eMedia is known for music education software, apps, and videos, and they’ve been doing that since 1994.
Today, we’re reviewing one of the most popular software to learn guitar: the “Intermediate Guitar Method”. As you may have guessed, the software is actually designed for intermediate guitar players.
Now, if you’ve been following my website, you’d know that I’ve recently reviewed the eMedia Guitar Method, intended for beginners.
The method we’re going to review today is supposed to get you to the advanced level. That’s why you need be familiar with all the basic chords and techniques addressed in the beginner’s course before going any further.
If that’s the case, let’s get started.
1. It all begins with…
Installation. I did not encounter any issue and the software was installed very quickly.
Just like the beginner’s method, you need to enter the serial number when you first launch the software.
You are then given the opportunity to register the product and win a free guitar. Right after that, you arrive to the intro page where a video starts automatically.
What immediately pleased me here is the page layout. The beginner’s method felt a bit austere and bland, despite having good illustrations.
Here, the wooden page borders give you a warm welcoming feeling from the get go and makes you want to engage yourself into learning the guitar. And that feeling is even reinforced with the old camera vector used for the videos, as you can see in the screenshot above.
2. Speaking of videos…
I have to say, the image quality is a bit better than for the eMedia Guitar Method, but it feels old nonetheless. Take a look:
It’s clear, professional, and the background goes well with the wood color. Kevin Garry (the instructor) seems even more confident here, and gives you a strong impression right off the bat by displaying his great guitar skills.
The video player used in this software is Apple Quicktime. A classic, but certainly not the best one out there. Options you get with the player are limited to:
- Play / pause
- Increase / decrease volume or MUTE
- Go to the next or previous frame or accelerate by holding the right or left arrow buttons.
And… that’s it. No full screen or zoom in/out buttons here. If you actually want to go full screen, you have to go to the menu at the top of the screen, click on “Options” and then activate the full screen video.
It’s not too much of an issue, but still. It would have been convenient to have a button for that.
As for the videos themselves, they are well presented, short and – most of the time – you get a clear view of the fingerboard and strings when you are required to play something.
There are fewer videos (over 30) than for the beginner’s method (around 50) but it did not particularly bother me, as you get enough material to learn the songs and techniques correctly.
3. Let’s move on to the Table of Contents
Just as the beginner’s method, you arrive to the Table of Contents after a short introductory page. Here, you can see the course content divided into six chapters:
As you may have guessed from the screenshot above, you can go to a specific chapter simply by clicking on it.
And if you want to go back to the Table of Contents, you have to click on “Goto” and “Contents”. A link on each page would have been better and improve the experience.
Also, if you want to go directly to a specific lesson of that chapter, you’ll have to click on “Goto” at the top of the screen and then “Lesson…”. It’ll give you a list of all the lessons in the right order.
4. What’s next?
As you go further, you will get a recap of some basic things to know when it comes to play guitar (like how to string and tune the guitar, left and right-hand positions, how to read music, etc.), and then you’ll get started with the first chapter.
The content is, again, top-quality. And the method is effective: you first learn the technique, then you practice with a short exercise, and you finally apply the technique you’ve just learned with a song (or two) to play.
Text lessons are supported by a mix of illustrations, audio (for songs, exercises and chords), audio comments, videos, diagrams (for chords), and finally, chords and music sheets (for songs).
You won’t get any backtracks for the songs in this software. That’s regrettable, as practicing with some backing tracks is always more
There’s a big part dedicated to scale learning in this method. In fact, a whole chapter. And it’s an extensive one, which can be discouraging. But don’t be. Learning scales will help you become a more proficient guitar player, and you’ll be able to improvise – and that, my friend, is one of the best thing you can do when it comes to play an instrument.
So, good job, developers.
The whole course revolves around songs. In fact, you learn the techniques to be able to play the tunes. But that’s how it should always be, right?
So what are the different types of songs you can learn? Classical, folk, blues, rock… You’ll even learn famous solos. How awesome is that?
Only one regret though. You don’t get to learn recent songs. It’s possible that they couldn’t add modern tunes due to copyright reasons, so I won’t complain too much here.
