Nowadays, nearly everyone has the power of a small computer contained within their pocket. While you may think of your smartphone as a potential distraction from your guitar playing, it can also be a boon for it. The best guitar apps can really help with your musical ventures, integrating into your practice regimen to help you become the guitar player you really want to be.
Whether it’s a basic tuner or a fully-fledged multi-track recorder that’ll let you lay down ideas with EQ and effects, the modern guitarist has plenty of options when it comes to apps for their guitar playing – and they keep getting better. You don’t have to be a new player to take advantage of them, either – there are plenty of great apps that’ll help you solidify what you’ve already learned through practice, such as metronomes and loopers.
To save you the hassle of having to sift through all the different options on Google Play or the App Store, we’ve put together our pick of the best guitar apps available today. From the best guitar learning app to the best guitar tuning app, you’ll find everything you need here.
Best guitar apps: Guitar World’s choice
The Boss Tuner App (download for iOS or Android) should be on every guitarist’s phone. It’s accurate, the display is crystal-clear, it’ll take up barely any storage space on your device and, most importantly, it’s completely free. If you ever get caught short by your clip-on tuner running out of battery, or you forget to bring one altogether, then this super-simple app will be an absolute godsend.
Probably the best app for beginner guitarists, JustinGuitar Lessons & Songs (download for iOS or Android) is an immensely popular teaching program that features myriad lessons, from how to play an A chord to beginner blues soloing. The quality of the content is phenomenal, and with more than 1,000 songs to learn, it’s sure to keep any new starter inspired.
Best guitar apps: Product guide
The Boss Tuner App is a must-have for every guitar player, from beginners to seasoned veterans. It’s incredibly simple, but with well over a million downloads on Google Play alone, it clearly does its job very well.
It can tune all the way from A#0 (29.14Hz) to G8 (6.2kHz), meaning you’ll be covered for every instrument across the frequency spectrum, not just guitar and bass. It also features two skins – one based on the classic Boss TU-3 Chromatic Tuner pedal, the other on the Waza Craft TU-3W version.
A guitar tuner is an essential tool for any musician and seeing as you’re likely to have your phone on you the majority of the time, you’re pretty much guaranteed to always hit the right notes with the Boss Tuner App.
AmpliTube is an essential app that lets you use your iPhone or iPad to process, play and record your guitar, bass or other instrument while on the go. AmpliTube is an all-inclusive tone studio that gives you an expandable collection of ultra-realistic virtual versions of some of the most coveted gear on the planet. Build the guitar or bass rig of your dreams and then use its powerful recording and editing tools and other handy features to capture your creativity whenever and wherever the inspiration strikes.
The app lets you drag and drop pieces of virtual gear to create custom guitar and bass rigs comprised of 7 stompbox effects (4 pre-amp and 2 post), 3 amplifiers and 2 cabinets with up to 2 positionable microphones. Let’s just say we’re obsessed with detail – each piece of virtual gear has been meticulously modeled so that it looks and sounds as good as it does in real life.
Created by Australian guitar virtuoso Justin Sandercoe using tried-and-tested methods he acquired during two decades of teaching, JustinGuitar Lessons & Songs is used by more than a million musicians worldwide. If that wasn’t proof enough that it works, Justin claims that he taught himself to play left-handed using it!
The app covers Grade 1 and 2 playing techniques, making it the perfect place for beginners to start (it’s also somewhat cheaper than hiring a real-life tutor). You’ll be taught chords and scales, and there’s even a tuner built in.
One of the best things about the app is that it features hundreds of backing tracks for you to play along with, enabling you to hone your technique and expand your repertoire. With the ability to slow the tracks right down, you’ll master them before you know it. Justin Guitar is also featured in our guide to the best online guitar lessons.
We’ve tried many of the top-rated metronome apps on Google Play and the App Store, and reckon The Metronome by Soundbrenner is the best of the lot.
It features a whopping range of speed settings, from 20bpm all the way up to a frankly insane 400bpm. You can create any iteration of time signature, too, from the standard 4/4 to more esoteric time signatures such as 11/8.
You’ll have the option to save your metronome rhythms and group them into setlists, ready to be recalled at any time, and you can even have your phone flash in time with the beat – though we found that annoying after a few seconds!
Many modern guitarists started playing their instruments after being inspired by the Ultimate Guitar tab website, which debuted in the late ’90s. Evolving with the times, UG now has a dedicated app for Android and iOS, meaning the world’s biggest tab database will now fit nicely inside your pocket.
