Here Are The Alternatives To The Fender Riffstation

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Anyone who recently wanted to play along to songs with the Fender Riffstation must have noticed that the service was under maintenance since quite some days. But apparently it was more than just that, because they have basically different plans. It was previously a free service and beginners, but even more advanced players enjoyed it because they could play along to songs while seeing the chords on the screen. But they decided to put the free service offline because they are working on a paid Riffstation service instead:

While we work with labels and publishers on a paid Riffstation service, Riffstation will no longer be available on the web or mobile devices.

At least they do offer you a free copy of Riffstation Pro at the moment, but let’s be honest, do we really need that? Right, we don’t. All what we need is a web service that has YouTube music videos embedded while showing the guitar chords so that we can play along to songs that we don’t know yet, or that we want to try out on our guitar just for the fun of it. That brings us to the question, are there any alternatives to the Fender Riffstation? Of course there are! I discovered at least two alternatives, but if you know more, feel free to drop a comment! Here are the alternatives…

  • Chordify – Works pretty great in my opinion
  • ChordU – Seems to be pretty inaccurate anyhow

It must be mentioned, but that was the case with the Fender Riffstation too, that these services sometimes really show you the exact chords and playing along becomes very easy, but then there are also many songs where they are totally off. You know, there are different ways to learn a song, for example by your ear, or looking up the chords, or watching YouTube tutorials, but my point is that when these services work, you can just start to play right away because everything is on the screen.

With some exceptions, the Riffstation was very good and it’s a shame that Fender decided to take it offline to make it a paid feature soon. It makes them look greedy, because let’s be honest, they are already selling guitars and I am sure they could easily afford it to let the Riffstation remain free. I think they have the wrong thinking, because when newbies have a fun and free way to learn new songs, they might want to get deeper into the hobby, and it could very well be that these are the future guitar buyers. I’ve always been honest on my blog, and Fender I tell you something, because what you did there looks like absolute greed.

I am not really dependent on services like the Riffstation, although it was fun to use because we all don’t have a brain that stores thousands of songs. But I always thought this might introduce many people to guitar playing, or that it helped newbies to get started with some songs. Some of them might have so much joy that they really stick with guitar playing, looking for more advanced techniques. This is something that corporations will never get, if you don’t give something back for free, if you don’t support your possible clients, you don’t have to wonder if you sales decrease as well. I am pretty sure the paid Riffstation will be one of those overpriced web services. Nobody will talk about it, because it should be free.

Yes, as a guitar manufacturer you absolutely should be able to afford to host a service like this one for free. It might even pay off more in the long run than making a chord tool a paid feature.

For those who have read this, if you know some cool alternatives to the Riffstation too, feel free to drop a comment. We should support newbie guitar players. It might be that some enjoy these type of tools to make their first steps, playing the first songs. And yes, there are many alternative learning methods, but again, some people might enjoy embedded YouTube music videos with chords shown on the screen. So, if you know free services like this, drop the links in the comment section, but please don’t spam unrelated things.


45 thoughts on “Here Are The Alternatives To The Fender Riffstation

  1. Thank you so much! Been dying without the riffstation app lately. Chordu is decent in comparison

    1. I am glad you like the suggestion. I needed an alternative too, that’s why I came up with the article. I play guitar since over a decade, but even then you can’t know all songs, which is why I enjoyed the RIffstation too… easy to play along with any song. It’s a shame they have chosen this route… but I knew there would be alternatives 🙂 Keep rocking! 🙂

  2. Great article. I’ve been playing for 1.5 years. I really, really loved Riffstation. It made my learning so much fun. I know pentas etc. and ok for where I am but, Riffstation was way to much fun. I would play it over a Bluetooth speaker and play. I had probably 50-100 songs I really enjoyed playing. Now ALL gone. It’s sucks. I’ll try the apps you came up with. Thank you.
    Ps I own a lot of Fender guitars now and Riffstation is a massive reason why.

    1. Thanks. I probably play since 15 years or so, but I liked the Riffstation as well. It was an easy way to start playing songs within seconds, songs where I didn’t know the chords, or where I couldn’t remind the chords anymore. It’s really a shame that it will be a paid feature… I think a lot of guitar players enjoyed the tool, no matter if beginner or long-time player.

