Fretboard string and guitar practice software
Guitar & strings practice software that gives you feedback on your playing as you learn
Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Bass Guitar, Violin or fiddle, Viola, Cello are each taught by one of the apps on this page that claims to give instant feedback on practice. The apps are not chosen by a string player or a music teacher or the book authors on this site; they just cropped-up while the web site author was looking for drumming apps.
PositiveGrid.com/sparkapp free - but just a chord extractor at the moment so skip-down to the next one
PostitiveGrid.com/sparkapp - named after the spark practice amp from the same firm, for IOS tablets and online. This is a "pre release beta version". It's described as combining a chord extractor with practice aids, so you can record a piece of music, break it down into chords, practice it, and get instant feedback to tell you if you have hit the right note. Another app from the same firm can slow-down a piece of music for easier practice. The idea is that you can get good at what interests you, before going on to study more if you want, which is a good thing and one reason why I type this stuff onto a web page. You could learn how to play like bands that play in pubs near you, or from Youtube sound-tracks of bands you like, or something surprising. This is a great idea but doesn't work yet so skip to the ones below to see what's available in 2021. Meanwhile I am on the same scent, trying to work-out how to get percussion midi tracks from recordings of pub bands in London at venues like the ones on Stickyfloors.net near me in London.
The online version on https://spark.positivegrid.com/home can extract chords from youtube videos that it already knows, shown in-time with the music as guitar tab. It doesn't do anything else.
Similar chord extractor apps get better all the time: Chordata - shows a pattern in real time but not exact chords - Chordana viewer from Casio - Chord tracker app from Yamaha on Ios and Mac - Getharmony.net free online beta version extracts chords from youtube videos - Chordu.com chords from an online collection - Chordify.net/premium for uploaded mp3 tracks or chords from its collection with some free services - Yalp.io/pricing chords from its collection or uploaded MP3 files with some free features and Chordai.net.
None of these does drums.
Play Perfect: Music Practice Software FREE with other trial software such as Crescendo music typography. For guitar/ piano / violin / cello / bass / flute / clarinet / saxophone / trumpet / trombone - no songs included or ready to import
for windows 64 bit, XP to Windows 10
There are no special exercises for particular instruments or alternatives to the stave diagram; you can't see what buttons to press on wind instruments or where to press a keyboard or fretboard.
Tools > Options > Instrument > Concert Pitch and Octave Difference ...
...allows you to adapt for "any tonal instrument, including transposing instruments such as clarinets and trumpets".
A program called Crescendo is bundled with the download, and you can use it to import midi files.“ For best results, try to select music with one instrumental part.” … “maximum two staves”. If you can find midi 1-stave or 2-stave files, open in Crescendo then save in its own format, then open in Practice. I know next to nothing about editing music files but Songs2see, below, has an editor for a similar purpose.
Free to compare one or two staves that it makes from a midi file with your playing, that it hears through a microphone.
This is free but the firm hopes you will download test versions of some other products for music typesetting and suchlike; you can opt-out and they don't mention money or card details: you can use the bundled programs for free as well at least at first and if it's not commeeadyrcial.
Songs2see.com/en/ for Saxophone / Clarinet / Piano/ Guitar / Ukulele/ Mandolin / Trumpet / Recorder / Viola / Voice @ €39.90 ONCE
The price is €14.90 if you don't buy the editor functions that can import and tidy-up music XML scores to practice on your own choice of music. 60 exercises included. The editor can be bought separately for €29.90. If you wait long enough, there might be a discount code on the order page.
Correct notes are highlighted in green on a karaoke stave, with "super" written at the top
Fingering is shown in diagrams for each instrument as you play
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpdF8RdTVDpgF9SCXmpGpfQ - the songs2see video channel - shows some detail.
For Windows 10
PurelyMusic.com: Purely Guitar / Bass / Acoustic Guitar / Viola / Violin / Cello / Fiddle / Ukulele / Piano / Drums / Busouki / Lute / Mandolin @ £40 ONCE per instrument or £4 monthly with regular reductions
My drum version showed nothing about my playing on the Karaoke screen as I played, or on the notes at the end which track about how long you have practiced each lesson. The only feedback was the built-in tuner.
