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, Mandolin, Ukulele, Violin or fiddle, Viola, and Cello apps that cropped-up when looking for something else. These are listed in order of price, cheapest first. Then ideas for where to buy instruments secondhand linked so you can click-through for each instrument. Most of the other links are suggested rather than linked, because the precise links change too quickly, but they give an idea. A P2P site that works for instrument hire and a cashback site for ebay Musicroom, Instruments4Music & Bax-shop are the only links that help pay for this site. There is no temptation to leave-out cheap or free software just because it provides no paid link.
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 from nchsoftware.com/practice/index.html
Instant feedback on a moving stave; a score and MP3 recording at the end of the practice, variable speed.
No moving fingering diagrams.
Tools > Options > Instrument > Concert Pitch and Octave Difference ...
...allows you to adapt for "any tonal instrument, including transposing instruments such as clarinets and trumpets".
The Crescendo program is bundled with the same 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, for wind strings and voice, has an editor for a similar purpose. Crescendo can also be used for typing music, and is free for personal use. NCH software hopes you try some of their freemium music software as well as Play Perfect.
PositiveGrid.com/sparkapp free - but just a chord extractor at the moment so skip-down to the next one
There's more about Positive Grid further down the page because it looks an interesting project.
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.
Yalp is the only one to mention drums.
Take7music.com for cello / recorder /flute / trombone / clarinet / saxophone / trumpet / violin / timing /technical skills. Freemium with a free app and some free music to get you hooked into paying for more.
For Mac PC and IOS tablets, but not android and IOS smartphones.
There is no way of importing music from other sources than the Take7music shop; music you play-in yourself might be allowed in future editions.
The app records as you rehearse and then plays-back with assessment (rather like the Xtractor 5 version of Gigajamonline.com for drums keyboard and bass).
The home market is UK school pupils and music examples include Associated Board set pieces.
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
Shows a stave with a moving cursor, and an instrument diagram at the bottom of the screen.
My drum version showed nothing about my playing on the Karaoke score 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 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.
Emedia have built-up their range of music practice software since 1994 and sold Guitar Method online since 2000, expanding their range and the technology very gradually. You may have met someone who used a previous version of an Emedia course.
The company have their own promotional video, last changed seven years ago in 2014:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0VmXiwZ8uTk . There's a discount code under the video. A relic of pre-internet days is that they have distributors in each country and shops in the UK can still order a hard copy of one or two "for dummies" titles, although it's easier to download and see the full range. In the USA, hard copies of old courses are cheap on ebay but current versions might be better value if they give more feedback.
It's hard to tell...
- Whether you can turn-off the singing when you play one of their exercise songs, like "candle in the wind" for the 50th time.
There might be other differences like this which I haven't discovered, such as whether a song can be slowed-down and whether the difficult bits can be rehearsed as a loop.
- Whether the software can judge your pitch on a scale of 1-5, on songs that have an "ear" symbol
It is clear that you're stuck with the songs that come with the course; you can't import any. I asked.
- "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."
Emedia offer more than one software title and price per instrument, so you have to guess
- Whether the cheaper software has fewer exercises, which seems the most likely.
- Whether the cheaper software has less interesting exercises, such as nursery rhymes instead of Elton John, or the other way around.
Toptenreviews writes that fretboard software does not give instant feedback. Another review site says the guitar software includes a teacher singing over each track, which can't be turned-off.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/eMedia-Piano-Keyboard-Method-Mac/product-reviews/B003NVHWO0 lists keyboard software reviews. It had trouble with Windows 10. It has "Candle in the Wind" as an exercise. It's very robotic. Reviews on the guitar and fretboard page here overlap with this keyboard page.
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.
A note on one of the half-price "for dummies" editions explains that it is "approximately equal" to half a Guitar Method edition, so maybe all the dummies editions are half length. Or maybe they cut costs in other ways. It's hard to know without a lot of nit-picking through the website or maybe asking. Despite the confusing range, there is a very quick response to emails from prospective customers.
