Trying to pick an app for learning guitar?
When it comes to something as individual and nuanced as learning the guitar, there isn’t necessarily a “one sizes fits all” option. Plus, you never know which tool might come in handy at what time.
Even so, you may have seen names like Guitar Tricks, Fender Play, JamPlay, and others and thought to yourself, “which one do I even choose?” Admittedly, after a while, they can all start to look alike.
Yes, we’ve entered an era where choosing a guitar app isn’t just a matter of doing a quick Google search anymore, as there are a ton of apps to choose from, and they all offer something a little different.
But in this detailed guide, we’ve curated and reviewed the best apps for learning guitar and offer a look inside each. Plus, we’ve taken the headache out of doing all the research yourself. Let’s get into it.
Best Apps For Learning Guitar
So, we know you came for the in-depth reviews, but first, here’s an overview of the apps covered here:
- Guitar Tricks (Free Trail): Largely considered the best app for learning guitar, especially with their Core Learning System curriculum. They also have an extensive library of courses, lessons, and songs, which they’ve built up over the course of about 23 years.
- JamPlay: JamPlay has one of the biggest online guitar lesson libraries available, and they’ve recruited over 120 guitar instructors to share their best tips, some whose names you would certainly recognize (Tony MacAlpine, Phil Keaggy, Mike Dawes, etc.).
- TrueFire: A long-running online guitar site and app with plenty to offer – noteworthy teachers (like Steve Vai), a big library of lessons, and a website and app that works on all devices – Windows, Mac, iOS, Apple TV, Android, and Roku.
- JustinGuitar: What started out as a side project for Australian guitarist Justin Sandercoe quickly grew into one of the leading guitar lesson sites and apps, complete with a well thought out curriculum that’s more intuitive and logical than most guitar method books. Lots of free stuff to dig into, and even more when you become a paid subscriber.
- Fender Play (Free Trial): Fender is an industry titan, and they’ve created more than a few products that have set the standard in the realms of electric guitars, electric basses, and amplifiers. Their online lesson platform, Fender Play, conveys a similar sense of dedication and professionalism, with several learning paths, and lessons that are sure to captivate beginners and intermediate players alike.
- Jamorama (Try Risk Free): Jamorama offers a complete, 10-part beginner-to-intermediate guitar system that will give you a solid foundation in guitar and set you up for success in the future. The scope of content isn’t overwhelming, and it’s sure to get you the results you’re looking for fast. You can also get lifetime access for a moderate cost. This is not a good solution for intermediate to advanced players, though, and it also doesn’t have a mobile app component.
- ArtistWorks: An online music lesson library with an expansive focus, not just on the guitar, but on a variety of other instruments like violin, banjo, and bass. A great place to go to learn specific playing styles and approaches, but their guitar section is a little smaller than many of the sites already mentioned. Still a great place to go if you want to learn from the likes of Paul Gilbert, Jared James Nichols, and Guthrie Trapp. ArtistWorks does not have a mobile app.
- Ultimate Guitar: One of the O.G. guitar sites still kickin’ it! Their app gives you access to their extensive tab and chord library (over one million songs right in your pocket) as well as their community, but there’s plenty more on offer at their website, with music reviews, equipment reviews, artist interviews, and more.
- Songsterr: An online tab player in the Guitar Pro and Power Tab Editor vein. A bit of a game-changer given that it’s completely online and not desktop software like the alternatives just mentioned. You can use Songsterr for free, but a subscription to Songsterr Plus gives you access to printing the music, controlling the tempo, looping, muting, soloing, pitch shifting, an ad free experience, and their mobile app.
- Guitar Pro: a fully-fledged guitar tab and score editor, with advanced MIDI instruments and playback functionality. A laptop or desktop application first and foremost, Guitar Pro should nevertheless prove a great addition to your toolbox with its versatility and powerful feature set.
- Power Tab Editor: More of an honorary mention than anything. Power Tab Editor is a legacy desktop application that likely inspired contemporaries like Guitar Pro and Songsterr. Despite being deprecated, it hasn’t outlived its usefulness yet, because Power Tab files can be downloaded all over, especially on a site like Ultimate Guitar. And you’ll need Power Tab Editor to be able to read them.