If you watch the firm's videos like this one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srCfsHwe7iI, it shows a cursor moving jerkily along the stave, which is hard to follow. So don't buy this without trying the trial first: trial versions available on app stores and CNET for Windows desktop.
For Windows, including old versions, Mac, IOS, Android, Kindle Fire. Discount vouchers sometimes show on the order page. The desktop version can import XML3 music written for the one instrument, otherwise you have to use the 200 or so exercises included. Schools can pay £350 for up to 40 devices on one site. There are free test downloads with one exercise on App stores and CNET for Windows.
Requires Adobe Air, now at https://airsdk.harman.com/
Emediamusic.com Guitar Method or Intermediate Guitar Method or Bass Guitar or Rock Guitar / Voice / Violin / Ukulele / Piano - $60 x 3 ONCE x 3 or cheaper deals like $40 ONCE for Rock Guitar or the For Dummies series.
One of the guitar versions has a long youtube review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ULmA_ccmqM
Emedia have sold several microphone and screen guitar courses that give feedback, since they started in Seattle in 1994.
Their first website on Webarchive sold "Guitar Method". Decades later there are several spin-offs and editions, making it hard to tell what's included in what price.
"Guitar Method does not give you feedback while you play", says Toptenreviews; only after you stop.
"The teacher sings over the songs he plays, a feature that can’t be turned off (unfortunately)" says Learnmusiceasy.com in a detailed review:
Another piece of their guitar software - Masters of Rock Guitar - is an upgrade from the previous "emedia guitar songs", improved with "eMedia Interactive Feedback technology", which is shown by an Ear diagram on the screen and means that you get an assessment of pitch from one to five stars.
"Interactive Feedback on Your Playing: Interactive Feedback shows you when you play the correct notes on your guitar as you progress through a song. With a microphone connected to your computer and a guitar in your hands (or a patch cord connecting your guitar and computer), play the notes in the song on any screen featuring the “ear” icon in the upper right corner and the computer will highlight the notes for you in green. You’ll discover that reading tablature and music notation is easier than you ever thought possible!"
There's also more detailed performance evaluation at the end of the song:
"Listens through your computer’s microphone (or guitar’s patch cord) as you play along with the recording and highlights correctly played notes in melodic lines and solos. The notes are highlighted in green, yellow, or red depending on whether the correct note, a nearby note or a far off note was recognized. Also gives you an overall score."
So you have to do some homework to find out what features your piece of software has, and maybe use the moneyback guarantee if it was impossible to find-out before downloading. Even the problem of compulsory vocals seems to vary between software editions:
"Real Instrument Multi-Tracking: Zero in on the guitar-only tracks or turn off the guitar track and play along with the rest of the band. Bass-only, No Bass, and rhythm-only tracks are also included. Of course, you’ll also want to hear the full audio track in all its glory, complete with guitar, rhythm, and vocals. Professional studio recordings and authentic instrumentation mean that you’ll hear what sounds like the real thing."
Their promotional videos are on Youtube here, and give an idea:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKc9-GRia6Q for example , which has a discount code under the video, out of a set of videos on
Some courses are sold as beginner and advanced methods @ $60 each, while one for Rock Guitar and the "For Dummies" branded versions are about $30-40.
"Note: Guitar For Dummies Levels 1 and 2 together are approximately equal to the content found in eMedia Guitar Method.", it says. but there's no similar note to compare each title; Bass for Dummies doesn't have a note.
You'd need to do some detailed nit-picking on their web site to see which exercises you get for one price that you don't get for another, and whether you want to pay for the difference. You are stuck with thee exercises they provide:
""We do not yet have the feature where someone could import a MIDI or XML, although both of those are currently in development - do not have a release date" " All eMedia Products have a set course and course material.". The more expensive discs have more, while the cheaper ones have things like nursery rhymes, so you have to do some careful nit-picking through contents lists on the site to find out what's best value for you.
