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.
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.
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.