Guitar Tricks is largely considered the best app for learning guitar online.
The award-wining Guitar Tricks (get your free trial here) has been around since 1998, so you can certainly say they’ve earned their stripes and reputation as the top guitar learning app.
The scope of their content is significant. Whether it’s instructors, lessons, songs, or otherwise, they’ve had considerable time to build up their library of content.
If you’d like to discover how Guitar Tricks stacks up against JamPlay, check out this post: Guitar Tricks vs JamPlay 2021.
Why Guitar Tricks Is Awesome
The Core Learning System.
Guitar Tricks has a roadmap for progression, and it looks like Fender Play may have taken some inspiration from their model.
With some instruments, like piano, there are a few established curricula most players follow. Guitar is a little different. Although there are some popular methods, they aren’t used by everybody, and many students are better served with a custom curriculum or a hybrid approach to learning (a mix of sight reading, theory, scales and drills, chords, etc.).
That’s why we like the Core Learning System idea. The fundamentals of fretting, picking, strumming, chords, and so on don’t really change. What does change is the stylistic approach to different genres. To be honest, there are practically as many approaches to playing the guitar as there are guitar payers!
And the Guitar Tricks system branches off in different directions depending on what you’ve already completed and what you want to learn. So, you’re in complete control of your learning progression.
An extensive library of content.
Guitar Tricks gives you access to a huge amount of learning material, including numerous courses (acoustic, blues, rock, country, etc.), as well as over 1,000 song tutorials by top artists.
Guitar Tricks helps you get to your first song fast, and so far as learning guitar is concerned, we think that’s a key point. You don’t want to be working on finger exercises and drills forever. Getting into your first song is where the rubber meets the road.
It’s beginner friendly.
Guitar Tricks is perfect for the aspiring guitarist. That’s what the Core Learning System is all about. As a beginner, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. But when you have an effective, organized, and coherent system to follow, you can give yourself a solid head start and get all the fundamentals necessary to start picking up any song in any style.
Guitar Tricks’ structured learning path is like no other.
JamPlay features over 120 guitar instructors across more than 20 musical genres. They have one of the biggest online guitar lesson libraries available.
JamPlay (click here for the best deal) was founded in 2006 by Kevin Wimer, Jeff Booth, and Chris Dawson in Beavercreek, OH. Their roster of professional instructors includes the likes of Steve Stevens, Andy James, and Mike Mushok.
Their site gives you access to 1,000s of guitar and bass lessons at all playing levels.
If you’d like to see how JamPlay stacks up against TrueFire, have a look at: JamPlay vs TrueFire 2021.
Why JamPlay Is Awesome
A library of over 7,000 online guitar lessons.
JamPlay gives you access to more than 120 guitar instructors in 20+ genres, and over 7,000 lessons. No matter what you’re looking to learn, no matter what level you play at, chances are you can find something to bite into – even if you’re a pro or advanced player.
You can also choose from your favorite genres, be it rock, blues, country, jazz, fingerstyle, metal, bluegrass, classical, funk, and others. You can get into all the music theory too – chords, scales, arpeggios, improvisation, sweep picking, slide guitar, and even slap bass.
If you wan to get a comprehensive education in guitar, JamPlay is a good solution.
Recognizable names in guitar.
Ever wanted to learn from some of the leading players across the globe? Sure, not all JamPlay instructors are famous, but there are still some incredible instructors to choose from – Mike Dawes, Tony MacAlpine, Phil Keaggy, Steve Stevens, Joel Kosche, Tosin Abasi, and others.
Personally, I would consider the Phil Keaggy lessons wroth the price of entry. Of course, it all depends on what you want to learn.
Live content is awesome.
JamPlay gives you access to live video lessons as well as weekly live workshops. These workshops are archived so you can access them at any time you want. You can even join in on live Q&A sessions to get all your questions answered. Assuming you’re taking advantage of these valuable features, you’re going to get incredible support on your guitar learning journey.
