For anyone who owns a guitar and a Mac, these are good times to be living in. The release of iLife 09 saw GarageBand upgraded to include guitar lessons from the stars and there are other apps around such as Guitar Guru which is probably the slickest and most effective guitar learning software I’ve used on Mac or PC. Of course, no amount of computer genius can turn you into Slash, but for many, using a computer tutorial can be more effective – and cheaper – than spending hours learning to play Baa Baa Black Sheep with some long bearded instructor with bad breath or messing around printing badly tabbed tablature from the net. Here are a few tips and links to get you strumming:
Tuna Pitch The first thing you need to get right before you do anything is the tuning of your guitar. Most Mac guitar tuners however will only play you the tone of what your strings should sound like. The problem with that is, if you’re tone deaf like me, you still can’t tune your guitar. Tuna Pitch uses your Mac’s microphone to detect the tone of your strings so your Mac does the hard work for you. Just tune your string until the small dot hits the middle of the reading scale.
GarageBand Why learn to play like the big names off a sheet of paper when they can teach you themselves? That’s been Apple’s philosophy with the introduction of guitar lessons in GarageBand. Ok, so some of the names aren’t to everyone’s tastes – initial offerings include Sting teaching you Roxanne, John Fogerty teaching you Proud Mary and Fall Out Boy teaching you I Don’t Care. I guess the number of other big names they add will depend on whether users are willing to pay $4.99 for each lesson. There’s no doubt too this is a bit of a flashy marketing move by Apple and you should also bear in mind that just because they’re the author of the song, doesn’t mean they’ll be a good teacher. Still, this is one of the most exciting innovations in online guitar learning in a long time.
Guitar Guru An excellent application that doesn’t include celebrities but does include a lot of practical, easy to use instructions about how to play your favourite songs. Again, it doesn’t come for free but you get what you pay for with software sometimes and for around anything up to $7, you can have some of the greatest guitar tracks ever written explained and annotated for you on a virtual fretboard in idiot proof simplicity. Guitar Guru also includes a tuner and a tempo control slider so you can slow things down to your own learning pace. The tabs you purchase and download come with a free MIDI sample of the song but you can also opt to insert your own MP3 or CD track.