Review: Guitar Pro 6 Tablature Software

32 Comments

Earlier this month the folks at Arobas Software, who produce the popular guitar tab software Guitar Pro, released version 6 of their application.  Guitar Pro 6 represents a complete rewrite of the application that’s grown way beyond a mere tab editor and into a fully fledged score writer with support for multiple instruments and a huge library of sounds.  Guitar Pro 6 has become an formidable composition tool at a price the average guitarist can afford.

We’ve had a chance to test drive the new Guitar Pro 6 and we’ve found it to be an impressive upgrade from the previous versions. It’s a great way to compose scores and learn new music from the plethora of online resources that provide free Guitar Pro tracks.

If you’re not already familiar, Guitar Pro 6 is a multi-track editor of guitar, bass, drums and other instruments in tablature as well as standard notation.  Guitar Pro 6 has a built-in MIDI-editor called the RSE or Realistic Sound Engine that can play back the written parts in the tablature or standard notation.  Also included are a host of tools like a metronome, scale and chord charts and a transposer.  Guitar Pro 6 is currently available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux (see the full system requirements).

Guitar Pro 6 has two major upgrades from the previous version of the software.  First and foremost the interface has been redesigned.  On the left hand side of the application are six tabs you can cycle through.  The first tab, called the “Edition” panel, houses all of the notation you can add to the score.  Everything from accents to annotating the opening and closing of a wah pedal.  The second tab down is the “Instrument” panel that is for managing the various parameters for the selected track — tuning, RSE sound bank selections, capo and playing style. After that comes the “Effects” panel that handles, as the name implies, all of the various effects and amp models that are applied to the current track, as well as how you chain you effects.  Guitar Pro 6 now offers an impressive amount of effect and amp models.

Guitar Pro 6 Interface

After those panels comes the “Chords” panel which is perfect for someone like me.  The “Chords” panel makes it super simple to drop a chord into the current beat or bar.  It’ll place a chord diagram at the top of the music an annotate the fingering as well as the chord name above the chord.  It’s a great way to build a simple set of changes you want to share with friends for new music.  After that is the “Lyrics” panel – again a handy dandy tool for putting in the lyrics to the song as well.

Arobas has also really worked on improving the RSE in Guitar Pro 6.  They’ve added over 100 instruments that, as mentioned above, can be played through a configurable chain of effects (pedals, amps, racks) for each track.  We tried loading a few of the included examples to try out the new RSE.  As impressive as all of the new sounds, effects and instruments it still has a distinctly MIDI sound to it.  It’s a great tool for helping to learn a new song or as very simple backing track but it won’t blow your socks off as your new jam-along system of choice.

Effects and Amps in the RSE

Overall we found the Guitar Pro 6 makes dealing with guitar tablature and scoring a much less painful process.  Arobas has added a ton of new features to Guitar Pro 6 and has complete redone the user interface.  For $59.95 USD for a new version or $29.95 to upgrade a previous version, we think it’s a no-brainer for guitar players.  It’ll sure beat the socks off you grandpa’s ASCII tabs and you can even use with PowerTab tabs.  Given the vast amount of free Guitar Pro tabs on the web, it’ll make a great tool for learning new music.  But it really excels if you’re composing a piece of music to share with other musicians.  Highly recommended.

BUY Guitar Pro 6 from Arobas Software

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Comments:

  1. Jake

    I’ve been hoping for an effects module for a while. I use it all the time now.

  2. Dave

    Guitar Pro 6 has inaccuracies in some of the instruments. I am a banjo player and have been using Guitar Pro since Version 3 and the setup of the banjo has always been correct, until GP6. On previous versions of Guitar Pro they had always taken into consideration that the 5th string peg on a 5 string banjo is located at the 5th fret on the neck. On the current version of Guitar Pro they put the 5th string peg up with the rest of the tuners which makes the tuning of the banjo completely inaccurate and the program completely useless to me. There for I have wasted my money on this program. I have written the Guitar Pro tech support several times but have yet to get a reply, another downfall of Guitar Pro that I have recently discovered.