You get what you put into it, as they say, but when you have access to all these features and put in an honest effort, it’s hard not to succeed.
TrueFire gives you access to 900+ guitar courses and 40,000+ video lessons. They cater to every skill level and playing style, and Guitar Player magazine called TrueFire “the world’s most comprehensive library of online guitar lessons.”
TrueFire works on all devices, including Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Apple TV, Android, and Roku. That means you can access it just about everywhere and anywhere with an internet connection.
As with many of the apps mentioned in this guide, TrueFire has been around for a while, in this case 1999. So, they’ve had plenty of time to build out their content and create an awesome user experience.
How does TrueFire compare to Guitar Tricks? Find out in our review: Guitar Tricks vs TrueFire 2021.
Why TrueFire Is Awesome
Access to some of the best educators in the world.
JamPlay boasts some serious clout in this regard, but TrueFire is comparable, with Grammy Award-winning players, top session players, world renowned teachers, and more.
But who exactly are we talking about here?
The most noteworthy teacher is by far, Joe Satriani’s protégé Steve Vai. Vai, of course, is considered one of the world’s best guitarists, especially in the instrumental realm. He’s also a three-time Grammy Award winner and 15-time nominee.
TrueFire membership, though, also gives you access to luminaries like Larry Carlton, Robben Ford, and Pat Martino.
High-quality video lessons with plenty of learning tools built right in.
TrueFire offers 900+ video guitar courses with multi-angle HD presentation, slow motion and looping capability, synced tab, notation, and even jam tracks. Jamming, by the way, is an excellent activity for every beginner and intermediate guitarist to engage in, as it helps develop musical intuition and personal expression.
The above features make learning more engaging, interactive, and fun. It takes the mystery out of trying to figure everything out for yourself, because you’ve got everything you need onscreen to be able to learn what you want to learn. You can slow things down, loop a section, or take advantage of the tab notation to find your path.
A great option for guitarists at every level.
Most if not all apps are good for beginners. But not all are great for more advanced players.
With TrueFire, you can take everything at your own pace, and their large library of courses and lessons means there’s something here for everyone (would you expect any less when there are educators like Steve Vai and Larry Carlton onboard?).
No matter where you are on your journey to becoming the best guitar player you can be, TrueFire is a solid option for your guitar learning journey overall.
If you Googled online guitar lessons in the early days of the internet, chances are you came across JustinGuitar, which has always offered quality, in-depth lessons, and a logical, step-by-step curriculum to help beginner guitarists on their learning journey.
Creator Justin Sandercoe has 2,000+ performances under his belt, 18+ years creating online lessons, and 35+ years of teaching experience. And he has received rave reviews from the likes of Tommy Emmanuel, Mark Knopfler, Brian May, Steve Vai, and Mike Dawes (you can’t say that about too many players!).
Sandercoe’s teaching method has proven effective with over 400,000 students from across the world.
You can find the JustinGuitar Lessons & Songs App on the App Store and Google Play.
Want to know how Justin Guitar compares to TrueFire? Find our guide here: TrueFire vs Justin Guitar 2021.
Why JustinGuitar Is Awesome
Plenty of content to sink your teeth into.
JustinGuitar offers 1,251 free lessons, 635 free songs, has over 530,000 users, and is a top-rated Lessons & Songs app. There are over 1,800 lessons total, designed for guitarists at every level, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate player, or advanced and experienced player. The advanced section still seems to be under development, but there are some advanced lessons in the can.
Sandercoe’s methodology is also something I can get behind, as it is logically organized, and shows a path for progression anyone can (and should) follow.
The self-assessment system is a great idea.
JustinGuitar features a self-assessment system you can use to track your progress and improvement as a guitarist. It’s always nice to be able to check in from time to time and review how far you’ve come, as well as how you’re doing, because the journey of the guitarist isn’t always an easy one, and you need as much feedback and guidance as you can get!
Easy to use app.
The app doesn’t feel cold or industrial. If anything, it’s kind of “homey.” That’s a nice vibe, especially when you’re working on your guitar skills from home. It’s intuitive and easy to navigate, which can speed your progress, even if it’s just in subtle ways.
