Hey all. So I have come to write this article after seeing a lot of “Best Guitar Apps/Apps For Musicians” lists out there but unfortunately, most of them provide a lot of apps that are not actually very useful to the everyday guitarist. I hope you'll enjoy the list:
*Updated January '18.
The 13 Best Guitar Apps and Uses That You Will ACTUALLY USE in 2018
So our goal today is to give you guys and girls an overview you with the best uses (not only apps) that you can get out of your iPhone / Android smartphone as a guitar player and a musician. Here we go:
- The links are for the App Store but all of these apps are available on Google Play for Android as well.
The Best Metronome / Drum Machine: Drum Beats+ (App Store link), or Google Play link
Metronomes and drum machines are a big part of my daily practice routine and will be of a major help to anyone in order to get your time keeping skills a lot better. Besides, it's always a ton of fun to play your favorite songs with some special / groovy drum beats – the song feels totally different and fresh.
For the best free metronome I use Guitar Tuna and for the best drum machine I use Drum Beats+. I plug it into my stereo system, choose one of the countless drumming patterns, push play, and it totally feels like there's a drummer in the room and I'm jammin' with a band.
Another metronome / ear trainer that I really like that also helps you work on your time keeping skills in various original ways is this trainer by Justin Guitar that will challenge your time-keeping skills in original ways in order to improve.
The Best Jam Tracks / Scales Teacher App: Jam Tracks (App Store) | | | Google Play link
Whenever I try to practice my lead guitar skills – one option is to record some chord progression myself and improvise along, but another comfortable option is one of the many backing tracks apps that'll help you work and have fun with your scales and solos. My favorite is Guitar Jam Tracks by Ninebuzz – It's super intuitive, you can easily switch keys, and you can choose from a variety of music genres. Your scales never sounded so good and it will give you a great paved road for lead guitar improvement. Full version. Free version.
It also shows you all the pentatonic scales you're gonna need for improvising on their platform, so even if you're new to the whole world of lead guitar – it got you covered. Once you have these scales memorized, your way to creating your own solos and guitar licks is starting to get a solid form!
*On an iPhone, make sure to close the Jam Tracks app after you run it, since it keeps running in the background and draining the battery.
If you prefer video over text, here's the video version of this post, from the GuitarHippies YouTube channel, where I also demo all the apps on my iPhone
The Best Ear Training App: Functional Ear Trainer (App Store) (Android users – see note below)
If you're interested in taking your music skills to the next level and willing to spend about 5-10 minutes a day doing some ear training, I tried many apps and this one is the one I'm seeing the most progress with by far.
It focuses on learning to correctly identify the different scale degrees when you hear them – for example, how the fifth degree of the scale (“The V”) sounds like. As a result, you can not only recognize intervals, but also identify specific notes in the context of the song, and it tracks your progress and improvement with detailed stats.
Bottom line – when playing lead guitar – my improvisations now sound a lot more “spot on” – instead of finger noodlings, and I can almost always figure out a chord progression and melody of a song easily. An amazing place to be at – that gives me a lot more freedom on the guitar.
*Another excellent ear training app with different functionalities: Good Ear Pro.
*Android users: Not available yet, so a similar app I recommend instead is the Perfect Ear Trainer.
Guitar Toolkit has a beautiful and intuitive interface that'll show you literally any chord that there is on this planet in any position along the fretboard, just name the chord and it'll do the rest. It also has loads of other features such as a scale dictionary, a super fast tuner, a metronome, drumming pattern builder, and more, so for me it's one of the most used guitar apps and some of the best 10$ I have invested in the Appstore.
*Android users: Guitar Toolkit is not available yet, so instead I recommend Guitar Chords Book which covers the chord dictionary part very well.
A friend recently showed me the Polytune tuner, which is absolutely the best clip-on tuner I used. How? because it lets you tune “on the fly” and way faster than any other way I know, by telling you which strings are out of tune just with one strum across all of the strings instead of the individual plucking we're all used to.
Later, I found out that they also have an app that works great, so now it's my go-to app whenever my clip-on is not around. Get ready to massively cut down the time you spend on tuning. (Note: a clip-on is also a better option simply because it works on vibrations from the headstock and cannot be “confused” by outside sounds like a smartphone)
*Android users: Unfortunately, Polytune is not yet available on the Google Play store, so I recommend sticking with Guitar Toolkit or Guitar Tuna for a tuner.
The Best Free Tuner: Guitar Tuna (App Store) | | | Google Play Link
There are at least a hundred tuners out there but a lot of them are slow, not responsive and not very accurate. Guitar Tuna is the best free tuner – very responsive and accurate.
My favorite feature is that it gives you a “lockdown” sound and visual cue when your guitar is perfectly tuned. Still, Guitar Toolkit is even better if you are looking for a wider array of features in one app other than the tuner. (And also Guitar Toolkit lets you tune when you have a capo on)
The Best Song's Chord Sheets App: Ultimate Guitar Chords (App Store) | | | Google Play link
Ultimate Guitar Tabs is my go-to for song's chord sheets. It is the biggest and most comprehensive chords website / app and you can find a variety of versions for every song out there, shown in a very convenient way – with auto scroll, transpose tools and other useful features that work well.
