Guitar Tricks assigns a difficulty rating to every tutorial. We do this in order to show students how any given tutorial fits into the overall learning system. The difficulty rating indicates the skill level required to learn or play the material in a tutorial in relation to all the material on the site.
There are 5 ratings indicated with little guitar icons:
Absolute Beginner (1 guitar)
Beginner (2 guitars)
Easy (3 guitars)
Intermediate (4 guitars)
Advanced (5 guitars)
Rating Our Course Material + the Core Learning System
The Guitar Fundamentals 1 course starts at difficulty rating 1: Absolute Beginner! As a student progresses through the course, the tutorial contents get progressively harder and the difficulty level rises to Beginner. Eventually, when you get into the Guitar Fundamentals 2 course, the difficulty rises again to Easy. Again, this is a natural progression as the material gets gradually, progressively more difficult.
The Style courses start where the Fundamentals end, and as such, the Blues, Country, and Rock level 1 courses are rated Easy. As you progress through these Easy Style courses and get to level 2 for each one, the difficulty rises to Intermediate.
The same rating system applies to other tutorials in the general catalog: technique, theory, exercises, and so on. We attempt to assign a difficulty rating that reflects the skill level relative to the course materials in addition to comparable material on the site.
Rating Song Tutorials
Rating song tutorials is a little more complex. This is tricky because any given part of a song might be significantly easer or harder than another part of the song, or of the overall song!
Usually the difficulty rating is due to the main guitar part of the song. This encourages students to let them know they have the skills to play the primary part of the song. So if the main rhythm guitar part of a song is strumming open chords in a way that students learned in Guitar Fundamentals 2, then the song could be listed at difficulty level Beginner. However, it is important to keep in mind that there might be a part of that song with a slightly or significantly more difficult section, part, concept, or skill level.
Occasionally, the difficulty rating is due to the hardest part of the song. This is especially true in cases where the hard part is the iconic or significant part of the song. So, even though the song may have easy parts, if the primary part of the song is hard, then the difficulty rating will reflect that part.
Other factors are considered in determining song tutorial difficulty ratings. Sometimes it is variable according to the style. For example, some acoustic songs have higher difficulty level ratings because fingerpicking parts are more difficult for some students. While they might know the chords, playing them at a quick tempo with an unusual right hand technique would require 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.
Another interesting exception is the classical genre. Typically, any and all classical guitar tutorials are harder in a general sense than any other style on the site. Because of this, the classical tutorials are rated in relation to all the other classical tutorials, rather than the Guitar Fundamentals courses.
In short, it is sometimes difficult to assign difficulty ratings objectively across the board for all songs and all players. As we’ve described, there are sometimes different standards used to label different styles and different songs. This is much like different guitar students or players have a different set of skills they personally consider easy or difficult.
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!