Legendary guitar maker Fender chimes in with their bespoke online guitar lesson solution, Fender Play – a great starting point for beginners and a smart choice for intermediate players too.
Fender Play (get free trial here) is still a relative newcomer to the market, but they do have a sizeable archive of content, and their learning platform even lets you choose what learning path you want to take depending on the style of music you want to learn to play.
The app is available for Android and Apple devices alike (it also works on laptops and desktops), and like most apps on this list, they offer a two-week free trial too.
If you want to find out how Fender Play stacks up against JamPlay, check out: JamPlay vs Fender Play 2021.
Why Fender Play Is Awesome
The Fender Play platform is professional through and through.
Fender’s professionalism is undeniable. The tutorial and course content inside the membership is high quality, high resolution, high definition, and easy to consume. They’ve obviously given some thought to the overall design and feel of their platform too. The navigation and presentation could be a little better, but we expect to see more improvements in this regard.
As with Guitar Tricks, Fender Play has learning paths.
We like that they let you branch off into different learning paths like Rock, Blues, and Folk depending on which track you want to go down. Here’s why this is great:
Learning the guitar, early on, can either be a fun adventure or a frustrating, grueling process. And this is often because beginner guitarists are forced through curriculums that are too easy, too hard, or even too boring. Being able to work on a specific genre or style of music helps bypass a lot of the clutter that can accompany more traditional methods, which often revolve around sight-reading, music theory, and learning public domain material.
Beginner guitarists often like to get into familiar pop and rock songs versus learning “Aura Lee” or “Merry Christmas.”
Fender Play’s lessons strike a great balance.
Fender Play’s tutorials and courses are detailed without being arduous and are basically just the right amount. Not too much, not too little. After all, teachers can sometimes overexplain and spend too much time on context before getting to the point.
We don’t recommend Fender Play for advanced players.
Fender has obviously made the choice to start with the foundation, which makes a lot of sense. But that means their content isn’t catered to pros and advanced players who already have considerable experience.
We expect to see some developments in this regard, as Fender continues to add lessons. Likely, in the coming months or years, Fender Play will be a solid place to go for more experiences players too.
For beginners, it’s an excellent resource.
Jamorama was created by head guitar instructor of Jamorama, contributor to Guitar Player magazine, and creator of The Guitar Guy YouTube channel Mark McKenzie. With Jamorama, he’s created a comprehensive 10-step guitar system to help you go from beginner to intermediate and beyond.
Comparatively speaking, Jamorama (try risk free here) is a smaller resource. But sometimes you don’t need all the bloat, and you aren’t ready for a shred fest. For players who just want the essentials, Jamorama is a great place to start.
How does Jamorama compare to JamPlay? We’ve covered that here: JamPlay vs Jamorama 2021.
Why Jamorama Is Awesome
Lifetime access to their content.
There aren’t too many guitar apps that offer this feature, but Jamorama gives you lifetime access to their content for a small fee.
They obviously take a user-first approach to business, as they also offer an extended 60-day money back guarantee.
A great place for beginners to get started.
For a humble, one-time fee, you get access to nearly 300 videos covering beginner guitar, chords, blues guitar, fingerstyle guitar, guitar theory, speed picking, lead guitar, a complete practice plan (The 1 Hour Guitar Workout), and acoustic guitar maintenance.
The focus is obviously on helping beginners gain a solid foundation in the art and craft of guitar, but anyone who takes these lessons and applies them is sure to be able to take their playing beyond. Once you’ve mastered the basics of chords, strumming, scales, and so on, you’ll find yourself able to pick up a lot more songs and riffs as you go.
Jamorama also covers the basics of lead guitar, improvisation, and music theory, which can set you up for success in your guitar endeavors to follow.
We can’t see Jamorama being a great choice for players who already identify as intermediate or advanced players.
This guide is primarily about beginner friendly apps, so you shouldn’t be disappointed to discover that Jamorama doesn’t appeal to guitarist who are already at an intermediate level or beyond. Perhaps they will be adding more intermediate to advanced content in the future.
