20+ Apps every guitar player should check out
Yes, there truly is an app for that. Even that thing you didn’t realize was a thing (you’ll see). One drawback to the sheer volume of apps, guitar or music in general, is option anxiety. An overwhelming feeling of anxiety because of the weight of sorting through them all.
It’s impractical to try every tuner app, every amp modeling app, and so on. Especially if there are costs involved! So to that end, I've put together a list of apps that are worth checking out. Whether you need a metronome, backing tracks, or amp modeling, these are all worth your time and consideration.
While hardly a definitive list, these are the apps that stand out to me the most. You can call this article part 1 of many...
So in alphabetical order:
You might be familiar with the Amplitube plugin to your DAW, but did you know they have a mobile version as well? The DSP (Digital Signal Processing) is identical to the one used on the desktop app. The gear is easy to drag and drop into a signal flow. The tones are legit.
You’ll get all of your standard guitar and bass effects, 5 amps, 5 speaker cabinets, and a dynamic and condenser mic to use. And since it's on your tablet, the entire rig is highly portable. Amplitube is MIDI controllable.
AnyTune is a unique app. It allows you to slow down audio files. If you’re stuck trying to figure out a run, chord series, or riff, you’ll want this in your tool box. You’re also able to “tune” (transpose) the track. Ever wish you could play along with “Sweet Child O’ Mine” in standard tuning instead of a half step down? With AnyTune you can. Pair this app with STOMP for hands-free control.
The initial download is free with in app purchases.
Much more than a Chord diagram app. AutoChords is also a great ear training tool. You can visualize chords on the fretboard by key, and look at common chord progressions in those keys. It will also mix things up and show you alternate chord progressions in a given key.
This can be a powerful tool for songwriting when you’re experiencing bad writers block.
BIAS Amp is from BIAS, the makers of Positive Grid. This is an amp designer app that gives you more control over an amp than I've seen in any other modeler. Control the base amp style, swap the tubes, tone stacks, transformers, and cab. It’s an affordable way to 1) see how these things impact your overall tone, and 2) get great amp sounds. 3) Perform live using a MIDI controller.
Fretboard Hero is a great guitar app when you’re not playing guitar. It’s a game that helps you memorize the fretboard, with increasing difficulty to keep things fun. Great for breaks at work, commuting (as long as you’re not the driver!), and when you just want to kill a few minutes.
Playing to a metronome is great, but playing to a drummer is the absolutely best way to develop rhythm. It’s a lot more fun too...
FunkBox is a drum machine app used by novices and pros alike. You have 14 different classic drum boxes to choose from. Choose from the 36 preset beat patterns, or edit them to create your own. The one time inexpensive download fee will be well worth it immediately.
You know it and you love it. Play along with realistic sounding virtual drummers, make your own beats and bass lines, and track your guitar in the app. You’ll also enjoy a selection of pedals to spice up your
A wonderful practice tool for iPad and iPhone users.
If you’re looking to work on your scales in a way that’s not boring, check out the Guitar Jam Tracks app. It’s a simple but effective way to practice scales over jam tracks. The scales are written out in a very user-friendly way. It even breaks them up into multiple positions across the fretboard.
Taking formal lessons, in my opinion, is the best way to progress at guitar. It’s like having a personal trainer at a gym, instead of aimlessly grabbing weights. Formal lessons can be pricey, and they can be hard to fit into your schedule. So Guitar Lessons by Guitar Tricks is the next best thing.
No matter where you are on your guitar journey, you can find a bevvy of lessons. Whether you only know a couple chords, or want to take advanced Jazz concept lessons, you’ll find excellent lessons to keep you progressing.
It’s a subscription service, so you pay a flat fee for unlimited access.
Probably made by a Bostonian, Guitar Tuna is a tuner (tuna, get it?) app with extreme accuracy. It’s made by Yousician and even comes with a few games. The best feature is the background noise cancelling.
GuitarTapp is one of several tab and chord chart apps on the list. It’s an easy and accessible app with a bank of 500k plus tabs, each with accuracy ratings based on user input.
The charts are easy to read and show you how to play the chords (if it’s a GuitarPro chart). This also lets you change keys on the fly. Pair this app with your STOMP Bluetooth Pedal for the ultimate control and seamless performance.
