Guitar Pro is one of the greatest things that a guitar player could own, and I stand by that statement. I think it’s a better investment than pretty much any guitar pedal or effects unit you could buy, but I guess it depends on the person.
That said, there are a lot of people out there who don’t want to pay for it because they’re not ready. They don’t currently have the money for it, or they just haven’t accepted that it’s a good idea yet. But what if you could get it for free? Or can you?
You can use the free trial of Guitar Pro for only 30 days. If you don’t want to buy the full version past the 1-month mark, you can get an iOS or macOS-friendly alternative like Tux Guitar instead. Also, if you’re using a Windows operating system, you can use Power Tab, Lilypond, or Songsterr.
I used Tux Guitar for years for a little while and it worked fine, however, there did come a point where I eventually buckled down and just bought Guitar Pro from Plugin Fox. Frankly, I should’ve just bitten the bullet years ago because it’s amazing software. I have it on my iOS device too. Let’s talk a little more about the alternatives.
by the way, if you’re looking for online guitar lessons, I couldn’t recommend JamPlay enough. It’s the learning platform I use and you can sign up for a year right now for a great price.
Free Alternatives to Guitar Pro
- Tux Guitar
Like I said earlier, you can get your hands on Tux Guitar at this link here or you can use Power Tab if you’re using the Windows operating system. Tux Guitar works fine and there isn’t really anything wrong with it, other than a few hiccups along the way.
You can use other versions like Songsterr which is web-based or Lilypond, but I find that most people prefer Songsterr even though there are some issues with it too. For instance, a lot of people complain that the songs on Songsterr seem as if they’ve been auto-generated.
You can’t download Songsterr for macOS or iOS devices but it is a browser-based software so that’s nice. If you wanted to download a version of it, it has to be on the Google Play store for your Android device.
Problems With Tux Guitar & Other Free Alternatives
As is the case with many things in life when acquired for free, you could run into some problems like the software crashing, not being able to open certain kinds of files, or update issues. Of course, these are problems that can occur with paid software as well.
- Software crashes
- Unable to open certain files due to incompatibility
- Unreliable updates
- Not as big of a library for sounds and instruments
- Doesn’t sound as good
- Lagging and Latency
- Issues loading certain VSTs
- No longer updated (PowerTab)
However, I’ve been using Guitar Pro for about a year now and I haven’t had a problem with it even once so far. Out of all the guitar tablature and score editing software out there, Guitar Pro is the one with the most tutorials online, so that’s another advantage of using it.
Surprisingly though, that isn’t really saying much because the number of Guitar Pro tutorials online leaves something to be desired. This is why I have tutorials on how to use the software and I’ll be continuing to make them going forward.
These are the Guitar Pro tutorials that I’ve made thus far but don’t worry, there are going to be a lot more going forward:
Why You Should Just Pay For Guitar Pro
A lot of this comes down to personality type, but I honestly believe that you should just buy Guitar Pro. There are many reasons why, but I’ll list all of the ones that I think are the most substantial.
1) It’s Not That Expensive
You can grab Guitar Pro here on Plugin Fox for like $79.99 which you could probably argue is expensive compared to some things, but I don’t think it is really. In terms of guitar pedals and effects units, $80.00 is practically nothing, considering an MXR looper pedal (the one I use that I got from Amazon) can set you back more than $200.
By the way, I’m not knocking the MXR Clone Looper, I’m just making a point which is that Guitar Pro is an investment and it’s worth it. I’ve been using it every single day religiously ever since I bought it and I can’t believe I took as long as I did to stop messing around with the cheaper alternatives.
2) The iOS and Mobile Versions Are Great
Admittedly, I was a bit annoyed when I found out that the macOS version of Guitar Pro doesn’t also offer the iOS version, but that’s ok. The iOS version in the App Store I think was like $12 or something like that.
It didn’t cost a lot of money and it was worth every penny because I also use it all of the time. I imagine there is the Android alternative, although, I haven’t looked into it because I’ve been using Apple products for ten years.
3) Guitar Pro Is Reliable
Another thing I love about Guitar Pro is that all of the features are so reliable. It never crashes or acts weird, and whenever you need it to work, it does. Plain and simple. The feature I use the most is the Relative Speed option, and it works 100% of the time.
Frankly, it has been a long time since I’ve used Tux Guitar so I can’t recall exactly what it was that I disliked about it, but I just remember it not being that reliable. Sometimes it would open and sometimes it wouldn’t.
That said, there is the possibility that it works better these days, so I’m not sure. Either way, I’m the type of person where I’d rather spend the extra money to have something that works 100% of the time, rather than save a bit of cash but pay with time and headache.
4) It Works With All Guitar Pro Tabs (Even Older Versions Like GP5)
I’ve also found that Guitar Pro seems to have backward compatibility, in the sense that all of the other versions of Guitar Pro tabs seem to work just fine for the latest edition, which I believe is Guitar Pro 7.5.
Sometimes I’ve had to download Guitar Pro 5 files or GPX files, and they all work without any problems, without the need to download any patches, and without the need to report bugs and Google other troubleshooting solutions.
5) It Doesn’t Crash Or Meltdown Without Explanation
I’ve said before that getting my MacBook Pro was a mistake (you should get this one from Amazon instead) because it doesn’t have enough storage space, processor speed, or RAM.
I’ve been running into crashing software all of the time lately, especially with Garageband when I have more tracks than I used to. I’m using more tracks, more automation, and more sophisticated plugins.
That means that I’m not too thrilled when other applications are crashing either. I just don’t have the patience for things like this anymore, so having a fully functional application like Guitar Pro is essential to me. When I click on it, it opens. It’s as simple as that.
6) The VSTs Actually Sound Pretty Good
Surprisingly, Guitar Pro’s VSTs sound pretty good as well. I often experiment with the different types of guitars, such as the nylon string, the clean jazz guitar, or the rock guitar. They sound decent and not that terrible.
On a slightly unrelated note, you can actually take Guitar Pro files and drop them into other VSTs like those from Ample Sound. The VST will play the Guitar Pro files as they’re written which is incredibly cool.
7) The Guitar Pro Interface Is Easy to Use
The Guitar Pro interface is quite straightforward as well, which is another thing that I appreciate a lot about it. The toolbar on the left and right-hand sides is easy to see and navigate. Although, like any software, there are learning curves.
Another thing that’s cool about the interface is how smooth all of the controls and parameters are. It’s kind of like the difference between Garageband and FL Studio, for example.
Garageband is great, don’t get me wrong, but the FL Studio interface is a lot sexier, cool-looking, and all of the controls are smooth like butter. The same thing goes for Guitar Pro.
8) It’s Awesome For Notating AND Practicing
The last and most important reason why I love Guitar Pro has to do with how amazing it is as a practice tool. The primary reason why most people get Guitar Pro is because of its notation abilities, but its usefulness as a practice tool can’t be overstated.
As a matter of fact, I use Guitar Pro almost exclusively these days. If I’m learning how to play something and there isn’t a Guitar Pro file for it, I usually curse that song. It’s just so much easier when you can use the Relative Speed function to slow things down.
Important Things to Note About Sheet Music Editors
1) Musescore Is A Great Tool to Try Too
Musescore is another really useful standard notation editor that’s used for all kinds of instruments, and not just for guitar. It has a fairly large database of sheet music as well and much of the user-generated content is great.