Best Guitar Lesson Software of 2018

Billy Bommer ·
Audio & Travel Writer
Updated
We maintain strict editorial integrity when we evaluate products and services; however, Top Ten Reviews may earn money when you click on links.

We researched and evaluated the lesson selection and practice tools in 12 guitar lesson programs to help you find the right one to supplement or replace face-to-face lessons. After compiling the research data, we believe Rocksmith is the best guitar lesson software for most people. It has more than 85 lessons that range from novice to expert level, and the list of songs includes more than 55 popular selections. This software covers all the fundamentals, such as chords and reading tablature, but does it in a fun way with video lessons and games.  

Best Overall
Rocksmith
Rocksmith is not your standard musical video game. This guitar lesson software has a legitimate lesson curriculum for teenage and adult guitar players of all skill levels.
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Best Value
ActionTab
ActionTab costs less than $10 per month, and your monthly subscription gives you access to more than 130 popular songs and 50 lessons. A one-month subscription to this software costs less than one face-to-face lesson.
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Best For Adults
eMedia Guitar Method
Guitar Method doesn’t have any interactive games, but the lesson plans are insightful, and the software includes more than 170 lessons for beginners and advanced players alike.
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Product
Price
Overall Rating
Lesson Coverage
Practice Tools
Lesson Accompaniment
Help & Support
Improvise
Chords
Scales
Number of Lessons
Tuning a Guitar
Reading Tablature
Intervals
Stringing a Guitar
Rhythm
Music Tracking
Metronome
Repetition Loops
Record and Playback
Interactive Games
Accompaniment
Tempo Adjustment
Animated Fretboard
Windows 7
Windows 10
Windows Vista
Windows XP
Windows 8
Mac
Lessons With Audio
Glossary
Number of Songs
Chord Dictionary
Printouts
Lessons With Video
Tutorials
Phone
Manual
Email
FAQs
$70.56 Amazon
9.9 10 10 9.4 10
85+
N/A
N/A
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55
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$46.98 Amazon
9.5 9.4 9.4 10 9.4
N/A
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180
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70+
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$29.95 eMedia
9 8.8 9.4 8.8 9.4
N/A
70+
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30
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$29.95 eMedia
8.6 8.1 9.4 8.1 9.4
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60+
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21
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7.2 6.3 8.1 7.5 7.5
N/A
50
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137
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5.5 7.5 2.5 6.3 5
200+
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Not Listed
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5.1 5 6.9 3.8 2.5
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Not Listed
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Best Overall

Rocksmith

Rocksmith is available for PC and Mac operating systems, as well as Xbox and Playstation gaming consoles. Much more powerful than any other musical video game available, this software offers lessons for guitar players of every skill level.
Rocksmith has more than 85 lessons, starting with how to tune and restring your guitar and progressing to more advanced lessons on learning intervals and improvisation techniques. You can use this learning software with any guitar that has a 1/4-inch output jack, including electric, acoustic and bass guitars. Plugging a guitar into your computer or gaming console allows the software to track your progress through the lessons and gives you instant feedback on which notes you played incorrectly. The riff repeater feature can help you practice the hardest portions of the song by slowing the tempo and walking you step-by-step through the riff until you’re comfortable playing the song at the original tempo. The most unique feature in Rocksmith is the Session Mode. This is one of only two programs we reviewed that teaches the underrated skill of improvising, and Rocksmith’s improvisation lessons are virtually endless. You learn to improvise by jamming with a virtual band of artificial-intelligence musicians that adapt and react to your playing, which improves your rhythm training and gets you ready to play with other real musicians.
Pros
  • Great interactive feedback
  • Available for PC, Mac, Xbox and Playstation
  • The session mode is innovative and fun
Cons
  • The guitar-to-USB cable is expensive to replace
  • There aren’t many music theory lessons
  • The song list is limited to mostly popular rock tunes
$55.99Amazon
Best Value

