I'm using Guitar Pro 5.2 for this tutorial, but most of what's written here is true for versions 3 and 4 as well. Guitar Pro 6 is a completely different kettle of fish, however.
This tutorial presumes you know how to tab in general (that is, how to read and understand it). Knowledge of standard notation isn't essential for using Guitar Pro, but understanding note durations/groupings is somewhat important.
General Song/Track Attributes
This section covers tempos, time signatures, tunings and so on. When you start a new tab there's a single instrument track already visible at the bottom and a default tempo of 120 BPM is selected. The default time signature is 4/4.
Changing the Tempo:
The "Play" toolbar (with the green Play button on it) is located on the top half of the screen; the tempo setting is on this toolbar. Click the current tempo
which is 120 by default and the tempo window
There are tempo presets in the drop-down menu on the left, or you can punch in a new tempo directly.
The tempo can be changed dynamically during the song using Mix Tables, which are discussed later.
Changing the Time Signature:
The "Bar" toolbar is located immediately below the usual "New", "Open" and "Save" buttons. The time signature button is located here. Click the time signature button
to open the time signature window
If you only want to change the current bar's time signature be sure to untick the option "Until the End". With this option ticked all bars occurring after the selected one will have their time signature changed as well. If you are just starting a new tab this option won't matter.
Changing the Key Signature:
The key signature button is immediately to the left of the time signature button, here
Adding New Tracks:
The button to add (or delete) a new track is located on the "Standard" toolbar, the same toolbar which houses the "New", "Open" and "Save" buttons.
Click the Add a Track button
. Before you see the track window an intermediary window
will appear and you'll be asked to select either an instrument track or a percussion track, and where in relation to the currently selected track you wish the new one to be added (for instance, if you want it to appear above or below it).
When you proceed with your chosen track parameters you'll be presented with the track properties window
. Here you can rename the track, change the tuning, define how many strings the instrument will have, add a capo and so on. The rest of the options are self-explanatory.
To regain access to the track properties window after you've closed it you just have to single-click the track name
or just press F6.
Once you add a track you can shift it up or down in relation to the other tracks by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Up or Ctrl+Alt+Down (using the cursor keys). On my keyboard this doesn't work, so I instead use the menu options to do this:
Track > Move Up
or Track > Move Down
To change the instrument of a particular track you simply click the current instrument; it defaults to Acoustic Guitar (Steel) when you create a new track.
Click the instrument name
to bring up a list of all MIDI instruments. Choose your desired instrument from the instrument window
If you want to select an RSE instrument you need to press the RSE button before
the last two steps. RSE, if you don't know, is the Realistic Sound Engine, and really isn't worth the effort of explaining how to use it. It's pretty straight forward anyway.
The volume and panning settings are located on the track bank, as well as effects such as chorus and reverb (these will only work if you have a soundcard which supports them). You can mute and solo each instrument or a selection of instruments by clicking the Mute or Solo buttons
on each track.
When in multitrack view you can also define which instruments will be displayed on-screen by using the View buttons
to the left of the track names.
As is the case with the tempo, the instrument, volume/panning and effects can all be changed dynamically during the song using Mix Tables.
If you want to add drums/percussion, repeat the steps outlined above and select Percussion when the intermediary window appears. Tabbing the drum track involves punching in the MIDI numbers which relate to each drum sound. A list
of these numbers and their corresponding drum sounds will appear when you create a new percussion track, and it can be re-opened at any time by clicking the Percussion button
on the "View" toolbar.
Song Title, Artist and Other Info:
Press F5 to bring up the Score Information window, or press the Score Information button
. Whatever you type here will be displayed on the tab when you print it or change the view
to Page or Parchment mode. It's important to fill this information in accurately if you plan on submitting your tab here or to other tab sites, especially if you want to retain credit for tabbing it.
Helpful Keyboard Shortcuts:
I highly recommend you practice using the NUMPAD for punching in tab numbers and learn the keyboard shortcuts for the most common actions, as this will increase your productivity tenfold.
to see the shortcuts specific to the NUMPAD block.
The "undo" shortcut is the same here as it is everywhere else, but the "redo" shortcut is lightly different. Usually Ctrl+Y will redo an undone action, but in Guitar Pro the shortcut is Ctrl+Shift+Y.
