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 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, and it works on tablets and smartphones. It’s an excellent way to learn chords, and you can transfer that knowledge to your real instrument.
What’s cool is that it comes with track loops that you can play along to, plus a recording mode and the ability to export to MP3, which makes it a breeze to create your own tunes.
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 apps that can help you tune your guitar, but GuitarTuna is the absolute best. 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 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.
Once you’re in tune, GuitarTuna provides chord training games to help you level up. It also has over 12,000 songs with their chords, letting you jam along to your favorite tunes.
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.
smartChord has loads of tools for a guitar player of any level, including a chord library (plus a reverse chord finder), hundreds of tunings and scales, a basic metronome, a fretboard trainer, and more.
Download: smartChord for Android (Free, in-app purchases available)
Most metronome apps (including free metronome websites) 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.
Metronomerous goes as far down as eighths, sixteenths, triplets, quintuplets, and septuplets. It can accent on any note down to the sixteenth or triplet note, mute during bars to make sure you’re on tempo, and 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 to improve your timing.
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 lessons across different grades, 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.
While the app is free at first, eventually you’ll need to pay $9.99/month or $89.99/year to maintain access.
Using apps as tuners (or even using Google Search to tune your guitar) or to 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 lessons designed by music teachers, covering topics such as chords, strumming, melodies, fingerpicking, and more. It actually listens to your playing and then judges your performance, so you know what you’re doing right and wrong.
While you can use the app for free, subscriptions begin at $89.99/year (billed monthly) for unlimited lesson time, weekly challenges, and other features.
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.
Guitar 3D shows the finger transitions between chord changes, which is essential when trying to learn a song. It 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 of 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 teaches you modern songs too. Often guitar apps focus on rock classics, but Andy mixes between the likes of The Beatles and Maroon 5 with ease.
Download: Andy Guitar for Android (Free, subscription available)
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 other apps listed here, but it’s simple and achieves exactly what it aims: be a great, free database of chord diagrams.
3000 Chords not only shows you the chords, but it can play them to you so you can match up the sound. It also has chord and ear training games to teach you 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 expertise.
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?