  3. Dan

    5 Stars thats all i have to say

  4. JD

    While the software seems promising, Arobas tech support is non-existant. I bought Guitar Pro 6 online and have spent weeks trying to download a complete copy. Even their licensing arrangement is a pain. I needed to email them several times before ever even getting a license. Then it seems to be impossible to even download the complete soundbanks that are to go with the software. I’ve been trying for weeks now! I suppose if you can get a CD it might be okay, but don’t buy it online!

  5. Gary

    I’ve been a user of GP5 for some time but only for picking up new tabs. For composition it’s way too unreliable, add a chord, it crashes, add an instrument, it crashes. Like JD said the support is non-existent so I stick to Logic for writing.

    Maybe the new version is less buggy, I certainly hope so if they expect people to use it to create something.

    I wont be upgrading.

  6. loualex

    Same problem as you – I can’t even find a techsupport email address for Arobas – where do I complain about not being able to download the RSE engine?
    Thanks

  7. mondot

    le RSE tu le télécharge quand tu télécharge GP6.. c’est sur la page de t”l”chargement juste en dessous… pour les bank son tu as juste à aller dans aide > mise à jours…je l’utilise depuis sa sortis par contre je sais toujours pas comment mettre le capodastre sur GP 6 sur gp5 c’était double clic sur la bar de l’instrument mais là….y’a po :o Sinon il est formidable :) -2 pour le capo :P car je m’en sers beaucoup.. 18/20 :p

  8. Pez

    GP5:
    - forgets the contents of the clipboard randomly
    - cannot transpose a selection, only the whole track (soooo annoying)
    - crashes out with some french error message after pressing play a few tens of times (so when writing i have to restart the program every ten minutes)
    - quite frequently plays out of time (starts to ‘swing’, this one is really irritating too)
    - sometimes doesnt send ‘note off’ properly so you just get a total mush of sound

    oh and thats the ones i can get consistantly, it also crashes its balls off all the time for reasons i dont know. i would never ever pay money for software of this standard. im going to grab a torrent of the new one now but i definatly wont be parting with any cash if its as shite as the old one.

  9. Brian

    @Pez – so why not upgrade to GP6? We’ve found it to be a much more stable release than GP5.

  10. Jim

    @ Dave – I wish I’d read this before I spent money on upgrading to GP6. I’m a banjo player too, and its useless to me until they sort the fifth string tuning.

    And yes, their technical support is really bad. I posted some queries for GP5 ages ago, never got any response despite chasing. I logged a query about the above too…no answer, and I doubt I’ll get one.

    This is a shame as its basically a good program…god help you if you have problems with it though – you won’t get any help from them.

  11. jon

    files take 10x longer to load than gp5 and often never finish
    file conversion from gp5 very poor
    sometimes doesnt seem to save view / track settings and keeps resetting to show both notes and tab
    some really strange bugs..

    Yeah the interface looks more cool and it can sound better in certain circumstances but until it can open a file quickly and reliably… .. well I’m certainly going back to gp5 for the moment

  12. Big D

    I really wish I had downloaded the torrent for Guitar Pro 6 instead of buying it.

    1. Arobas online payment system is so damn sketchy. I entered my credit card info and a blank white page loads and nothing happens. That’s not comforting. So I email Arobas and ask them if anything went through and it took them nearly a week to reply and tell me it didn’t. So I go on and try again and it worked. Then as I’m trying to get my license and key and download the software, similar things happen to where I almost lose my chance to complete the online order. Huge pain. Wish I hadn’t done it.

