Do you dream of becoming a rock star, plying your virtuosic guitar skills into fame and fortune? Before that happens you need some practice, and luckily there is no shortage of Android apps that can help. From getting tuned up and in time to shredding through scales, here are the apps that should be in every guitar players toolkit, from pro to hobbyist.
Tuning your instrument should be an easy and straightforward task, and iStroboSoft provides such functionality in spades with several visual indicators of intonation. The primary feedback comes from the app’s strobe visualizer, which pulses based on how close a particular string or note is to its mark. This alone makes iStroboSoft one of the better tuner apps out there, but it goes beyond the call of duty with several more features, including the ability to change keys, a noise filter (for better accuracy when in noisy environs), and an input boost. It comes at a cost though. iStroboSoft is easily one of the priciest tuner apps available at $9.99.
DaTuner is another excellent choice when it comes to getting your guitar up to pitch. The free version provides an accurate, easy-to-read display of a strings current pitch in relation to the note you are going for. You can even “lock on” to a note to make tuning up even easier should the current pitch be outside of the ideal range. A paid version of the app ($2.93) offers transposition, a strobe display, and built-in pitch pipe.
Ultimate Guitar is the web’s go-to repository of guitar tabs for hundreds of thousands of popular tunes, classics, and standards. Ultimate Guitar Tabs & Chords brings those tabs (and a bountiful library of chord charts) to your mobile device, adding in features you won’t find on the web version. Many tabs include playback functionality so you can hear how a song is supposed to sound then slow it down and pick it out one note at a time. Tabs can be saved for offline viewing or you can share and export via email or Dropbox. These features would be well worth the $2.99 price tag, but Ultimate Guitar went ahead and threw in a basic tuner and metronome to make this app an essential part of any guitarists tool kit.
If you run across an unknown chord in a chart, you’ll be glad you have the aptly-named Chord! reference app. On the surface, Chord! is a simple tool for figuring out how to finger a specific chord at any position on the neck. Digging deeper, the app is a robust tool that relies on computation and analysis rather than a simple database to help users learn the concepts and theories behind chord composition. Chord! also offers an array of scales for practice to further enhance understanding of music theory. The free version is limited five scales and eight tunings, but a paid version ($3.99) opens up custom tunings and reverse chord and scale search.
For the new player, it’s great to have a knowledgeable instructor to help you along. Unfortunately, paying a guitar teacher isn’t always in the budget. Then there is Jamstar, a free instructional app that not only provides over 100 free lessons that will have you playing songs from popular artists like The Beatles, Foo Fighters, and more, but it actually listens as you play and provides real time feedback. Jamstar offers chords, scales, and even a tuner to help you on your path to becoming a guitar hero.
Gibson Learn and Master Guitar is an all-in-one app for the budding guitarist. It has the bases covered with a chromatic tuner, metronome, chord charts, and a selection of lessons from one of the best-known names in the guitar biz. This free set of tools will get you rocking in no time.
One of the most fun and enriching experiences a guitar player can have is to jam with a band. That’s not always an option for those of us with limited time, practice space, and musician friends of the same skill level. Guitar Jam Tracks remedies this by providing a bluesy backing track to practice your leads over. The paid version ($4.99) offers additional backing tracks in other styles including jazz, rock, and reggae.
If pre-made backing tracks don’t suit your particular musical tastes, PocketBand is the perfect application for whipping up your own original tunes to jam along with. Combining a drum machine, programmable synthesizer, and sound recorder, you can easily plot out a backbeat and rhythm track to jam along with. PocketBand Pro adds more sound options, recording space, and enhanced looping capabilities, making the app an equally useful tool for the aspiring songwriter.
Time Guru is your standard metronome and it isn’t. While it provides a steady tempo-adjustable beat for instrumentalists to play along with, it also offers the unique ability to mute individual tempo clicks randomly or as part of a preset pattern. The result is a metronome that keeps time but also challenges users to develop their own internal sense of rhythm in order to keep the beat steady when the clicks drop out. A good metronome is a tool any guitar player should not be without, and this just might be the best.
Mobile Metronome provides players with an advanced set of tools to aid in the study and mastery of tempo. Fully adjustable and featuring several time signature selections and variable beats, Mobile Metronome is perfect for practicing complex rhythms while keeping in time.
Android apps for recording guitar and other instruments
Android devices are capable of some pretty amazing things, and the includes operating as a digital audio workstation (DAW) thanks to Audio Evolution Mobile. This complete multitrack audio recording solution offers many features (MIDI sequencing, virtual instruments) you might only expect from expensive, desktop-based software packages at only a fraction of the price ($7.85). This is the perfect app for the songwriter on the go looking to capture that moment of inspiration before it’s gone forever.
For the guitarist looking for a more straightforward and simple approach to recording a few licks or even a whole tune, TapeMachine is a great option. This light-on-its-feet recording interface lets users quickly record a take before manipulating with helpful postproduction tools like time stretch, loops, and fades.
Android apps for adding effects and shaping your guitar tone
Unlike iOS, there is a shortage of sound manipulation, effects, and amp modeling apps for Android. Of the few options, the best is perhaps usbEffects, an app that lets users plug into their phones via a guitar-to-USB cable. The app features a handful of popular stombox effects including delay, reverb, distortion, a flanger, wah wah, and looper, to name a few. Each effect is individually configurable and can be chained together along with a basic amp simulator to produce some very interesting tones. USB audio isn’t perfect with every Android device, so it is recommended you try the free version before investing $4.99 in the more feature-laden Pro edition.
With these apps you should be just about covered when it comes to the essentials, and you’ll even save some money over buying expensive hardware tuners, stompboxes, recording gear, and other accessories. Have any of your own favorite apps for guitarists or other musicians alike? Feel free to share them in the comments below.