16 September 2009

3 Guitar Music Notation Tools

Handwritten guitar music notation is not always as easy to read as it could be. And those sheets of paper you scribbled on during lessons with your guitar teacher are easily misplaced.

When you try to note the exercises and music you play so you can remember them in a few days time you'll find that a computer is a big help. Here are three inexpensive music notation tools that you could use to write and organize music as you learn to play guitar.

Power Tab

The starting point for many guitar players will probably be Power Tab, a free application that allows you to enter and print music in tab and standard music notation. Power Tab allows you to enter notes on a tab staff and specify their durations which are displayed in standard notation. You can quite easily create and print professional looking music for your guitar.

Power Tab can also play the music you entered on your computer while it highlights the notes as they are played. It's a bit like a karaoke for guitar and it's a useful learning tool to help you follow and play the tab in time.

You can also find quite a lot of music in Power Tab format on the Net. The format gives you much better information on rhythm and note durations than ASCII tab provides.

Guitar Pro

While you will probably find Power Tab sufficient for many purposes it does have a few limitations and quirks and being free, doesn't evolve much. If you want something a little easier to use and more powerful then it is well worth forking out US $60 or so for Guitar Pro (you can try a free trial version before deciding).

Guitar Pro is a very complete tab editor and playback tool that offers all the features of Power Tab plus a few more and is friendlier to use to boot, for example you can enter music with an on screen guitar fretboard or from your instrument via MIDI. Note that Guitar Pro can read and edit all your Power Tab files, but the reverse is not true.

Apart from ease of use the main advantage Guitar Pro offers is better sound quality and easier control of playback. It has a useful looper feature to repeat a selected passage at slowly increasing speed to help you learn it. Guitar Pro is also good at handling multiple tracks and instruments, useful if you want to create rhythm and lead parts or arrange your music with bass, drums or other instruments.

Finally, it's worth noting that you can find many guitar parts tabbed in Guitar Pro format on the Net.


Forte is a music notation tool that provides a neat and simple interface for editing standard music notation. It is not specifically designed for guitarists but the light version (US $60) handles guitar and bass tablature input.

There is a free version that you can try, unfortunately this version doesn't support guitar tab so you can't evaluate that before you buy a paid version. If you work with standard notation rather than tab though then Forte's free version could be just right for you.

Do you have any other favourite guitar music notation tools I didn't include in this list? Why not tell us about them in a comment?


Guitar article writing: Gary Fletcher writes quality, original guitar content for your web sites. Discover guitar writing services for guitar web sites, blogs and newsletters. Visit http://www.writescribe.com/guitar to learn more.

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Pete Banks said...

Try this too http://tuxguitar.herac.com.ar/

Gary Fletcher said...

Hi Pete, thanks for the tip, looks good.

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