School licences available. Their home market is the USA.
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
Microphone feedback on your play-alongs to included lessons.
You can also buy licences for guitar, bass, ukulele and voice.
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.
Uberchord.com freemium - some features cost about $15 monthly or $90 yearly. IOS only
For IOS only. "Daily Workout, Chord Finder, Beginner Course 1 and two ... song courses" are free; subscription lets you use more material
It claims to recognise any chord, and has built-in reminders to practice and stats on progress if you want to use them
Fretzealot.com $199 once
Some people put stickers on their fretboard. This is a set of LED stickers that light-up where you should press for a range of songs. There's also an app that goes with the hardware for IOS and Android.
About the same price pays for Jamstik.com made in the USA , with teaching aids on an IOS app or on their web site. The cost is for the guitar, which can be an expensive midi guitar or an expensive practice guitar too short for much else. For the moment, in 2021, there aren't enough second-hand ones on the market to bring prices down towards the prices of practice aids.
Roadiemusic.com Roadie Coach $199 once + $10 monthly guitar / acoustic or electric / ukulele / voice
$199 Hardware midi controller and sound recorder to clip onto a guitar, linkable to the $10 monthly Roadie Coach training app among other things. There may still be cheaper pre-orders on Kickstarter. The coach app has a large stock of pre-installed pieces of music to demonstrate with lyrics next to cord names, plus chord fingering diagrams. It monitors your playing. The firm also makes motorised automatic tuners that you hold over a geared tuning key on a stringed instrument - different models cover bass, guitar, or anything but bass.
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 (who have an app that doesn't give feedback) 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 called Music in Sequence and Classics in Sequence, and a cheap booklet about rehearsing, all from Musonix Publishing.
Fretello.com £15 monthly
For IOS and Android. Prices are in the app; £14.99 came from a UK-based review. It does sometimes show discount codes around sale times.
https://www.tapsmart.com/apps/review-fretello-lead-smart-practice-guitar/ is a 2016 review by someone who says that this isn't interactive; Fretello.com in 2021 reads "we correct as you play so you advance". There is a free trial period so you can find out which is true.
The web site shows no prices but does show the large number of songs available, classed in bands of difficulty. Youtube videos boast of their expert exercises to tell you "what you need to know, why you need to know it, and how to make it stick". The review says that these are mainly scales, but there are some "jam session" exercises which are more fun; you can also change the speed.
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.
Mymusicteacher.fr $19.80 monthly or $120 a year:
Reviews on apple play say that this doesn't work yet on their phones; it can't recognise sounds quickly or well.
Not yet Available
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 in early 2022. 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.
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; the same problem applies to guitar.
drumming | fretboards and stings | keyboards | singing | blowing ... are other pages in the same series
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.
One post on Reddit says that 5-button guitars use very different skills and muscles to string guitars; one is no help when learning the other.
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.on
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.
Renting a string instrument in the UK
Fat Lama lets you try to rent-out your stuff or hire from someone willing to put their stuff on the site, which pays for new introductions. There might be someone near you renting-out already, although business is very slow. In England, Music Hubs can advise by email on any ways of hiring locally and are encouraged to do it themselves, although they mainly rent classical instruments to schools. Some music shops rent as a sideline.
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. On the other hand you can play electric guitars into headphones.
If buying, the charity shop browsing habit can help. Cash Converters online sometimes has lower prices than Ebay as well.