    2. I finally get the program and serial key and install. Looks good, nice interface, a little slower than I’d like, but I figured for 60 bucks I’d get used to it. I go and open one of my old GP5 scores and everything looked so messed up I was almost heartbroken. If I need to print out any of these scores they’re all going to look like crap. I tried adjusting the Stylesheet thing or whatever to fix it but it just didn’t import anything properly. Makes me REALLY wish I stuck with GP5.

    3. I sat and tried to start a new score and I was writing a few riffs in when I decided I wanted to move a track above another track…simple enough right? I click move up…bam..crash. I lose a couple of hours worth of work and I’m instantly frustrated. Okay, so I won’t click move up again, that’s for sure. Not a huge problem, may be fixed in a later update.

    4. I go to type in some triplets. Still..should be a pretty standard thing to do…I type three notes in, the program halts, and then proceeds to crash its brains out. Great. And this continued to happen on multiple occassions on multiple commands ON MULTIPLE COMPUTERS.

    What pisses me off the most is that I paid $60 for this junk software! DON’T BUY IT! If you can deal with the long list of bugs it has, just download a crack for it or something. Don’t give these people your money, it’s not worth it.

  13. ME

    Yes – the banjo tab is not useable at all…this is a shame actually and I wouldn’t have bought GP6 if I had known this. I am a guitarplayer and teacher but I’d like to print out some banjo charts…and it just doesn’t work- I need a 5th string!!!

    Another issue: after midi file import, who can you set the display to – say eigth-notes?
    I sometimes have 32th notes and rests where an eight note should be…
    :-/

  14. Seth Stahlman

    The short review: GP6 is junk. Don’t waste your money on it. Period.

    I guffawed reading this review about it being an ‘upgrade’; only in the sense that Vista, and Windows 7, were an upgrade to XP.

    While GP5 has its many many flaws (I thought I was the only one getting a French error message!) it at least somewhat works reasonably enough to be usable to learn a song. Granted, you’d want to be offer a sacrifice up to the deities when selecting multiple screens for looped playback, or just scrolling screens too fast, but, hey, it was possible to use if you remembered the goats. Most the time.

    GP6′s new interface is certainly noticeable: It places more junk to the left, which makes viewing tab on a laptop screen aggravating if you’re looking at tab in horizontal mode, as that’s now wasted screen real estate.

    If you’re using vertical mode, you’ve got junk on the top AND bottom.

    There’s no way of turning off these new interface components, even in full screen mode/playback:

    Where GP5 let you just get rid of all the toolbars, which, obviously, you don’t need when you’re merely playing a tab, rather than editing one, GP6 keeps the crap on the screen.

    For the ‘soundboard’, you either have it on, or it’s a useless status bar type thing; no hot key to switch between the two, and it never completely goes away.

    GP6 continues the tradition of making it impossible to simply have a clean display of the song you’re trying to learn. Stylesheets at least give you some control, but you have to manually load it, EVERY TIME. There’s no way to specify a default note spacing, or chord option, when opening an existing song. You can set a default for new songs, which tends to be less than useful for people who spend the majority of their time learning exiting songs, rather than using GP to tab new ones out.

    There’s also no way to specify that you don’t want to see standard notation by default; you have to specify it for each track, WHEN it will let you. You’re allowed to remove standard notation for stringed instruments, but not for keyboards, or, I found, piccolo; furthermore, you can’t display tab for non-stringed instruments in GP6, where of course you could in GP5. (Take a song like Iced Earth’s “1776″, which has a piccolo part that is perfectly playable on guitar… why in the world remove this feature?!)

    It still remains frustrating to quick change tunings (say, from standard to half-step down, or vice versa) for instruments. It’d be too much to ask for a feature that allows you to simply change all instruments + or – [x] notes, apparently. Each instrument needs to be changed, and you need to remember to click the non-obvious interface item: a checkmark, in the middle of the dialog. (I guess “apply” or “ok” is sooooo 2009.)

