What Are The Best Tablets for Reading Sheet Music and Chord Charts Digitally?
So you finally gotten tired of the massive collection of paper sheet music and chord charts stuffing up your gig bag. We’re way past medieval times, and if you’re fed up with papers flying around at every hint of wind, it's time to consider a quality tablet.
But where should you start and what features are most important for a gigging musician? We’re here to recommend several models which we're confident you'll like as much as Coltrane likes Bb.
- iPad Pro 12.9
- iPad Air 2
- Surface Pro 6
- Samsung Galaxy Tab S3
- Asus Zenpad 3s 10
iPad Pro 12.9
In our opinion, if you’re looking for the best of the best; best size, quality, speed, and visibility, the iPad Pro is your obvious choice. It’s very big (12.9” to be exact) so reading sheet music and chord charts won’t be a problem, regardless of how far you’ve placed it. It's also compatible with the new Bluetooth 4.0 iPad page turner pedals on the market.
What’s more, the iPad Pro 12.9 boasts incredible speed, and the screen is brighter when compared to the older version, making it even more suitable for musicians. On the downside, carrying it around might prove to be difficult since it’s huge alright, and it’s just slightly more expensive than iPad Pro 10.5.
Overall, it’s great for the buck, and it will help you achieve plenty of other stuff apart from reading chord charts.
- Huge size makes it perfect for sheet music
- Excellent performance and versatility
- Fast and reliable
- Ultra-bright screen
- Heavy and tough to carry around
- Expensive but you can find them refurbished.
iPad Air 2
If you don’t need a full 12.9” then the iPad Air 2 is next best choice for reading digital sheet music and chord charts. It’s reliable, powerful, and the screen is absolutely amazing.
The “thin” design cuts back on weight and makes it easier to carry around and there are literally hundreds of apps available for reading sheet music, chord charts, triggering metronomes and backing tracks. iOS kind of has it all.
- Sleek design
- Lightweight and easy to carry around
- Very powerful performance
- Brightly-lit screen
- Low storage space
- High price
Microsoft’s Surface Pro6 is much more than just a large-screen tablet...the Surface Pro6 really is a high powered laptop computer that can handle running your favorite music recording programs like ProTools or Presonus Studio One or Cubase with ease.
It’s slightly smaller than the iPad Pro 12.9 but they’re really close. On the downside, however, its battery lifespan leaves a lot to be desired. If you intend to perform live you’ll need it to be plugged into the charger after a while.
The question really comes down to two things: do you want Microsoft or Apple? And Do you need something powerful enough to run CPU intensive software like Pro Tools, Guitar Pro, Fruity Loops, Cubase, Ableton, etc.
- Large 12.3” screen size
- Superb surface pen for taking notes
- Great performance
- Heavy and bulky
- Mediocre battery lifespan
Samsung Galaxy Tab S3
If Android is more your style, then the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 is a great option. This little tech piece weighs less than a pound and comes pre-installed with Android 7 software. The screen is 9,7-inches, and you’ll be able to use 32 gigabytes of storage space which, frankly, is neither too much or too little.
It’s got great battery life, solid performance, and excellent readability.
- Lightweight and compact
- Decent storage space
- Great battery lifetime
- Keyboard is sold separately
Asus ZenPad 3S 10
We’d be remiss if we didn’t recommend a solid budget option. Let’s face it, the average gigging musician needs to play a lot of late nights to save up for an iPad Pro. So we recommend checking out Asus’ ZenPad 3S 10.
It’s great tablet for reading sheet music as it features a nice sized 10.1” easily readable screen, plenty of storage space, and a decently high battery lifespan.
It weighs less than a pound and its battery can withstand some 10+ hours of usage – it should be enough to last for a gig, or even two...unless you’re playing jazz, those guys play some long gigs! The downside is – ZenPad 3S 10 isn’t quite durable as durable as the other options.
We recommend investing in a nice durable case.
- High-resolution screen
- Plenty of storage space
- Great battery lifetime
- Less road-worthy
If you’re looking for a solid tablet for storing your digital sheet music or chord charts, any of the above options will work great. It really boils down to which operating system you want (Apple, iOS, Android, Windows), what screen size you need, and what your budget is.
Hopefully this helps you on your journey towards paperless music and when you’re ready to take your performance to the next level by adding hands-free page turning, don’t forget to check out STOMP.
If you're new to digital sheet music and researching page turning options then you'll likely find this article interesting.