If you have a digital audio device that can connect your guitar to your Linux computer, there’s a library of open-source software you can access for recording, editing, and processing the signal. These apps are especially well-suited to guitarists but can be useful for any musician.
Digital Audio Workstation: Audacity
The granddad of open-source audio-processing software, Audacity is a multi-track digital audio workstation for recording, mixing, and distributing your music. Thanks to its impressive capability, the power of expensive software recording setups has been made available to everyone.
Provided you can spend the time to learn the software, new users will find Audacity just as powerful as any professional-grade DAW. If you’re already an expert recordist, you may find that Audacity is less capable and harder to use than professional offerings, but bedroom recorders get the power they need.
Guitar Pro Tablature Reader: TuxGuitar
If you’re not familiar, Guitar Pro transcriptions are tablature-based song tracks that “play back” tablature in real time through a properly equipped app like TuxGuitar. It provides an audio track to go with your written tabs, creating a compromise between written sheet music and tabs. It’s the way people learn guitar nowadays, and a good tab player application is essentially a requirement.
Standard Notation: MuseScore
If you’re seeking an application for sheet music editing and composition, check out MuseScore. While the library of guitar tablature is enormous, there’s even more music available in standard notation. It also remains the best system for writing down your own compositions, providing the greatest accuracy in capturing your music ideas. It also supports tablature notation and Guitar Pro files, much like Tux Guitar. With custom Sound Font files, you can also adjust the software instruments used to play back your composition.
Multi-Effects Processor: Rakarrack
Your computer has more audio effects processing power than fifty guitar pedals strung together. Of course, it’s digital rather than analog, which can produce aesthetic differences that might sound false to a carefully attuned ear. A multi-effects processor provides audio signal processing for your connected guitar, applying a set of effects to change the attributes of the signal in ways that emulate popular guitar effects pedal boxes. If you’re open to experimenting with the power of digital signal processing, Rakarrack gives dedicated users the power to produce nearly any tone they can imagine.
Virtual Amp Emulator: Guitarix
The amp emulation provided by Guitarix is a type of signal processing, but it’s not typically classed as an “effect.” It’s a more subtle tonal shift meant to reproduce the audio signal from the selected amplifier. The quality depends completely on the quality of the emulator. These are hard to make, even for the mathematically inclined, and rarely sound exactly like the “real thing” the emulator is attempting to reproduce. But if you put aside a desire for perfect representation, then emulators provide a greater tonal and sonic range from a single guitar than most of us could ever afford to purchase if we required the real thing.
Chromatic Tuner: Lingot
Lingot is an open-source instrument tuner that works with any instrument, not just guitars. It provides more control over tuning that you’ll every possibly need, including sample rate adjustments, visualization options, and the temporal window for frequency analysis. It’s accurate and overly capable, like a lot of open-source projects, but it’s pleasantly low on bugs and quirks.
Chord Sheets and Lead Sheets: OpenSong
OpenSong is a free, open-source application for creating and managing lead sheets. These can include melody, lyrics, chords, and basic timing information. It’s a great application for writing your own music if you don’t want to mess around with sheet music or Guitar Pro tablature. It’s the fastest way to create the bare bones of a song, which is sometimes all you need. It’s especially useful when creating music Clif Notes for an upcoming performance. Since everything is fully digital, you can export sheets to tablets or disk storage for easy reference. If you want something even simpler, Chordii is a web-based utility that creates chord diagrams from a text-only markup language.
If you are both a guitarist and a Linux user, the above list shows that you have plenty of options for creating/editing/recording/processing your music. Try them out and let us know your preferred application.