5 Essential Linux Apps for Guitarists

Linux is often overlooked when it comes to music production. For a long time, there were good reasons for that. The complicated sound system, lack of professional-quality software, and limited hardware compatibility have all contributed toward a bad reputation for Linux when it comes to quality audio tools. We here at MakeTechEasier thought it was time to take a look at where things stand when it comes to music production on Linux, particularly for guitarists. In this article, we’ll cover some things like tab/notation software, audio editing, and multitrack recording.

1. Tabulature and Notation – TuxGuitar

For many, the first thing you’ll want is a place to write, store, and play tabs or notation. Many Windows users enjoy PowerTab and Guitar Pro, each with their own collection of downloadable tabs. For Linux, we’ve got TuxGuitar. It’s a very similar program, gives almost all of the same features, and best of all it’s compatible with Guitar Pro tabs.


If you don’t like TuxGuitar, try out KGuitar, KTabEdit, and Gnometab.

2. Effects Processing – FreqTweak

There are multiple programs for Linux aimed at real-time effects processing, and some might work for you better than others. I chose FreqTweak for this example because it’s fairly simple to set up and is available in the standard Ubuntu repositories.


Additionally, a nice feature of FreqTweak is that you can “draw” some of your effects in. In the above example, I drew curves representing the delay I wanted on my incoming sound and FreqTweak will apply it.

If FreqTweak doesn’t cut it for you, check out Creox, GNUitar, and GTKgep.

3. Audio Editing – Audacity

For years Audacity has been the leading audio editor or Linux. It has a wide range of tools and effects, and is used by people of all skill levels. Record, play, import and export several types of audio formats and do all your tweaking in one place. Acoustic guitarists will likely find Audacity’s noise cancellation plugin to be especially useful.


If, for whatever reason, Audacity isn’t what you’re looking for, check out ReZound, Sweep, or GNUSound.

4. Drum Machine – Hydrogen

There’s a limit to what you can do with guitar alone, and one of the simplest ways to add some spice to your recording is with some drums. There are a number of Linux friendly drum programs out there, but Hydrogen is probably the most popular. You can lay out individual drum patterns, then sequence those patterns into a longer song. Hydrogen, along with some extra drum kit samples, is available in the standard Ubuntu repositories.


Other drum machine options include orDrumbox, BeatFish, or pyTrommler.

5. Sequencing – Ardour

When it comes to multitrack recording and sequencing in Linux, one name immediately comes to mind, and that’s Ardour. It may not be able to fully stack up to the likes of Pro Tools, but when combined with some of the apps above, it should more than satisfy a home recording hobbyist.


Some other notable apps for mulitrack sequencing include Jokosher, PROTUX and Frinika.

Bonus – Tuning

Like Guitar Pro, TuxGuitar also comes with a built-in tuner.


If that doesn’t meet your tuning needs, try out GuiTuner, JTuner, or GString.


  1. oh great, i was needing a drum machine, but never heard of hydrogen, thx

  2. http://guitarix.sourceforge.net/

    Did you intentionally leave out the best effects processor just to get a comment or two???

    1. I did look at Guitarix when researching the article, but I could not get it to run properly with my setup. Didn’t want to recommend an app I hadn’t actually used.

      1. Here ya go if ya want, . .


        I’ve packaged a few audio programs together into what I will call Rockbuntu including Guitarix and a few other of the more “trickier” to install programs for audio editing. I made sure to include the way awesome Vocoder program if you want to sound like Joe Walsh doing Rocky Mountain Way or something like that : )

        I hope you try it, your reply is the reason I put this together and you are the first I’ve presented it to. Let me know if I’ve left anything out if you do decide to check it out.

        1. Wow! I’d love to check it out and thanks for taking the time to put that together!

          If everything works as well as you say, I’d be more than happy to update the article to include a link. Personally I’d love to use something like this and I bet many others would too. Thanks again!

          1. Cool! Please let me know what you think, I’d still like to make a couple of tweaks like a splash screen and such but I just tested it and it seems to run ok. The realtime kernel doesn’t run too well with JACK as a live USB, but after installing and going through a quick checklist I put on the desktop it runs like a charm! I’ve been wanting to do this for a while and am glad to have a chance to put something like this together, I’ve always thought Ubuntu Studio was too complex for someone who just wants a collection of Linux audio stuff.

            There’s already an update ready but I’ll wait a couple of weeks and see if I can figure out how to tweak up a splash screen and include a couple of simple tutorials after the new years and all.

  3. Great!! i did not know there was!! really cool! thanks guy!

  4. The three I use most often (besides mplayer) are Frescobaldi (http://www.frescobaldi.org/), Lilypond (http://lilypond.org) and Transcribe! (http://www.seventhstring.com). Frescobaldi and lilypond are FOSS. Transcribe! is not, but I haven’t found any FOSS software nearly as good. And I just discovered GNU Solfege (http://www.solfege.org), but I haven’t started digging into it yet. These are some seriously heavy duty industrial strength applications

  5. Pretty cool! Thanks

  6. Why not doing “10 essential linux apps for guitarists” and include Guitarix, Rakarrack, Qtractor…? I really like a tuner called Fmit, is really cool, check it out.

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