It’s a one time (cheap!) buy and belongs on every guitarists phone.
If you want a practice tool that’s more than a metronome or drumbox, you should check out iReal Pro. iReal Pro let’s you play with a full band, instead of a single drum track. Choose from 47 accompaniment styles with many instrumentation options.
You’ll find an extensive chord and scale library, and can record your jam session to give yourself real time feedback. Pair this app with STOMP Bluetooth App Controller.
iShred Live is a performance quality amp and pedal simulator. You have nearly 50 presets to choose from, and a dozen or so pedals to add on top. Another great practice tool when you can’t play your amps, or just want something a lot simpler.
You’ll need a GuitarConnect cable (or similar) to connect this to your smartphone or tablet.
JamUp Pro is a product of Positive Grid. If that’s not enough to sell you on it....
It comes with up to 6 high quality amps and 16 stomp boxes (Pro version). You can store your presets, jam with jam tracks, and use the 8 track recorder to create awesome tunes.
The interface is pleasing to the eyes and very intuitive. Just like you’d expect it to be from the company that brought you Positive Grid. Pair this app with your favorite Bluetooth App Controller such as STOMP, or use a Bluetooth MIDI Controller.
What if your smartphone’s audio recorder didn’t suck? What if it didn’t compress the audio? What if it autodetected tempo? And then added other instruments to what you just recorded?
That’s exactly what Music Memos does. It takes a clean, uncompressed audio signal and finds the tempo and rhythmic feel. Even the chords. From there you can add drums and bass automatically. If you want to edit it, download GarageBand on your device and import the files.
OnSong is one of the most popular and used chord chart and sheet music app. This is a fantastic app for storing all of your charts and music. Import your charts or find what you need in its expansive library. Annotate, create set lists, and change keys on the fly.
If you’re in a cover band, or play on Sundays, use OnSong with a tablet and your favorite Bluetooth App Controller for complete hands-free and fuss-free charts.
PocketAmp is a fun little amp modeling app that’s priced to be accessible. You’ll get 4 amps, 4 speaker cabs, and 7 effects to play with. While I wouldn’t consider these to be pro quality tones, they’re more than adequate for practicing on the go. Without having to set up your main rig.
One great benefit is being able to play along with any song in your iTunes library. This, combined with the quality of tones and affordability makes PocketAmp a great practicing tool!
ProBand is much more than an app; it’s an online community for people to show off their solos! More than that still, it’s a wonderful practice tool. It has a good library of (puchaseable) backing tracks in many styles and modes.
Change the tempo and keys as you need to. Practice along on your own, or record it and share it with the community for feedback.
Easily control your band’s backing tracks on a phone or tablet. ShowOne neatly lines up the tracks in a customizable way. No tracks cut short, no awkward silences between songs. Use the count in feature not only for starting the song, but also to interact with the crowd in between songs.
Songsterr utilizes the Chord Pro format, which essentially plays MIDI versions of the tabs. This is extremely helpful when you’re learning new songs. You’re even able to solo the guitar tracks and slow down the tempo.
Their catalog is 90,000 tabs and growing daily. Songsterr is a great tool for learning and practicing songs. Which we all know is the best way to progress at guitar. Songsterr is fully compatible with Bluetooth App Controllers such as STOMP.
Do you ever wish you could get feedback on your songs without releasing it publicly? With Songtree Recorder, you can. The whole idea of the app is to be an online community for songwriters to share ideas and collaborate.
Record and upload your songs straight from the app. Get feedback from the community. If you’re stuck or want other musicians’ ideas, you can collaborate by having them contribute to you songs. Or vice versa.
This isn’t intended to be a DAW. But rather a tool for song writers to interact in an online community.
It’s the guitar hero for actual guitar players! If you’ve been on YouTube anytime in the past 3 years, you’ve likely seen the ads for it. It’s a creative and technologically advanced way to learn guitar. The user-playing recognition capabilities are astounding.
It literally listens to your playing and provides feedback. The very next best thing to having an in-person instructor. It comes with tons and tons and tons of lessons, and even has some friendly competition games. It’s a subscription, so you pay monthly for unlimited access.
What’s your favorite guitar app?