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Here Are The Alternatives To The Fender Riffstation

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Anyone who recently wanted to play along to songs with the Fender Riffstation must have noticed that the service was under maintenance since quite some days. But apparently it was more than just that, because they have basically different plans. It was previously a free service and beginners, but even more advanced players enjoyed it because they could play along to songs while seeing the chords on the screen. But they decided to put the free service offline because they are working on a paid Riffstation service instead:

While we work with labels and publishers on a paid Riffstation service, Riffstation will no longer be available on the web or mobile devices.

At least they do offer you a free copy of Riffstation Pro at the moment, but let’s be honest, do we really need that? Right, we don’t. All what we need is a web service that has YouTube music videos embedded while showing the guitar chords so that we can play along to songs that we don’t know yet, or that we want to try out on our guitar just for the fun of it. That brings us to the question, are there any alternatives to the Fender Riffstation? Of course there are! I discovered at least two alternatives, but if you know more, feel free to drop a comment! Here are the alternatives…

  • Chordify – Works pretty great in my opinion
  • ChordU – Seems to be pretty inaccurate anyhow

It must be mentioned, but that was the case with the Fender Riffstation too, that these services sometimes really show you the exact chords and playing along becomes very easy, but then there are also many songs where they are totally off. You know, there are different ways to learn a song, for example by your ear, or looking up the chords, or watching YouTube tutorials, but my point is that when these services work, you can just start to play right away because everything is on the screen.

With some exceptions, the Riffstation was very good and it’s a shame that Fender decided to take it offline to make it a paid feature soon. It makes them look greedy, because let’s be honest, they are already selling guitars and I am sure they could easily afford it to let the Riffstation remain free. I think they have the wrong thinking, because when newbies have a fun and free way to learn new songs, they might want to get deeper into the hobby, and it could very well be that these are the future guitar buyers. I’ve always been honest on my blog, and Fender I tell you something, because what you did there looks like absolute greed.

I am not really dependent on services like the Riffstation, although it was fun to use because we all don’t have a brain that stores thousands of songs. But I always thought this might introduce many people to guitar playing, or that it helped newbies to get started with some songs. Some of them might have so much joy that they really stick with guitar playing, looking for more advanced techniques. This is something that corporations will never get, if you don’t give something back for free, if you don’t support your possible clients, you don’t have to wonder if you sales decrease as well. I am pretty sure the paid Riffstation will be one of those overpriced web services. Nobody will talk about it, because it should be free.

Yes, as a guitar manufacturer you absolutely should be able to afford to host a service like this one for free. It might even pay off more in the long run than making a chord tool a paid feature.

For those who have read this, if you know some cool alternatives to the Riffstation too, feel free to drop a comment. We should support newbie guitar players. It might be that some enjoy these type of tools to make their first steps, playing the first songs. And yes, there are many alternative learning methods, but again, some people might enjoy embedded YouTube music videos with chords shown on the screen. So, if you know free services like this, drop the links in the comment section, but please don’t spam unrelated things.

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16 Comments »

    • I am glad you like the suggestion. I needed an alternative too, that’s why I came up with the article. I play guitar since over a decade, but even then you can’t know all songs, which is why I enjoyed the RIffstation too… easy to play along with any song. It’s a shame they have chosen this route… but I knew there would be alternatives 🙂 Keep rocking! 🙂

  1. Great article. I’ve been playing for 1.5 years. I really, really loved Riffstation. It made my learning so much fun. I know pentas etc. and ok for where I am but, Riffstation was way to much fun. I would play it over a Bluetooth speaker and play. I had probably 50-100 songs I really enjoyed playing. Now ALL gone. It’s sucks. I’ll try the apps you came up with. Thank you.
    Ps I own a lot of Fender guitars now and Riffstation is a massive reason why.

    • Thanks. I probably play since 15 years or so, but I liked the Riffstation as well. It was an easy way to start playing songs within seconds, songs where I didn’t know the chords, or where I couldn’t remind the chords anymore. It’s really a shame that it will be a paid feature… I think a lot of guitar players enjoyed the tool, no matter if beginner or long-time player.