But just in case you are looking for options better suited to the intermediate or advanced player, you’re probably better off with something like Guitar Tricks or JamPlay.
Also, best to our knowledge, Jamorama does not have a mobile app.
ArtistWorks gives you access to over 35 well-known master musicians including Paul Gilbert, Nathan East, Peter Erskine, and others.
The online music education platform ArtistWorks was founded in 2008 by David and Patricia Butler in Napa, CA.
ArtistWorks is home to lessons for practically every instrument imaginable, not just guitar – bass, piano, voice, banjo, cello, flute, fiddle, violin, mandolin, ukulele, clarinet, harmonica, saxophone, French horn, trumpet, drums, world percussion, and even hip hop scratch.
Want to know how ArtistWorks compares to JamPlay? Find our review here: JamPlay vs ArtistWorks 2021.
Why ArtistWorks Is Awesome
Access to some notable names.
The most noteworthy guitarist, of course, would be Grammy-nominated Paul Gilbert, whose shredding speed and finesse is rarely outclassed, even by some of the leading guitarists in the world.
You can also learn from the likes of Chris Eldridge, Jared James Nichols, Bryan Sutton, Guthrie Trapp, Martin Taylor, and others.
You might not recognize all these names off the bat, but it’s fair to say they’re all more than competent guitarists, many of whom are award winning and world renowned.
You can learn acoustic and electric guitar.
Although certainly not unique to ArtistWorks, it’s a great guitar app for learning classical, acoustic, or electric guitar, regardless of style or playing level. You can even learn dobro and lap steel if that’s what you’re looking to get into.
You can choose from a variety of styles, too – bluegrass, blues rock, rock, country, fingerstyle jazz, jazz improv, and more.
ArtistWorks does not have a mobile app, but they are worth checking out if you like learning from your laptop or desktop computer.
A great place to go if you want to extend your knowledge well beyond the guitar.
This might not be an obvious benefit, but it’s an important one, nonetheless. The truth about music is that regardless of instrument, there are techniques, concepts, and ideas you can learn and find ways to apply to the guitar. Virtuoso fusion guitarist Allan Holdsworth, for example, originally wanted to play saxophone. Which means taking piano or drum lessons can help you develop as a guitarist.
Obviously, if you’re just getting started, you should focus on one thing at a time. But when you need additional inspiration, it can’t hurt to learn how other instruments work.
Ultimate Guitar Website
Ultimate Guitar is bar none the largest online guitar community loaded with guitar and bass tabs, chord sheets, music and music equipment reviews, musician interviews, written lessons, video lessons, and forums.
The site was originally launched on October 9, 1998, by Eugeny Naidenov. Today, their site has chords and tabs for roughly 1.5 million songs!
They have a convenient app that gives you easy access to tabs and chords from their extensive library.
Why Ultimate Guitar Is Awesome
Ultimate Guitar is the go-to source for tabs.
It’s one of the sites that started it all, and in my formative years as a guitarist, I used it extensively. I still take advantage of it sometimes, especially if I’m on the go and need to look up a song. These days, I’m usually working on more nuanced, advanced techniques instead of entire songs, though, which means I don’t need 100 tabs a day.
But if you’re looking for a specific tab for a song you want to learn, chances are Ultimate Guitar has it, making it highly bookmarkable.
The app is fun, easy, and convenient.
The Ultimate Guitar: Chords & Tabs app is available on Android and Apple. This app was primarily built with tabs and chords in mind, but it does give you access to their community as well.
When you’re on the go, and need to learn a song fast, or you don’t have any of your other devices with you, you can take advantage of the Ultimate Guitar app on your phone or tablet.
It’s great for other instruments too.
In addition to guitar, on Ultimate Guitar, you can generally find tabs for bass and ukulele too.
Songsterr is the online equivalent of Guitar Pro or Power Tab Editor, and that makes it a favorite, convenient, go-to resource for learning your favorite songs on the guitar.
