Liner Notes
The FATpick Blog

Guitar Pro

If you're anything like me - and I know I am - one of the most frustrating things about the serious music instruction sub-genre of "rhythm games" - those guitar apps that legit try to teach you to play guitar - is how quickly I get bored of the songs that are available.

Maybe my tastes are obscure, or maybe I'm just cheap, but eventually my desire for new stuff to play loses out to my reluctance to keep paying for DLC bundles of songs I wouldn't normally listen to. The thirst for novelty doesn't go away, but my enjoyment of their catalog does and I eventually stop playing the game out of boredom.

FATpick isn't totally immune to this problem. Like most apps in this space, FATpick has a library of songs available, and that library is finite. And to be fair, right now FATpick's library is probably smaller than most. (It is growing. And the rate of that growth should accelerate in the coming months, since the catalog is based on songs shared by the community.)

FATpick does offer a way around this problem: custom song imports. No matter how large or small the existing library may be, there's no limit to the songs you can play within FATpick.

You can play a custom song in FATpick by importing any Guitar Pro file.

How to Add a Custom Song

To add a custom song to your FATpick library you'll need a file in the Guitar Pro file format.

Also see How to create Guitar Pro files or How to convert a score the Guitar Pro format for help with any of that.

Once you have the Guitar Pro tab file, you can import it into FATpick as follows:

  1. Open the FATpick app and go the song library by selecting "Play" from the main FATpick menu.

  2. On the song library (search) screen, click the "Add Song..." button found in the upper-left corner. This will open your regular "file chooser" dialog.

  3. Select the Guitar Pro file you want to import. The "Add Song" dialog box should appear.

    Importing a custom song into FATpick.

  4. The song title, artist name and album title found in the Guitar Pro file will be displayed. Add or update these values as needed.

  5. Leave the "Public" toggle active in order to share (a read-only version of) the song with other users after import. When this toggle is inactive (off) the song will only be available in your FATpick library.

  6. Leave the "Find Cover Art" toggle active in to search for an album cover or similar artwork to associate with the song. Toggle this switch to the off position to skip this step (and use a generic placeholder image in place of custom cover art where needed).

  7. If "Find Cover Art" was selected, FATpick will execute a limited search for candidate images on the public Internet. (This should only take a few seconds, but if you get tired of waiting you can abort the search and skip the cover art selection.)

    When the search is complete you may be presented with several candidate images to choose from. Select the cover art image you believe to be most appropriate. Or, if none of the images are relevant, choose "NONE: No Cover Art" to use a default placeholder image after all.

  8. After the cover art image (if any) is selected, the file is uploaded to the FATpick server and a confirmation message is displayed. This message will automatically disappear after a few seconds, but you may now close the dialog at any time.

    At this point a copy of your Guitar Pro file (and any associated meta-data) has been uploaded to the FATpick server and placed in a queue to await processing. The import itself will happen "in the cloud", so you can safely close the dialog and go back to using the app as you normally would. Feel free to play other songs, or import another Guitar Pro file, or even exit the app entirely. The rest of the import workflow is independent the FATpick application running on your computer. It will continue whether or not your local application is even running.

    Your new song will usually be available to play within 10 or 15 minutes. But depending on the size and complexity of the source file, and the number of other songs in the processing queue, the process could take up to two hours.

    As soon as the import is complete you will be able to find your new song by searching or browsing within the song catalog, just like any other song.

    But you will also receive an in-app notification when your song is ready to play: The bell icon in the navigation bar will switch to a "ringing bell" and a badge will appear displaying the unread message count (probably 1). The notification includes a link that will directly open your new song in the tablature player.

What are Guitar Pro Files?

Guitar Pro is a powerful guitar tablature editor created for Windows and MacOS computers by Arobas Music.

Guitar Pro helps you compose, edit and typeset multi-track musical scores in both tablature and conventional staff notation.

It's a testament to the maturity and robustness of the software - now in version 7.5 - but no exaggeration - to observe that Guitar Pro is so well established that its internal file format is the de facto standard machine readable format for guitar tablature.

The format is widely available and broadly supported: You can find literally hundreds of thousands - possibly millions - of Guitar Pro scores on the Internet. Every major tab editor will import from and export to the Guitar Pro format.

How to Create Guitar Pro Files

If you are serious about creating or typesetting guitar scores from scratch, you should definitely take a look at Guitar Pro. Guitar Pro didn't become the gold standard of tab editors by accident. It's market-leader position is well deserved. It's not free, but it is quite reasonably priced and a time-limited free trial is available if you want a chance to kick the tires.

But you don't necessarily need Guitar Pro to create, view or modify Guitar Pro files.

In fact, among the many Guitar Pro compatible multi-track score editors there are at least two solid open source options worth recommending: TuxGuitar and MuseScore.

How to Convert a Score to the Guitar Pro Format

Guitar Pro is by far the most popular format for sharing machine readable guitar tabs, but you may sometimes come across a file that you need to convert before you can import it into FATpick.

First, while Guitar Pro is quite popular, there other tab editors often have their own proprietary format, such as Power Tab (.ptb) or Tux Guitar (.tg) files.

Second, Guitar Pro isn't really a single file format. Over the years Guitar Pro has used several different formats, none of which are quite compatible with the others.

If you find yourself with a file in one of these formats and want to convert it into one of the formats that FATpick accepts - currently .gp5, .gp4 and .gp3 files - you can perform the conversion with Guitar Pro itself or with a free alternative such as TuxGuitar.

Simply open the file in the program of your choice and export it into the proper format. (The .gp5 format is recommended, but GP4 and GP3 files should work equally well.)

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