The Best Apps For Learning Guitar

Teaching yourself guitar via computer has been a widely accepted method of learning since the early 90s, but as time has gone on, more and more learners have stopped using their computers, and turned to their mobile devices like tablets and smart phones to pick up lessons.

The problem with using cell phones especially, is that websites often aren’t well optimized for these smaller screens, and this is why so many guitar education providers have developed mobile apps to ensure that their product is viewed in the best light possible.

In this KillerGuitarRigs Guide we’ve rounded up the best mobile apps for learning guitar. For each we’ve provided a brief intro to the app itself, we’ve highlighted its best features, and which platforms it is available on.

Keep on reading to learn more about the best apps for learning guitar.

Fender Play

fender-play-app

Fender Play is by far one of the most popular guitar apps available today. It features likeable instructors who deliver short, easily digestible lessons for both electric and acoustic guitar as well as bass and ukulele.

There are lessons available for players of all levels, from first strum, to advanced players looking to sharpen their skills. The curriculum is well organized, and well rounded, and includes theory lessons, and practical skills sessions, as well as step by step classes on how to play popular songs from across the decades in the rock, pop, country, and folk genres.

The app itself is very nicely set up. Each player can completely customize their experience, starting with their choice of instrument, and then their “path”, or preferred genre. Within each path there are 8 levels, with each progressively increasing in technicality and difficulty. Fender play allows users to dip in and out of lessons and progress at their own pace, which is definitely a welcome feature.

Fender Play Features

Fender Play is a standout app primarily because of its high end production value, and its well executed feature set.

It includes a practice mode with a metronome option, and it also allows learners to modify the tempo of the lesson material, making it possible to slow down tricky passages and work on accuracy before speed. Those who find themselves needing a source of accountability to practice regularly will also appreciate the built in practice reminder.

Any time you practice for more than 7 minutes in a single session, that session is added to your streak tally. If you earn a streak of 3 days in a week, you can be entered into prize draws, meaning it really does pay to practice. 

As well as structured lessons, Fender Play also offers backing tracks to jam along with. This is a great way to learn improvisation skills as well as timing and rhythm. There are hundreds of backing tracks available within the app across all of the featured genres.

If you’re a Fender Mustang Amp user, Fender Play even provides downloadable patches so you can perfectly match the tone of songs that you’re learning within the app.


Guitar Tricks

Guitar Tricks was first established as a desktop based platform, but extended their services and included a mobile app in their offering. The lessons are video based, and focus primarily on learning popular songs rather than running through chords, scales and theory exercises, although those fundamental skill lessons are available.

This app is primarily aimed at new players, but there are also lessons for experienced guitarists, too. Guitar Tricks refer to their platform as the Core Learning System. It’s based on a path that takes beginners by the hand through the most basic elements of learning guitar, through to basic scales and chords. Players with experience can skip past those lessons and move straight onto the main structure.

The app layout is quite similar to the desktop version, which makes it a straight forward transition for players who are already guitartricks.com users. The interface has text based lesson info to the left of the screen, a large video player with multiple angles on the instructor, and auto scrolling tabs along the bottom that follow along with the lesson content.

Guitar Tricks Features

Guitar Tricks is one of the longest running online guitar lessons services, having been in business since 1998. Although they haven’t been mobile the entire time, they have brought their huge catalogue over to the new platform, meaning there are over 11,000 song lessons to choose from. 

In addition to the huge selection of songs, Guitar Tricks also offers one of the biggest ranges of lesson genres, and includes acoustic, bluegrass, blues, classical, country, funk and soul, jazz, metal, rock, rockabilly, surf, and even world music.

It features downloadable tabs and notation, perfect for offline learning, and has a ton of other useful tools, including chord and scale finders, a fretboard training program, and a built in reference tuner. 


Gibson App

The Gibson App is one of the newest apps to hit the market. It’s a direct update for the old Gibson app, and it brings a fresh set of features thanks to their takeover of Amped Guitar, another popular application for learning guitar.

This is a heavily gamified application, which gives it a lot of appeal amongst younger learners. It blends traditional style video lessons, with a Guitar Hero type interface, requiring you to play the correct note at the right time.

