The Seven Best iPhone or iPad Apps for Learning to Play the Guitar

Whether you’re just learning, trying to get better, or looking to upgrade your equipment, the App Store offers a wide variety of apps geared towards guitarists, and after playing with a bunch of them, I have searched some reviews, and here are my seven favorites.

Learning how to play guitar, and getting better at it, used to require in-person lessons, not to mention regular purchase of guitar magazines. I started playing more than 25 years ago, and that’s how I learned to play- a few lessons, learning all the classic rock hits from my friends, the tablatures in each issue of Guitar World magazine and lots and lots of practice.

My eight-year-old son recently took up the guitar, taking lessons and practicing at home, and I’ve been revisiting the old habit along with him. And I’m in awe of the resources that modern technology has made available for the guitarists of today. These days, just about everything you need to play guitar is right there in your iPhone or iPad- whether it’s learning chords, tuning your instrument or learning how to play just about every song that’s ever been written.

Here are the most essential apps for guitarists, whether you’re a beginner, or you’re a seasoned pro looking to shred on your new favorite song.

Ultimate Guitar: Chords and Tabs

This app is the kind of thing that anyone who’s been playing since the pre-Internet days likely wishes had been around back when they started. It offers chord and tablatures for over 1 million songs- it’s extremely rare to look up a song of any significance and not find it in the database. The chords and tabs are user-uploaded and rated, giving the user lots of choices for which version of the song to use.

The song database is the bread-and-butter, and will remind older enthusiasts of the OLGA (Online Guitar Archive), a website from the mid-1990s that was ultimately shut down due to a record industry dispute that was a forerunner of the Napster Wars. But Ultimate Guitar offers much else, including the ability to read the chords while a song plays on your device, including a chord library, two tuners, and Top 100 lists for both today and all time- for some reason, Ed Sheeran seems to always take the top spot on the former list.

Ultimate Guitar requires iOS 9.3 or later, 71MB of storage space and is free, although the Tab Pro version unlocks various tablatures, as well as other features.

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