Tab Toolkit is another winner from the makers of Guitar Toolkit (the hands-down best guitar utility app I’ve seen). Tab Toolkit is a full-featured player for “Guitar Pro” .gp5 files – sophisticated tab files which include timing information.
For any song with an available .gp5 file, Tab Toolkit will play a midi rendition of the song for you while displaying both animated tablature and traditional music notation. The song will scroll, keeping the current note at the left edge of the screen giving you the maximum amount of run to look ahead. You can adjust playback speed, and for songs with multiple tracks, you can adjust which one is shown.
If your experience with tabs is limited to text files found on the web, you are in for a fantastic surprise. Automated guitar tab files are a fantastic learning tool – often more useful than instructional videos.
The application can also display text files, and does an admirable job extracting tab, chord, and lyric information from web pages, although, of course, you don’t get automated playback with these files.
For songs where you have a .gp5 file available, and many are freely available online, Tab Toolkit is a fantastic implementation of a very useful set of tools. It’s intuitive and straightforward, allowing you to focus on the music, rather than worry about the details of the app itself. It features Agile Partner’s typical attention to detail, such as turning off the iPhone’s sleep during playback – the sort of thing which seems straightforward but, ultimately, so many developers ignore.
Additional details include the ability to change instrument voicings, touch-to-pause, choice or portrait or landscape orientation, and a customizable metronome.
That being said, there is one major caveat about this application, which can’t be ignored. The reality is that an iPhone is a very small screen for this sort of task. To be able to see it while playing a guitar will be a challenge. Therefore, this application feels like it would be a better choice for an iPad than an iPhone. With an iPad and stand, this is an almost perfect tab-playback tool, and thus highly recommended even at the high (for an app) cost of $9.99. For iPhone-only owners, it’s not quite as natural a fit but if you want automated tab playback on your iPhone, and can find a way to place the screen a comfortable music-reading distance away while you play, Tab Toolkit is definitely a worthy purchase.