5 Free Apps That Help You Learn and Play Guitar
As with most other creative hobbies, playing a guitar is much harder than it looks, but it’s also worth the effort required. It’s one of the more rewarding things I’ve ever learned, and I highly recommend it. The only problem is, it’s tough to learn on your own.
Which is why I recommend using mobile apps as supplementary tools.
I didn’t have these when I learned guitar, but I’m confident that these would’ve accelerated my learning had I had them back then. Of all the creative ways to use an Android tablet or the creative ways to use a smartphone , this is one that will really pay off in the long run — so if you’re a novice or intermediate guitar player, check these apps out.
1. Real Guitar
4.1 rating across over 188,000 reviews.
If you already own a guitar and you’ve played around with it a bit, feel free to skip ahead to the next app. Real Guitar is an app for those who haven’t made the leap yet. After all, nobody wants to spend hundreds on a guitar only to realize they don’t like it, right?
In short, Real Guitar is a guitar simulator. It can simulate both acoustic and electric guitars, and it works on both tablets and smartphones. It also supports multi-touch, which is crucial for playing chords, but you’ll need a device with multitouch capabilities for that feature to work.
What’s even cooler is that it comes with 16 track loops that you can play along to, plus a recording mode and the ability to export to MP3. This means you can actually come up with songs, play them with Real Guitar, and record them for later. It’s actually quite fun!
Download: Real Guitar (Free)
2. Perfect Ear
4.7 rating across over 30,700 reviews.
While Perfect Ear isn’t a guitar-specific app, it’s extremely useful for anyone who wants to play guitar (or any other musical instrument for that matter). In short, it aims to develop two crucial skills that every musician must practice: rhythm and tone.
Perfect Ear comes with dozens of interval, scale, chord, and rhythm training exercises to help you get comfortable with and understand music. It also has trainers for sight reading, absolute pitch, and note singing. If you have trouble distinguishing different tones, this app is exactly what you need.
And if you want to dive into the deep end, Perfect Ear also contains articles on music theory, which will come in handy if you ever intend to write your own songs.
Download: Perfect Ear (Free)
4.8 rating across over 751,000 reviews.
There are dozens of mobile apps that can help you tune your guitar, but GuitarTuna is the absolute best. Note that it can also handle bass, ukulele, violin, cello, banjo, and a bunch of other popular string instruments, so you won’t need to find another app if you pick up another instrument later.
Here’s how it works: you pluck the guitar string, the app listens with your device’s microphone, and shows you which note the sound is registering as. This makes it very easy to adjust your tuning as a beginner, but even as an expert this can be helpful because the app supports hundreds of alternative tunings.
GuitarTuna also has a few other tools, such as a chord library, but you probably won’t bother with them beyond the tuning aspect.
Download: GuitarTuna (Free)
4.7 rating across over 34,000 reviews.
If I had to designate one app as the all-in-one Swiss Army Knife app for guitarists, it’d likely be this one. smartChord started off as an app for learning all the different chords and fingerings on the guitar fretboard — and yes, it is the ultimate chord reference — but has since evolved into something more comprehensive.
What I find most helpful is the reverse chord finder, but smartChord also has features for tone determination, hundreds of predefined tunings, dozens of different scales, a basic metronome, a virtual guitar for when you can’t lug your actual guitar around, a precise tone generator, and more.
So yeah, use it when you come across a chord that you don’t recognize, but also use it when you want to change tunings, practice scales or rhythm, train your ear, or write your own music. It’s invaluable.
Download: smartChord (Free)
4.7 rating across over 2,700 reviews.
Most metronome apps on the Play Store are too basic — they get the job done when you’re a beginner, but their limits are quickly reached as you improve your skills. As soon as you hit that point, you’ll want to start using Metronomerous, the best metronome app for Android users.
The interface may be a bit intimidating at first, but that’s only because it can do so much. It can go as far down as eighths, sixteenths, triplets, quintuplets, and septuplets. It can accent on any note down to the sixteenth or triplet note, it can mute during bars to make sure you’re on tempo, and it can even program complex beat sequences.
If you only need a basic beat, it may be overkill. But when basic isn’t good enough, Metronomerous is the only app that will give you the freedom you need.
Download: Metronomerous (Free)
Other Resources for Learning Guitar
Limiting yourself to Android apps will severely hinder your progress as a guitarist. There’s an entire world of guitar resources on the web, such as these websites for learning the guitar and these websites for finding guitar chords for songs , so go ahead and incorporate them alongside the apps from this post.
And if you’re a guitarist who also likes video games, you can bolster your skills with Rocksmith. We’ve written articles on why Rocksmith is excellent for guitar beginners as well as how Rocksmith can help you play guitar like a pro.
What inspired you to start learning guitar? How do you feel about using an app alongside your instrument? Are there any other resources that you found particularly helpful? Share with us in a comment below!
Image Credit: carballo via Shutterstock.com
Originally written by Yaara Lancet on June 26th, 2012.