Moreover, the list of songs you can learn is diversified and interesting. And more importantly, they make you practice the different techniques. To access to the list of song, just click on “Goto” > “Song…”. And here’s what you’ll see:
One of the thing you will retrieve in this software if you’ve learned guitar with eMedia before is the instant feedback at the top right corner of the screen.
If you don’t know what it is, “Instant feedback” helps you evaluate yourself by playing a song or an exercise. How does it work? The audio is captured by your microphone, and the software will detect if you’re making the right note.
However, this feature is not as advanced as in the beginner’s method. And there are a few differences.
First of all, the option is always active. You can of course disable it by clicking on the “ear” button at the top right corner of the screen.
You won’t have any rating depending on your performance. That means that if you’re playing something bad, it will be harder to find out what you did wrong.
And finally, this option does not appear on every song. Too bad, you say? Yeah, you’re right.
6. What do we learn?
In eMedia Guitar Method, the biggest focus of the course was on chords. Here, it’s definitely on scales and chord building.
It’s not the only one of course. You get to learn new techniques (like hammer-on, slide, vibrato…), how to do barre chords, different strumming patterns, and finally, fingerstyle.
The biggest chapter is obviously on scales and chord building. This section is more theoretical than the others, and makes you understand how to improvise on the guitar and how to build chords.
But don’t fret. It’s an essential part. Learning and applying the knowledge you’ll get there can in fact skyrocket your guitar skills.
Also, to help you learn and remember the scales on your fingerboard, eMedia added a “scale directory” at the end of the course. You can also access it anytime by clicking on “Goto” > “Scale Directory”.
It’s a very helpful section, as you will be able to see the three or four scale positions on your fingerboard for each scale (Major, Minor, Blues, Major and Minor Pentatonic).
As previously said, you will learn a few techniques on your journey to become a more advanced guitar player. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of what you’ll see:
- Slide / bottleneck slide
- Hammer-ons / pull-offs
You can also access and review every single one of them by clicking on “Goto” > “Technique…”.
Keep in mind that you will also find things that are not, strictly speaking, techniques among the list, such as chords and scales.
It would have been great if they had been separated from that list. But that’s okay. At least, you’ll know where to find them.
You will get the option to activate or disable the animated fretboard, which will show up when you play an audio track of a song. This way you’ll be able to see how a chord is done and where a note is played while the audio is on. Very helpful feature.
You can also modify the skin of the animated fretboard if you don’t like what’s shown to you. I tried them all (there are six), but the skin by default seems to be the best.
Great news if you’re left-handed, you can change the orientation of the fretboard, in order to match what you see on your own guitar. That’s pretty thoughtful of eMedia, as left-handed guitarists are generally left out of the loop (no pun intended here).
You can even see the fretboard upside-down, should you want to activate that option. I personally don’t find this feature useful, but you might.
Also, depending on your preferences, you can change the music notation to standard notation and/or switch back to tablatures. I know a lot of guitarists prefer tabs, but you might be more familiar with standard notations.
Just as with the eMedia Guitar Method, you’ll get access to a few tools that will help you practice and tune your guitar.
9.1 Automatic Guitar Tuner
If you know eMedia and you’re familiar with their guitar Toolkit, then you’ll recognize some tools that come with the intermediate guitar method software. The first tool is the Automatic Guitar Tuner. With the help of the microphone on your PC (or external microphone), you can adjust the pitch of the six strings of your guitar.
Here’s how it looks like:
Note that you can also click on the notes, and it will produce a sound. You can then turn the tuning pegs on your guitar to match the sound you’ve heard on your computer.
Pretty simple to use, as you can see. The only issue is that… it’s too basic. If you want to tune your guitar to a “Drop D” tuning, you can’t. You’ll have to do it using another software or hardware. Or by yourself.
You also can’t change the frequency. If you’ve listened to old tunes, and you try to play them, you may have noticed that they sound a bit differently. That’s because the frequency they used to tune their instrument was different back then.
