Learning to play guitar is much harder than it looks, but it’s also worth the effort. Learning an instrument is one of the most rewarding things you can do, but it’s tough to learn on your own without any outside help.
Thankfully, there are lots of free mobile apps you can use to learn to play guitar. These Android and iOS apps will help accelerate your learning and make you feel more confident with the guitar, even if you’re a complete beginner.
1. Real Guitar
Real Guitar is a guitar simulator. It can simulate both acoustic and electric guitars (perfect if you have an electro-acoustic guitar), and it works on both tablets and smartphones. It also supports multitouch, which is crucial for playing chords, but you’ll need a device with multitouch capabilities for that feature to work.
What’s even cooler is that it comes with track loops that you can play along to, plus a recording mode and the ability to export to MP3. This means you can actually come up with songs, play them with Real Guitar, and record them for later.
2. Perfect Ear
While Perfect Ear isn’t a guitar-specific app, it’s extremely useful for anyone who wants to learn to play guitar (or any other musical instrument for that matter). In short, it aims to develop two crucial skills that every musician must practice: rhythm and tone.
Perfect Ear comes with dozens of interval, scale, chord, and rhythm training exercises to help you get comfortable with and understand music. It also has trainers for sight-reading, absolute pitch, and note singing. If you have trouble distinguishing different tones, you need this app.
And if you want to dive into the deep end, Perfect Ear also contains articles on music theory, which will come in handy if you ever intend to write your own songs.
There are loads of mobile apps that can help you tune your guitar, but GuitarTuna is the absolute best. It can also handle bass, ukulele, violin, cello, banjo, and a bunch of other popular string instruments, so you won’t need to find another app if you pick up another instrument later.
You pluck the guitar string, the app listens with your device’s microphone, and it shows you which note the sound is registering as. This makes it very easy to adjust your tuning as a beginner, but even as an expert this can be helpful because the app supports hundreds of alternative tunings.
If you want an all-in-one app for guitarists, smartChord is a great choice. It started off as an app for learning all the different chords and fingerings on the guitar fretboard, but has since evolved into something more comprehensive.
The reverse chord finder is really helpful, but smartChord also has features for tone determination, hundreds of predefined tunings, dozens of different scales, a basic metronome, a virtual guitar for when you can’t lug your actual guitar around, a precise tone generator, and more.
Download: smartChord for Android (Free, in-app purchases available)
Most metronome apps are too basic. They get the job done when you’re a beginner, but you’ll quickly exceed their usefulness as you improve your skills. As soon as you hit that point, you’ll want to start using Metronomerous, one of the best metronome apps around.
The interface may be a bit intimidating at first, but that’s only because it can do so much. It can go as far down as eighths, sixteenths, triplets, quintuplets, and septuplets. It can accent on any note down to the sixteenth or triplet note, it can mute during bars to make sure you’re on tempo, and it can even program complex beat sequences.
If you only need a basic beat, it may be overkill. But when basic isn’t good enough, Metronomerous is the only app that will give you the freedom you need.
Download: Metronomerous for Android (Free)
6. Justin Guitar
Justin Guitar is one of the best websites for learning to play the guitar. There’s a reason that every beginner guitar player is directed towards the site. The website hosts a huge number of lessons from Justin Sandercoe, who breaks down the basics of the instrument simply, and he will have you strumming a tune in no time.
This app is a great extension of that and provides everything you could need. It has a tuner, video tutorials, interactive lessons, and over 1000 songs that you can play along to so that you can hit those chords perfectly. The app will track your progress through all the lessons and score you as you go, so you can pick up and play right where you left off.
Using apps as tuners (or even using Google Search to tune your guitar) or learn some chords is all well and good, but how do you know that you’re actually playing the right thing? That the sound coming out of your guitar is good and your fingers are positioned properly?
While there might never be a replacement for a real teacher, Yousician gets pretty close. This app has step-by-step video guides that teach you lessons designed by music teachers, covering topics such as chords, strumming, melodies, fingerpicking, and more.
The best thing is that it actually listens to your playing and then judges your performance, so you know what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong.
8. Guitar 3D
If you are trying to learn chords—and you probably are if you’re a beginner—then Guitar 3D is a great app to help you out. It contains every chord you’ll need to get going, but the twist here is that it demonstrates them in 3D. This means that you can quickly see where your fingers should be positioned on the guitar.
Not only that, but it demonstrates the finger transitions between chord changes, which is very important when trying to learn a song. The app also highlights the strings that you need to play and offers a split-screen mode so you can see both hands clearly.
Alongside this are lessons and quizzes to test your knowledge on chords. You’ll be a chord master in no time.
9. Andy Guitar
Andy Guitar is another app fronted by a personable teacher. As you might guess, the instructor here is called Andy, and he guides you through loads of lessons and song tutorials, along with answering the most common questions that new guitarists ask.
Andy is a great and patient teacher. The lessons are laid out plainly and the progression is clear, so you’ll feel like you’re learning quickly. One of the great things about Andy Guitar is that it actually teaches you modern songs too. Often guitar apps tend to focus on rock classics, but Andy mixes between the likes of The Beatles and Maroon 5 with ease.
10. 3000 Chords
If you want a straightforward app that is packed full of every chord you’ll ever want to learn, 3000 Chords is the one for you. It isn’t as fancy as some of the other apps listed here, but it’s simple and achieves exactly what it aims to do: be a great, free database of chord diagrams.
3000 Chords not only shows you the chords, but it can also play them to you so you can match up the sound. It also has chord and ear training games so that you can learn some simple guitar theory too. Plus, and this is something frequently overlooked, it supports left-handed guitarists.
Download: 3000 Chords for Android (Free, in-app purchases available)
Record Yourself Playing Guitar
These are some of the best apps to help you learn to play guitar. As you can never truly finish learning to play the guitar, you should find some value here regardless of your level of experience.
If you’ve got a handle on the guitar, you probably want to start playing songs that you know. Why not record yourself so that you can play it back against the real song to compare?