Guitar Pro is a great piece of software. It is a powerful tool for practicing and learning to play new songs. It also helps you to better understand music theory or to share and teach other musicians your music. Especially for writing guitar tabs this software is great! In this easy tutorial we’ll help you how to write guitar tabs with Guitar Pro 7 or 8!
0. Getting Started
From the Startmenu after opening Guitar Pro, you can start a new project in three different ways:
1. Make New File
To start from scratch with a new file:
Click New File
Press Ctrl-N (Windows) or Cmd-N (Mac)
2. Open (Existing) File
Import a file from a specific file type:
Click Open File
Press Ctrl-O (Windows) or Cmd-O (Mac)
The supported file types are shown below:
One of the coolest things: Guitar Pro is retro compatible with all previous versions! So if you fetch a Guitar Pro file somewhere on the internet, you can always make it work in the latest version of Guitar Pro! Guitar Pro files are recognizable from their GP extension (7.x version), GTP (1.x and 2.x versions), GP3 (3.X versions), GP4 (4.x versions), GP5 (5.x versions), and GPX (6.x versions).
3. Open Template File
Use one of the provided templates:
Select the preferred template in the Templates – Tab
1. Make New file
We’re gonna start from scratch here. Since I work on a mac, I press Cmd-N. If you work on a pc press Ctrl-N.
2. Choose the Settings
We can then choose the Type of instrument from which we want to add a track.
The software knows that the guitar is the most important instrument of the world 😁, so it starts with different Types of guitars: Acoustic – Electric – Bass – Other.
You may later add tracks for or orchestral instruments, drums or MIDI-instruments.
For now, you can forget all that and choose Electric Guitar – Clean.
We can choose to change the following options:
- Number of strings on your guitar (Yeah, it goes up to 10 strings 🤪, but fortunately the default is still 6 strings).
- Type of tuning of the guitar (lots to choose from here, but we’ll go for the standard tuning)
- Type of notation: tab – notes – slash/rythm
- Type of sound you want to hear when adding notes
Since I chose a Clean Guitar, several clean sounds are presented here.
There’s lots to choose from, including several signature sounds from favourite artists. You may listen to the chosen sound by pressing the triangle (play button) next to the pull down menu with the sounds.
I keep it simple and choose the Clean Strat sound, then click ‘Create’.
We have left the Startmenu and we’re now really ‘in’ the Guitar Pro software.
3. Main panels (views) of Guitar Pro
We have four main panels surrounding our work space here. I will briefly describe them here.
1. Edition Pallette
On the left side we have the Edition Pallette. Here we can modify our score and choose different key signatures, clefs, time signatures, value of the notes, and very important: add symbols that guitar players are used to. For example: hammer-ons, pull-offs, up-strokes, down-strokes, information on the fingering, types of bends etc.
On the right side we have the Inspector. Here we can change the way in which the tracks and the song appears.
- In the Track tab we have the same options as mentioned above (after opening a new file):
- under INFORMATION we see the Type of instrument. Here we can also change the colour of the track, the icon and the name.
- under MUSICAL NOTATION we can change the Type of notation and the Type of tuning. You can even create your own custom tuning or add a (partial) capo.
- under SOUNDS we can change the Type of sound. Here we can also
- under INTERPRETATION we can configure the way that Guitar Pro is going to play the track. Again lots of options here: playing style, palm muting, accentuation, auto ring, auto brush and stringed.
- In the Song tab we can give some information abo the song and we modify the setup for mastering all tracks.
- Under INFORMATION you can give the Song title and add your Artist name.
- Under MUSICAL NOTATION Select Stylesheet to completely change the appearance of your project. Lot’s of things can be changed here:
- Page & Score format: change size, orientation etc.
- Systems & Staves: change dipslay settings of staves, brackets and trackname.
- Header & Footer: decide what should and what should not be displayed in the header and footer of the pages.
- Texts & Styles: change font types and font sizes of all kinds of texts.
- Notation: change display settings of tablature notations, symbols and settings for displaying the fingers of left and right hand.
- You can load pre-designed Stylesheets (with different the parameters in the described options) and define your own Stylesheets (settings you wish to use on more projects). Under View You can also use turn on the Design Mode. pic This allow you to change the way the bars appear. For each line of your score you can add or remove bars (by clicking the plus and minus icons).
3. Global view
At the bottom of the score we find the Global view. Here we see all the tracks of the song. They can all be managed and organized in this view. The tracks can be mixed (volume, pan, EQ) and you can see visually (by the display of colours) when each track can be heard in the song. At the bottom you can see the names of the different sections.