Here are the shortcuts most people will be interested in:
- dead note/muted note
- slide (legato slide)
- slide (shift slide; destination note is struck)
- let ring
- fade note(s) in
- open the chord diagram window; selected chords will be added where the cursor is
- strum down
- strum up
- tied note (tap L where the note is intended to end
, not on the note itself)
- Play/Stop tab
- grace note
- add a rest (the length of the rest is defined in the same way as notes)
If you wish to insert a note to the left of a selected note tap the Insert key on your keyboard. If you wish to insert an empty bar to the left of the currently selected bar right-click in the existing bar and select "Inset a Bar" from the list.
When you've completed a tab, or when you want to clean things up a little before submitting it to a tab site, you should always use the Tools > Complete/Reduce Bars with Rests
option from the top menu. This needs to be performed on each track individually. What it does is fills in any blank space you've missed, or removes any oversized lengths which cause the bars to overrun.
Entering tab notes is best done by using the cursor keys to navigate through each bar. If you wish to change from triplets to some other grouping use the n-tuplets drop-down menu
. Whichever grouping you choose from the list will become the default one when you press the / key on the NUMPAD, which is the keyboard shortcut for adding n-tuplet groupings. I highly recommend using the NUMPAD plus and minus keys to change note durations, but if you don't have a NUMPAD on your keyboard or if you prefer using your mouse the note durations can be changed using the Notation toolbar
If you haven't completed the bar or have entered too many notes (that is, if you haven't filled out the entire time signature's worth of tab for a particular bar exactly
) the bar lines will become red when you move to the next bar, indicating that you've mistranscribed a portion of the tab. Most tab sites check for this by pressing F4, which causes Guitar Pro to scan the tab for these kinds of errors. If errors are found they generally reject the tab until you clean it up. It is recommended that you perform this check yourself before submitting the tab, and then cleaning up any errors it finds. Keep in mind that it will stop scanning as soon as it finds an error; you should press F4 again each time you make a correction in case there are further errors to be found.
Transposing a note to another string is done by selection the note in question and pressing Alt+Up or Alt+Down (using the cursor keys). You can also use the Transposition toolbar
for the same functionality. Only one note can be transposed at a time.
The Tools > Bar Arranger...
tool will, when selected, shift all of your tab to its correct location in relation to the empty space and rests which may exist in the tab. This isn't always a good idea and shouldn't be done unless you know your tab will benefit from it, but it's a great time saver and is worth experimenting with. An example of how this tool can be quite helpful is in the next post down.
Quick navigation tips:
2: Jump to beginning/end of tab
3: Loop song/selection
4. Metronome & Countdown
Mix Tables are used to dynamically change various elements of the tab, and they override any previous Mix Tables and the normal parameters of the track/song. For instance, if at bar 60 you want the tempo to change to 184 BPM simply navigate your cursor to bar 60 and tap F10 (or click the Mix Tables button
on the bottom-right of the screen), tick the Tempo option and enter the new tempo. This will cause the tab to be played at the new speed when the tab plays beyond the point at which the Mix Table is entered.
The options offered by the Mix Table are pretty straight forward. Instead of going through each option I'll just give you a few words of advice:
1. Tempo changes are best kept on the drum track. If there is no drum track, just make sure you keep the tempo changes on a single track. The reason for this is that it's easy to get confused about where all of the tempo changes occur, and you may find yourself entering conflicting Mix Tables, or you may decide to change the overall tempo of the song and need to update the Mix Tables to reflect the new tempo, and finding all of the Mix Tables which adjust the tempo might prove difficult if they're scattered all over the tab.
2. Mix Tables are copied and pasted along with notes/bars, so if you copy and paste a portion of the tab which contains a Mix Table be sure to delete it. Most of the time this is just a cosmetic consideration, but if you decide to alter the settings of the original Mix Table you'll have to go through the tab and do the same for the copied and pasted Mix Tables as well. Keep things clean and you'll have less hassle. To remove a Mix Table move the cursor to the point at which the Mix Table is inserted, press F10, then click the "Clear" button.