      Now that I tested both of my suggestions enough, I must say Chordify works better than ChordU. I am not sure what’s up with ChordU, but almost all songs I tested were inaccurate and I had difficulties to play along. But Chordify works pretty well. I hope you will have fun with it too 🙂

  2. I suspect that when Fender bought Riffstation off the Irish guys who started it they attracted the attention of the copyright owners, who now want a return on the fun we had with the site. As a completely rubbish guitarist, it was the only chance I got to play with good musicians and, with the help of a bottle of Merlot, imagine I’m playing Wembley or wherever.

    I paid the subscription pre-Fender and would be happy to pay a bit more to know that it is back and will be developed even further.

    In the meantime, thanks for the alternatives.

    • Yeah, maybe there is more behind it, I didn’t know who initially built this service. But I still think companies like Fender should invest in tutoring players, it might have positive effects, and it’s also good for the brand. I hope you will have fun with your future subscription, and in the meantime with the alternatives. Give Chordify a try, it’s quite accurate, and ChodU somehow doesn’t work well for me.

  3. Thank you for the suggestions. Chordify looks pretty good – I do miss that Riffstation had an option to make the chord diagrams left handed – but I can just retrain myself to mirror the diagrams. I am a total beginner and loved to be able to find a song and try it out.

    • That’s true. What I also miss is to slow down songs, but that seems to be a premium feature on Chordify. But overall it’s really a working alternative.

      Keep it up with the guitar playing! It’s a really good activity as you most likely noticed 🙂 I wish you a lot of fun with your guitar!

  4. I bought the Riffstation app, and got some good use out of it using music I have on CD already, but in the end, the website was much more fun (similar to other comments here). Real shame Fender went straight to killing off the free site – maybe noone’s buying their guitars these days so they’re ‘branching out’? In the meantime, I’m fairly happy with Chordify, which retains Free version (for now at least).

    • I really got used to Chordify too. It’s just a different look but works decent. I think companies like Fender shoot themselves in the own leg by not giving something back to the community. When I found the Riffstation, I actually thought “Yeah man, you guys doing it right, you support guitar players” with this service. It was a stupid move to take it offline.

      Yeah, Chordify work free but I realized they have some paid features like slowing down a song and so. But it’s totally fair to offer the essential tools for free, and having a few extra features behind a subscription, which doesn’t even cost a lot as I found out.

      By the time Fender comes back with the Riffstation as paid service, everyone is probably already using Chordify and nobody will talk about the Fender paid Riffstation. I can’t see how this move by Fender was smart. It’s actually hilarious.

  5. Feel the same as everyone else on this blog. Just started playing a couple years ago and used the hell out of the riff station app!!! Was great when we had friends over where I would play and different people would sing different songs that they knew. I guess Fender didn’t like people having fun for free!! I still play but not quite as often. I do know one thing, as I build up my guitar collection, I will dam sure not a one of them is a fender!!!!!!!! Hope others follow suit!!!

  6. I agree with all you say about Riffstation.
    I loved how user friendly it was and allowed me to play some incredible more obscure songs and figure chords and timing “Do You Want My Job?”, “Sally G”, “It’s a Beautiful Life” “Same Ol River” to name a few I would have struggled with were it not for RS. So sorry they couldn’t transition from free to pay…..I would have happily coughed up. Will try Chordify plus or whatever it is called and hope it replaces my Riffstation loss.
    Still grieving……

  7. Hi Dennis and sorry for my insecure english. Everything you wrote is right. I am a Stratocaster Fender guitar lover and i was thinking to buy one of it from the Fender official site. now i’m disappointed from the silly decision of the Fender company and i dont want to buy anything from them. It’s maybe a Donald Trump contagion? lol, i’m joking but not at all. I’m from Naples (Italy) and i’m glad to wrote you today. Now i play with Chordify as you reccomended and i can say it’s a good site but i’m also pity because Riffstation was better. Have a good times with yours beautiful interests. If you’ll come in Italy email me…will be nice to meet you in real. Best wishes.

    • I think your English is fine! English is also not my native language. I’m also from Europe, Germany to be exact. I think Chordify does the job, but the design of the Riffstation was better for the eyes… it was simple and non-distracting. I’ve never been to Italy but I hope someday I will see your beautiful country… I’d tell you in that case!

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