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Our Favourite Guitar Lesson Apps

Our Favourite Guitar Lesson Apps

1. Uberchord

The key feature of Uberchord that sets it apart from the rest, is its advanced chord recognition abilities. Focusing on chords first is a great way for beginner players to get up and running playing songs. The real-time feedback will let you know what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong as you play.

Uberchord's song library is a hefty one, as they struck a licensing deal with Universal music in 2016. This means a large and varied catalog of fully licensed tracks to play along with!

A great addition to this is Uberchord's "strumming trainer", which acts as a unique method of making sure your strumming chops are falling where they should while you chord it out. Its visualizations are handy, and very easy to follow.

The app is free to download and try out, and a subscription will run you about $10/month.


2. Fender Play

Fender Play is an online video-lessons app. You can sign up for a 30 day free trial, after which you'll pay about $10/month, and you get 10% off Fender gear if you join. Fender Play is a bit more in-depth, and feels a little more like taking lessons from a real teacher. It's a lot like the other online guitar lesson platforms, and it's pretty simple - you learn by watching video lessons, organized into an easy to follow system. To get started you pick what instrument you want to learn (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass, or ukulele). Then you will pick what genre/style you want to focus on (folk, rock, blues, country, and pop). After you have made your choices, a lesson plan called "My Path" is created for you. From here, everything is quite simple - you navigate through your timeline, finishing the lessons laid out for you in your lesson plan.

The majority of the lessons teach overall playing concepts, and every once in a while they give you a song to put those concepts into practice. Your goal is to finish five levels of increasing difficulty. Each lesson is pretty short, mostly under 5 minutes. There is a "Skills" section, and there you will be able to find a variety of more advanced content.


3. Youcisian

The makers of Youcisian are also the makers of the extremely popular tuner app Guitar Tuna. Yousician are best known for their piano lessons, but in 2014 they also released the guitar learning section to their app. The app offers a 14 day free trial, after which you'll pay about $20/month to keep using it.

Yousician is a very fun way to learn, as it uses a "gamified" approach to the guitar.  It does this by picking up the notes you are playing through your phone's microphone, or via a direct USB connection. If you are a complete beginner, or if you're someone who just doesn't connect with lessons via video, you'll likely find that it's a very enjoyable way to learn, perhaps even addictive. We tried it both acoustically, and connected via USB, and it performed pretty well both ways. The iPhone's mic does a good job capturing the notes we played, but could be messed up by background noise, and the USB connection seemed rock-solid. Yousician is a good way to improve your timing and accuracy, as to score points and get through the exercises/songs, you need to pick all the right notes at the right times. It feels a lot like playing the Guitar Hero or Rock Band games, but with a real guitar instead of a little toy controller. A virtual fretboard is shown on screen, which moves along while a backing track is played, and the app tells you which notes to play. The notes turn green when you hit them and turn red when you miss. If you find exercise too challenging at full speed, you can try it in "Practice Mode" where it lets you slow things down and start over as many times as you need until you are ready to try it at full speed again. When you pass a level, you're awarded stars for accuracy and points. All of the content is organized into a plan, and it contains paths which go from Level 0 to Level 10. 

Every module has exercises, some of which are just videos you watch, but mostly it's the video game-style play alongs. Outside of the Yousician's primary structure, the app does have additional sections you can explore. It takes a bit of poking around to find what will be useful for you, but we encourage you to do so. Overall we quite enjoyed this app, the challenge introduced by Youcisian's gamified approach is both fun and rewarding, particularly if for beginners, or for kids.

Finding Company in Backing Tracks

Finding Company in Backing Tracks

Technology brings the world to our fingertips like never before. Bringing our smartphone into our guitar technology sphere means unlocking many new sounds, abilities, tools, resources and conveniences. 

With all that’s going on in the world, we’ve lost the ability to play music with others quite like we used to - at least for now. One way we suggest beating the quarantine blues is to explore some of the great options for backing tracks you can play along to right off your phone.

