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Difficulty Ratings Explained!

By Christopher Schlegel

Guitar Tricks assigns a difficulty rating to every tutorial.  We do this in order to show students how a tutorial fits into the overall learning system and the skill level required to tackle a lesson.


There are five difficulty ratings

Absolute Beginner (1 guitar)

Beginner (2 guitars)

Easy (3 guitars)

Intermediate (4 guitars)

Advanced (5 guitars)


How Core Learning Difficulty is Rated

The Guitar Fundamentals 1 course starts at difficulty rating 1, Absolute Beginner! As a student progresses through the course, the content gets progressively harder and the difficulty rises to Beginner. Eventually, in Guitar Fundamentals 2, the difficulty rises again to Easy (3 guitars). This is a natural progression as the material gets gradually more difficult.

The Style courses start where the Fundamentals end. So, the Blues, Country and Rock level 1 courses are rated Easy. But as you progress and eventually get to the level 2 Style Courses, the difficulty rises to Intermediate.

The same rating system applies to other tutorials in the catalog: technique, theory, exercises, and so on. 


How Song Difficulty is Rated

Rating a song tutorial is a little more complex. This is tricky because one part of a song might be significantly easier or more difficult than another part of a song.

Usually the difficulty rating is set based on the main part of the song. Sometimes this is the easiest part. This encourages students and lets them know they have the skills to play the main section of a song.  

For example, if the main rhythm guitar part of a song requires strumming open chords in a way that students learned in Guitar Fundamentals 2, then the song could be listed at the Beginner difficulty. However, it is important to keep in mind there may still be be a portion of the song with a more difficult section.

Occasionally, the difficulty rating is set based on the most complicated part of a song. This is true especially in cases where the toughest section is also the most iconic, or significant like the solo from "Freebird" for example.  

Other factors are also considered in song tutorial difficulty ratings. Some acoustic songs have a higher difficulty rating because fingerpicking is generally more difficult for some students. 

They might know chords, but playing those chords at a quick tempo with an unusual right hand technique requires that we rate the song at a higher than average level! Some rock songs have easier rating levels because people that enjoy that style are used to the licks, riffs and techniques typically used in that style.


Some Lessons are Simply More Difficult

Another interesting exception is the classical genre. Typically, any and all classical guitar tutorials are generally more difficult than any other style on the site. So, the classical tutorials are rated in relation to all other classical tutorials rather than the Guitar Fundamentals courses, for example.

In short, it is sometimes difficult to assign difficulty ratings objectively across the board for all songs and all players. On the plus side, the Guitar Tricks forum exists in order to help users find songs or lessons or answer questions. If you need help finding a song that matches your interests or current skill level, please ask.

Best of success with your guitar learning and playing!


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