So if you want to get the same frequency they were using, well… you’ll have to find another way. You cannot do it here. That’s not a big issue for a beginner, it’s however a bit of a shame.
9.2 The metronome
The metronome is also quite simple. You can adjust the tempo from 40 to 180 BPM, which is a pretty large range, and I doubt that you’d ever need a slower or faster tempo than what they offer.
You can also decide to stop the audible tick and / or hide the visible tick. You won’t be able to change the sound of the tick if you don’t like it, but I didn’t find it annoying at all – and my ears are quite sensitive.
9.3 The recorder
Another tool you’ll get with the guitar method is the recorder. Keep in mind that it’s not Cubase nor Pro Tools: you won’t be able to mix your audio and make professional records with this little recorder, but you’ll be able to record what you’ve learned during the course, which is very useful to compare your recordings to the original audio tracks within the lessons.
You also have the option to save the audio, and load what you’ve recorded before. The format is *.wav, which is the Waveform Audio File Format. It’s not a lossless audio format, but the quality you’ll get – if you use a good quality microphone – is decent. Again, the goal here is essentially record what you’ve learned, and track your progress. Here’s how it looks like:
9.4 The finger tracker
The finger tracker tool displays the same fingerboard as the “Animated Fretboard” option. The only difference is that it will try to perceive the notes caught by your microphone, and show them on the fingerboard. If they don’t appear on the fretboard correctly, or if nothings shows up, that’s probably due to your audio configuration.
9.5 The chord dictionary
Finally, the best tool you’ll ever need is the chord dictionary. All the most common chords are listed here, and simply by clicking on a chord, you will see how it is played on the guitar with a chord diagram. The main regret here is that if you’re looking for the name of one specific chord but you can’t remember it, you’ll have to search through the whole catalog, or – best option – use internet to find it.
9.6 Fretboard Note Chart
Have you ever looked at your fretboard and wondered what note you were playing? Well, with this note chart, you can immediately know what you’re playing.
There’s nothing special here, just a chart. But it’s still a useful tool to have.
10. The help section
In my latest review, I was a bit harsh on eMedia concerning the help section. And it will not change here.
To access the help section, you have to click on “Help” > “Intermediate Guitar Help”, and a browser page will open.
Here’s how it looks:
Not glorious. Certainly. But that’s not all. If I want to know more on how to use keyboard shortcuts, here’s what it shows me:
“Go to Appendix screen A3 – Shortcuts for Program Commands for information on available keyboard shortcuts. ”
Fair enough. I’ll get the answer there.
But I was searching for it in the help section. I won’t whine too much on that matter, but still, a bit frustrating in the end.
Apart from that, the glossary shows you the terms used throughout the course, and that’s pretty handy as you won’t have to look up the term in a dictionary or Wikipedia.
Also, if you ever experience any kind of trouble with the software, you can get help from the support team by reaching out to them on the eMedia’s website, they’ll be happy to help you out. That’s a very good point.
11. Random crashes
The software crashed three times during the course of my testing, showing me an error message that Adobe Projector had stopped working.
I had to re-launch the program and it went back to where I was before the error message. So if you ever encounter this kind of crash, it’s no big deal, it’s just a bit annoying in the moment.
It’s fair to say that eMedia Intermediate Guitar Method feels a bit outdated. But is that really an issue when it comes to learn the guitar? I don’t believe so. The method is effective and definitely worth the price.
The songs are carefully chosen to make you work on a particular technique or chord. And the tools that go with the software are here to support you anytime without you having to search anywhere else on the web.
Perfect? No. Efficient? Yes, definitely.
It’s a software that I recommend if you’re an intermediate guitar player looking to fine-tune your guitar skills. And what’s more, you can get it with 10% off if you click on the link below.
I hope you enjoyed the review. Let me know if you have any question, or have any concern. Thank you for reading.
eMedia Intermediate Guitar Method$59.95
Design and look7.5/10
Ease Of Use9.0/10
- Quality of the course
- Useful features and tools
- Instant feedback option
- Scale directory
- Great list of songs to learn
- Weak help section
- Low image quality on videos
- Few crashes
- No backtracks