Guitar Guru is a free software program from Music Notes that allows you to learn and play your favourite guitar songs without reading music or tab. It's animated fretboard shows you the notes to finger and makes it easy to follow along and learn how to play new songs. I recently tried out Guitar Guru and here is my review of the software.
What Is Guitar Guru?
Music Notes is a web site that sells sheet music for over 110,000 song titles to download and print. Guitar players can now also learn songs with no sheet music or tab to read thanks to the Guitar Guru interactive music player.
Guitar Guru uses an animated guitar fretboard to show you the notes to fret and chords to pick on your PC or Mac screen. The software took just a few moments to download from the web site and installed without any problems on my Windows Vista PC.
Guitar Guru Song Playback
Guitar Guru presents you with a picture of a fretboard and displays the notes to play on it as coloured dots. The coloured dots are animated in real time as the track you choose is played via MIDI or in synch with the CD or mp3 of the song.
The animated dots are clear and easy to see as the song plays, and the software also displays the chord names near the top of the screen. You can customize the display of the neck by altering its size or changing the picture. By default mine had a Les Paul style fingerboard displayed but you can also download skins for Stratocaster and acoustic style necks.
Each song can contain several tracks – one for each guitar part. Each track is broken down into sections like verse 1, chorus 1, verse 2, intro, etc. You can play each section on its own to work through the songs in small chunks. You can also position a start and end cursor anywhere in the song to choose specific sections to work on.
Guitar Guru includes a few useful features besides showing the fingerings to help you to learn songs.
- You can change the tempo of any track without modifying the pitch. This makes it easy to slow down tricky passages or simply take it slowly as you learn and memorize the parts.
- You can play any section of the music in a loop by placing a start and end cursor on the track’s timeline.
- You can view the sheet music and tab while Guitar Guru plays the tracks. The notes are highlighted in colour as they are played and you can select which instruments or instrument are played.
I found Guitar Guru to be a very easy to use program and it made learning songs much easier and quicker than working with tab files. Another good point is that the music you download is all legal.
There is one small thing that could make Guitar Guru even better, the possibility to transpose the songs to another key, but this doesn’t seem possible at the moment.
If you want to try Guitar Guru for yourself you can download it from the Music Notes web site for free. The software download includes 40 free samples that you can use to get a feel for what it could do for you. There are many titles available in Guitar Guru format, here are the top 5 downloads at the time of writing:
- Stairway to Heaven, Led Zeppelin
- Wish You Were Here, Pink Floyd
- Sweet Home Alabama, Lynyrd Skynyrd
- Hotel California, The Eagles
- Hallelujah, Jeff Buckley