It offers an easy to follow curriculum, with basic lessons for beginners and more advanced classes for experienced guitarists. Gibson has loaded their app with a healthy song library, with tons of choice in a range of genres. The lessons give step by step instruction, and also feature AI that listens to your playing to provide real time feedback, something that was previously only possible with in person learning. The lessons are challenging, but feature realistic, attainable goals to assist in quick progression.

Gibson App Features

The instructors featured in the video lessons on the Gibson App are amongst the best from any app for iOS or Android. They give engaging lessons, with excellent production value, and are genuinely talented guitarists. 

One of the standout features is the Gibson TV portion of the app. With this, Gibson has also tried to tap into the social element, and has provided a  YouTube style platform that features exclusive content relating to music, guitars, and the surrounding culture. 

To make sure that you check in regularly to practice, the app has a built in training calendar. It offers push notifications to give you a nudge should you forget to log in and take your lessons.

Of course, there are a number of other basic features, including a reference tuner with standard tunings, as well as a range of alternative tunings to make setting up for different songs a little easier. 


Yousician

Yousician was one of the earliest apps for gamified guitar instruction online. Their format has changed a little since they first launched, but this app remains one of the most fun and entertaining ways to learn guitar via a mobile application.

The app requires that you choose a style of guitar, either electric or acoustic, and then whether you want to play lead or rhythm. When you choose lead, the focus turns to scales, single note runs, and solos. If you choose rhythm, you’ll primarily be learning chords, from power chords to cowboy and barre chords.

There are video lessons that precede the practice sessions, although they can be skipped if you want to go straight to practice or play mode. In practice mode, Yousician allows you to slow down the tempo to work on difficult passages within the song at a slower pace. When you’re ready, you can then go straight to the play section. In Play mode, there are no tempo options, and to add an extra element of challenge, you actually need to pass a minimum score in order to progress to the next lesson in the path.

Yousician Features

This is a fully featured app, with over 10,000 lessons and songs to play along with. The free version of the app follows the same lesson structure as the paid version, but uses royalty free music and songs by Yousician’s house band to play along with. When you upgrade to paid, you unlock access to popular songs, allowing you to learn them in the fantastic Yousician format.

Yousician was one of the first apps to use AI enhanced technology to listen to your playing. Not only can it recognize whether you’re playing the right notes as you follow the lessons, but it also tells you which notes you’re playing wrong if you’re incorrect. 

Like many of the other apps, it does feature a tuner (powered by GuitarTuna), but in this case, it’s an actual chromatic tuner, not just a reference. It’s as accurate as any clip on tuner, and is even available in the free version. 

Competitive players will also enjoy the weekly challenges, where your scores on the challenge songs get put up against other Yousician users from around the world. It’s a lot of fun, and a unique feature of this app.


Justin Guitar

Justin Sandercoe got famous on YouTube, and then proceeded to provide premium lessons via his website, JustinGuitar. Justin Guitar is now also available as an app, and it’s packed with great lessons from the man himself in an easy to understand and easy to use format.

As you’d expect if you’ve taken any of Justin’s free or paid lessons before, the videos offer step by step instruction with great closeups of the fretboard and easy to follow tabs. Justin Guitar is primarily a beginners app, with a bias towards basic lessons, but there are still a lot of great tutorials based on popular songs.

The syllabus layout is simple, with a choice between 2 grades – Grade 1 for Beginners, and Grade 2 for more advanced players. It starts with the bare bones basics, teaching you how to hold a guitar, how to tune, how to strum and pick, etc. before moving on to the technical and musical lessons.

Justin Guitar Features

The Justin Guitar app features a broad number of features beyond the lessons and core path, designed to get you playing on the first day of your guitar journey. It hosts over 1000 real songs to play along with and learn using the step by step instructions from Justin Sandercoe.

For ease of learning, there are color coded chords. This helps you to quickly associate what you see on the screen with what you should be doing at the neck, and can speed up the rate at which you learn chords. 

There is a big focus on individual practice outside of the lessons with this app. It offers a chord training tool that helps with transitions between different chords. This feature has a time tracker so you can log your practice hours to help keep track of your progress.

