A music tab software is perfect to manage tabs you’ve downloaded or created. Some of them are free, some are not. This article will focus on both of them.
Before we get started, you need to know how to read a tab. Here’s a video explaining you in detail how to do so:
1. Free tab software
There is a bunch of tabs free software out there you need to be aware of. Of course, you need a computer to run them, so it comes with the price of your device, but otherwise, they’re completely free and usually don’t require a powerful PC to function.
The first one we’re going to talk about is…
1.1. Power Tab Editor
Every guitar tablature software work with MIDI, and this soft is no exception. It allows you to tab your tracks and play them, with the different MIDI sounds available on your computer (128).
There are a lot of features available (from tremolos to harmonics – very useful for a guitar player). As a downside, you only have access to two tracks at the same time (guitar and bass score), so you cannot make a music tune with a lot of instruments.
The following features in the application are pretty useful for a guitarist:
- Chord dictionary
- Tuning dictionary
- Chord identification tool
Here’s a screenshot of the app:
1.2. Tux Guitar
This software only supports two voices. But you can place a lot of different tracks on a voice. Its design and ease of use will please the novices.
The features available are the same as Power Tab Editor (apart from legatos) and will suit guitarists perfectly.
The chord dictionary is also very similar to the one made for Guitar Pro. If you want a soft that resembles GP 5 in its use, this is a really good choice for you. Here’s a screenshot:
This text-based software is a bit more complex to handle. But once you get how it works (which is not that hard), it can produce beautiful scores. Here’s how the interface looks:
1.4. Free versions of commercial tab software
You can often get readers of commercial software for free. The advantage is that you can see the tab, but you cannot edit it. Here’s a list of available software:
- Mozart reader
- Tabledit File Viewer
- Maestro Performer
Let’s now move on to…
2. Commercial tab software
2.1. Guitar Pro
Almost every guitarist have heard of this software. It has clearly become a standard. Simple to use, complete, and not too expensive. There are several versions available, let’s see them in details:
- Guitar Pro 7: the latest version of the software. As said a bit earlier, it’s easy to use, complete for guitarists, and at a good price (70 euros, 35 for an upgrade from a previous version). The real advantage over a free software is that you will get a truly better sound with the RSE (real sound engine) system integrated. You can do everything Tux Guitar offers and more, and needless to say, read the huge amount of guitar pro tabs you can find on the web.
- Guitar Pro Fretlight: designed mostly for beginners, but can also be a great tool for more advanced players. It’s basically a guitar and a software. You connect your instrument to your PC, and you will be able to learn tabs, chords, and scales really easily as you just have to follow the LEDs lighten up on the guitar. This video will make you understand the software more clearly.
- Guitar Pro for mobile (iOS or android): for a small fee, you can get the mobile version of Guitar Pro. A various range of instruments are available, like the PC version, and it’s easy to use. You can also share, edit and adjust some functions like the metronome, tempo, etc.
The complete version of Finale allows you to do so much it’s impossible to list everything here. The main reason to use such a software is to compose with VSTs, a keyboard or a midi instrument.
It comes with the price (600$ for the last version). But it’s really worth it for professional composers as the tools and plug-ins offered in that software are really powerful.
The design is less appealing than Guitar Pro, but I personally find that software easier to use and can produce better results than any other one due to the amount of features and tools available.
Here’s a screenshot of Finale 2014 with tabs:
Note that if you want to try the software but don’t have the required money for it, you can download the 30 days trial version or the cheaper versions (there’s a free one which allows you to create score as well but with far fewer options at hand).
2.3. Guitar Tab Maestro
Also known as MagicScore Guitar, this software has a smaller price than Guitar Pro and use really cool features, such as the velocity controller, or the possibility to compose with a MIDI keyboard.
I would not recommend it for a beginner though as it is harder to use than Guitar Pro for example, but everything you need to arrange, print, or compose music, is there.
Here’s a screenshot of it:
You’ve probably heard of Presonus before. If not, know that this company develops top-notch music hardware and software. Among them, you will find Progression, a guitar tab software available around the same price as guitar pro.
What is awesome with this software is the sound quality. It almost feels as real musicians are playing the music (it’s actually samples recorded by renown musicians you hear). Also know you can change that to the classic MIDI sound, or if you’ve got cool VSTs, it’s time to use them.
It’s also easy to create tabs with that software. The look and feel is simple and efficient but I personally think Guitar Pro is better on this point.
Also, if you’ve got a TriplePlay Wireless Guitar Controller, you will be able to connect your guitar to your PC and create tablatures live, just as for Guitar Pro Fretlight.
A great piece of software, specially designed for guitar players. One downside though: no trial version available on the developer’s website.
Here’s how it looks like:
2.5 Mozart and Music Ease
To end this article on tab software, let’s talk about these two. I personally find them a bit outdated and too expensive, especially Music Ease, which offers fewer features than Mozart for guitarists.
I do not recommend them for guitar players, but more for composers, like the Finale software.
They offer what composers want in general, so if you’re into general composition, you might want to try them out, as they both offer a trial version on their respective website.