With four budding guitarists in our house, we have all been eager to try out the various software guitar tutors – and compare them with other options. The guitar is the ultimate teach-yourself instrument, and with all the wealth of guitar tuition books already available what are the advantages to using a software based approach? Also, how does guitar learning software compare with online guitar courses and DVD’s?
Recommended Guitar Software, Online Guitar Course and Guitar DVDs
Best Guitar Software: eMedia Guitar Method
Best Online Guitar Lessons: Guitar Tricks
Best Guitar Tuition DVD’s: Gibson Learn and Master
Best Guitar Tab Software: Guitar Pro 6
Guitar Learning Overview
No doubt about it, if you can afford to learn guitar from a good teacher, then that is probably the best method. But if you are looking for something more cost-effective, or you want to top up your lessons then you will be looking at some way to teach yourself guitar.
We found that you can learn more in a week of playing and learning with guitar software than years of trying to get anywhere with a self-teach book alone…. We also found that if you prefer the video approach then investing in a good online course or set of DVD’s is better than the scattergun approach of simply watching random YouTube videos – even though there is some great free stuff out there.
Guitar Learning Software – A More Detailed Look
Using guitar tuition software you get a multimedia approach and you get to learn through a combination of exciting resources:
- video instruction and example
- animated guitar tab or traditional notation, with effortless switching between the two
- high quality audio examples
- variable speed MIDI – how often have you tried to play along with a CD accompaniment only to have fallen behind in the second bar never to catch up? With MIDI you slow down the tempo to suit you
- animated guitar fretboards, which mean that as the piece is playing you can actually see which fingers to put down where
- real-time feedback
Working through a series of lessons you gradually build up skills, but right from the outset you get the chance to play along with backing tracks and really feel that you are progressing. In particular, children like quick results, and we have certainly found that ours were quickly rewarded with the sense of achieving something straight away.
To get the full benefit of software, it is a good idea to connect your guitar to your computer so that you can record and get interactive feedback (if the feature is available in the software you choose)
Once you have done that, here is a more detailed look at the benefits of learning to play the guitar using a software approach:
The guitar is a versatile instrument that you can play solo or in a group. Rock stars make it look easy to play but it doesn’t take long to discover that mastering the guitar is pretty hard!
A few years ago the only way to get one-on-one instruction was to use a private music teacher, and even today if you can afford it that is still the best option. But for many people guitar lessons are an expensive luxury.
As alternative to teaching yourself from books you can get pretty close to the experience of a having guitar lessons with guitar learning software. It can “listen” to you play, give you real-time feedback and help you master playing techniques and theory.
The best guitar learning software has well structured lessons that give you a strong basis to make progress. It will make good use of songs and practice tools to help you master the more advanced techniques.
Also, the best guitar software will give you real-time feedback if you connect your guitar to your computer. It should have extra features such as a digital tuner, metronome, variable speed backing tracks and a comprehensive chord dictionary as well as animated tab or notation.
Good guitar training software should have a course of lessons for beginners, intermediate and advanced players and you should be out to track your progress over time. Finally being able to play along to backing tracks, either alongside a played example or muted is a must to help your listening and playing skills.
The software should be something you look forward to not a chore and all the above are exciting features that will help you progress faster and easier than you thought possible.
Choosing The Right Guitar Practice Software For You
1. Lesson coverage
the basic lessons should help you learn about the different kinds of guitars, explain how to string and set up your guitar, how to tune it, where to put your hands and how to use a pick. Look for a combination of video instruction and clear diagrams. Then make sure there are advanced lessons that you can progress to. This should include scales, hammer on, hammer off, and improvisation. You should be out to start with your first guitar and work to performing your first concert over the course of instruction.
2. Practice Tools
This is where software can really score over a book. And even if you are paying for lessons interactive practice tools can help you progress faster. Look for software with animated fretboard is, animated tab, variable speed, backing tracks, example performances, games, and real-time feedback.
3. Other Features To Look Out For
The best packages will have: a wide selection of songs; right and left-handed views; a good chord library; video and audio instruction.
Make sure the software has a clear navigation structure, an easy to read design and a strong set of additional resources. Also decide whether you want to focus on electric guitar or acoustic and buy a package that focuses on your choice – or is comprehensive enough to cover both in depth.
We have had a lot of success in teaching ourselves to learn to play guitar with software. It really can help you reach your potential without costing a fortune.
Our Top 3 Choices for Guitar Software
1. eMedia Guitar Methods For Beginners and Intermediates
eMedia have been producing guitar learning software packages for a long time now, and we have found that they offer really good value for money. They produce all the Guitar for Dummies Downloads, CDs and books as well as a whole range of guitar learning software. With the eMedia software, being able to vary the speed and follow the animated fretboard you really can make progress on your own. If you are having lessons then this software will help you practise effectively at home, but for most people who are trying to teach themselves this kind of software is invaluable as an extra resource. Many of the eMedia packages have a really excellent feature: you record your playing and get instant feedback about what you are doing right (or wrong). So if you are trying to teach yourself guitar without a teacher to help you, then this is like having a virtual teacher 24/7 giving you the feedback you need to progress. They have a whole range of guitar learning software, for acoustic, electric and bass. Then they have beginner software and you can then progress to their intermediate-level guitar software. Click here to see the full range of eMedia Guitar Software. They have packs at all prices and levels, we particularly like the eMedia Guitar Collection.
