There are plenty of us who take interest in music and also musical instruments. Some of us play them and there’s the need for a tool that lets you help learn how to use them. Most guitarists, for example, use the web to do this. They play their favourite songs by reading notes and chords off the web. There are sites that offer the tablature in the form of text files but it’s hardly any fun. Browsing through a test file while trying to play an instrument isn’t the easiest thing to do. To make things simpler, there are software that let you play instruments while slowly delivering tablature to you. When it comes to music composition or learning instruments, there are few software that have made a name for themselves, such as Guitar Pro.
Design and user interface
The overall user interface
Guitar Pro 6 brings in loads of new features—and also a brand new user interface. The software is primary designed for those playing instruments and also for composers. The window is split into three areas – the left one primarily for the tools and the instrumentation and note-related features. Here’s where you can choose what notes go where and which instruments you want to include in your song. The lower half of the window is for the timeline of the track.
The interface has a dark theme – it’s colourful with detailed icons, so things are pretty easy to understand. If you’re new to music composing and playing, you might find things to be a little intimidating. Volume controls and controls for each of the instruments are in the form of dials, so it’s easy to relate to those kind of controls. Of those, the tab support allows you to open multiple songs in the single window.
The software’s key feature is the ability to show tablature on screen. It’s primarilyy used for guitar players, but there are features that let you also train for other instruments such as drums, bass guitars, synthesisers etc. The software has been around for a while and this version is one of the largest update to come to it. One of the key feature of recent versions is the availability of RSE (Realistic Sound Engine), which basically plays back tablature to the user; it plays back recorded tabs in a very realistic manner, unlike the traditional versions which played MIDI tracks which weren’t in any way realistic. Of course, you can turn off the RSE component if you want and have a simple MIDI output, which is a lot lighter on the system. This is useful if you’re using the software on a low-powered PC or a netbook, for instance.
Some more effects and modelling systems
There are effects pedals too, that can be done like a guitar amp modelling software would do. The toolbar on the program also has shifted to the left, along with all the instruments. The major portion of the screen shows the tablature for a single instrument, or multiple instruments if you prefer it that way. You can compose songs using a virtual fretboard of a guitar as well, without blindly entering numbers on the strings.
Built-in guitar tuner, one of the utilities that come with the package
The different view modes for the tablature still exist and most of the shortcuts too. Along with the ability to mute or solo play instruments, there’s also ways to change the characteristic sounds of instruments. You can choose from a variety of instruments, everything from a simple acoustic guitar to a synthesiser bass. Notes can be placed accurately and you can choose all kinds of techniques for the way the notes are played. When it comes to chords, you don’t have to manually place each of the notes accurately either.
Some of the effects that are part of the Realistic Sound Engine
There’s also additional tools such as the guitar tuner that lets you tune your instruments for the song loaded. Keyboard entry using MIDI is also possibly on the software. Guitar Pro 6 continues to be a key composing tool for musicians, but it’s also a great learning tool for newcomers, as the Guitar Pro formats are widely used across the web by enthusiats and musicians to share tracks. Apart from exporting to older Guitar Pro formats and images, there’s also support to export tracks to the universally accepted PDF format. The software is available for Windows, Linux and Macs.
The ability to export to a number of formats
The integrated RSE feature also lets you install add-ons that are available on the Guitar Pro site. Each of the add-ons is priced at $7.99 (roughly Rs. 450).
Guitar Pro 6 is pretty good when it comes to performance. You can easily load tabs and the software rarely ever crosses 70 to 80MB of memory. With the RSE feature enabled, this number does go up. If you’re using very slow PCs, we suggest you turn off RSE. In terms of stability, it’s quite stable but it’s also a bit slower than Guitar Pro 5. The RSE engine sounds great though and there are few glitches that are noticable.
Guitar Pro 6 - one of the best tablature software out there
Guitar Pro 6 is a great piece of software if you’re learning how to play a particular instrument. It’s particularly good for guitarists though and with a price tag of $59.95 (approximately Rs. 3,300), it’s not a very expensive piece of software either. The GPx format is a very popular format that’s used by a number of popular tablature sites on the Internet, so you’ll hardly ever miss a tab for your favourite song. As a music artist, you’ll also find creating music and doing demo runs to be really simple.
Updated 22 May, 2013, 9:27 pm IST
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