With pretty much any song you can think of, plus various lessons, scales and chord charts, this app is a goldmine for self-directed learners. Upgrade to the Pro version and you’ll find a fantastic array of high-quality tabs that you can play along with, speed up, slow down and even transpose to different keys.
This is another one of those apps where there’s little excuse not to have it on your phone. The ability to quickly grab a chord sheet for a song, or find the right notes for a scale, is a godsend for any musician, whether beginner or veteran.
A music studio, inside your Apple device! With this app you can start making professional-sounding music. Choose one of the Touch instruments or plug in your guitar and select one of their realistic amps. You can even add a virtual drummer to your song that takes direction and plays realistically. There are a ton of features. Garageband is perfect for making you sound like a pro regardless of your playing ability.
One of the standouts is that you can choose from nine acoustic or electronic drummers. Each drummer has their own signature sound! There are so many ways to customize your music with this app.
During the early stages of the pandemic when most of us were stuck at home, Fender saw a huge increase in guitar sales, and used the impetus to massively improve its Fender Play service.
The platform is now packed with over 3,000 lessons that’ll take you from basic chords to improvised soloing with hammer-ons, pull-offs, vibrato and other more advanced techniques. Professional instruction from Fender-recognized instructors means that this is as close as you’ll get to a traditional guitar tutor, at a fraction of the price.
With lots of great features, such as practice reminders, backing tracks to jam along to, streaks to keep you motivated, and the always-fun Chord Challenge, this is probably the most complete learning tool for beginner guitarists available today.
Read our full Fender Play review
Fender Play: 50% off an annual subscription
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Roland’s Zentracker is a complete DAW (digital audio workstation) for phone or tablet. It’ll give you the ability to record multiple tracks using your device’s built-in microphone, a USB mic, or even a regular audio interface.
We used it with Fender’s Mustang Micro headphone amp and were absolutely blown away by some of the sounds we got out of it. Laying down multiple tracks to jam over really helped us with our writing process, and enabled us to demo new songs to take into the studio.
Zentracker is perfect for recording on the go, and even comes with loops and samples for you to use in your mini-productions. It’s really quite an incredible proposition when you consider that the majority of functionality is available for free!
Yousician is one of the fastest-growing apps for beginner musicians out there, earning plaudits for its Guitar Hero-style teaching method, whereby budding instrumentalists can learn from visual cues in a way that’s fun and engaging.
You don’t need anything other than your instrument and the app itself. Yousician gets its cues using the onboard microphone on a smart device, so as you play along, it’ll recognize if you’re fretting chords and notes correctly, and listen out for your timing too.
Encompassing a huge array of songs, from Linkin Park to Frank Zappa, Yousician is a great choice for those wanting to explore a range of styles. Should you get fed up with learning guitar, you can also dabble in bass, piano, ukulele and singing to further expand your repertoire.
Chordify boasts the biggest library of chords for electric guitar, ukulele and piano, with more than 22 million songs on its database. Its interface is incredibly clear and easy to use, which makes it great for beginner guitar players.
The app works in a slightly different way to the other learning apps on this list. It’ll play the song you’re learning via a YouTube video, simultaneously showing you the chords with the correct timing. This gives users a great feel for the rhythm of the song, far superior to just looking at a chord sheet and trying to recall the feel from memory.
To get the most out of Chordify, you’ll need to upgrade to Premium, but it’s one of the cheapest guitar apps out there. Upgrading will give you access to some very powerful tools, such as transposing, speeding up or slowing down playback, and downloading MIDI chords for use in other software.
Best guitar apps: Buying advice
What makes a great guitar app?
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The first consideration when exploring the best guitar apps on the market is what aspect of your playing you’d like to augment.
Whether you're just starting out on the instrument, or have some skills under your belt and are looking to build upon them, there are some great options for enhancing your technique and theoretical knowledge. However, if you’re a more advanced musician, tools like multi-tracking apps and metronomes are probably a better bet for honing the skills you’ve already acquired, and capturing and building upon ideas.
As the majority of these apps are free – or at least free to take up initially – there’s little harm in trying all of them before you commit further. This way, you can discover which ones best fit into your existing practice regime or workflow. Guitarists are all unique, so what works for one might not translate for another. Whichever you decide to pick, we can guarantee you’ll end up using some of these apps for a long time to come.