“Sometimes you want to give up the guitar, you'll hate the guitar. But if you stick with it, you're gonna be rewarded.” - Jimi Hendrix
According to an experiment by Nicolas Guéguen, a professor of behavioural science, 31 out of 300 women gave their phone number to a 20-year-old man carrying a guitar case while only 14 did when he wasn’t carrying anything and 9 when he was carrying a sports bag.
Whatever your reasons for learning to play the guitar, it’s much easier if you’re learning with a private tutor or a teacher in guitar lessons than trying to become a guitar player on your own. That said, you can still learn how to play guitar with your smartphone thanks to apps and online guitar lessons.
There are applications for everything: guitar tuners, metronomes, reading tablature, chord dictionaries, etc. However, some can actually teach a beginner to play the guitar or help someone who already plays to improve their guitar playing.
If you’ve already taken music or guitar lessons, they could be useful for studying scales before the next time you see your guitar tutor!
In this article, we're going to look at some good apps for finding your way around the fretboard, mastering picking techniques, playing those tricky licks and riffs, and learning to strum in time to the music.
Coach Guitar App
Smartphone apps are a great resource if you’re teaching yourself to play the guitar. The advantage of an app is that you’ll always have access to it, unlike a teacher, who you’ll see once or twice a week.
Who doesn't always have their phone to hand?
Your smartphone is probably always in your pocket or within reach. Furthermore, many apps remind you when it’s time to practise! Your phone can become a coach to ensure that you're playing guitar regularly. You can learn to play the guitar while having fun, too!
The Coach Guitar method is visual, fun, and interactive. The app is aimed at beginners who have no knowledge of music. This means you don’t need to know anything about music theory like reading sheet music or even reading guitar tablature to get started!
Each finger is allocated a colour to make playing easier and there are animations showing the student where to play on the neck of the guitar.
Coach Guitar shows you step-by-step how to play your favourite songs on the acoustic or electric guitar.
Here are a few songs that you can learn with the app:
- Metallica - Nothing Else Matters
- Eagles - Hotel California
- Daft Punk - Get Lucky
- Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here
- AC/DC - Back in Black
- Bob Marley - No Woman No Cry
- Rihanna - Diamonds
- Eric Clapton - Tears in Heaven
- And over 500 others!
There’s free guitar content for the basics and a few HD video courses. After that, you’ll have to pay for the app.
The subscription isn’t the cheapest but it isn’t the most expensive, either. It’s available on both Android and iOS so it doesn't really matter which device you have.
You may also learn a few guitar riffs by watching videos...
Learn the Guitar with My Music Teacher
Learning the guitar online is a great way to learn to play anywhere you like, even when you’ve only got 5 minutes spare. Get out your smartphone on the bus, on the toilet (if you're one of those people), grab your plectrum and spend a few minutes being productive.
My Music Teacher offers a complete and quality approach. It promises that you’ll progress within a month. The app detects which notes you’re playing and will correct you to make sure you’re playing in time.
You can choose an objective and you’ll gain points as you learn. The app advises you on which songs to play in terms of your progress.
There are around 2,500 hours of activities on My Music Teacher including basic chords, barre chords, famous songs, writing, improvising, etc. Similar to the previous app, there’s a subscription fee for this app but it will grant you access to tablature, playback, and live lessons with real teachers.
The community aspect is really important as you can talk to other forum members, buy and sell music equipment, set challenges, etc. It’s available on Android and iOS as well as Mac and PC.
The Internet is another great place to find guitar instruction...
Improve Your Guitar Playing with iReal Pro
The app iReal B has been renamed iReal Pro. Its name references Real Books, which came after Fake Books. Fake Books contained essential information on how to play songs but contained a lot of mistakes. That’s why they were replaced by Real Books. iReal Pro is like a digital version of these Real Books.
You can find 1,500 chord progressions. For each one, you can play along on a loop with a drum, bass, and piano backing track. You can choose whichever combination of instruments you want. You can change the tempo, the style (jazz, Latin, pop rock, swing, etc.) and the different musical instruments (electric bass, double bass, vibraphone, etc.).
It’s a useful tool for practising improvising. Having the other instruments to play along with is a huge advantage as they’ll help you keep time, making playing more realistic. While the library mainly includes jazz, there are also country, blues, pop rock, and even Stevie Wonder packs.
Finally, you can create chord progressions and save them, perfect for composing wherever you are. Like the other apps in our list, it’s available on Android and iOS as well as Mac and PC.
Yousician Guitar App
You can start playing the guitar with Yousician application. The app offers step-by-step exercises based on your level as well as feedback on how you’re playing and your timing in real time, thanks to the microphone on your device.
It saves your progress and you can check how you’re doing at any time. There are 1,500 levels to complete, taking you from a beginner to an intermediate.
While there’s no real guitar teacher, you can still improve with your feedback from the app. Yousician also includes thousands of songs to play along with. If your favourite song isn’t there, you can also download it.
You’ll also get reminders on when it’s time to practise. It’s available on Android and iOS for free and there’s also a paid version.
Chord! The Digital Guitar Chord Dictionary
Chord! is a chord dictionary, which admittedly doesn’t sound very fun.
However, the app offers so much more than just that. The interface is clean and elegant. The search function is intuitive and you can filter your searches, which is great for beginners.
Beginners can also listen to basic chords. In the paid version, there are also colours showing you the intervals.
In addition to the chord dictionary, there’s also a scales thesaurus. The app is also a tuner for guitar, bass, banjo, ukulele, or mandolin. Again, this is an app available on Android and iOS.
Improve Your Ear with Perfect Ear 2
This app isn’t technically an app for the guitar but it is useful.
You can use it to train your ear and learn more about musical composition. The interface is very simple and divided into several categories:
- Recognising chords
- Reading rhythms
- Melodic dictation
The exercises get increasingly difficult. You can also sing and the app will detect if you’re in tune. It’s a great way to learn more about music theory and the app also has plenty of sight reading activities. There are also mini-exams to check your learning, the results of which are saved into the app to keep track of your progress.
There’s a limited free version for both Android and iOS but the paid version is only a few quid.
If you’re going to learn guitar, you’re also going to have to learn a bit more about the language used before you start strumming your instrument.
Since knowing the terminology will really help once you start learning how to play the guitar, we've included a few terms in each of our articles on learning how to play the guitar and different guitar resources. If you want to become fluent in guitar, you're going to have to just read them all!
This is the opposite to chromatic, a diatonic scale only includes notes proper to the key.
Legato, from Italian, means in a smooth a flowing manner. This means that the guitarist should play the notes smoothly so that there’s no silence between them.
Now discover all of the digital resources for learning how to play the guitar...
You can take bass guitar lessons as well as acoustic guitar.
Check out our guide for the best blogs to help you learn guitar.