5 Best Apps for Playing Guitar

As someone who learned how to play the guitar from an ancient, deteriorating songbook, I was eager to jump on apps that simplify the learning process. While nothing can beat face-to-face lessons or professional training, taking advantage of the technology of today is a fantastic way to improve your skills. Whether you just want to learn to play that new song you heard on the radio or are ready to record a song, these five apps are perfect for the guitar player at any stage in the learning process.

GuitarTuna - (Free)

GuitarTuna is ranked the world’s #1 tuner app by both Apple and Google. This app has been my go-to for almost a decade, and it has never disappointed me. It is easy to navigate with a simple user interface and is surprisingly accurate when it comes to tuning the strings. There are a multitude of tuning options, including Drop D, Drop A, and more. You can enable a metronome and adjust the tempo settings to stay on track while playing. The app also includes access to chords and lyrics for popular songs, but the best part is that it’s completely free!

Ultimate Guitar: Chords & Tabs - (Free or $9.99/month)

Ultimate Guitar has been a staple for amateur guitar learners since the early days of the internet. I remember printing off chord sheets from the website in high school in an attempt to learn a Taylor Swift song. But now, with the Ultimate Guitar app, I no longer have to print them out! The app makes saving your favorite tabs and chords super simple so that you can easily access them later. Additionally, the auto-scroll feature makes it easy to follow along while you’re playing. One of my favorite features is the ability to transpose the chords up and down so they suit whatever pitch you desire. While the free version of the app is an amazing staple for any guitarist, the paid subscription not only eliminates unwanted and annoying ads, but you also gain access to 1,500 courses that vary based on skill level.

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YouTube - (Free)

Without a doubt, the wealth of free, easily accessible, and comprehensive knowledge available on YouTube is a priceless commodity. You can learn how to play almost anything on the guitar via YouTube by simply searching for it. Some of my favorite creators are Lauren Bateman, Marty Music, Justin Guitar, and Guitar Lessons 365. You can find anything from very basic beginner’s content to advanced tutorials on some of the most famous guitar riffs of the last sixty years. If there’s any app that comes close to providing an in-person, face-to face learning experience for guitar players while also being completely free to use, YouTube is the one.

GarageBand - (Free)

When it comes to music-producing apps, GarageBand is by no means the best or the brightest. But the advantage of GarageBand is that it’s not very difficult to use. Someone with relative technological savvy and familiarity with Apple interfaces will not find this app’s learning curve too steep. If you’re looking to record your playing or you’re ready to produce a real song with added drums, synthesizers, and audio effects, you can easily do it in GarageBand while still having fun! So many music-producing apps are like pulling teeth to use or seemingly require years and years of practice and a university course to figure out. So, while GarageBand is not the go-to app for professional music producers, it’s an excellent app for those of us who want to produce a song and don’t want to pull teeth to do so. Plus, it comes free on most Apple devices!

Fender Play - ($19.99/month)

If you’re looking for an app tailored specifically to teaching people how to play the guitar, Fender Play is the one. With both comprehensive and bite-sized videos, the experienced instructors go into detail as they break down exactly how a particular song is played. The two-fold view of the fretboard from both the front and the top during instruction is extremely helpful when trying to figure out where your fingers are supposed to go. Another cool feature of this app is the Integrated Lesson Feedback, which is a listening technology that can assess your playing and provide helpful notes. The app also comes with built-in practice motivators like streaks and reminders that will help you build this hobby into a long term creative outlet. This app has so many cool features and hidden gems that make the steep price point worth it if you want something more attuned to learning guitar than YouTube.

One of the best parts of the internet is the access to tools, teachers, and information that help us to learn new skills without ever needing to leave the house. No more stockpiling of chord and songbooks or straining your ear to figure out the right chord to play. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, these apps have something to offer any guitarist who always has their phone close by.

Top image credit: Master1305 / Shutterstock.com

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Author Details

Rachel Needell's picture

Author Details

Rachel Needell

Rachel Needell is a Feature Writer at iPhone Life, and a poet and author. With 10-plus years of experience working with Apple devices, she specializes in all-things iPad and is a Notes App expert, having worked on both the 2023 iPad Guide and the Notes App Guide. You can usually find her writing in the Daily Tip newsletter as one of our senior Tip writers. Rachel received her Master’s degree in English Literature in 2021 and her most recent work appears in the Winter ’21 edition of New Note Poetry. When she’s not obsessing about Apple products, you can find her voraciously reading fantasy books with her cat in Asheville, North Carolina.