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Learning how to play the guitar is easy with your smartphone

May 2019

The passion for the guitar has never been so accessible to everyone. If you can’t invest the time and money in real music lessons, your smartphone is once again your loyal companion: always in your pocket, it’s the perfect helper to have available while you play, guiding you on the tuning, telling you where to put your fingers or helping you read musical scores. No matter what level, there’s an app for all skills, from beginner to professional.

Tuning your instrument

The first step when you pick up a guitar is to check that each chord is at the right tension. A digital tuner is therefore useful regardless of your confidence with the instrument: even if you have an excellent ear for music, it’s useful to get feedback so there are electronic devices that can be physically attached to your guitar. However, now you can also just download an app on your smartphone to always have a helper with you. One of the most famous apps is Fender Tune, a free tuner for Android and iOS created by the American guitar maker of the same name, Fender.  A metronome is another essential tool for all musicians: Pro Metronome helps mark out musical beats and is available for free from Google Play Store and the App Store.


The guitar, chord by chord

One of the longest-running services around, ChordBank is a go-to app for anyone who wants to pick up a guitar: just check the app to see the details of each chord with a picture showing the correct position of your fingers on the fingerboard. It’s also perfect for sessions with friends thanks to the integrated feature that lets you share harmonies. The ChordFinder mode is perfect if you play by ear: just try a chord to check that the system recognises its tone. You can also change the settings if you’re left-handed. ChordBank is available for free at the App Store and Google Play, but extra paid content is available for individual lessons.


Musical scores from your favourite songs

On Tabs & Chords you can consult an archive of musical scores for the guitar (but also for the bass or ukulele) that’s constantly updated with the biggest hits, so it’s excellent if you want to learn to play your favourite new song that you heard on the radio. With its integrated metronome and tuner, the app is an excellent starting point on its own for anyone interested in playing: you can also search by song difficulty, avoiding that frustrating moment when you’re faced with an overly complicated score. And if a song is not there? You can always add it yourself and collaborate with the archive. Tabs & Chords can be downloaded for iOS for €3,49, and for Android for €2,50.


Writing music with an app

If you want to go further, just install TabBank, a twin app that lets you simply write your own music. Guitar tablatures can therefore be jotted down on the software together with chords and lyrics so you never lose any flashes of inspiration. Thanks to the audio preview mode, the guitar’s solo track can be listened to again and altered. The add-on for the Safari browser (for Macs) also lets you send the tablature of a song directly to the app from any site. TabBank is a free app for iOS. 


Lessons from professionals

Created from a collaboration between the U2 guitarist, The Edge, and the most famous guitar manufacturer in the world, Fender Play offers a series of video lessons designed specifically for beginners, with different angles to understand how to position your fingers on the fingerboard. Even though the lessons can already be used through the official site, the app lets you monitor your progress so you can move forward with the lessons based on your ability. Fender Play can be used for both classical and electric guitars. Depending on your taste of music, the app will offer a selection of personalised music so you can practise to your favourite songs. You can download the app for free from the App Store, while lessons cost 20 dollars a month, but you can have a 30-day trial to try out the service before subscribing.