Learn the guitar on the Mac with GarageBand

Learn how to get on the road to musical stardom with help from your Mac, GarageBand and a guitar.

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  • Learn to Play 1
  • Learn to Play 2
  • Learn to Play 3
  • Learn to Play 4
  • Learn to Play 5
  • Learn to Play 6
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  • Learn to Play 9
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Open GarageBand and you’ll be presented with a screen offering the various projects. In the left-hand column, go to Learn to Play. You’ll see a new screen, with tabs along the top for Guitar, Piano and Artist lessons. Guitar is chosen by default, and in the main panel you’ll see two options – Intro to Guitar and Chord Trainer. Double-click the first one.

Read next: Best free GarageBand for Mac plugins | Best Mac music software: alternatives to GarageBand

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Next Prev Learn to Play 1

Open GarageBand and you’ll be presented with a screen offering the various projects. In the left-hand column, go to Learn to Play. You’ll see a new screen, with tabs along the top for Guitar, Piano and Artist lessons. Guitar is chosen by default, and in the main panel you’ll see two options – Intro to Guitar and Chord Trainer. Double-click the first one.

Read next: Best free GarageBand for Mac plugins | Best Mac music software: alternatives to GarageBand

 

Step 2 of 10:

Intro to Guitar is a video tutorial that takes you through the basic elements such as the difference between electric and acoustic guitars, how to hold them, tuning, and a chord to learn (E). The timeline at the bottom lets you skip between sections, and you’ll also find controls for playback, volume, looping a section and the option to play the video at slower speeds.

 

Step 3 of 10:

To get the most out of the lessons, you’ll want the Mac to hear you playing. In the top-right corner of the screen there are options for Tuner, Mixer and Setup. Click Setup. Under My Input Device, a drop-down menu lets you select from various connected inputs. For now, select the Built-in mic (Line-In), unless you’re using a Mac mini as it doesn’t come fitted with one.   

 

Step 4 of 10:

One other vital section in the setup screen is that of Monitor. While you play along, you can have GarageBand amplify your efforts through the speakers. This is good for making you feel part of the lesson, but can cause horrendous noise to erupt as feedback builds up. To prevent this, select Monitor On and go to the input level slider on the left and set it below half way.

 

Step 5 of 10:

Before you begin, it’s always a good idea to tune your guitar. Click on Tuner and you’ll see a new screen with bars either side of a letter. Play each string until the letter in the middle stays blue. You’ll see on the screen whether you’re too high or low by the bars around the letter.

 

Step 6 of 10:

Next, load the lesson and move the cursor to the video section. Press Play and a video will show a tutor playing the E chord from Step 2. Press the Record button and play along. The app will listen to your playing and display your progress, with green for good, yellow for out of time and red for bad notes.

 

Step 7 of 10:

Once you’re comfortable with the first lesson, it’s time to expand your repertoire. Click on the ‘X’ in the top-left corner to return to the main menu. Select Lesson Store from the left-hand column. Here you’ll find three sections, Guitar, Piano and Artist. Choose Guitar. This reveals a mainly blank screen, with three free lesson packs listed at the top. Select Basic Guitar.

 

Step 8 of 10:

Once the eight new lessons are downloaded, you’ll see them listed in the Learn to Play section. Work your way through them at your own pace, taking time to practice each lesson until you’re comfortable with the techniques. The tutor regularly introduces more chords and teaches rhythms where you combine them. Like any instrument this will take time.

 

Step 9 of 10:

If you find that you’re getting on well with the lessons, make sure you return to the Lesson Store and download the free Blues and Rock packs. While you’re there also take a look at the Artist lessons. Admittedly it’s a small selection, and Apple hasn’t really updated them in a while, but if you find a track that you like it’s worth the £2.99 investment.

 

Step 10 of 10:

One other free tuition feature of GarageBand is the Chord Trainer. This can be found in Learn to Play under the Basic Guitar section. The idea behind this is simple. Chords are displayed, replete with boxes showing the correct fingering. Once you strum them successfully, illustrated by a green tick appearing, you move onto the next one.

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