Do guitar apps work?

Do guitar apps work?  That is… do guitar apps actually teach you how to play the guitar?

It would be awesome if you good just pull out your iPhone or iPad, open an app, and learn guitar.

So will they teach you guitar?

Yes and no….

Why Guitar Apps are Awesome


They teach you theory. 

Ugh.  Theory.  The one thing that we all conveniently avoid… the one thing that we all eventually need.

If you have a guitar teacher, that’s awesome.  They will teach you theory.

If not… what are you going to do?

Youtube videos are spotty at best.

Other online resources may or may not be accurate.

Guitar apps like Real Guitar App will help with this.

While they won’t give you a deep dive into theory, they will help with learning notes, learning the fretboard, and learning chord shapes.

This is good, not great… but better than nothing.

But better than theory…


They help train your ear. 

As you play notes on the app you will start to develop an ear for what you’re playing.

Frequently, beginner guitar players simply learn a chord, strum it, and move on.

In cases like this there is little attention paid to what you are actually playing.

Guitar apps help keep you more focused in on what notes fall in what chords and (most importantly) what they sound like.

But the thing I like the best about guitar apps is….


They keep you engaged. 

You can take them anywhere.

Just plug your headphones in and you have immediate access.

You may not be getting the same experience as playing a guitar, but you’re getting some exposure.

In the off hours – the times when you can’t pick up a guitar – they help fill in the gaps.

But there is a danger in this.  Too much reliance on an app and you start missing out on actually playing.

Which leads me to my next point….


Why Guitar Apps are Terrible


Well, first off: Guitar apps will not teach you how to play the guitar.

As anyone who has attempted to play the guitar knows:  finger pain is a real thing.

One of the most popular articles on this site is about who to alleviate finger pain when playing guitar.

People also have trouble with slipping guitar picks and playing bar chords.

The point is: playing the guitar is a physical activity.

It requires muscle memory.

It requires the development of callouses.

It requires you to sit down or stand up or move around while playing.

No amount of apps, games, or books will actually teach you how to play the guitar.


Better than a Guitar App


So what should you use?

If you want to teach yourself guitar I’d strongly suggest something like JamPlay.

Services like JamPlay and GuitarTricks combine the best of both worlds:  You get hands on guitar playing experience plus the gamification aspect of guitar apps.

Guitar apps are nice as a supplemental tool.   Just try not to rely on them too heavily.

(Jake Posko does Online Guitar Lessons and Coaching as well as in-home lessons in the Annapolis, Maryland area including: Annapolis, Edgewater, Severna Park, Pasadena, Crownsville, Arnold and Kent Island, inquire about lessons by e-mailing him at