Guitar Pro 7 Review (Updated 2018)
This review has been updated as there have been quite a few updates to Guitar Pro 7 since it first came out. This updated review looks at some of the new additions from update 7.5, which was a major update.
Guitar Pro 7 Features
If you’re unfamiliar with Guitar Pro, it’s a guitar tablature/notation program that allows you to create or download transcriptions of music then play them back to jam along with. That’s the simple explanation, but there’s a lot more Guitar Pro can do.
Guitar Pro 7 boasts a lot of features so rather than repeat them here, check out the features list on the Guitar Pro 7 website.
The way I recommend thinking about Guitar Pro is that it’s a program that allows you to do three main tasks:
- Write music for guitar as well as any other instrument
- Jam along with transcriptions
- Learn songs and parts with tools such as the speed trainer and looper
You can use Guitar Pro 7 to download transcriptions (in TAB and Standard Notation) from sites like ultimate-guitar.com, you can write your own music and even come up with backing tracks to jam over. There’s a lot more you can do, but for most guitarists, that’s the main uses for Guitar Pro.
Ease of use
The biggest change from Guitar Pro 6 to Guitar Pro 7 is the complete design overhaul. While GP6 doesn’t look dated like GP5 does today, GP7 is a step up in many ways. It took me quite some time to get used to the changes from GP5 to GP6 as everything completely changed so I had to relearn the layout from scratch. With GP7 it didn’t take long to get a feel for GP7’s layout and features. Within an hour I had a good grasp of where to find most features.
In Guitar Pro 7, there are three main panels to edit and control your score:
- The left panel contains all the different score editing tools and symbols
- The bottom panel lists instrument tracks, mixing console and allows you to jump to different parts of the song
- The right panel gives you track and song information as well as tuning, effects and TAB/notation options
You can toggle these three panels on and off at any time by clicking the three buttons on the top right of the screen:
It’s such a simple feature but makes it easy to change your screen depending on what you’re doing (eg: writing music vs jamming). Having those three buttons always available makes it really quick and easy to access the right tools needed. While GP5 & GP6 often felt cluttered, GP7 feels more streamlined and organized.
The major 7.5 update improves a lot of areas that initially felt like they were a step backwards from GP6. For example, the screenshot below shows the tuning options as it was when GP7 launched:
It was a step backward from GP6 and wasn’t the best layout. Here are the new tuning options after the 7.5 update:
A few simple changes like editing individual strings on the same options screen make a big difference. It’s now far quicker and easier to find different tuning options from the library at the top. The fretboard diagram is a nice way to visually see your capo settings which is handy if you’re using a partial capo.
While we’re talking about tunings, when I first reviewed GP7 the limit on how many strings an instrument could have was 8. I talked about how GP7 missed a big opportunity by not raising that limit as there are guitarists out there with 9 or 10 string guitars (or other instruments like the Chapman stick).
Fortunately, this has been fixed in the 7.5 update. You can now add tracks with 7, 8, 9, and 10 string instruments. For guitarists who play these extended range guitars, this is a welcome change. It’s good to see that Arobas is listening to feedback and making changes.
Other 7.5 Changes
There were quite a few changes in the 7.5 update. Here are some of the more interesting ones:
- File browser: if you have a folder where you keep all of your Guitar Pro files, you can now have that folder index for quick access. Go File > Browse and select the folder. Now you can easily search and find files in the browser
- Access mySongBook library: if you have a subscription to mySongBook, you can now access the library directly in GP7
- Score editing: you can now click score features such as the time or key signature to edit them. For example, if you want to change a bar to 3/4 time, hover over the bar and you’ll see it highlight. Click it and you can change the time signature
- Merging and splitting staves: you’re now able to choose between single and grand staff for a track as well as change between the two. For example, if you write a part for a pianist, you can convert the track to show a grand staff (which they will greatly appreciate)
One aspect I found frustrating in GP6 was the way other non-guitar instruments were handled. Try to write for a piano or drum kit in GP6 and by default you couldn’t enter the notes using TAB format or view TAB at all. Whether you like TAB or not isn’t the issue. The issue is that GP6 didn’t give you a choice – you were forced to use only one method. I was extremely glad to see that in GP7 you have complete freedom to write, edit and view any instruments any way you want. You’re not forced to use a method you don’t like – you have all choices available.