When playing along with real songs you have the option to use the original recording, or a realistic simulated backing track without vocals. This is helpful for learning timing, and it’s also one of the most engaging ways to learn songs.


Simply Guitar

Simply Guitar is an absolute blast to use. They have engaging and fun instructors, the whole setup is incredibly intuitive, and thanks to the well executed flow of the syllabus, you’ll be playing along with your favorite songs before you even know it. 

One of the best features about Simply Guitar is that it is truly suitable for all ages. It’s extremely simple, user friendly, and gives users the choice of lead path, or a chords based path. In order to become a rounded guitarist you’ll eventually need to learn both, but if you want to get started with solos right away, Simply Guitar does give you that option. 

The app design is bright and visually appealing. There is a very diverse cast of instructors, giving it an inclusive feel not often found in guitar instruction apps. The instructors guide users through the levels, starting with Basic, then Essentials, Intermediate, Master, and Finally Legend. In order to progress to the next level, you’ll need to pass the courses using the interactive functionality. It adds an exciting element of gamification that really enhances the app.

Simply Guitar Features

Simply Guitar has a catalog of over 5000 songs in all different genres for players to learn. It uses a guitar hero style scrolling fretboard with fret indicators to let you know exactly what it is you need to play.

There is a chromatic tuner function that uses the built in AI listening tech, saving the need to buy a clip on or in line tuner. This app also has progress tracking, which allows users to see visually how far they have come since starting with Simply Guitar.

In addition to the lesson structure, there is a whole set of technique boosting exercises to work on in between classes to help you prep for the end of unit “assessments”.


JamPlay

JamPlay might be one of the lesser known guitar learning apps, but it also happens to be one of the most comprehensive, too. There are lessons for everyone from outright beginners through to advanced guitarists, all organized in a unique, but effective way.

There are various “Guitar Toolkits” available to choose from in JamPlay. Each toolkit contains lessons for a specific genre, including songs, techniques, and theory. You get access to between 1 and 8 of the toolkits depending on the level of membership you choose.

In addition to the toolkits, the lessons also focus on some niche areas seldom covered in other apps. You can select exercises to learn how to play fast, how to play solos, even how to sing and play at the same time, as well as many more skills that are necessary to become a complete guitar player.

JamPlay Features

JamPlay goes into more depth to assist players on their way to becoming competent guitarists than the average app. It boasts some truly unique features, including a well stocked lick and riff library, containing isolated chords and tabs of the most iconic licks and riffs in history.

It also features “The Artist Series”, which is a group of lessons designed to teach you how to play in the style of a number of famou artists. It goes beyond just teaching you their songs, and goes into the techniques and traits that make them sound the way they do.

There are songwriting lessons, too. This is an important area in playing that is often overlooked by online courses and apps for learning the guitar, and is once again, unique to JamPlay. On top of all of this, JamPlay also offers exclusive content in the form of performance videos and interviews with some big name acts.


CoachGuitar

CoachGuitar sets itself apart when it comes to apps for visual learners. All of the lessons are no talk, all visuals, with closeups of an instructor playing guitar, with a highly detailed full color fretboard showing the tab in real time during the session.

Those who just want to get on and play will particularly enjoy CoachGuitar, as it offers no theory whatsoever. What it does have, however, is literally thousands of hours worth of lessons, including technique courses and step by step lessons on how to play classic and current songs.

The app comes with a number of free songs to learn, but additional tracks do come at an extra charge. It has a nicely laid out chord chart, which really does make it easy to quickly look up how to play just about any chord you need.

CoachGuitar Features

CoachGuitar does a fantastic job of keeping the app up to date with the latest hits for you to learn. If you enjoy playing new music, the weekly song updates will be a big draw for you.

Not only are there easy step by step lessons on how to play popular songs, but there is also a big library of backing tracks for you to jam along with. This is a great way to learn how to play with a band if it’s something you haven’t done before, and a great way to sharpen your skills on your own if you already play regularly with others.