Songsterr may not have everything an app like Guitar Tricks or JamPlay has, but what’s on offer is still quite attractive, with a library of over 500,000 tabs by 40,000 artist you can read and play along to using their online tab player.
Although it’s primarily a web app, you can upgrade to Songsterr Plus for additional functionality and a mobile app.
Why Songsterr Is Awesome
Songsterr is a competent online tab player.
Tab players may be taken for granted now, but in the earlier days of the internet, they were a revelation. Power Tab Editor. Guitar Pro. These were the tools many a guitar player cut their teeth on, and I’m no exception.
Then along came Songsterr, which offers the same experience, except without the need to install an application on your computer. That makes it incredibly convenient.
If I’m looking to learn a song (or a section from a song), these days, more often than not, I take advantage of Songsterr.
A great selection of songs to learn.
Obviously, the journey to learning guitar can take many forms, and Songsterr isn’t a tool that provides you with a roadmap or step-by-step process. It’s more so a powerful tool for learning some of your favorite songs, and they have a library of over 500,000 tabs.
Songsterr’s user interface is great.
It’s simple, clean, and easy to use. Songsterr Plus obviously gives you access to more options, but the free version is more than a competent online tab player and learning tool. You can’t necessarily find everything in their tab archive, but they are accepting submissions (in exchange for $500 Amazon gift cards – that makes me want to submit a tab), and we anticipate they will continue to grow.
Overall, Songsterr is a great resource to add to your bookmarks.
Guitar Pro is the leading multitrack tablature editor software for guitar, bass, and other instruments. It’s also a capable music score editor.
Its exact origins are unknown, but Guitar Pro has been around since about the late 90s or early 2000s, as it iterated from version 3 to what’s available today – version 7.5.
Some of the updates for the latest version include the ability to edit score elements (like title, clef, key signature, etc.) with the click of a button, a built-in file browser (with access to mySongBook score library), redesigned track tuning window, MIDI import customization, and more.
Guitar Pro keeps getting better and better with each iteration.
Why Guitar Pro Is Awesome
Guitar Pro is an excellent tab and score editor. Probably the best!
Guitar Pro is an amazing tab and score editor. Whether you regularly transcribe songs (for work or for fun), compose your own songs, create and share scores with others (e.g., band members or session musicians), or otherwise, Guitar Pro is a great tool to have at your disposal. It can produce professional quality scores complete with standard notation and guitar tab.
Of course, you can export files to MIDI and load them up inside your DAW too.
As with Songsterr, Guitar Pro is a great practice tool.
Guitar Pro is an awesome practice tool. Plenty of users have created Guitar Pro transcriptions, and many of them are downloadable for free on sites like Ultimate Guitar. If you can’t find a reliable tab for other tab readers, sometimes you can find one for Guitar Pro.
Obviously, the playback option is also quite nice, and the Guitar Pro MIDI instruments are miles ahead of most.
Guitar Pro is a good tool to add to your toolbox.
Guitar Pro doesn’t necessarily lay out a curriculum or roadmap to follow as a guitarist, but on your journey to becoming a better player, you’ll probably be learning plenty of songs, and Guitar Pro is a great tool to have at your command.
Power Tab Editor – Guitar Software
Power Tab Editor is one of the apps that started it all.
“App” is perhaps the wrong noun for Power Tab Editor, as it is better described as a legacy guitar tab application. There’s a reason why we left it for last!
But it’s fair to say its modern-day counterparts, like Guitar Pro and Songsterr, likely took inspiration from Power Tab Editor in creating their own software. To that extent, it still stands as an important piece of computer software.
Power Tab Editor has not been updated since September 24, 2000 (and their website has not been updated since 2008). It still works on Windows, though, and Power Tab files are still abundant across the internet (especially on sites like Ultimate Guitar) and are generally easy to find and download. Power Tab Editor has not outlived its usefulness.
Why Power Tab Editor Is Awesome
Power Tab Editor boasts a surprisingly broad set of tools for composing and crafting guitar tab and music scores.