School licences available.
Guitar-pro.com 7.5 €69.95 once
The smartphone versions get bad reviews but PC and Mac versions look better. The program edits guitar tablature and imports songs from midi, xml, self-written tablature, and several sources that I don't understand. It implies that it offers instant or interactive feedback on playing, with a Karaoke stave, but you'd need to download the trial version to check. "Online music schools, private teachers and non-profit organizations/associations" should ask in case they get a discount, while "establishments" get it free with a discount code for pupils.
GIGAJAMONLINE.com Guitar / Bass / Drums / Keyboard @ £10 monthly or £140 ONCE for all instruments with occasional offers
Xtractor 5 software can show you feedback at the end of a song in quite a detailed way and the next version might give instant feedback as you play the thirty exercises, which include about two or three points each. The bundle that you buy includes a load of video introductions matched to lessons so you can learn an increasingly difficult set of skills in the easiest order and in several ways. Unusual features are getting more than one instrument on one licence, cheap exam grading up to grade 5 from London College of Musicl at University of West London, and a range of licences for schools and music hubs. There is a free version which just demonstrates the software as applied to one instrument. It's called "debut level". It also gets you on the mailing list for any annual price reductions that they do, which can be large or for free trials.
Yousician $10 monthly or $120 a year, 7 day trial
Joytunes.com's Simply Guitar / Piano @ $10 monthly or $120 yearly per instrument
for Ios and android. The piano app has its own domain - simplypiano.com.
The Gibson App $15 monthly or $90 yearly.
This can automatically tell you whether you hit the right note, and has a rather overwhelming range of other features too. For IOS and Android.
Apparently both Gibson and Fender hope that if more people learn to play guitars and see their brands, some of those people will buy Gibson of Fender guitars. They may also buy The Music History Handbook by Paul Terry, some vintage sequencing guides and a cheap booklet about rehearsing, all from Musonix Publishing.
Guitareo.com $19 monthly $97 a year or $300 ONCE ("lifetime")
There’s also one for singing called Singeo and a beta test called Recordeo. At sale time they've been known to add five "lesson packs" to the lifetime membership or sell them separately for $29 - $97 each. One of them is called "membership" at $97 and has no time limit, confusingly.
Defunct unless you know better (so please tell me!) Roland Guitar Friendjam for a list of Roland Midi Guitars. The Drumming page has more info on the drums version; same problem applies to guitar.
These were first-written as guitar-simulator games for Playstation & Xbox with 5-button toy guitars but some people make open source versions of the software and post videos about how to set some of them up for normal computers and normal electric instruments.
Clonehero.net FREE - open source - for people who are into computer games like Guitar Hero
Probably just for "game controllers" or 5-button guitars; there are pages listing which are compatible should you have one to hand.
There are youtube videos claiming to show how to connect real guitars, but it looks a lot of work for not much result.
Another youtube discusses connecting a midi drumkit but doesn't how how do it.
For Windows and other platforms, possibly adaptable to real guitars, but the information is written for enthusiasts who know most of it anyway and not worth the learning curve for the rest of us, given that you just get a play-along fretboard thing at the end of it all.
"Free to play 5 button music rhythm game"
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clone_Hero - background
Guitar Hero - paid - for people who are into computer games anyway
Nowadays for Xbox 360 with more options at the peak of the craze in the past.
Sells game lessons bit-by-bit so the price adds-up. Real instruments need to be set-up; by default it works with plastic button guitars and I don't know detail.
Rocksmith over £10 monthly
This began as a game but now promotes itself as a training aid with lessons and songs to practice for subscribers. Pricing is hard to find but on the high side - over £10 a month. There's new software to let you run Ubisoft games on Windows and Mac, with Android and IOS apps planned; presumably there are a lot of older editions for sale that work on Xbox or Playstation. A Wikipedia page says that only versions three and above can work with real electric guitars.
Buying a Guitar
If borrowing and lending are embarrassing, you could offer to rent via Fat Lama or there might be someone on it near you and renting-out already. Otherwise it pays members to attract other members, so both sides might make money on the first transaction.
