Guitar Pro 7 First Impression Review

Guitar Pro has been my tabbing software of choice since the start of Uke Hunt almost ten years ago. I’ve used it to make hundreds of tabs. So I was giddy with excitement with last week’s release of Guitar Pro 7 (I’m a Guitar Pro affiliate in case that changes your opinion on my review).

I’ve been putting it through its paces (on a Mac) since then and here’s what I think of it so far.

Should You Buy It?

If you’re starting fresh and wondering whether to buy Guitar Pro 7 I’d highly recommend it. It’s more powerful, widely-used and user-friendly than free apps like TuxGuitar and the long dormant Power Tab (although an alpha of Power Tab 2.0 has popped up recently). And at €75 (about $80) it’s way more affordable than the eye-wateringly expensive general scoring apps like Finale and Sibelius. If you’re going to be tabbing regularly it’s well downloading the trial and giving it a go. It’s a no-brainer.

If you’re considering upgrading from Guitar Pro 6 it’s more of mixed bag at the moment. The improvements are more than enough that I’ve already forked out €30 for the upgrade. But there are downsides to the transition and I wouldn’t blame anyone for sticking with Guitar Pro 6 until the kinks have been worked out and a few options added back in.

The Good Stuff

Visual Overhaul

It’s been 7 years since Guitar Pro 6 (GP6) was released and it was starting to show its age. And the rise of HD/retina displays has been as kind to GP6 as it was to ageing actors. Guitar Pro 7 (GP7) is an overdue improvement. It’s now clean, crisp and easy on the eye.

Layout

The layout has seen a similar improvement. GP7 switches to retractable panels. So there are more options under your fingertips and once you’ve got a score set up you can quickly hide at least two of the panels away while you get on with tabbing. Thumbs up from me.

Image and Audio Exports

Guitar Pro 6’s PNG image export left a fair bit to be desired. The image quality was low and the background was grey (which actually worked out nicely for me on the blog). For higher quality images I had to export a PDF then convert that to PNG. GP7’s PNG export is much better. Although still not as good as exporting a PDF.

Here’s how they compare (Click the image to see it full size):

Guitar Pro 6 PNG Export

Guitar Pro 7 PNG Export

Guitar Pro 7 via PDF

GP7 adds the ability to export MP3 audio files. GP6 could only export WAV audio files. I don’t often export audio files form Guitar Pro but every time I’ve exported a WAV I’ve converted it to MP3. Now GP7 will export MP3s saving the hassle.

MIDI Import

Both GP6 and GP7 allow you to import MIDI files and will attempt to turn them into standard notation/tab. But GP7 does a massively better job at it.

Here’s how GP6 handled a random MIDI I downloaded from the internet:

And the same file in GP7:

GP7 has included the key signature, got rid of the useless rests and correctly picked up on the triplets (importing triplets is an option in the GP7 but not in GP6). The GP7 import is much neater and more readable. It will also now import lyrics (I’m going to be generous and blame the midi file for that being in the bass clef) and you can select which tracks from the MIDI you import.

Minor Improvements

Sounds: When playing back a tab Guitar Pro uses its “Realistic Sound Engine”. It’s certainly more pleasant than MIDI playback. GP7 adds a bunch of new sounds. Ukulele-wise, it’s gone from one sound to three: ukulele, natural and picked. They’ve made sound improvements a tentpole feature of GP7 so someone must really care. But I’ve been fine with the sound in GP6 and the improvements in GP7 are wasted on me.

Polyphonic Tuner: A polyphonic tuner will check the tuning of all your strings at once. You just strum all the strings into your computer mic and it’ll tell which are at of tune. I was fully expecting it not to work and be thrown off by the re-entrant string. But it worked perfectly. I don’t know if I’ll actually use it much but it gave me a, “Holy shit I am living in the future,” moment.

Track Defaults: GP6 didn’t let you change the default settings for new tracks. Now you can save a default notation types (standard, tab or slash), tuning, name and sound for each instrument.