2. Rocksmith Guitar Learning Software System
Rocksmith Guitar Learning Software: Make sure that if you follow this link to Rocksmith Guitar Software on Amazon that you select the right package for you. This guitar software is available for PC, Mac, Xbox and Playstation. The reason it has such a huge following is the availability on all these platforms. And if you have never bought it before, make sure you order the edition with a cable. Because with Rocksmith you can jam along and get real time feedback when you connect your guitar. It’s very quick and easy to get set up and helps you learn and then play along with some great songs. The downside is that although it is fantastic fun it’s not the most rigorous when it comes to scales and theory. But hey, if you want to plug in and just learn to play this might be THE one for you!
3. Guitar Pro 6 Guitar Tab Software
Guitar Pro 6 is really quite unique and a fantastic bit of software for guitarists of any standard. This guitar tab software is for displaying tab downloaded from the internet, playing back, notating and general composing. The budget price point makes it a great addition to your guitar library. Being able to download and playback tab, play along and create your own backing tracks will really help to improve your guitar playing and listening skills. You can also choose other stringed instruments such as Ukelele and Banjo. And you can switch to a notation view as well.
Guitar Tricks Online Guitar Learning Videos and Membership Site
Another popular approach to learning guitar at home is via a membership site. This gives you access to thousands of video lessons and other teaching tools. You can also interact with other people who are learning which makes it a less lonely experience. The best online guitar site we have found is Guitar Tricks.
Joining a membership site like Guitar Tricks will make sure you get a step-by-step co-ordinated program of lessons so that you make progress logically. Although YouTube is full of free guitar lessons, and you can pick up individual tips and tricks there, if you want to progress then you need a bit more structure. That is the benefit of a large specialist site like this one.
Guitar Tricks has been a dominating force in online guitar lessons since 1998, and offers unlimited access to hundreds of step-by-step lessons. With Guitar Tricks you can learn what you want, when you want, from their entire course library. Plus they upload new videos every month, host live masterclasses every week, and have a range of software tools and utilities to cover every aspect of your learning. Here are a few things they offer.
- Guitar Tricks is a complete step-by-step learning system that’s designed to make learning guitar easy. Nothing else is as beginner-friendly as Guitar Tricks. The videos are very high quality and have a logical progression through the different courses
- Guitar Tricks has over 11,000 guitar lessons, covering all styles and levels.
- Guitar Tricks has taught over 2.2 million people how to play guitar since they began in 1998.
- Guitar Tricks has hundreds of song lessons from major artists like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Eagles, etc., and they add multiple new songs every single week so the library keeps on getting bigger.
- Guitar Tricks has a 60 day, no questions asked money-back guarantee. So in the unlikely event you don’t make any progress, you have nothing to lose.
To get you started, they have some excellent free tools and guitar learning aids. Here are a few:
- Learn the notes on the guitar fretboard with the Guitar Tricks free fretboard trainer
- Easily navigate to different ways of playing chords in any key with their brilliant guitar chord finder. You just click on the note and you can see all the different patterns.
- Try before you buy … you can examine the quality of what Guitar Tricks offer with their free online guitar lessons
- Or sign up now for free 14-day membership
- And finally, check out the Guitar Tricks free online guitar tuner.
Guitar Learning DVD’s – A Complete DVD Video Course
Not everyone wants to have to switch their computer on to learn to play, which is one of the downsides of all the above options. Many guitarists are really happy with great guitar learning DVDs and one of the best series available is the Gibson Learn and Master Guitar Course. If this is an option that appeals to you, then here is a summary of what the Gibson Guitar Course contains:
- 20 professionally filmed DVDs in HD with over 40 hours of instruction.
- 5 Jam-Along CDs.
- 100+ page lesson book.
- Unlimited access to their online student support site.
Gibson’s Learn & Master Guitar is designed for all skill levels. So you can be a complete beginner, or dip in further along if you already know the basics. This Guitar DVD series has been consistently recognised as one of the best guitar tuition DVD courses available.
Top 6 Best-Selling Guitar Instruction Books
Limited budget? Want to go old school? Tried and tested, the old-school method of teaching yourself to play is with a good book. There are plenty of decent ones available. Inexpensive and easy to use anywhere, anytime. The books listed below are the best-selling ones right now.
David M. Brewster (Author)
Buy new: $6.99
57 used & new from $3.00
Will Schmid (Author), Greg Koch (Author)
92 used & new from $8.08
Barrett Tagliarino (Author)
81 used & new from $3.24
Troy Nelson (Author)
85 used & new from $8.07
Using a combination of guitar software, top selling books, and video instruction there is no excuse any longer – you can have 24/7 access to your own ‘teacher’ in the comfort of your own home. If you know of any other great resources for guitarists then let us know about them in the comments box below. Look forward to hearing from you.