      Now that I tested both of my suggestions enough, I must say Chordify works better than ChordU. I am not sure what’s up with ChordU, but almost all songs I tested were inaccurate and I had difficulties to play along. But Chordify works pretty well. I hope you will have fun with it too 🙂

  3. I suspect that when Fender bought Riffstation off the Irish guys who started it they attracted the attention of the copyright owners, who now want a return on the fun we had with the site. As a completely rubbish guitarist, it was the only chance I got to play with good musicians and, with the help of a bottle of Merlot, imagine I’m playing Wembley or wherever.

    I paid the subscription pre-Fender and would be happy to pay a bit more to know that it is back and will be developed even further.

    In the meantime, thanks for the alternatives.

    1. Yeah, maybe there is more behind it, I didn’t know who initially built this service. But I still think companies like Fender should invest in tutoring players, it might have positive effects, and it’s also good for the brand. I hope you will have fun with your future subscription, and in the meantime with the alternatives. Give Chordify a try, it’s quite accurate, and ChodU somehow doesn’t work well for me.

    2. Fender is Globalist Big Corporation, and as such doesn’t give a crap about you – just their cash flow. I also purchased RiffStation when they were a real company, albiet small in size. Seen many promising startup firms crushed by corporate greed… too bad.

  4. Thank you for the suggestions. Chordify looks pretty good – I do miss that Riffstation had an option to make the chord diagrams left handed – but I can just retrain myself to mirror the diagrams. I am a total beginner and loved to be able to find a song and try it out.

    1. That’s true. What I also miss is to slow down songs, but that seems to be a premium feature on Chordify. But overall it’s really a working alternative.

      Keep it up with the guitar playing! It’s a really good activity as you most likely noticed 🙂 I wish you a lot of fun with your guitar!

  5. I bought the Riffstation app, and got some good use out of it using music I have on CD already, but in the end, the website was much more fun (similar to other comments here). Real shame Fender went straight to killing off the free site – maybe noone’s buying their guitars these days so they’re ‘branching out’? In the meantime, I’m fairly happy with Chordify, which retains Free version (for now at least).

    1. I really got used to Chordify too. It’s just a different look but works decent. I think companies like Fender shoot themselves in the own leg by not giving something back to the community. When I found the Riffstation, I actually thought “Yeah man, you guys doing it right, you support guitar players” with this service. It was a stupid move to take it offline.

      Yeah, Chordify work free but I realized they have some paid features like slowing down a song and so. But it’s totally fair to offer the essential tools for free, and having a few extra features behind a subscription, which doesn’t even cost a lot as I found out.

      By the time Fender comes back with the Riffstation as paid service, everyone is probably already using Chordify and nobody will talk about the Fender paid Riffstation. I can’t see how this move by Fender was smart. It’s actually hilarious.

  6. Feel the same as everyone else on this blog. Just started playing a couple years ago and used the hell out of the riff station app!!! Was great when we had friends over where I would play and different people would sing different songs that they knew. I guess Fender didn’t like people having fun for free!! I still play but not quite as often. I do know one thing, as I build up my guitar collection, I will dam sure not a one of them is a fender!!!!!!!! Hope others follow suit!!!

    1. Certainly disagree! There are a myriad of reasons why Fender would have an issue with this app, most notably Copyright issues with the artists/music. It doesn’t discount the fact that Fender does now and for the most part (excluding the 70s) make a fine, desired instrument. I too was a Riffstation fan but I can hardly blame Fender for things they can”t control. As a Guitar Dealer, I can at least assure you Fender is having no issues selling Guitars

  7. I agree with all you say about Riffstation.
    I loved how user friendly it was and allowed me to play some incredible more obscure songs and figure chords and timing “Do You Want My Job?”, “Sally G”, “It’s a Beautiful Life” “Same Ol River” to name a few I would have struggled with were it not for RS. So sorry they couldn’t transition from free to pay…..I would have happily coughed up. Will try Chordify plus or whatever it is called and hope it replaces my Riffstation loss.
    Still grieving……