Ebay gives about 1% cashback via a cashback site that also works on Music Room, Bax-Shop and Tiger
For those who have never bought on ebay, it's good for finding private sellers willing to post. That makes it worse for sorting adverts, because they vary more."Distance | nearest first" is good if someone local allows you to collect, rather than pay postage. "Price + Postage | lowest first" is the main one to use. (Amazon has something similar, rather hidden, as an alternative to "featured"). The lowest prices are often for things you're not looking for, like an instrument case when you're looking for an instrument. It may help to search only for used instruments, and try to include some similar search options like "reconditioned", just to make the search more accurate. There is no obvious way to rule out ads like "buyer collects: Rockall (300 miles)", which are also cheap. You can opt to search only for "buy it now" prices, rather than look at the items that are cheap because the auction hasn't reached the end yet. Another way of treating auctions is to look-up what similar instruments went for under the "sold" category, decide the maximum you want to pay, and set a maximum bid for that amount. Sites like Auctionstealer, called Sniping sites, set your maximum bid independently of ebay, and reveal it only in the last ten seconds of the auction. That saves you bidding against people who keep bidding till your maximum bid is reached; your bid comes as a "snipe" or surprise. Oh and there is the cashback site that gives you about 1% cashback on most types of purchase if you click-through from them to ebay before purchasing.
- Musical Instruments & DJ Equipment > String > Orchestral
- Musical Instruments & DJ Equipment > String > Folk and World
- Musical Instruments & DJ Equipment > String > Other String Instruments
... has directories for /electric-guitar /semi-acoustic-guitar /acoustic-guitar /bass-guitar /violin /banjo /ukulele /cello /mandolin /harp
Music shops that sell secondhand near you, charity shops, and pawnbrokers are hard to link-to from here, but there is a way to link to some local classified ads.
https://www.for-sale.co.uk/ tries to search ebay amazon preloved gumtree shpock and sometimes reverb. You can log-on and tell it where you live to sort by distance or search UK-wide in case sellers will post (usually not). Another idea is to add the word "classifieds" to a search on a search engine, which doesn't search by distance but gives some ideas about where to look. There are odd basic web sites for buying and selling instruments free, and one very highly developed one from the US which is hard to sell on but easier to buy from.
Reverb is much more expensive but easy to link to;
https://reverb.com/uk/ shows guitars, top left
https://reverb.com/uk/c/band-and-orchestra/string includes violins violas cellos harps
https://reverb.com/uk/c/folk-instruments/ for Ukuleles(5,460) Harmonicas(3,288) Accordions(2,388) Banjos(670) Mandolins(643) Ouds(298) Sitars(98) Harmoniums(44) Shrutis(13) Bajo Quintos(12) Guitarrones(8) Vihuelas(4) Bajo Sextos(2). I don't know what a lot of these are.
As with any instrument, you can see a low price for the cheapest version delivered new on a site like Gear4Music or Musicroom. Something secondhand might sound better, be easier to fix, and of course buying it reduces carbon emissions, helps people who want to sell musical instruments, and doesn't help the aims of the ruling party in China, which makes it sound better still.
Schools and music hubs in the UK that buy several instruments at once have some different choices and a separate page. It's not based on first hand experience but might prompt some ideas.
Upmarket, there are is a 0% interest scheme called "take it away" at some music shops for parents of school children; the scheme has a web site that can help your find your nearest music shop that takes part. A search for specialised charitable trusts to fund musical instruments will find some lists. Options vary by postcode, the age of the applicant, type of instrument, and time of year - some of them meet quarterly and will not fund past purchases. A typical aim would be to help students of classical music performance get instruments to use at a specialised music college. This is not something to encourage without a warning. There is not much money nor courting potential in playing classical music, even if you get a rare job in an orchestra. Not even if people hang-around the school gates trying to lure you into the world of Associated Board music exams and careers in orchestras. There is a lot of hobby potential, even alone. Edward Heath used to play the piano to himself to relax in his flat after a day being Prime Minister.
Upmarket buyers might glance at Snapdragon guitars are made in the UK for travel and of course postage to buyers. They sometimes turn-up second hand. Rotosound.com stings are 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.
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 https://musonix.co.uk/the-music-history-handbook-978-0951721469 . It is not yet available via book wholesale and retail: you can only get it here online. It is in a different style than this web site - much more expert and neutral, with original research and explanations, as well as links to videos of most of the pieces described, so you can listen to the pieces and read about them.
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.