I'm looking into learning classical guitar. I know most people will suggest getting lessons, and I'm looking into that.

But I was also wondering if there are any software tutors out there that can actually listen to and critique your playing through a standard computer microphone?

  • That sounds awesome, but I don't think that there's something like this currently available. I think the best way for you would be to get an teacher at least for like 5-10 hours to learn the basics like proper holding your guitar, hands and so on for classical playing. from that point you might use some good books and learn some things on your own and take 1 or 2 hours with a teacher once in awhile to keep on track. Do you have friends who play the classical guitar? They might help you out, too. sry, that's all I can tell you for now. (that's why I didn't choose to write this as an answer)
    – Anonymous
    May 9, 2011 at 22:49

11 Answers 11



Rocksmith is a guitar game from Ubisoft - it is meant to teach you to play songs on the guitar - a real guitar.


It is compatible with any guitar with a standard instrument-out jack. It doesn't have the size of library that Rock Band 3 has, but the following points in its favor have resuscitated my interest in the music game genre:

  • It is intended as practice / training from the ground up. The 'game' portion is built around improving your guitar skills, not scoring points, making money, touring, getting groupies, etc..

  • It is supposed to be able to detect your level of ability and scale the difficulty of songs accordingly. This will allow me (advanced beginner) to play at my own level and my son (rank beginner) to play at his. The jump between medium and hard on RB was significant.

  • It will allow me to use the guitars I've already got. I won't need to go out and buy a guitar just for Rocksmith, I'll be able to use an axe I love. And I won't be practicing on an instrument that I don't want to play in other circumstances.

Update: I have now owned this game for a while and it certainly is entertaining and educational. I have enjoyed playing it and it has been good at motivating me to play more. I will say that the between-songs interface seems clunky and needlessly slow on the Xbox 360. But the songs, mini-games, skill drills, etc., are all valuable in a way that Rock Band, etc., never were.

Additional Update: I have moved onto PC platform for Rocksmith. Rocksmith 2014 is much better, more focused and usable than the original. And I don't know if it's having a mostly modern PC or the difference in versions, but it's much faster and better in terms of just simple navigation which could be frustrating on the original 360 version. My original cable worked just fine with my Steam-purchased Rocksmith and if you hunt for sales, finding a good deal on the original (for importing the song catalog) shouldn't present much expense.

  • Oh if this ever comes out I will get it just for practicing chord voicings
    – crasic
    May 13, 2011 at 10:59
  • Looks like this is the closest thing to what I'm looking for but unfortunately wont work for me as I'm learning classical guitar that does not have a pickup. May 17, 2011 at 17:53
  • @Eric Anastas - Well - that's not impossible, either. You can get a soundhole pickup for practically any guitar. If you're doing classical, that means nylon strings, and that means no magnetic pickups.
    – gomad
    May 17, 2011 at 19:26
  • 2
    @eric I have actually played this game, and I can confirm it not only exists, but it really works. I took the liberty of adding my hands-on preview link to the post. Sep 13, 2011 at 5:46
  • Unfortunately the up-to-date Rocksmith 2014 does not work (for many people if not all) on Windows 10 -- you may end up needing to run an Windows 7 VM. I've contact Ubisoft about this and will update when they get back to me.
    – mathandy
    Jan 21, 2018 at 2:51

There is only one I know of that does anything similar - and don't laugh - Rock Band 3 with the Fender Rock Band 3 Squier.

(rest of series, part 2 and part 3)

This lets you use a real guitar to play real notes, and it scores you on accuracy, timing etc. It doesn't use a mic to listen, it is plugged in to your games console. Please note the Fender Squier has since been sort of discontinued, though there may be residual stock in the retail pipeline. The wireless Fender Mustang pro guitar controller available also works, but it is just that, a controller -- not a true guitar like the Squier.

Of course you are limited to the 250+ odd songs in the Rock Band catalog that have "Pro Guitar" support, and it isn't the cheapest way to go but I am pretty certain that is the closest to the solution you have asked for.