Besides being one of the forerunners and trail blazers of today’s graphically enhanced, superpowered guitar learning apps, Power Tab Editor comes with a surprising array of features and functions that still makes it highly usable even today, whether it’s for:
- Reading and playing Power Tab files
- Creating tab and standard notation (simultaneously)
- Or otherwise
Power Tab comes equipped with all the music notation essentials like key signature, time signature, musical direction, dynamics, fades, volume swells, all types of notes (whole note, half note, quarter note, eighth note, etc.), and more.
It even has built in MIDI instruments like acoustic guitar, electric guitar, electric bass, piano, synthesizers, drums, and many others (to be honest, it’s amazing how many there are). Plus, you can apply effects (reverb, chorus, tremolo) to the instruments, and even pan them left and right.
If that wasn’t enough, Power Tab has guitar specific notation for hammer-ons and pull-offs, bends, slides, vibrato, palm muting, tremolo picking, arpeggios, tremolo, harmonics, downstrokes, upstrokes, and a great deal more.
The Power Tab Editor is a highly versatile tool.
I’ve often used Power Tab to:
- Compose entire songs. Since Power Tab can export to MIDI, I can load the MIDI information into my favorite DAW (Waveform) and choose which virtual instruments I want playing each track.
- Compose sections of songs. Also see previous point. At times, I’ve composed synth or strings parts to go with my songs using Power Tab.
- Create ASCII text tab files. This used to be the main way we shared tabs with each other on the internet. Crazy, huh?
- To slow down tabs. When you’re first getting started on the guitar, some parts are just too fast and too hard to play. Within Power Tab, you can slow down songs to a comfortable tempo and learn them at your own pace.
- Changing the tuning of tabs. Many songs are tuned down a half step or even a full step. Retuning your guitar is always an option, but it’s so much easier to tune the guitars inside Power Tab to whatever you’re tuned to (for me, it’s usually standard tuning). Great for learning songs that are in different tunings.
Apps like Songsterr and Guitar Pro have kind of made Power Tab Editor obsolete, but its easy-to-use interface still makes it a great tool for composing, and if you need to read Power Tab files (which again, are available in abundance), this should be your go-to app.
How Do I Choose Which Guitar Learning App To Use?
The good news is that this isn’t necessarily an either-or situation. You could have a Guitar Tricks subscription, use Songsterr to find tabs for songs you want to learn, and have Power Tab Editor loaded onto your hard drive for composing and reading Power Tab files. There are no rules against using multiple apps.
The not so good news would be that this doesn’t necessarily make it any easier to choose which app to download and / or buy.
The above reviews offer a good starting point, but in case you’re looking for a breakdown, we’ve created one just for you.
Beginner To Advanced
These are the apps that can help you advance from a beginner all the way to being an advanced player.
Only apps with an extensive library of content were considered, as you are unlikely to find everything you need outside of these.
Apps in this category include:
- Guitar Tricks
These apps have enough content to last you for months and even years to come.
Learning the guitar takes time. The part that is sometimes lost on the beginner is that it takes a lot of repetitions to get something under your fingers. Muscle memory plays a factor, and for everyone it’s a little different.
Some people can play a riff a few times and totally have it, while others struggle to “get it” unless they’ve played it dozens of times.
This is all individual and it’s not necessarily something to be discouraged over.
Eddie Van Halen was someone that probably got a riff after a few times through it, while Nuno Bettencourt was a guitarist that had to work hard on technique to get to where he is. Either way, they are both legends in my mind.
You don’t necessarily need overwhelming amounts of content to progress from beginner to advanced, but there is a process to follow, and having access to the right lessons and guidance can help you get to where you want to go faster.
Beginner To Intermediate
These are the apps that can set you up for your success part in the early part of your journey as a guitarist.
There is no exact science on how long it takes to get this foundation. For some, it only takes a year or two. Others might find themselves working on the fundamentals for five to six years or more.
Again, the learning journey is individual and there is no right or wrong.
The following apps can help you get the foundation you need:
- Fender Play
Technically, JustinGuitar has advanced lessons too, but this part of their site is still being built out. Understandably, advanced technique is the hardest part to teach because it branches off into so many nuanced playing styles and techniques.