One thing I gotta say is that I highly dislike them for being so pushy and intrusive with their demands to get the app when you just try to browse the web on your phone to get chords from their website. Still, it's the best option.
If you're already into guitar theory, you probably noticed that this knowledge is useless unless you know where the different notes are located on the fretboard. Since there are so many notes, I struggled with having them memorized completely for a long time until I found out a two-part system that finally made it all click for me. The first part is visualizing the fretboard using the moveable CAGED system, and the second one is using an app that really challenges you and pushes you to speedy answers.
I tried a couple of fretboard learning apps in the past, but Fret Trainer is the one I like the most and still practice with every day. Besides the fact that it is very well made and intuitive, it has several different methods to work on your memory and let you get used to recalling a note within a fraction of a second – which is what it all comes down to when you're in the middle of a jam. Also, they just added the ability to memorize chord triads and four note chords all over the fretboard as well.
Highly recommended and made a huge difference in my playing fluidity, especially when playing lead and solos.
Android users: Fret Trainer is not yet available for you, so I recommend RR Guitar Fretboard Trainer instead, which is similar, minus the option to memorize triads – which you might not be interested in anyway at the moment.
The Best Audio Recorder:
The default iPhone audio recorder gives the best quality and it's one of the most useful things I use for my music. I record song sketches, band rehearsals, song ideas and sometimes record myself when I practice playing or singing, to see how I'm doing. I always save those recording to refer to later and monitoring my progress over time. I have tried a few recording apps but always came back to the free one that comes with the iPhone.
There are some fancier apps out there, but I love the Apple one the most because it truly offers everything that you'll need as long as you are not looking for complex features. And if you do – I actually recommend looking for a good microphone or field recorder instead and work with them and a computer.
While this is not a replacement for a good singing lessons program, (if you are really interested in such program then see the paragraph below) SingTrue offers some very neat features, like showing you visually how close you are to hitting the perfect pitch on your target notes, teaching you how to sing scales of a rising difficulty (starts with simple do-re-mi and goes into more complex jumps to random notes on the pentatonic scales, etc) and tracking your progress.
It's a fun app to use for singing warm-ups before you reach for the guitar, the downside is that it's rather expensive.
I like using my iPhone to watch and practice singing lessons and do daily singing exercises / warm ups without having to sit down in front of a computer. I took an online course called Superior Singing Method that took me from being a pretty bad singer to having a voice that I am very happy with and gets a lot of great feedback as well.
It's a program that does require you to commit with 20-30 mins a day for 8 weeks and the price is not cheap, but considering that 40$ is what I used to pay for a single weekly meeting with a voice teacher in New Orleans, I realized that the online lessons can be way more cost-effective. And they were. Check it out if you want to start singing along (and doing it well) with your guitar.
Exploring new music is one of the best things you can do to your music life in order to keep your music chakras vibrating! A friend told me about this attractively designed and free app called Radiooooo (with 5 O's). You pick any country in the world, you pick a decade, you pick your mood – and it plays you some interesting choices from this time and place. A very amusing pastime! Available for Desktops as well in a web version.
Otherwise, Apple Music and Spotify are also doing an awesome job music discovery, and if you have one of them you're probably good to go. Just let yourself get lost in their random shuffles they create based on music that you already like – and you're bound for pleasures.
Whenever I am looking for lyrics and not for the full chord sheet, I will look up the song on google and go for the “azlyrics” option which will usually be the first one on the list. It shows you almost the whole song on one page without needing to scroll down every second, and in easy to read fonts.
Another great lyrics option that I like is the app Lyrics+ which synchronizes with the music you are playing in Apple Music / Spotify (also for the songs that Apple Music can't get the lyrics to – for some reason) and instantly shows you the lyrics on the screen.
The Best Way To Organize Your Music Life and Creations – The Notes App:
Yep, that's not a typo. I use the notes app very widely with music. Examples are to write down my repertoire list, write down a list of songs that I want to learn, musical “enlightenments” that I get to, lyrics to songs that I write and much more.
Check out this article I wrote about how to become a better and more organized musician with the notes app, I guarantee you'd be surprised and you might really like some of the neat ideas there: 7 Ways To Become A Better Musician With The Help Of… SMARTPHONE NOTES (?!)
If you don't know Evernote, it is also a very rich notes app and you might like using it instead. I just prefer the original notes app since I find it more intuitive – mostly because it loads up way faster – and especially now with iOS 9 when we finally got the long awaited option to divide our notes in different folders.
The Best “Inspiration Capturing” App – The Camera and the Slo-Mo Option:
The phone's video camera… Yep! Some people just don't use it often enough. Especially the 4k camera on the new phones, and the slo-motion options that allow you to later look at the stuff that other guitarists played and break it down slowly in order to learn it – just like how you would from a record of your favorite guitarist.
Usually, if I am seeing some really good guy playing the guitar, a girl singing beautifully or a really special performance in an open mic or a gig, I take a short vid with my phone to remember and inspire me later for my own ideas or learn it myself, instead of just counting on my memory. Give those memories a tangible form.
That's it for today. Please let us know in the comments about your favorite useful guitar apps and any comments you may have on the apps above!
Peace and have fun, thank you for reading.
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