That’s a question you might ask if you already own a tabbing software. But before starting the Guitar Pro 7 review and answer the previous question, let’s check out a few things.
Guitar Pro has been around for a long time now. What is it exactly? Simply put, it’s a software designed to tab songs. But you can also download tablatures on a third-party website and use the software to read them. Pretty handy.
First though… do you know how to read tabs? If you don’t, don’t worry, it’s really simple, you’ll learn pretty fast. And if you’re stuck, you can always click on help in Guitar Pro 7 and then ‘Help Center’, and you’ll get redirected to the help database.
As the name conveys, GP7 is the seventh release of the software, developed by Arobas. And some would agree that Guitar Pro 5 remains the best version ever made of the application, as it was easy to use, with a clear interface. And mostly because it was running faster than its successor. What about Guitar Pro 7? Well, let’s see first what are the specifics of the beast.
Guitar Pro 7 is an application that allows you to read, create, or play a music score. The presentation of a score always shows notation and tabs to make it easier to read. You can also mix different instruments altogether and creating a multitrack song or a symphony from scratch.
It’s also possible to customize and print your scores. You can choose among rock, jazz or classic style, and modify the score parameters.
A whole variety of instruments can be chosen for your tracks (drums, piano, strings, guitar…). The notation elements are basically what you can find on a real music sheet with key signatures, repeat bar, coda, etc. You can also add elements from guitar playing like up and down pick strokes, barre chords, left and right fingering…
Finally, you get access to tools like:
- the scale library,
- chord diagram library,
- polyphonic tuner.
For more information on the Guitar Pro 7 feature, go to the official website.
2. Guitar Pro 7: a better interface
What struck me when I opened the new version of the software is definitely its look. It’s sharp, refined, and well, it makes me want to start tabbing right away. So what really changed here? First of all, if you used Guitar Pro 6 before, you know that almost everything was on the left panel. The notation, tuning, midi configuration, EQ, etc. It was all set to mimic the reality (with knobs to control dynamic, EQ, your amplifier…).
Here it goes back to the way it was in Guitar Pro 5. Everything is written. But you can still tweak the RSE sounds as before by making little adjustments (by going under ‘Sounds’ and clicking on the menu below the sound name). And if you don’t have time to make those adjustments, you can just choose over the huge list of sounds.
You have now the possibility to show or disable all the panels. Now, you may wonder if you’ve tried previous versions before: where has the notation gone? Well, when you first open GP7, you have to enable it under ‘View’ -> ‘Show Edition Palette‘. It appears then on the left and everything is at your disposal to start tabbing.
You will come across new options in this palette, like the golpe, which is pretty useful to tab flamenco songs. Also included are the pick scrape and dead slap. But mostly, you can find everything there was in previous versions, and that’s for the best. The automation editor is still here. And I find it WAY better looking than in Guitar Pro 6. Apart from that, nothing changes. Still the same functions to automate the tracks.
The digital tuner is now capable of recognizing the 6 strings played at the same time, which makes it quicker to adjust your tuning. Also, you can now plug your guitar to the computer and benefit of the numerous effects you’ll find in the software. Beware though, you can experience feedback and latency with this option.
As for the presentation of the sheet, you can do pretty much the same things as in Guitar Pro 6. Change the format, the header, footer, text and styles, etc. Also, tabs are now available for every track, just like in GP5. To include drums in Guitar Pro 6 necessitated a learning curve. Now it’s pretty simple and you can do it right off the bat.
As for the performance of the software, well… I’m impressed. It loads very fast and I do not own a very high tech computer. I used to get some performance issues with Guitar Pro 6, but here, none. Very smooth.
A cool new feature that has been added: the possibility to export your file to MP3, FLAC and Ogg when using RSE sounds. And that is very useful if you want to share your song with your band mates, and make your song sound great or close to what it should be like when played live (you’ve gotta admit, MIDI is not very pretty).
A lot of new things then, and I’ve not covered everything. To discover what’s new, you can simply go to the Arobas website right here.
3. Okay great… But are there any downside to the product?
Note: if you have upgraded your software to the version 7.5, the following section is now obsolete. However, if you still have an older version, keep reading.
As you can imagine, yes. No software is perfect. For example, if you were a GP6 user, you know how easy it was to change the tuning of the strings. You just had to go on the left panel, click on the guitar tab, and tune them. That was it. Take a look:
Simple, right? And it made perfect sense to every guitarist. Now here’s what you have to do. Click on Track (right panel), then Tuning. It opens a popup window. Click on tuning > it opens a big list of different tuning you can do for every string instrument in GP7. You can also tune each string as you please, just like in GP6, by clicking on the three vertical points. Let me show you:
Of course, it’s not too much of a hassle, but it’s still a downgrade.
Also, the new format (*.gtp) is just adding (again) something to annoy Guitar Pro users. Guitar Pro 6 already added a file type. Now we get a new one. It makes it very difficult for users from different versions to be able to open a file. You won’t be able to open a GP7 file on GP5.
Another bad point is the impossibility to add a guitar with more than 8 strings. Yes, not everybody owns a 9 or 10-string guitar, but still, it’s been asked for a long time by the community, and nothing has been done.
For complete beginners, the software can be hard to use at first. And the online help is not very well furnished, which can be disorienting and make people want to give up.
There were also reports of crashes and bugs. It seems that patches are fixing that, and fortunately, I did not experience any while I was testing the software. Which is a very good sign.
[UPDATE 20.06.18] Arobas has released a new version of its software with tons of updates. You can now modify the tuning in just one click, and convert the old files to the new format: *.gtp. To discover about those updates, click here, or check out the new video on YouTube:
4. The final word
Despite all of the issues mentioned earlier, Guitar Pro 7 remains an excellent software, and in my opinion, the best version released so far. I really liked Guitar Pro 5, but it feels now a little bit outdated, and I really love being able to play the music with RSE sounds, and feel how it should sound like (or closely).
In comparison to other tabbing software, it’s certainly one of the best as well. And the value is great for the price: $75 / 69.95 €. It even gets half-priced if you already own a previous version. Of course, if you want to write a symphony, I would not recommend Guitar Pro, but it can be done anyway. Some other software like Finale or Sibelius would match your needs better, but be prepared to spend a lot on them (around $700 / 600€).
As a last word, I would totally recommend Guitar Pro 7 for any guitarist who wants to create or read good quality tablatures, or even play along with them. It’s a fun tool to have, and totally worth it if you spend time on it.