At the top of the score we find the Toolbar. Here we find different play options. We can change the instrument track by clicking on it. We can add a count-in and a metronome. We can select a section and loop this. It is also possible to pitch shift the project, for example a half step below or a half step above (use the + and the – symbol next to the tuning fork). This comes in handy for guitar players that have tuned their guitars a half step lower: no need to change the tuning of the guitar, change the pitch of the song! You can also change the tempo of the song, which is good for practicing certain (fast) lines.
4. Making Tracks with Guitar Tabs
1. Guitar track
Adding tabs (and notes) to the score is quite easy. With the arrow keys we can change the strings (positions on the TAB-bar) en by typing in the number of the fret, we make the tab (and the note).
It is helpful the hear the notes while adding them to the score. For this to work, we have to go to
Sound – Play while editing.
2. Ochestral instrument track
It’s also possible to add tabs and notes for (non-stringed) orchestral instruments, for example a piano.
In the Main Menu click Track – Add
or press Alt-Cmd-N
or click on the ‘+’-symbol in the Global view.
Orchestra – Keyboard – Acoustic Piano
Make sure you click the TAB-notation under ACOUSTIC PIANO SETTINGS
Then click ‘OK’
We can now navigate strings by using the arrows of our keyboard, and use the numpad to add the fret numbers.
We can also do this with the aid of a visual guitar fretboard (or the visual keyboard):
View – Show Fretboard View
View – Show Keyboard View
3. Drum track
You can also edit a drum track:
Click View – Show Drumkit View
Type in the corresponding numbers (for example for 30 type in the 3 and the 0 at the same time)
5. Entering Tabs and Notes Fast!
1. Shortcut Keys to enter tabs and notes
- Arrow keys Navigate through different strings.
- Number pad Used for entering notes by fret numbers.
- Backspace Erases a note.
- + Makes notes faster.
- – Makes notes slower.
- / Makes triplets.
- , Dots a note. Pressing , again undots a note.
- spacebar Let’s us hear the result.
- Select some notes, press Ctrl-C of Cmd-C to copy
- After that: change to the right position/bar and press Ctrl-V or Cmd-V to paste
- L Ties a note to the previous one.
- Shift-L Ties a chord to the previous one.
- R Adds a rest.
- T Adds text to any section.
- A Brings up the chord menu. We can choose tons of alternative chord fingerings. The chord diagram will be listed on top of the bar with the chord, and on top of our score.
A full list of keyboard shortcuts can be found here
2. Fretboard & Keyboard View to enter tabs and notes
As mentioned above we can enter notes visually on a picture of a fretboard or keyboard view:
View – Show Fretboard View
View – Show Keyboard View
The size of the visueal fretboard and keyboard can easily be adjusted by dragging the corners of the windows. When you navigate your score, you can see the corresponding notes on the fretboard or keyboard, and you can enter notes to the score directly form the visual fretboard or keyboard.
3. Midi Keyboard or Midi Guitar to enter tabs and notes
Guitar Pro – Preferences – Audio / MIDI
Under MIDI INPUT, select your Midi Keyboard / Midi Guitar
To enable midi capture select:
Sound – Midi Capture
Now don’t expect that you can play some music on your midi keyboard and magically see the sheet music written out for you. It’s only a way to enter your notes faster. The software is not able to detect and transcribe the rhythm, so you have to manually enter this by adding/changing the value of the notes (choosing the right note values in the Editon Pallette, or using the + and – symbols to quickly change to the right note values).
If you do wan’t to turn you music into sheet music right away, you first have to play it with a midi instrument in a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW, such as for example Logic Pro), then export it from your DAW as a midi file, and import the midi file into Guitar Pro. But be aware that this might work for non-stringed instruments and notation in notes, but not for stringed instruments such as the guitar, and thus not for notation in tabs. The cause of this is that one note can be played in multiple (fretboard) positions on the guitar, and your DAW and Guitar Pro do not automatically know which fretboard positions to choose.
The Bottom Line
In Guitar Pro 7 and 8 we can change almost everything by clicking on it. Change the tempo by clicking on the mentioned tempo above the score. Click on the clef, the tuning or the time signature to directly change it, etcetera. This makes it very easy to learn to work with Guitar Pro! I hope this easy tutorial has helped you to make a jump start making guitar tabs with Guitar Pro.