What is it?
Guitar Pro is a program designed to make reading and writing tab a lot easier. We’ve been using it to help us learn, rather than for writing tab, so we’ll concentrate on reviewing it as a learning tool.
So, as a learning tool, is it any good?
It’s great because instead of struggling with printouts or an ‘E-Z-play’ book, this program lets you see and hear the tune you’re trying to learn. Also, you can slow the song down without altering pitch, so you can slow the song down to half the speed and work your way up. You can view your tune being played on a fretboard, a keyboard or in standard notation.
The tab is divided into parts, so if you’re learning a rhythm part, for example, you can gradually turn down the volume on the midi for that part as you gain in confidence. Before you know it, you’ll be giving Hetfield a run for his money.
Where can you get Guitar Pro tab from?
There are a few sites offering tab in GP format. We tend to use My Songbook because it has thousands of songs available and is being updated all the time.
As a learning tool, does it work?
Sam can now play Enter Sandman and Seven Nation Army. Michael can now play riffs from Gay Bar, Theme From Peter Gunn, and Steve Vai’s For The Love of God. A year ago, neither of us could play much at all.
As a composition tool – an expert writes
Michael Brandenburg, better known as Beatallica‘s Krk Hammettson, gave me his 10 cents on Guitar Pro:
“I’ve used Guitar Pro since about 1999, and have seen it evolve tremendously. For a guitarist, especially one who has grown up on tab as well as standard notation, the program is a pretty smooth ride. Easy to learn, and you don’t hafta go through fifteen steps to get one freakin’ note on the screen (sorry – that’s what learning Finale was like for me). It works kinda like a guitarist’s version of Microsoft Word. You choose your string, select the note duration, type in the fret, and repeat about 80 billion times. My only major pet peeve is when I need to type in chord rhythms…you hafta type in the whole chord over and over again in the measure, whereas on the other program I use, Tabledit, you can copy even a single 64th note chord and paste until the cows come home with bleeding ears. Other than that, though, it’s pretty killer. Almost every little guitar trick can be at least represented in the notation, if not actually playerd by the midi instruments. I’m talking about a full range of custom controlled note bending, hammer-ons, pull-offs, two-hand tapping, whammy bar tricks, variable speed upstrokes and downstrokes (wow, to a non-guitarist, this all must sound kinky), palm muting, grace notes, dead notes, natural and artificial harmonics, vibrato and tremolo, etc…and for bassists there are pops and slaps. You can set up your instruments from four to seven strings, with tons of alternate tunings, as well as customize the tunings.
It’s the program I use primarily for composition, because you can choose from the full array of midi instruments (including a decent drum module…it doesn’t sound fantastic, but at least our drummer knows what to do and when to do it, if not the exact FEEL of HOW to do it). I’ve used it to score pieces for my Renaissance consort (lute, recorders, flutes, ducimers, etc.), Rock Theater orchestra, “Contemporary Classical Avant Garde Ensembles”, solo guitar, and full-on furious death metal/hardcore punk bands.
Highly recommended…and now if only they’d give an endorsement…”