  • 1
    I thought of it too, but I don't think that's what he is looking for. Also, I heard that the guitar is some kind of a Squier Bullet Strat for about 200 bucks, but I may be wrong. Also, there's a similiar solution from Fretlight guitar wich works with the newest version of the commonly used Guitar Pro Software: fretlight.com
    – Anonymous
    May 10, 2011 at 8:25
  • @Markus - wow, you are right. $200! For that I actually might buy one. Wonder where I got the 2k figure from.... I agree it doesn't look like what the OP wants but figured it was worth popping up as it is a partial solution
    – Doktor Mayhem
    May 10, 2011 at 8:27
  • I laughed !! sorry.. I had an argument with my friend about it (he is a pro Rock Band 2 gamer), because I doubt that the game will actually make you a pro musician rather than a pro gamer. But I'm not sure because I've never play before.
    – Sufendy
    May 10, 2011 at 10:26
  • 1
    @Phelios - it will not make you a pro musician, no, but where the earlier versions may help you develop as a gamer (I managed to win my current PS3 in a large Guitar Hero tournament:-) entirely unrelated to musical ability), the latest version does actually teach you how to play the whole song - including all the notes and chords. A distinct step change in implementation.
    – Doktor Mayhem
    May 10, 2011 at 11:48
  • 2
    I recently bought the RB3 guitar - cost, including the required MIDA adapter, was $300. The guitar came setup to spec and is decent. One thing I don't like is the notched frets which make bends annoying. The notches divide the frets into zones and that's how the game picks up where your fingers are. The game is a decent way to learn songs visually. The built in tutorials are pretty good so far. I've worked on a couple of songs in expert pro mode - it really does feel like playing. I don't like that you have to engage a string damper to get the most accurate strum detection. May 10, 2011 at 13:13

eMedia Guitar Method

This question piqued my interest, and I kept looking for answers. It turns out that eMedia can do this now, too, at least to some extent. Look down the linked page for New Instant Feedback on Your Playing! You'll still need a microphone, but this software is out now, and possibly more applicable to your desired genre than Rocksmith is.

  • Well, that's not really anything new. Any program can detect what note you are playing. To get technical, it just compares it with a pre-defined midi note. If your guitar's out of tune, or what if it's a slide/HO or PO, how will it fare against that? It also doesn't provide you with "how" good your technique is in reality. Guitar tutors are still the best for this.
    – skystar
    May 19, 2011 at 21:55
  • 1
    @skystar - Right. The software can only tell you if you missed a note, not if you've got soul. But "you missed that note" is a form of critique, which is what the question asks for. Obviously no program that listens through a mic can deal with an out of tune guitar - but your tutor won't put up with that either!
    – gomad
    May 19, 2011 at 22:10
  • I'm not concerned with how "well" I'm playing now. Right now I'm just learning how to read notes and how to figure out what fret/string they correspond to. Guitar Method looks like what I'm looking for. Although, how well would it work for classical guitar which is not as focused on chords as acoustic? May 23, 2011 at 20:37
  • @Eric Anastas - I have no idea how well it works at all, I've never used this one. But I can tell you that any software is going to have an easier time discerning single notes than chords anyhow!
    – gomad
    May 23, 2011 at 20:51

There is some software called Yousician that gives you songs/tunes to play and it critiques how well you do. It starts off with really simple tunes and progressively gets more difficult.

I've used Yousician for the piano and liked it. It's also compatible with the Ukulele and, as you're asking, the guitar. I found it missed some of my ukulele playing, but it could just have been me playing poorly.


Check out the Rock Prodigy app for iOS devices.

The app listens to you play and then scores how accurately you played the track. Sort of like Guitar Hero with a real guitar. Multiple levels of difficulty for each song/lesson. The app is free (with some functionality disabled) and then you pay for each song you want to learn. Works with the iPad and the onboard mic.