    Speaking of tuning, I wasn’t able to figure out how to change it for keyboards; I’m guessing that the only way is to transpose; considering the number of tabs that have left hand/right hand separately, and multiple ‘keyboards’, that gets to be fun really fast.

    Others have already mentioned the bloat; even very large tabs load in ~3 seconds on my ‘studio’ laptop, in GP5. In GP6, IF they finish loading, the minimum time tends to be ~5 seconds, up to ~15-30 seconds, in some cases.

    In a song with many tracks (say, Dream Theater’s A Change Of Seasons), clicking the ‘visible’ icon on a track can freeze the program; if it doesn’t freeze, it seems to take 2-3 seconds for it to change. If your tab’s in ‘multi-track’ view, it’ll often change it to single track view, of the track you’ve just set to not be visible.

    And so on; it seems this edition of GP was crafted by people who are neither programmers nor musicians: perhaps they sacked anyone with any clue about interface design and usability, and used the sage advice of a random waste management specialist to craft their ‘new features’. It would certainly explain the feel of the application.

    About the only decent thing that I’ve found about GP6 is that it seems to be able to actually loop an arbitrary number of measures consistently (versus the crash behavior in GP5) and the RSE does sound better. Of course, once most people trying to learn a song have the notes down, they tend to just play along with the REAL song, making increased realism less important to people just using GP6 to get their timings down.

    Frankly, if Arobas had put half as much effort into actually improving GP as they did investing in crappy anti-piracy measures, we’d probably have something that at least improved on GP5, rather than this bloated crapware.

    As it stands, I’d suggest that, instead of buying GP6, it’d likely behoove folks to just donate to tuxguitar and put in a feature request for whatever format support’s missing.

    Whatever the case, stay far far away from GP6, unless composing and learning music isn’t as fulfilling for you as fighting the blind rage and/or uncontrollable urge to throw your computer off a mountain that GP6 tends to instill after mere minutes of use.

  15. Clem

    GP6 works quite perfectly on my Mac, I’m not too bothered with the screen estate waste as it is 24″…
    But then it’s the buggiest soft I have ever seen on my PC. I’m the only mac owner in my band, so I’m quite disappointed because I can’t share the tabs with my band-mates.
    And yeah even trying to save the tab makes the PC version crash

  16. MitsuharuSan

    I found it to be very crash-friendly, if you get what I mean. It is in no way more stable than GP5, at least on Windows XP. GP5 was like… I don’t know, Windows’ notepad fast? I only had it crash on me TWICE after all the time using it.

    Long story short, GP6′s a mess here. I like the layout, I really enjoy all the new options and hey – maybe I’m the only one who thinks that the “soundboard” thing is beautiful. But then again, the software crashes half the time! Let’s say I open 4 tabs. I try to close them all – last 3 will close half the time without crashing, ok. But when it comes to close the first tab I’d open, YAY, CRASH. No way to avoid it and I’m not kidding – I can’t close tabs without having GP crashing. I think it crashed on me while importing a MIDI too and it crashed once when I was trying to CLOSE the software LOL.

    Way to go, Arobas. Just like in the gaming world nowadays, you look forward to improve the graphical aspects, without caring about fixing the actual experience. And just like my good old SNES, GP5 works better than your “so cool and modern” GP6.

  17. Vince

    Wow…Thanks guys….I enjoy the ease of use of GP5 and thought about upgrading, but WHEW….not doing that as 5 does exactly what I need it to do for solo guitar chord melody arrangements..

  18. Superdonut

    Wow! I’ve read some horrible reviews here, yet my experience has been the OPPOSITE of all of them.

    1) If this isn’t the best performing, best sounding, most versatile notation software out there (especially for guitarists), then I’d like to hear from this panel WHAT PROGRAM IS BETTER???? (not a sarcastic or rhetorical question, sp. for the $59.) I would really like to know.

