If you read this newsletter you probably also see a ton of ads for online guitar lessons. Whether it’s showing up on Facebook or cutting into a YouTube video, they can be pretty annoying. Personally, I never want to hear about another guitar secret or breakthrough ever again. Still, every now and then I see a guitar course with really stupendous marketing and it convinces me to take a closer look.
Today, we’ll be looking at the smartly put together Tony’s Acoustic Challenge.There are no affiliate links anywhere in this review. I’m not getting paid to write this review.
Does Tony’s Acoustic Challenge work?
The guitar player’s number one nemesis is time.
Joining Tony’s Acoustic Guitar Challenge (TAC) is a bit like joining a cult. It’s sold as by invitation only, but all you have to do is sit through a video and you’re invited. It costs $87 for a 3 month membership. After clicking “yes” and getting your payment method ready you still aren’t clear of the marketing funnel. Before your card is processed you’ll be shown a one-time special offer to tack on another program called “Fretboard Wizard” for an additional $147. Yes, Tony’s Acoustic Guitar Challenge is a marketing machine.
So how is TAC is like a cult? Well, aside from being sold on its apparent exclusivity, it’s a guitar program that is designed to keep you busy. Say goodbye to spending time with your family and other favorite guitar sites. This program consists of daily challenges that will take up as much time as you have to spare, and then some.
I may be exaggerating a bit, but a reader recently asked me if TAC can be used in combination with other lessons. The honest answer is “No, not at all.”
One of the main goals of TAC is to boost your playing consistency. To follow the program you log onto the site everyday and work on that day’s challenge. Each challenge consists of a short video introducing a practice exercise. The challenges come in varying degrees of difficulty and are supposed to take around ten minutes. Every challenge includes a guitar tab that you can download. But most exercises are short and you should be able to memorize them as quickly as you can print them. (Remember to save your paper!)
I spent a full month following Tony's lessons and instructions as closely as possible. Although the challenges are brief, I still found staying on track required a lot more time than I expected. Even with a mix of easy and moderately challenging exercises, I found myself scrambling to finish most days. If you sign up for TAC and you already pay for a teacher or another guitar site, you’ll probably want to put them on pause. TAC requires your full attention and commitment.
If you’ve played guitar for a few years you won’t find many of exercises difficult. For me there were occasional exercises that took a few days to really nail down. On those more challenging exercises I noticed Tony demonstrates it on a nylon string guitar, without pointing out how much more difficult it is to play on a regular acoustic guitar.
The daily challenges don’t repeat, but at times they do feel repetitive. Unfortunately, that similarity doesn’t build on previous exercises. The challenges are designed so anyone can jump in anywhere and be on the same page as everyone else. None of the concepts are reviewed or expanded upon. Some days the challenges may feel new, while on others you’ll recognize something from recent challenges.
Personally I found a lot of the exercises a little dry. Most of the challenges don’t sound very musical. In fact, they often just feel like callus building exercises. Even before the month was over I was already missing other guitar sites where I could browse around and choose a topic on my own.
30 Days to Play Guitar Challenge
Tony’s Acoustic Challenge is actually two guitar programs bundled into into one. When you sign up you also get access to “30 Days to Play Guitar.” This is a program for absolute beginners that aims to get them up to speed so they can work on the daily challenges.
There’s nothing revolutionary about it that made me wish I could go back and start guitar all over. But I would recommend “30 Days to Play Guitar” to someone just starting out or returning to guitar in need of a refresher. It covers the basics like tuning, blues patterns, first chords and provides some good beginner tips on strumming.
In my opinion, TAC would be better if it was divided into different courses. The “30 Days to Play Guitar” is a smartly put together course that moves at a good pace. It works because it has a clear start and end point. The lessons build on previous concepts so you can recognize your progress and see the path you’re on. The daily challenges often feel like they are going nowhere. They made me wonder if they were developing my playing at all, and even worse, they almost always felt like they were removed from making music.
If you like an active forum and online community, TAC does have that going for it. The comments and forums are busy and chirpy. If that’s your sort of thing you’ll enjoy being part of the TAC Family. (It’s a family, not a cult at all.)
My playing and practice habits didn’t change over the course of the month. I did get more calluses though. I’m not sure my guitar playing would improve noticeably if I spent more time ensconced in this method. I’ll never find out. The cult life isn’t for me and I’m cancelling my membership. That is, if they let me.
Have you tried Tony’s Acoustic Challenge? Are there other guitar programs you’d like to try? Let me know in the comments or reply to this email.