The secret to improving your guitar skills isn’t much of a secret at all – in fact, it’s right in your pocket! In this article, guitar teacher Zachary W. shows you 13 of his favorite apps for learning guitar and improving every step of the way…
As a guitar player, I find it important to keep my rudimentary skills sharp. That includes practicing with correct technique, as well as being able to improvise, control tempo, and read music. Below, I’ve listed 13 guitar apps that I use regularly and that I know will help you improve each aforementioned skill.
Each app serves a different purpose, but all of them are friendly to users of all skill levels. A fair warning: these are addictive apps for musicians of any kind. Let’s go ahead and take a look at the apps that will undoubtedly improve your guitar playing!
1. TakeLessons Live (Free)
There aren’t any other guitar apps out there quite like this one. TakeLessons Live offers online classes that are led by live guitar teachers. With the free membership option, you can join a variety of classes from anywhere in the world.
Topics covered include guitar exercises, theory, scales, song tutorials, and more. If you’re looking for a fun way to practice your skills while getting feedback from a real instructor, this is the app for you!
2. 7 Minute Guitar ($2.99)
7 Minute Guitar is wonderful for those who have a super busy schedule. This guitar practice app has compiled a series of exercises that each take seven minutes. There’s no longer an excuse to neglect that daily practice session.
After using this app for a while, you’ll begin to develop a good practice routine; you start out practicing for seven minutes a day, then you extend to 30 minutes a day, and eventually, you’ll reach a goal of practicing for more than an hour per day.
2. Time Guru ($1.99)
Time Guru was developed by rhythm guitarist Avi Bortnick for the John Scofield band.
With this app, you get way more than just a simple metronome. This metronome app also mutes the sound at random. This allows you to monitor your own playing by showing whether or not you tend to speed up or drag behind the metronome.
This special feature essentially allows you to take off the training wheels given to you by the metronome, while still reaping the benefits of playing with a time-keeping device.
3. TabToolkit ($3.99)
This app may cost money, but if you tend to rely solely on tablature when you learn or teach a new piece of music, TabToolkit is completely worth the small fee of $3.99.
With this app, you can upload your own sheet music from other programs, such as Guitar Pro, or browse their large library of guitar tabs. In addition to hosting guitar tabs, this app also has a great multi-track playback, which gives you the ability to play along with some of your favorite bands and artists.
This app also works with over 128 instruments – it’s not solely for guitar players. For example, you can take a heavenly Charlie Parker saxophone solo and transpose it to any instrument you please.
4. GarageBand ($4.99)
If you’ve ever wanted to get a group of people together and jam out in your garage till the early hours of the morning, then you’ll be happy to know, there’s really an app for that!
When it comes down to it, GarageBand is the best app for music creation on a touch screen. With real world instruments, true to life sounds, and tons of easy-to-use tools, there isn’t really another app on its level.
5. AmpKit (Free); AmpKit+($19.99)
AmpKit allows you to take your amp with you no matter how far you travel. Just plug in your guitar with a digital interface and you’ll immediately have access to all the amp channels and sound effects of your wildest dreams.
6. Anytune (FREE); Anytune Pro + ($14.99)
If you have a relative that plays the guitar, I’m sure you’ve heard the famous phrase, “You youngsters have it so much easier than we did back in the day.” Well, in this case, that’s completely true!
With Anytune, you have the ability to slow down songs. Use this app to dissect crazy, lightning fast licks or solos without losing the quality of the music. For example, if you’re having a hard time figuring out what notes Guthrie Govan is playing on the Aristocrats album, this app will help you out by slowing the song down at any section you choose.
The app also has the ability to gradually increase speed as your confidence builds – what plausible excuses to not practice do you have now?
7. Drumgenius (FREE)
The name of this app pretty much sums up all that you need to know about it. Drumgenius has over 300 different drum beats in a various time signatures, from boogaloo jazz in 21/8, to your typical big jazz band in 4/4. It’s fun to pick a beat and play along with it on guitar!
8. MuseScore (FREE)
Along with ear training, another key skill that every musician should master is the ability to read sheet music. This skill opens up many more doors as a musician than you thought possible.
Musescore lets you listen to scores of music with the ability to adjust the tempo as you please. If you have the urge to hear the classic T-bone Walker song “Stormy Monday” played at 200 bpm, or perhaps that lightning fast Steve Vai solo on “Zombie Wolf” at half speed, this app is for you.
9. Shazam (Free – upgrade cost $6.99)
Just hold your phone up to the speaker and let Shazam detect what song is playing. This app is extremely helpful for me. I don’t know how many times I’ve been on the road listening to the radio and hear a rhythm I like or a solo that blows me away; instead of forgetting the lyrics or having no clue how the song goes, this app collects the song data for me.
10. Soundcloud (Free)
Soundcloud allows you to post original audio recordings on the web where they can be accessed by anyone. This gateway opens up so many doors that you would’ve never known existed. In addition, this app gives you the perfect place to get constructive criticism from other musicians.
11. J4T Multitrack Recorder ($3.99)
The J4T Multitrack Recorder helps with those spontaneous moments when a melody strikes me and I’m miles away from my equipment – this app acts as a sketch pad for my musical ideas.
With the ability to record 4 tracks simultaneously, this app gives you the basics that are needed for the foundation of any great musical idea or thought. Sadly, this app is only for Android. To those who have an Android phone – go out and download it for the rest of us who have iPhones!
12. Evernote (FREE)
Evernote may seem very basic on paper, but in reality, the capabilities of this app are limitless. This app is perfect for both those who receive and those who teach lessons.
This app has saved my hide on more than one occasion. I use this app to write down a summary of my lessons; this helps me keep track of a multitude of students. I keep constant track of my students’ progress because I like to max out the full potential of what we can accomplish in our hour or half-hour lessons.
For all those out there who are teaching themselves, this app is perfect for logging your progress.
If you include some of these guitar apps in your practice routine, I guarantee you’ll make progress faster than you will without them. Be sure to check out the detailed descriptions of the apps on the store page to see which features work for your reaching goals. As always, be sure to practice every day and don’t be discouraged by new concepts!
Photo by Dino Latoga