In England, Music Hubs are encouraged to try and run an instrument hire service with means-tested discounts, and a few music shops do it as a sideline too.
Acoustic guitars with nylon strings are easier on the fingers when getting started, and often cheap in charity shops. The sound of failed practice attempts is not as bad as treble recorder or violin practice; it may even help someone else within ear-shot to know what sort of work is involved.
If buying, Cash Converters online sometimes has lower prices than Ebay; Cash Generator prices are more random and less likely to allow delivery. The charity shop browsing habit can help.
Ebay gives a very little cashback via a certain cashback site that also works on bax music shop, Musicroom, and others.
As with any instrument, you can see a low price for the cheapest version delivered new on a site like Gear4music. Something secondhand might sound better, be easier to fix, and of course buying it reduces carbon emissions, helps people who want to off-load musical instruments, and doesn't help the aims of the ruling party in China. That makes it sound better still.
Upmarket, Snapdragon guitars are made in the UK for travel and of course postage to buyers. They sometimes turn-up second hand. Rotosound.com stings seem to be made in the UK. That is about all I know about buying a guitar; for example I don't know which ones have softwood necks and whether those are more bendy and need more tuning. I know that a Roadie Guitar Tuners might be quicker than tuning by ear if you're trying to teach more than one guitarist at a time.
Buying guitar practice amplifiers
Old computer speakers with built-in amplifiers might be in the back of your drawer already or second hand for next to nothing. You could make a request on Trashnothing.com in case anyone near you has some spare.
Ebay.co.uk > Musical Instruments & DJ Equipment > Guitars and Bases > Guitar Amplifiers | price + postage lowest first (skip buyer collect prices miles away) ... has practice amps for under £15 but their designs look heavy, like the big stuff that roadies shove into a vans in the dark. Venues provide that stuff anyway.
My idea of a practice amp is for headphones, homes, jamming, or busking. It needs to feel good to carry the thing home on public transport after an unpaid trip to something that went badly. Bluetooth speakers on ebay look lighter but there's not much information.
As a guide for the UK, the plastic amp in Argos.co.uk called Rockjam is 4.2kg (9.27 lbs) with no mention of batteries, and might turn-up secondhand, 10w or 20w. Anything lighter is good. The cheapest ones on Gear4music start at 3.7kg (8.2lbs), again without batteries. Technically-minded people can add battery power at 1.2v per re-chargeable battery which adds more weight. Slightly more expensive amplifiers on Gear4music skip mention of weight altogether which is a bad sign. Upmarket, https://www.toob.fi/ are open to offers for 4kg speakers made in a good place. They hope for offers towards €400 but search their web site for things like offers for people who will fit their own speakers.
This isn't important for a learner's guide, but the odd Marshall amplifier is still made in made in the UK "All the vintage reissue amps
Studio series, JVM, Handwired Amps"
Angel and Curve's Carboncam headphones are made in Birmingham and more affordable on Ebay (Sennheiser are assembled in China). An ideal guide would list things made in democratic welfare states with good human rights records, but that's a hard list to put together. Nice things sound better though.
It would be good to get equipment labelled by the human rights, democracy and welfare standards of the country it's made in; some of it is still made in Taiwan and Japan for example, and that makes it sound nicer. Buying secondhand has the same effect with luck.
The Music History Handbook is available online from Musonix.co.uk/the-music-history-handbook-978-0951721469 . It is not yet available via book wholesale and retaile: you can only get it online.
Software and apps don't help you play or jam or rehearse with other people, a band or "ensemble"as some people call it. A piece of UK legislation in the 1990s (if I have got this right) suggested that pupils should learn to "rehearse direct and play" in an "ensemble", but didn't say where the teaching money would come from! This booklet was printed and re-printed as a cheap pocket guide to read when you are on a bus to a rehearsal and unable to read your tablet or smartphone. It uses a technology called print on paper, but is still only £3.50+ postage: cheaper than a lot of apps.