If you’re an intermediate working towards becoming an advanced player, then JustinGuitar should still serve you well. Otherwise, you will probably be better served with Guitar Tricks, JamPlay, TrueFire, or ArtistWorks.
Fender Play is kind of the same thing if we’re being completely honest. More than likely, they have plans to create advanced lessons, just that they haven’t quite gotten around to it yet.
All the apps just mentioned, though, will serve you well as a complete beginner looking to achieve intermediate status.
All other apps covered in this guide work well as supplemental resources and tools. These include:
- Ultimate Guitar
- Guitar Pro
- Power Tab Editor
In general, these apps are great for learning songs or specific sections of songs and little else.
Ultimate Guitar is home to what is surely the biggest database of guitar tabs and chords on the internet. The reviews and interviews may not provide much by way of education but can keep you inspired on your learning journey. The forums can be helpful when you need to ask questions. Additionally, if you’re looking for Guitar Pro or Power Tab Editor files, Ultimate Guitar is the resource to keep at the ready.
Songsterr is an online tab player, and that makes it a great tool to have access to, especially when you want to hear what the guitar part is supposed to sound like, as well as how to play it. For learning all types of riffs and songs, it’s a great tool. If you aren’t looking to learn any specific songs right now, though, it’s not going to do much for you.
Guitar Pro is an excellent desktop application, tab player, and score editor. It has excellent built-in MIDI instruments, and whether you’re composing or learning, it’s a competent tool. That would be the main difference between Guitar Pro and Songsterr. You can use Guitar Pro to compose your own tabs and songs. Songsterr isn’t really set up for that.
Finally, Power Tab Editor is a classic desktop application with some utility (if somewhat limited). Guitar Pro is basically the better, more up-to-date version of Power Tab Editor, but if you need to be able to view and play Power Tab files, then you will need Power Tab. It’s a nice, streamlined environment for composing tabs and songs as well.
Fundamentally, you don’t need any of the above apps. But they may prove useful at different points on your guitar journey. So, it couldn’t hurt to add them to your bookmark library.
What Are Some Other Ways To Learn Guitar?
The internet has fast become the go-to place to look up anything, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only resource available. Guitar isn’t exactly new, and people still found ways to learn the instrument without having access to advanced tools like Songsterr.
Here are some other, reliable ways to learn guitar:
It might be hard to believe, but guitarists like Eric Clapton learned by ear. They would put a tape or record on and meticulously play along until they felt like they had nailed the part.
Learning by ear may well be the best way to discover your “voice” on the guitar, as you will end up playing what feels right to your ears instead of learning note for note what someone else has already tabbed out.
There are plenty of guitar books from method and theory books to tabs and stylistic studies. Books are still a great place to turn to when you need learning material.
From An Instructor
Finding a qualified and experienced teacher is still one of the best ways to go, as they can show you the step-by-step process to mastering the guitar, guide you at every step, give you practice material and homework, and keep you accountable to your goals and progress.
A Mixed Approach
Most students will probably benefit from a mixed approach because motivation is key. If students don’t self-initiate, they become reliant on the material or teacher, which can hinder their progress.
Even if you have a teacher, it’s a good idea to go outside of the scope of lessons to pick up new riffs and tricks all on your own!
Top Apps For Learning Guitar, Final Thoughts
Ultimately, you never know when a guitar learning app might come in handy. So, even if you’ve already got a couple of tools in your toolbox, it can’t hurt to add some backups.
Everyone’s guitar learning journey is different, as it isn’t just about having a grasp of, or learning the fundamentals. Truly, there are as many ways to play the guitar as there are guitar players! That’s what makes the guitar great – it’s a highly expressive, versatile instrument.
Whether it’s taking lessons and courses, learning songs, or even writing your own, you can take full advantage of the apps available and chart your own course for guitar virtuosity.
We want to wish you Godspeed on that journey, and don’t forget to have fun!
Side note, do you want to learn to play guitar songs the easy way? Learn how here – results are guaranteed!
Last Updated on November 15, 2021.