Simple click on ‘Track’ on the right panel, and select the type of notation you want from TAB, Standard Notation and Slash Notation. This means if you want to view everything in Standard Notation, you can. If you prefer Guitar TAB, you can view everything in TAB format. If you’re a GP5 user and write your drum tracks on TAB using MIDI numbers (eg: 42 for hi-hat, 49 for crash cymbal, etc.), you can continue to write drums that way.
GP6 annoyed a lot of people as it introduced a new file format: .gpx. If you had GP5 and didn’t want to make the change to GP6, you started to see gpx files on sites like ultimate-guitar.com. Unfortunately, GP7 introduced another new format: .gp. While it’s possible to export in the now older .gpx format, you can’t export to the older .gp5 format – so you can’t share anything with other guitarists who still use GP5.
Of course, GP7 can import all older formats as well as MIDI, PowerTab and other common formats. But for some guitarists, it’s frustrating news to see yet another new format appear.
The 7.5 update gives you a way to batch-convert all your older file formats to the new .gp format. I was hesitant about converting my library before I found out your original files won’t be deleted. So I recommend converting all of your files and keep your old file formats in a separate folder as a backup.
I personally never really cared about sound quality when using Guitar Pro. MIDI was fine and allowed me to write my music and get a rough idea of how it sounds before I record real instruments. I never used RSE (Realistic Sound Engine) on GP6 because I felt it was distracting compared to MIDI. To me, Guitar Pro is mainly a writing tool, so RSE wasn’t important. But if you mainly use Guitar Pro to jam along or learn songs, the RSE and built-in effects are worth taking a look at.
The RSE has a really nice range of instruments available along with heaps of presets. This is a great way to quickly get close to the style of tone you’re after. While you shouldn’t expect the instruments to sound like real instruments, they’re good enough for songwriting or jamming purposes.
Notice the ‘RSE’ and ‘MIDI’ buttons on the top right? These are available on every track so you can easily switch between the different modes on individual tracks as you like.
Click on the icon next to any effect and you’ll bring up a nice graphic of the pedal/amp:
This is a great way to learn about different effects as well as try out different effects on any parts you’re writing. A new feature in GP7 is that you can connect your guitar to your computer and run your guitar through the effects. Don’t expect anywhere near the same quality a program like AmpliTube offers, but it’s good enough to quickly try out different effects while songwriting.
GP6 was horribly sluggish on my laptop when it first came out, but performance gradually improved as GP6 was updated. I was glad to see that GP7 loaded much faster and didn’t feel as slow on the same aging laptop. I’m sure it would run lightning fast on a decent computer, but I’m happy with the performance so far.
I was really surprised when I saw GP7 was suddenly available. There was no press release or big announcement on the day – it just became available on the website. My emails to the marketing team were ignored which made me worried that the release was rushed and that GP7 may not really be ready for release.
Unfortunately, my worry was confirmed with crash after crash and reading countless comments on their Facebook page with similar experiences. I remember GP6 started out as a buggy mess and it does seem like Arobas rushed the launch of GP7.
As of the 7.5 update, I haven’t experienced any bugs or issues. It’s now a very solid program and significantly better than it was on launch.
Overall impression of Guitar Pro 7
As of version 7.5, I really like GP7. Initially, I was disappointed with how Arobas released it. They released GP7 full of bugs. Now that those bugs have been fixed, I’m quite happy with GP7. It’s far better than GP6 and should continue to improve as they keep updating it.
There are a lot of guitarists who still use GP5 today as they felt GP6 was a big step backward (in many ways I agree). I feel that GP7 is finally a big step forward and should be enough to convince people still using GP5 to upgrade. If you’re still on the fence, just download the free trial and see whether you like the changes or not.
Guitar Pro 7 Pros
- Greatly improved features and stability as of the 7.5 update
- Nice modern layout
- Good score and notation options
- Can handle 7, 8, 9, & 10 string instruments
Guitar Pro 7 Cons
- (fixed now) the initial release of GP7 was riddled with bugs because they rushed the release. Fortunately, the constant updates have dealt with these issues
Who is Guitar Pro 7 for?
Guitar Pro is the type of program that every guitarist could find useful. Whether you want to write songs or learn and practice other people’s songs, Guitar Pro is one of the best tools available. Even something as simple as being able to loop sections and practice them with the speed trainer makes this a must-buy in my opinion.
Find out more and get your own copy of Guitar Pro 7 from the Guitar Pro website.