New Preferences: In GP6 pressing the + key makes a note shorter and – made it longer. Which is something my brain never got to grips with. Now there’s an option to switch it to the obviously correct way around.

Locking files: You can now password lock files so they’re either not editable or not viewable without it.

The Not So Good Stuff

Linux Dropped

GP7 drops previous version’s support for Linux. Not a big deal for me or most Guitar Pro users. But this is certainly going to make GP7 a no-go for some people.

File Format

Once again the Guitar Pro file format has changed (now to .gp). That means files you create in Guitar Pro 7 can’t be opened in previous versions.

It is possible to export to .gpx (which opens in GP6) but the option to export to .gp5 is gone. Which is a shame because as well as being openable by GP5 and GP6 other tabbing software is able to import it. That just leaves MusicXML as a way to transfer between tab software.

Useful Preferences Gone

There were a couple of preferences in GP6 that either aren’t in GP7 or I can’t find.

Play sound when editing: GP6 allowed you to hear all the notes on a beat as you typed them in. Which meant you could immediately hear if you’d goofed. I regard this one as pretty much essential and I’m hoping it’s back soon. UPDATE: It is there and I missed it. In the menu sound > play while editing.

Add the bass note to the chord’s name when it’s not the root note: When automatically naming a chord Guitar Pro will give them slash chord names if the root is different from the lowest note of the chord. Great for guitar chords but awful for ukulele chords. GP6 allowed you to turn this off but GP7 doesn’t seem to.

Backup every _ actions: GP6 had an option automatically backup your file after a number of actions of your choosing. Which saved my arse a few times. As far as I can tell GP7 is manual saves only.

Bugs

Crashes: I’ve had a couple of out-of-the-blue crashes using it. Nothing I wouldn’t expect from brand new software.

The big issue I’ve had is while using bluetooth headphones. That causes GP7 crashes every time I try to play a score and makes all audio from the computer sound like complete garbage in the meantime. It might be particular to my setup.

Virtual Instrument Scales The ukulele scales in the virtual instrument (a fretboard popup that shows notes and scales) are all kinds of jacked-up. I didn’t find one that was correct. Here’s what it thinks C major looks like:

If you look at the bottom of that screenshot it has the right notes for the scale. But something is going very wrong in translation to the fretboard.

I had a peek at the scales for guitar and they seem better but some have a few notes missing.

Try or Buy Guitar Pro

View Comments

14 Comments

  1. Urbanmeister April 14th, 2017 10:59 am

    As always, Woodshed, a great review. I particularly liked your comment re. the eye watering cost of Sibelius et al. Have you looked at MuseScore? It’s free, works on Windows, Mac and Linux. The way they make money is by people buying the book, (Mastering MuseScore). It’s about £23.00 on Abe Books and Amazon, and £12.00 for a Kindle version.

    I’m still finding my way around it but let’s just say, I won’t be going back to GuitarPro.

    I’d be interested in your review.

    All the best and thanks again for such a great site.

  2. Chael April 14th, 2017 11:29 am

    I concur with Urbanmeister that MuseScore is certainly worth considering if you’re looking at free software. Compared to the old PowerTab, at least, it’s much more capable and gives better looking output, and with a good-looking modern UI. Buying the book doesn’t seem essential, I’ve been able to find out how to do everything I wanted by doing web searches.

  3. Linda April 14th, 2017 1:17 pm

    Hello,

    You can find the Play while editing option in the Sound Menu.

  4. Christophe Maerten April 14th, 2017 1:50 pm

    Thank you Woodshed for this review !
    The “add the bass note to the chord’s name” option is on his way and will come back very soon, as the backup for every action. There are indeed bugs on the virtual instrument and we’ll fix it shortly. The play sound while editing option is still available, you can find it in the menu “sound > play while editing”.