Here are some of our suggestions for finding good backing tracks to play with, practice with, write with, or just let loose and improvise to…

Mega Backing Tracks.

MBT is a YouTube channel with almost 80k subscribers that specializes in “stylistic” backing tracks. That means you won’t find any covers or interpretations of popular songs themselves, but rather a plethora of tracks done in the certain genre styles, and most often in the classic style of particular artists. We had fun putting some of the track on shuffle and trying out some on the fly scales and improv to these, trying to suit the change in style from track to track really pushes on to branch out, and challenges to escape pattern playing and relying on the ‘same old tricks’. They also do a pretty good job at crafting songs that really do sound like they could be by that artist, and are fun to listen to.

Check out Mega Backing tracks here:

Free Guitar Backing Tracks” by Pop Music Workshop

Pop Music Workshop is an ‘artist’ on Spotify, but acts more like a ‘channel’. It features many varieties of backing tracks and karaoke covers, so many in fact that their ‘Free Guitar Backing Tracks’ series can easily get lost in the mix if you wading through all of their uploads. The link we’ve chosen to share here was volume 15 of this series(out of 19 so far), one of our favourites; it features backing tracks from song by Rush, Slayer, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Soundgarden and more. With these tracks you get no vocals, and the main guitar track of the classic tunes(with 2nd guitar overdubs thrown in for extra fun). These track let you jam along with the band, where you get to be THE main guitar player, which is a really cool feeling. The track are well done, and over the series of compilation albums they cover a great variety of genres, artists, and classic tracks. Just do yourself a favour and put “free guitar backing tracks” in your spotify search, and then choose “see all albums”. If you look directly at Pop Music Workshop’s profile, you’ll be scrolling thru pages and pages of karaoke songs looking for these guitar-centric tunes.

Check out Free Guitar Backing Tracks here:


Jamzone App

Jamzone is an app for your phone. Within it you can access their custom catalog of re-recorded versions of classic songs - a great tool for anyone on the ‘cover band’ scene. This may be a little more suited to working musicians for any large scale use - as every track you want will cost you a couple bucks - but we think that what you get out of that can be well worth it. Each song downloads the full stems(by instrument) for each song. So you can take the guitar out to play in its place, leave it in to play along with as a guide, or even solo it to isolate it, and pick it apart for learning purposes. You could take out just the drums for a more laid back acoustic feel of a song, or remove the vocals if you’re doing the singing as well. You get a screen of fader to create your custom mix of each song, which can be adjusted on the fly. Not ending there, Jamzone displays real time tab/chord changes, and lyrics and you can also adjust the tempo and key of each track. A very handy app we had a lot of fun with.

Check out Jamzone here:


“Guitar Backing Tracks” Spotify Playlist

This is a playlist curated by one Neil D Santos has one of the best followings for its category on Spotify, and we can see why - thanks for putting this together Neil, whoever you are - we salute you. Being a playlist, you’re getting a mix of different artists and styles that are here. Most of the tracks are stylistic in nature and the vast majority are labelled with their genre/style, tempo, and key. A great playlist to just let roll and play along with to work on rounding out your chops.

Check out Guitar Backing Tracks here:


“Ultimate Guitar” App

If you are into using guitar tabs on your mobile device, you’ve probably already made use of Ultimate Guitar. By far the leader for tab libraries, it’s worth noting that this app doesn’t end there. Many of their titles are also equipped with backing tracks. Some of these exist only as admittedly cheesy sounding midi versions, that may not hold up for live performances, but still serve well for practice and learning purposes - but a growing number of their tabs are also equipped with live recorded versions as well, and like the previously mentioned Jamzone app - both the midi and the live versions here are mixable base on the individual instruments in the song. If you’re new to UG, them we do suggest checking it out for these purposes as well as tabs, as we think they under-advertise this feature a tad.

Check out Ultimate Guitar here:

This short list highlights some of our favourite backing track resources, but it really is only the tip of the iceberg, as there are only more and more great tools emerging every day. We encourage you to try these, and keep exploring for more - and when you find some good ones, please let us know!

Happy shredding.


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