The guitar is one of the most versatile instruments in music today. Used in pretty much every genre of music you can think of, guitars are probably the most widely played instrument on earth (next to piano, I guess), and anyone who plays will tell you why. Learning to play the guitar brings you that much closer to the music that you listen to, and helps you appreciate it that much more. You understand the level of skill, the pure creativity and the passion that goes into the playing, and you yearn to emulate that emotion coming through your earphones while you sit at your desk day after day.
As with every hobby or passion today, there are a couple of apps for guitar players, of all levels. Whether you’re just starting out, or you’re an experienced axe man looking to hone your technique, these five apps are must-haves.
Developed by the guys who run Ultimate-Guitar.com, UGT is a never-ending library of digital chord and tablature sheets that you can use to learn and master just about every song or album out there. A highly accurate search function connects you to the UG.com database of user-generated content and allows you to save your favorites for quick access. So next time you’re sitting around the campfire and can’t remember the notes for ‘Stairway To Heaven’, you know where to go.
This app really needs no introduction. Essentially, a fully operational recording studio in your pocket, Garage Band allows you to play guitars, keys, bass and drums, as well as record and mix you creations into proper songs. What blows me away on this app is just how real the instruments sound. Seriously, do yourself a favor; download this app and load up the virtual guitar, give it a go and you’ll see what I mean. If you’re not keen on playing the instrument on-screen, you can also plug your instrument into your device and make use of the various effects available. Pure genius if you ask me.
Back in the day when I just started playing in bands and writing songs, Guitar Pro for PC was all the rage. I’d sit in front on my beige IBM PC with my guitar on my lap and transcribe the notes I was playing onto the software, which played the song back in beautiful MIDI. Needless to say, I no longer play in bands or write songs anymore, but if I did, the Guitar Pro app would be one of my favorite apps. The process is still the same; you can write tablature, practice techniques and export songs you’ve worked from the app to fellow band mates. The interface is beautifully minimal and the instruments sound a lot more realistic than the Guitar Pro I loved so much.
We all know that nothing sounds worse than an out of tune guitar. Those that have been playing for a while are generally quite good of ‘tuning by ear’, but let’s be honest, you can never really get it perfect. That’s why I love Cleartune. Not only does it look like a proper tuner, but it actually works like one too. I’ve tried loads of free versions out there but nothing compares to Cleartune. When tested against my proper Boss tuner pedal, Cleartune is always spot on. So make sure you tune your axe before trying to impress anyone with your skills.
Playing the guitar is quite an expensive hobby. First of all there’s the guitar (really?), then there’s all the equipment that goes with the guitar: strings, straps, pedals and picks. After all that, you still have to buy an amp in order to hear yourself play, and amps (well, the good ones anyway) are a whole other dimension of expensive, let me tell you. What Amplitube allows you to do is plug your guitar into your device (with the help of an iRig, not included, each sold separately) and make use of a virtual amp to hear how things sound.
As I am a big fan of Fender, I’ve opted for this specific version and it really is quite extraordinary to hear how this little app transforms the sound of your guitar. You can tweak all the settings on your device’s screen and record your playing.