The real party piece at CoachGuitar is left handed adaptation. Learning from videos as a lefty can be tough as it’s necessary to mentally flip what’s happening on the screen so you can relate to what needs to happen with your fingers. On CoachGuitar it’s possible to flip the videos to make sure that the lessons make sense if you’re left handed.


TrueFire

TrueFire claims the title of being the oldest online guitar lessons resource, having been in operation since way back in 1991. Of course, the mobile app is much newer, but it does bring with it much of what has made Trufire so popular for over 30 years.

There are more lessons than any one player is ever likely to take in a lifetime, with over 40,000 available from over 600 different virtual instructors, including huge names like Carlos Santana, Steve Vai, and Joe Bonamassa. TrueFire definitely appeals to the more mature player, as it has a pretty subdued interface in comparison to the other apps on the market.

It features a range of progressive technique classes, as well classes organized by genre, song, and instructor. The app is easy to navigate, and keeps track of courses you’ve already viewed so that you can monitor your progress.

TrueFire Features

TrueFire does have some impressive features that aren’t always present on other apps. For example, lessons can be downloaded within the app for use offline. This is great for those who travel and don’t know if there will be ready access to Wi-Fi at the destination. 

It offers smart searching, which allows the app to respond in a similar way to a real, in person guitar teacher. This means you can search for pretty much anything related to playing, not just songs, and it will bring up entire courses related to the topic you searched for.

The TrueFire app also features synced tabs and sheet music. As the video lessons play through, the tabs and sheet music at the bottom will cycle through to match whatever is happening in the video at that particular time. This keeps your hands where they need to be – on the guitar, and not on your phone or tablet. 


Benefits of Learning Guitar on a Mobile App

Learning guitar on a mobile app has a number of benefits over learning via more traditional methods. We’ve highlighted some of the major advantages below.

Convenience and Flexibility

One of the main benefits of learning guitar on a mobile app is convenience. You can learn at your own pace, in your own time and in your own space. If you decide at 2am that you want to learn a new song, a mobile app is right there waiting. A real guitar teacher might not be so keen to work on that schedule!

This is particularly useful for players who might not have the time to attend in person guitar classes due to work or school commitments. Mobile apps can also  be accessed from a smartphone, meaning you can take them wherever you want to go, something that’s not even always possible with a laptop.

Mobile apps also provide the flexibility of choosing which style of guitar you want to play on a whim. You might one day feel the need to take lessons in funk, and the next day classical. In person guitar teachers don’t always have the ability to change their syllabi at short notice, which can be constraining if you like to play different styles.

Famous Instructors

When learning on mobile apps, you’ll often have access to lessons from some of the world’s best guitarists, in many cases without any additional cost. A 1:1 lesson with Carlos Santana would likely cost thousands for a short session (if you were even able to arrange it!), but with an app you can learn from legendary players whenever you want. 

Affordable Pricing Structures

Mobile apps tend to offer multiple payment options, including one time payment, monthly subscriptions, or annually recurring subscriptions. In any case, you’re unlikely to pay more than $250 for an entire year of lessons.

In person lessons on the other hand cost around $15-25 for a half hour session on average. So even best case scenario, you’d get around 16 lessons at $15 for the same price as a whole year of app based instruction.

Fun and Engaging

With today’s gamification and AI feedback technology, learning on an app can be just as rewarding as learning from an in person instructor. Many of the apps offer Guitar Hero style gameplay, and some require that you attain a certain score before being allowed to progress. This can motivate you to put more thought into your lessons in order to pass to the next song. Many apps also have leaderboards in which you can compare your performance to your friends, and other users from around the world.

In some cases, there are even prize draws for learners who complete streaks, or top leaderboards, providing even more incentive to do well.


Final Thoughts on the Best Apps to Learn Guitar

Nearly all of these apps have some commonalities, but at the same time, they all have some features that set them apart from their competition. Most of them offer free trials, so if you haven’t quite made up your mind yet, it’s always worth signing up for the sample lessons to see if you gel with the platform.

Simon Morgan

Simon is an Orlando based musician, but originally hails from Newcastle, England. He started playing bass and guitar in 1998, and and played the local scene throughout his teen years before life got in the way. Favorite Genres: Blues, Classic Rock, and he’s not ashamed to admit - Emo

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