ActionTab

ActionTab offers a low-cost entrance into the world of guitar lessons. The monthly subscription is less than $10, and you have the option to cancel at any time without penalty.
You can sign up for a free trial that allows you to search through the lessons to get a feel for the interface and curriculum, but the content is limited to 15-second previews until you purchase a full membership. The monthly and yearly subscription cost is about half of what you’d pay for face-to-face lessons and lets you learn at your own pace. A full membership gives you access to more than 50 lessons and 137 popular songs in a wide range of genres, including rock, blues, metal, folk, country and jazz. The lessons cover basic topics like tuning and restringing your guitar, and progress to more advanced lessons and techniques like scale theory, hammer-ons and slides. One advantage of using an online lesson service instead of making a one-time purchase is that new lessons are constantly being added and updated. ActionTab does not track your progress, which would be helpful for improving rhythm and timing, but the lessons do allow you to slow the tempo and loop the parts of a song that are giving you the most trouble. This lesson software is missing some of the tools and lesson topics found in other programs we reviewed, but the subscription-based payment method can be a low-cost way to figure out if software lessons are right for you.
Pros
  • Low-cost monthly subscription
  • New songs and lessons added regularly
  • Wide range of musical genres
Cons
  • No audio or video instruction
  • No interactive feedback
  • It doesn’t teach you to read tablature
US$49.95ActionTab
Best For Adults

eMedia Guitar Method

eMedia Guitar Method makes learning the guitar easy and approachable for someone who has never touched the instrument. The beginning lessons start with basic concepts like tuning and maintaining your guitar and then move on to teach you basic chords and rhythm exercises.
There are no interactive games or flashy graphics, but the video tutorials are insightful and focus on teaching the important fundamental playing techniques. Professional guitar instructor Kevin Garry will be your guide though the video library, which contains more than 50 videos. His demonstrations show close-ups of both hands and are a good platform to prepare you to start learning to play songs. You can plug a microphone into your computer and Guitar Method will give you interactive feedback about the notes you played. You can then slow down the tempo in the parts of the songs that are giving you the most trouble and use the loop playback feature to help master the most difficult riffs. This lesson software has most of the practice tools we look for, including a metronome, digital recorder and interactive feedback. There aren’t any lessons for improvisation or ear-training, and the software doesn’t teach scales, so keep that in mind if you are already playing at an intermediate or advanced skill level. Most of the lessons in Guitar Method are for beginner and intermediate students.
Pros
  • More than 180 lessons
  • Printable sheet music
  • It can record your practice
Cons
  • No real-time progress tracking
  • The song list is a bit dated
  • There aren’t many lessons for intermediate or advanced players
$47.30Amazon

Why Trust Us?

I started taking face-to-face music lessons 25 years ago and started supplementing them with software lessons around five years ago, so I have experienced the advantages and disadvantages of both learning formats. At Top Ten Reviews, we research and evaluate each product and make our recommendations based on quantitative data, like the total number of lessons, and qualitative data, like our impression of how easy the software makes the learning process. There are a few advanced level guitar players in our office, but we felt it was more appropriate to evaluate these products from the standpoint of someone who has never taken a lesson.

We prefer to review and evaluate products that work for a wide range of ages and skill levels, but we also tried to find products and make recommendations based on specific use cases to help you find a product that best suits your needs. For instance, we found that programs that have interactive games are a good way to keep the attention of teenagers and young adults, and products that have a diverse song list with multiple musical genres are more appropriate for adults. We like to approach the research and evaluation process by finding features you won’t find in marketing materials, and let you know whether we think those features will benefit you.

How We Evaluated

Each guitar lesson software uses a different interface and curriculum to deliver lessons, and we realize that people using these products may have a different idea of what is easier or more effective. That is why we rank the products in this comparison by finding as many useful features as possible and awarding higher scores to products that include the most usable features.

We identified lesson coverage, practice tools, lesson accompaniment and support features as the most important aspects of a good lesson software. Within those categories, you’ll find more specific tools and features we believe are beneficial to the learning process for most guitar players, like tempo adjustment, loop playback and interactive games.

Features to Look for When Buying Guitar Lesson Software

Chord Dictionary
A chord dictionary displays the hand and finger positions that make up various chords. There are many chords and many variations of those chords, so it can be difficult to remember the finger placement and name of each. The best software programs have an exhaustive list of chords that you can use as a reference when you come across a chord variation that you’ve never played.

Progress Tracking
A lesson software that can provide instant feedback about notes you played correctly and incorrectly will make learning faster and more efficient. If you know immediately which parts of the song you are struggling with, you can go back and focus on those troublesome riffs.

Adjustable Tempo
The ability to slow the tempo of a song can help you learn intricate runs and difficult chords. Once you have the part mastered, you can adjust the tempo back to the original speed and work on transitioning between the hard and easy parts of the song.

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