Top 15 Guitar Apps

Guitar World picks 15 guitar apps all guitarists should check out.


Sure, there are plenty of apps out there dedicated to teaching guitar, but how many of them boast ferocious players like Zakk Wylde, Joe Satriani and Gus G. as instructors? Guitar World’s flagship application, created in conjunction with Agile Partners, delivers a new and challenging lick to users every day, along with an array of features that will make even the most finger-twisting lines seem within reach. Video lessons are conducted by rock-guitar gods as well as GW’s esteemed stable of instructors, and run the gamut from rock, metal and blues to country, bluegrass and jazz styles. Each video lick is paired with scrolling notation in standard and tab formats, a dynamic fretboard that shows finger positions synchronized with the tab, and GW-penned performance notes. Furthermore, a practice mode offers controls for tempo, looping, audio synthesis, a metronome and more. This app will keep your fingers moving seven days a week, 365 days a year. Agile Partners, Free(additional licks available on a subscription basis)


Agile’s GuitarToolKit packs in a chromatic tuner, a chord library with over half a million chords, a scale reference guide, and a metronome with tap-tempo pad, among other features. Plus, it accommodates everything from six- and 12-string guitars to basses, banjos, ukes, mandolins—even lefty players. The chord finder is particularly cool—touch various frets on the interactive fretboard and the app instantly IDs the resulting chord, making those exotic diminished and augmented grips seem as easy to finger as everyday cowboy chords. Agile Partners, $9.99


This app, one of the first and most popular of its kind for the iOS, is essentially a simulator that offers four ways to “play” guitar: Manual Fret (fret notes and strum the screen), Hammer On (touch individual frets to hear the tone), Tab (program note sequences into the app) and Scale Guitar (choose a key and corresponding scale). Choose from acoustic and electric sound patches as well as various effects, including wah, which is manipulated by tilting your iPhone much in the same manner that you would rock a foot pedal. MooCowMusic, $3.99


Provides all the essentials: a pro-level chromatic tuner, alternate tuning settings, a standard mode tuner, metronome and an extensive chord reference library. The app also comes preloaded with video lessons covering everything from beginner and intermediate concepts to advanced rock, jazz and blues techniques. In addition, there’s a quick link to Gibson’s web site, where you can keep up to date on industry news or simply ogle all those beautiful Les Pauls, SGs and 335s. Legacy Learning Systems, Free


Provides an hour’s worth of professionally recorded backing tracks in a particular style, with five versions currently available: Acoustic Blues, Humbucker Blues (guitar and bass) and Reggae (guitar and bass). Simply pick a key, choose between playing over a major or minor progression, and solo away. Each key also includes a list of chords used in the progression, as well as scale charts that demonstrate fretboard fingerings. With Guitar Jam Tracks, you’ll always have a “friend” to jam with—and he’ll always let you play lead. NineBuzz Software, $1.99 (each)


Presents the titular instrument in four iterations: lap steel, eight-string console, and “Nashville” and “Texas” setups. Choose from various presets (including Clean, Tolex and Tweed), play as a normal slide guitar or pedal steel, adjust pickup height and string spacing, add reverb and chorus effects, and activate the virtual volume pedal for awesome, weepy swells. Particularly cool is pedal-steel mode, whereby you dip your phone back, forward, left and right to bend individual stings. Yonac, Free


With more than 300,000 tabs available at the ready, UG’s mobile application is the largest tablature bank in the app world. Access your favorites by either artist or song title; narrow your search by type (guitar, bass, drum, chords), part of the song (intro, solo, chorus), diffculty level, tuning and rating; or merely dive into one of UG’s Tab Packs. And if the sheer size of the database proves overwhelming, just hit the Random Tab button on the homepage and shred wherever the app takes you. Ultimate Guitar USA, LLC, $2.99


Guitar Tools packages together several of Planet Waves’ popular offerings, including Chordmaster and Scale Wizard—learning methods and libraries for chords and scales, respectively. You also get a tuner and metronome, making this an easy-to-use and full-featured pocket guitar resource. And if you seek additional tips, teachings and tools, the app provides access to instructors in your area as well as the location of nearby music stores—a nice resource when you’re out on the road and break your last string. Planet Waves, $8.99


Guitar Experience offers exclusive content from ESP and its roster of artists, including free music downloads, ESP event coverage, tech tips from ESP’s head of guitar/bass design, and interviews and video lessons with ESP players like Gus G., Jeff Hanneman, Alexi Laiho and others. It also includes a full catalog of ESP Signature Series guitars and basses, a dealer locator, and a built-in chromatic tuner to help you tune all those axes you’ll find yourself desiring. Brainmask, LLC, $1.99


A chord and scale primer, with a 3,000-plus chord encyclopedia and information on more than 40 scale types—from major to diminished to harmonic minor, in every key. The chord/scale reference guide is especially cool: pick a chord and the app recommends corresponding scales; choose a scale and it will suggest chords to play underneath., $4.99


A virtual guitar that lets you feed high-quality guitar samples through eight effect units—including fuzz, treble boost, wah and distortion—and an overdriven amp simulator, and do it with realistic results. Record your jams and share them via AirPlay. Or, like that dude in Atomic Tom, use the app to rock out on a New York City subway train with your bandmates. Frontier Design Group, $4.99


There are loads of apps on the market that turn your mobile handheld into a virtual guitar, but few are as easy to use as PocketGuitar. Simply press your fingers on the “strings,” strum your hand across the screen, and the notes come plinking out. Change up your sound and approach by selecting acoustic-electric, classical, bass and ukulele models, as well as various effects. Bonnet Inc., $0.99


This comprehensive guitar-chord library is best suited to players looking to add a little chord theory knowledge to their repertoire. Choose a tone or chord, and the app displays the name as well as what frets to play and fingers to use. A quick tap of the screen plays the chord. 7 Chords is a nicely laid-out app that will have you differentiating your sus2s from your maj9s in no time at all. Handplant Studios, $1.99


Learning can be fun! This basic app helps users master the fretboard though two game setups. In the first, note and string information are employed to find the corresponding fret; in the second, fret information is used to find the correct note. Post-game stats key you in to your fretboard strengths—and weaknesses. Simple, fun and addicting. Jason Neufeld, $2.99


TabToolKit displays standard and tab notation and, even cooler, a virtual fretboard that shows where to put your fingers for each beat in a guitar line. A built-in audio synthesis engine enables users to hear and control audio for all instrument tracks individually as well as speed up and slow down the tempo. TabToolKit supports a variety of tab formats, including Guitar Pro, Power Tab, PDF and text tab, and files can be uploaded directly from your home computer or through a built-in web browser. It’s easily the most intuitive and interactive tab app currently on the market. Agile Partners, $9.99

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Guitar World Staff

Since 1980, Guitar World has been the ultimate resource for guitarists. Whether you want to learn the techniques employed by your guitar heroes, read about their latest projects or simply need to know which guitar is the right one to buy, Guitar World is the place to look.