    2) The Sound Bank (RSE) samples sound VERY GOOD (and are HIGHLY customizible) for each instrument. As far as I know, this–GP6–is the END of crappy sounding MIDI “oink, honk, oink” sounds for all midi-based notation software like PowerTab. Here, you can create a great acoustic, classical, electric guitar tone, compose in it (in great detail (mordents, grupettos, pops, multiple raqueados, infinite dynamcis, whammy bar, vibrato, infinite levels of precise string bending, etc infinity (almost)) and PLAY IT BACK with FANTASTIC sound, at ANY TEMPO(s) YOU WANT. The sounds MAKE you WANT to stay in it and keep experimenting with your own compositions.

    3) Alt-tunings, multiple and partial capos, (transposed or not)…

    4) There is a TON of VERY GOOD GPro 3, 4, 5 already out there… and you just download that and save it in version 6 (and create your own custom tone for one or all instruments.

    5) All this seems a potential REVOLUTION in the history of musical pedagogy, if good people will take advantage of it and share. (For example: I’m currently notating Mauro Giuilani’s 120 Right Hand Studies, putting them in Scott Tennant’s (of the the great book, PUMMPING NYLON) groupings, and adding in the fingerings. Once I post it, ANY STUDENT could download it, and use the SPEED TRAINER to work on the exercises at a very slow pace, and, for random ex., every 20 reps, have the exercise speed up 1, 4, 10, 50 bpm. automatically.

    6) Teachers and publishers could publish exercises and transcriptions in GPX format so students could hear how any phrase SHOULD SOUND at ANY SPEED. This would help with early rhythm reading, and make students pay SPECIAL ATTENTION to DYNAMICS (for any and every note).

    The possibilities seem endless for obvious things like backing tracks, in any key, at any speed.

    All this would be better than a “book with Standard & Tab notation and a CD.” Sure, with CD Looper, and VLAN media player, one can ‘slow down’ recordings, but once they get to a certain point, the low sample rates start to break up the sound, and it’s hard to tell the difference between an actual note, and a ‘slapback’ from a broken up reverb tail.

    Seriously folks, I’m not getting paid–I’m from U.S.–I don’t know anybody at Arobas, but if we all sent them our feeback, encouraged them to make even more advances, add more flexibility, etc… I think the entire planet could benefit from having a great-sounding, highly dynamic STANDARD of notation from which we COULD ALL BENEFIT (and at a price almost anyone could afford.)

    Please let me know if you know of a better alternative, and if there’s anyone out there who agrees with my assessment.

    Also, I’m not getting paid, or getting any special favors from anyone, but if you would really like to see the ULTIMATE in POSSIBILITIES for musical expression through notation (and if you are a fan of Michael Hedges, Alex deGrassi, Leo, et. al.) please see the painstaking, heroic and detailed work of John Stropes (especially in his book with special notation and detailed notes for 6 Michael Hedges pieces) in one of the most important books in the history of music, “Rhythm, Sonority and Silence.” Go to John’s website at http://www.stropes.com

    Many Best Wishes,

    Superdonut
    Superdonut@verizon.net

  19. Paul

    GP6 is crap, it has nothing new beside the layout, it is too big as tonebank file, without you get the midi sound.
    I tried the demo and felt directly disappointed, first the times the program crashed!!! without reason.
    Then the sound of the instrument is not so precise as it was wit gp5, sometimes sound disappears..
    There’s no more contrabass for jazz sound, the picking on the guitar is a mess…
    I don’t like it! and don’t waste your money.

  20. Mari

    I have Guitar Pro 6 and its pretty good software but crash a lot!!! Im trying to printing a file (4 pages with fingering) and when i save in PDF crash !!!! I send many emails to the company and no answer, the customer support its very bad.

  21. Andrew

    I just downloaded the demo of GP6. The effects boxes and all that were fun for the first 15 minutes to play with but, I wouldn’t use them seriously.

