for Beginners and Stu Hamm’s Bass Basics. Ryan’s course is the first one that I’ve sat up and taken note of and actually learnt something. I’ve not looked at Stu getting funky yet (I don’t think I’m ready for that) but Stu Hamm’s Bass Basic’s completely floored me. Eight modules in and Truefire think that the next module I should work through starts with lessons covering parts of the bass, how to tune a bass and how to play open strings!!!
In fairness there are some modules coming up by Ariane Cap as well as more focused modules for jazz, blues, fretless etc so I’m hoping I will get some value out of this subscription, but I doubt I’ll be renewing next year.
If you are looking to extend your tuition after Josh’s course, I’d urge you to at least take a look at the Truefire site and make your own assessment as to whether there is enough to offer value to you but otherwise, I’d suggest you are better off with Talking Bass modules