I just downloaded it and played with it. The free version is OK but as a beginner I wanted some of the disabled features so I took out a loan and spent $5 for the full version (which also has a built-in tuner). The $5 also gets you more free songs and lessons. Other songs and lessons run from .99 to 1.99. There appears to be more than a dozen lessons and more than 50 songs (classic, country and rock). For the cost of one private guitar lesson it looks like you can have a lot of fun with this app. If you just go for the free version, be sure to register and go online as there will be more free content that you need to download. There are versions for the iPhone/iTouch as well as the iPad. Per a comment on another reply, I should mention there are three hammer on/pull off lessons as well as an acoustic tapping and legato lesson from Nuno Bettencourt. The three Steves (Vai, Morse and Howe) also have some advanced lessons available.


First off all software pretty much sucks when it comes to learning guitar.

My suggestion would be to get the book "First Book for Guitar" by Frederick Noad. It's an excellent book for those that are serious about learning the instrument. It teaches you the from the beginning and by the end you could be an intermediate player.

Also, software that seems to go well with guitar is the "Guitar pro" software. There are loads of sites that offer lots of pieces compatible with this software and guess what just type the name of the song and it finds it and also its free..... :-) It also plays the notes on the screen so you get a chance to here how it should sound. Lovely Jubbly

  • Disagree. Rocksmith does not suck. Here is the blog of one guy who was a total noob when he started to play Rocksmith one year ago: myrocksmithjourney.blogspot.com Now he has >7 guitars and can kick an ass. Nov 27, 2012 at 10:09


is an integrated system for learning guitar that relies on a custom electric guitar that can interface with a computer.


WildChords is an iPad app that uses the microphone to listen to your guitar. I haven't tried it, but I saw an enthusiastic endorsement.



The problem with using software to critique your playing, especially with classical guitar, is that playing the correct notes is only a small part of the whole. For the beginner classical guitarist, learning a good technique (right and left hand positions and motions, correct sitting position, etc.) is much more important in the long term.

Having said that, it is certainly possible to use software to rate your ability to play the correct notes in the correct time. In the long run, though, you will likely find that the scoring that software will give you can be misleading because it does not take tone or timbre into account, only pitch.

For example, you can play A - 440 Hz on 4 different strings. In each case, the pitch is the same, but the note will sound very different if you play it on the 1st string, 5th fret as compared to the 4th string, 19th fret.

I am not aware of any software that can make that distinction. What can make the distinction, though, is the human ear. With a little bit of practice and deliberate listening, issues such as sudden shifts in timbre, or nail clicks (a common problem with classical guitar) will practically jump out at you.

In addition, part of the beauty of classical guitar is in the interpretation of the performer. Guitarists do not play the same piece the same way. If they did, there would be little point to having many guitarists. An important part of an artists interpretation is the rhythmic aspect. I am not familiar with all the software out there, but I have not heard of any software that gives the performer rhythmic flexibility while still accurately rating pitch throughout the piece.

Based on all of this, I would say the best judge of your playing at any level (outside of a professional teacher) is yourself. Record your practice sessions and listen to what you did. Try to keep specific goals in mind and focus on them so you do not get too side-tracked with any other issues you may hear, although keeping a note of them can be useful as well. Once you are comfortable with your recording, let a more experienced guitarist listen and critique it as well. This may help you notice things you otherwise would not have.


You Rock Guitar

Or any Guitar-shaped MIDI Controller and tablature software.


Check Out String Wars in iTunes Store

String Wars is exactly the application you are looking for. Currently, it is available only on iPad for just $5. It has many good features, which lets the user:

a. use locally available guitar-pro tab files to practice songs

b. challenge other players to compete on a particular riff

c. record and share the played music over social networking websites

And much more. You can get more information on: http://www.stringwars.co

It does not replace the initial lessons by a guitar teacher, but is a great practicing tool, which makes guitar practicing more enjoyable.

Disclaimer: I am one of the co-founders of the company aynur labs, which has released the product in the market.


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