    The thing I DID like about it was the “Change Accidental” command, and the fact that you could display your guitar tuning in “FLATS”. GP5 seemed to be prejudiced against flats for some reason. I mean a song in the key of G Major if I have an accidental B Flat note or chord I wanted the notation in GP5 to be able to display a FLAT if I choose.

    Something that really bothers me though is that if I click on each instruments properties, the only options I see are color of the notes, the name and if I want tab, notation or slashes. In GP5 you could decided wether or not to display tuning and chord charts and all that for any particular instrument, which in GP6 it’s a global setting.
    That’s not very useful for me as I write out my own music in GP with lyrics and just remove the tab and keep the notation for the lyric lines. In multitrack view. In GP6 it displays the “guitar tuning” for the lyrics as well as all the tunings on the top of the page for any extra guitars when it should be pretty clear that the song has one tuning that it should be showing at the top of the page.

    I am disappointed with GP6 maybe it’s time to move on to some different software like Finale.

  22. charmat

    Salut,

    j’aimerai savoir comment installé la banck de son pour guitra pro 6 svp

  23. aaron

    To those who don’t have a brand new pc right now, be careful as your computer may battle to run GP6. My pc isn’t that old but it takes ages just to load any songs – with RSE turned off! I was excited to see a new GP but after ten minutes of frustration I uninstalled and went back to GP5. Maybe I’ll have more luck if I get a new PC. Just a warning to anybody considering buying it – try the demo, if your pc has trouble, best not buy yet.

  24. Michael Liddle

    Guitar pro 6 is a lemon. It fails on almost every score – glitches. Slow operation. Try editing a section and the tab just implodes. Try downloading the interminable updates – (and doesn’t that tell you this was rushed into being before proper testing). In an attempt to be a soound system rather than a tab system it has failed genuine guitar players.

  25. Marc

    GP6 was great for a few days. Now though, every time I try to load ANY song, GP6 simply hangs forever. I see the score show up and as the fretboard window comes up, it hangs solidly and you have to end process.

  26. Nate

    just read all the comments. i have gp6 on a toshiba satellite 500 laptop running windows 7. for some reason, mine works flawlessly. i am using it to write music pre-production for recording purposes and its working great. so i dont know if it doesnt liek vista or XP but it does seem to like windows 7. i feel bad, after reading all ur posts, for saying this but GP6 has been a lifesaver for me in the songwriting process.

  27. Vaselinessa

    I agree with Liddle’s comment. If you’re writing anything other than a 3 minute punk track, this is just not going to work because editing slows down to a crawl. You press a key, wait half a second, get your note written, press another key, wait half a second, and move up on the staff…

    Having downloaded the demo and tooled around on it, there was no lag to speak of (my work files being miniscule), so it was an unexpected shot to the chops when I started working on my big stuff. I feel cheated.

    The interface (and of course sound) are head and shoulders above gp5, but this is so slow on large files that it’s just not practical. (I do like that unlike gp5, this doesn’t constantly crash on me, though.)

  28. FLOR

    esta re piola el guitar pro 6 a mi me anda re bien el unico problemilla es q no se de que lugar puedo bajar las tablaturas…. alguien q me ayude xfa!! :)

  29. Jesus Mtz

    tiene buena imagen, me gusta la lista de pedales, me gusta la sound data bank, entre otras caracteristicas, lo que ami en lo personal no me gusta la inestabilidad del programa, it crash some times whitout reason, cuando intentas agregar un instrumento en mi caso los bongos me sucede te saca del programa no se si a alguien mas le suceda pero creo que son errores criticos en un programa.

  30. saurav pradhananga

    guitar pro 6′s da best…i’ll give more than 5 stars…

  31. saurav pradhananga

    Is there a gp6 tabs???

  32. johns

    gp6, well some of the tabs are not as good as ones not supported by gp.
    rse doesn’t seem to work that well ,does’t sound like guitars.
    i can;t get effects to work, but that could be me

    its ok not that crazy about it