Guitar Pro 6 - amazing guitar tab software

This review was written for Guitar Pro 5, and though many features are the same, Guitar Pro 6 is a new beast. The sound is greatly improved as is the interface and a whole slew of new features. This review does a good job introducing you to the basics of Guitar Pr, but you can see my review over the new features added in Guitar Pro 6 here.

There are a few pieces of software that I use with my guitar all the time and Guitar Pro 6 is easily one of my top two favorites. This program has helped so much both as a teacher and as a player. So, I figure it would be great to pass along this tool with others who may have never heard of it.

What is Guitar Pro 5
Guitar Pro 6 is a program for creating and playing tablature (guitar, bass, uke, banjo, drums, etc). Unlike text tabs you can get online, you can actually hear the Guitar Pro 6 tabs being played back to you. As it plays, it highlites the notes on the staff, and displays them on a guitar neck all in time with the song. That way, if you best learn by ear, visually, or by reading music Guitar Pro will help you the way you learn best. There's a huge selection of songs for Guitar Pro available for free online. My favorite site for guitar tabs is 911tabs, which currently has over 800,000 Guitar Pro files. So whether you're wanting the tabs for "Enter Sandman" by Metallica or how to play "Smoke On the Water" by Deep Purple or "Canon in D" by Pachelbel, there's a good chance you'll find it if you look. When I was a beginner, I remember looking online at text tabs. They were the only thing around at the time. What guitarist hasn't tried playing one of these tabs and thought at some point, "what in the world are they thinking. This sounds nothing like the song?" Though ocassionally you'll find poorly authored Guitar Pro tablatures, they are much more accurate as a whole.

The Good:
Guitar Pro is not a free program itself, though the songs are. There is another tab program which is free, called Power Tab. Just like Guitar Pro, the song files are also free for Power Tab. Though Power Tab is a good piece of tablature software, it does have a few limitations that make me prefer Guitar Pro. Guitar Pro is a much nicer looking program, and the RSE (Realistic Sound Engine) makes Guitar Pro sound much more like the real deal, than its free counterpart. If it were just those two things, I'd take a pass on Guitar Pro and get the free program. But, there's one huge difference that makes me absolutely love Guitar Pro. Guitar Pro 6 comes with a neat feature they call the "Speed Trainer." The speed trainer allows you play a song or any part of a song and loop it's playback. But that's not the cool part. What's great is that it allows you to also slow the song down and then gradually increase the speed with each time it plays back. That way you can practice the part slowly (and correctly!) at first and then without having to touch another button, it speeds up the next time through. You have control over how quickly it speeds up, too. The speed trainer is amazing for learning a tricky section of a solo or picking up speed with your scales. This one feature alone has easily been worth the price difference between free and $59 dollars. If you absolutely cannot put any money into a guitar tab program, then get Power Tab, but for less than a month of lessons or a instructional DVD or two, Guitar Pro is a valuable learning and teaching tool.

A few of the other features I find useful are the built in metronome and guitar tuner. Besides just being guitar tab software, it also includes a wealth of scales and chords for you to use and learn from. It also has a scale finder, which helps you find what scales go with a song (or a section of a song). The ability to export the songs into image files, text, midi, PDF and other formats has been very useful. On one of my other guitar sites, I have used it to create the graphics for the tab. You can also import files from text tabs, midi, and power tab to name a few. I've also used Guitar Pro to write down some of my ideas when I'm writing a song or a guitar part. This is nice, because it plays the part back, in case sometime in the future I forgot the sound I was going for. One last thing I have found useful with Guitar Pro 6 is that you can change the tuning the guitar is set to, for playing songs that use alternate tunings (like dropped-D).

The Bad:
There are a few things I do wish were a little better in Guitar Pro 6. One thing is how it handles text. Sometimes a guitarist will be doing something I want to explain, because there's no normal tab notation for it, but I've found adding text comments a little cumbersome. They're managable, unless you are also including lyrics. Then it becomes a bit of a jumble. I hope they fix this in future versions [This was written for Guitar Pro 5, Guitar Pro 6 has gone a long way to improve this area]. One last thing I have found annoying is when dealing with different voices. Take Bach's Bouree in Em for example. There's a bass part and a treble part, but both are being played by the same instrument. In standard notation, there's a way to seperate the two, so you can be more precise with the rhythm in each part. I haven't found a way to do this properly in Guitar Pro 6. It may be there, but I've tried finding a solution to it and haven't yet. These are the only two real complaints I can think of. For the most part, as a teaching tool and a learning tool I absolutely love the program (if you couldn't tell already). The limitations I've found mostly come when authoring new tabs.

What's new in version 6?:
-Tabbed window, FX addins, RSE 2!

All in all, I think Guitar Pro 6 is a great program that can be used by guitarist of any level. It's got plenty of useful tools built in, besides a huge library of songs available online for free. I teach guitar full time, and there's not a day that I don't use it. In my opinion it's the best tab program available. For more technical details on the program, to download a trial version, or to buy Guitar Pro, you can visit their website.