3. Using the Volume option of the Mix Table and selecting a Transition setting (such as "16 beats") will cause the original volume to gradually increase/decrease to the new one over the course of 16 beats. This is great for fading in or out. You can also apply this setting to all tracks at the same time, so only one Mix Table on one track is required.
If you want the transition to last longer - say, 32 beats - use two Mix Tables. In the case of a fade out, decrease the volume by half over the course of 16 beats, then enter another Mix Table after the 16th beat and decrease the volume to zero for another
16 beats. This will cause a 32-beat fade out.
The same is true for panning and tempo, as well as the special effects such as chorus which are only audible on certain soundcards.
The Bend Tool:
Highlight the note you wish to bend and tap B on the keyboard, or click the bend button
on the "Effects" toolbar on the bottom. The bend window
Here you can make use of the pre-defined bend types or enter a custom bend. Editing a custom bend involves clicking the graph at various points to add a new articulation, indicated by grey squares, to the overall bend. Clicking the squares again will remove them. If you right-click the squares three times the part of the bend after
the square will have varying degrees of vibrato applied to it. Right-clicking it a fourth time will return it to normal.
It's worth keeping in mind that the length of the note you are bending - including any tied notes attached to it - is taken into account by the bend tool. You can also apply bends to a tied note.
Experiment with the tool to get a feel for how it works; it's easier to do this than for me to write lengthy descriptions of it which will probably just put you off.
Whammy Bar Tool:
This tool works in the same manner as the bend tool, in that you can define articulations using the same grey squares and can apply vibrato by right-clicking them. To access the tool you have to click the whammy bar button
on the "Effects" toolbar on the bottom of the screen, right next to the bend button. The whammy bar window
will then appear, along with a list of pre-defined bar articulations.
As is the case with the bend tool, note duration and tied notes are taken into account.
Adding Repeats & Markers:
Repeats are defined using the Repeat Open and Repeat Close buttons
on the "Bar" toolbar, which is located immediately below the standard "New", "Open" and "Save" buttons. Between these two buttons is the Alternative Endings button, with which you can define different endings to repeated sections.
You can add markers such as Coda, Segno and so on, but these are merely cosmetic markers and don't actually have any bearing on how the tab is played. Guitar Pro 6 makes better use of these markers, however.
General markers can be added and these can be used to help you navigate through the tab, although again these markers aren't actually utilised by the tab during play; they're simply there to help you and other users of your tab find their way around. Click here
for an example of how these look on the tab.
To add these kinds of markers place your cursor on the bar at which you want the marker to appear, and click the Insert a Marker button
which is to the left of the Play button (you can also add a marker by pressing Shift+Insert). When you add a marker you'll get a pop-up window
asking you to define the name of the marker and the colour of the text.
Markers can be edited after they've been inserted. You can do this by clicking the Edit Marker button immediately to the right of the Insert a Marker button. Here you can change the bar number at which the marker appears, the colour of it and its name.
There are three buttons to the right of the two previously discussed. These buttons allow you to use the markers to navigate quickly to marked points of the tab:
1: Move to previous marker
2: Select marker from a list
3: Move to next marker
If you accidentally remove or obscure the toolbars you can reset them to their default position easily by right-clicking on any grey toolbar space and selecting "Default Position" from the bottom of the menu.
There is a maximum of 5 possible undo points remembered by the tab.
Exporting the tab to a .WAV file involves playing the song back from start to finish whilst your PC records it in real-time. This requires you to have proper soundcard drivers installed for your device, otherwise the recording functionality won't be available (generic Windows drivers won't suffice). It's worth leaving your system alone while it records the .WAV file, because any hiccups or interruptions in operation caused by multitasking will be recorded. To save yourself time and headaches you should initially only record a few seconds of audio and check it to make sure the volume levels are all set correctly before recording an entire song. If you want to convert the .WAV file to MP3 I highly recommend the free program CDex
Save as often as you can; Guitar Pro is littered with bugs and crashes more often than any other software I've ever used. The tab is automatically backed up every time you perform a certain number of actions (this number can be modified in the program's general options) but saving often is a much better insurance policy. There are certain errors which, once experienced, will continuously appear every time you try to do something. Simply save the tab and restart the program when this happens.
This pretty much covers the basics. If I've missed anything, or if you have any specific questions, feel free to reply.