  5. Urbanmeister April 14th, 2017 2:05 pm

    Chael’s absolutely right regarding not having to buy the book. The program also comes with a downloadable PDF instruction manual. If you add web searches, you really do have all you need. The only reason I bought the manual was to support the developers. Plus, it’s a really good manual, clear, concise and very easy to follow.

  6. Woodshed April 15th, 2017 4:39 pm

    Urbanmeister & Chael: Thanks! I did try MuseScore way back when. I might try it out again now see if I like it more.

    Linda: Thanks very much! I’ll add that to the post.

    Christophe: Thanks! Glad you liked it. I’m looking forward to watching GP7 develop.

  7. cgrind May 9th, 2017 3:42 pm

    GP6 has been super useful to me has but I have lost 2 songs I put hours of work into because of a crash. The file simply wouldn’t open after I closed out of the software. I know it’s not perfect but after the last one (today) I’m thinking about giving up on the GP for good

  8. Woodshed May 10th, 2017 7:28 pm

    cgrind: Sorry to hear about that. I have had a fair few crashes but I haven’t had anything like that. Hopefully I won’t.

  9. John May 15th, 2017 12:54 pm

    Great review. I prefer the muted colour tones of GP6. I teach, so I print a lot of stuff off for students, in GP6 the tab lines are real light making the numbers easy to see. In GP7 the tab lines are thick and dark making the numbers on the tab much harder to read and look at. Maybe this can be adjusted in some setting somewhere, haven’t figured that out.

  10. Woodshed May 15th, 2017 7:33 pm

    John: Thanks! Good point. I hadn’t noticed that.

  11. pipelineaudio June 3rd, 2017 6:52 pm

    Great review! We use GP to teach at a music school on Oahu. I was bummed not to see really any of the usability features people were railing about on Ultimate Guitar forums about dealt with. A huge one is remapping keyboard shortcuts. Finger font size and style. Finger positioning. Handling multiple pick and finger symbols at once. On the other hand, some of the repro steps that would crash GP6 every time havent been able to crash GP7 yet

  12. Donna June 11th, 2017 6:29 pm

    Great review I bought the upgrade myself and it seems there isn’t really that that has much changed to warrant the hype in my opinion. Also now the notation doesn’t seem as clean and crisp as 6, edges notes etc seem slightly jagged.

    The thing I would like to see in guitar pro is a way to quickly remap drums before export for use in programmes like Ez drummer. Its a minor improvement that there is now a drum tab showing the midi note numbers.
    It would also be useful to be able to tell it to pick all of one note in the score and be able to change it for everytime that note occurs in one hit. This would be useful for drums imported from other programmes too, currently I use reaper daw notation editor to do this but it’s fiddly.
    Also would be handy to have a simple way to produce a lead sheet. I.e. a vocal melody with guitar chord names written above the melodies.
    Also more options for moving text around, and switching the order of lyrics vs text vs section names in the score.
    Saving a group of Gp files as a project would be handy too so I can quickly open say if there are 5 songs I happen to be practicing.
    Also was hoping to see an option to import and have an Mp3 as a track so I can more easily use guitar pro for making a drum track for something for example.

  13. pipelineaudio June 12th, 2017 12:19 am

    Yeah Donna, the inability to chose note numbers….35 for the kick??? Really? In 2005? In 2017? Youch. One of those things that’s a tiny PITA until you have to do a lot of it and then it becomes pure pain.

    I think we’ve become spoiled by the customization options in most of the major software leaders now, and GP5 seemed behind in that so much. Err…GP6? No now its GP7 and still so so way behind, yet for what it does, it is still my favorite. Watching the ressurection of Power Tab Editor (2.0) with some interest

  14. WollyChaps August 1st, 2017 4:06 am

    I’ve got GP7. It looks really nice, and does have a (bugged) backup system. The issues for me are mostly stability; I suffer from a crash daily, and the way they implemented the backup system it’s susceptible to a post-crash run-time error that will wipe your backup.

    Kinda sucks, since I otherwise like the improvements they made.

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