  8. Hi Dennis and sorry for my insecure english. Everything you wrote is right. I am a Stratocaster Fender guitar lover and i was thinking to buy one of it from the Fender official site. now i’m disappointed from the silly decision of the Fender company and i dont want to buy anything from them. It’s maybe a Donald Trump contagion? lol, i’m joking but not at all. I’m from Naples (Italy) and i’m glad to wrote you today. Now i play with Chordify as you reccomended and i can say it’s a good site but i’m also pity because Riffstation was better. Have a good times with yours beautiful interests. If you’ll come in Italy email me…will be nice to meet you in real. Best wishes.

    1. I think your English is fine! English is also not my native language. I’m also from Europe, Germany to be exact. I think Chordify does the job, but the design of the Riffstation was better for the eyes… it was simple and non-distracting. I’ve never been to Italy but I hope someday I will see your beautiful country… I’d tell you in that case!

  9. Fender didn’t “decide” to do anything other than pull the site because of challenges from copyright holders.

    Chordify isn’t as user friendly, but it will do.

    1. Doesn’t change the fact that they’re working on a paid Riffstation service. That was my whole point… I personally think that they would profit a lot more from it if they would support newbies with a free tool.

      I do agree about Chordify. Works, but the Riffstation design was a lot better.

  10. I’m guessing Fender’s reason for pulling Riffstation was all about $$’s. Have some greedy ignoble parasites been threatning them with lawsuits?
    Anyway, thanks for the alternatives Dennis, I will try them today and pass on my opinion.

    1. Yeah, I think I saw this mentioned a few times that it was about copyrights.

      Try out Chordify, it works best of those both two alternatives. Still not as good looking like the Riffstation, but it does the job.

  11. Hi, I found your blog while doing research trying to find out what the heck happened to Riff Station. R.I.P. Riff Station 😦
    It was such a great site and what made it even better was that there was a ukulele option, something missing from the “paid” desktop program.
    I paid for the program and now they’re giving it away for free.
    For some reason I find Chordify difficult to follow and since you mentioned the other site not being accurate, I’ll spare myself the frustration.

    1. I do agree with Chordify. It’s somehow usable, but my biggest issue with the site is that they have numbers written over the barre chord line. I’d be fine with it, but the issue is that it’s often too close to the fret number outside of the fretboard. So, if there is a 1 so close to the fret-playing number 4, I sometimes confuse both, especially since it is animated. So, you play a song and move to fret 1, while you actually have to play in fret 4. As fast as the chords are animated, it’s not distinguishable for the eyes. This never happened to me with the Riffstation. It was either a better design, or they had more spacing between it. I can’t remember, but it worked like a charm with the Riffstation. Somehow, a dark background design also works better than a white background. This might be personal taste, but somehow Fender had it all right with the Riffstation.

      Talking about ChordU, yeah… it was rather frustrating. I tested like 5 songs and gave up on it. I’d be faster to feature the chords out on my own. It looked like ChordU was not moderated by a human, but that the chords are picked up by a software. All songs I tested, it was totally wrong. I actually thought “No way are these the chords for the song” several times.

      You can get somehow used to Chordify however. It’s a good alternative, it’s just that the design is lacking behind the old Riffstation :/

  12. Totally agree that companies should offer these types of things for free. If nothing else, it’s money us guitar players could use to go out and buy their guitars. On a deeper level, I’d like to see more emphasis on teaching beginning students how to learn from listening and experimenting. But maybe that’s just because I’m old and had no choice but to learn chords, scales and riffs by ear. There was no tab at all. Music books had only the piano parts, and the guitar chords they did show were never the ones the musicians were actually using. Good post. 🙂

    1. I think these tools offer beginners but also advanced players to start quickly with new songs. But I totally agree with you, people should also train their ears. A lot of stuff is easy today, for example with YouTube tutorials, but I find that important too to just discover things on your own, with your ears. This is very important, I agree.

    2. I would even go one step further… people should not just learn how to play famous songs. They should actually start to discover and experiment with the bits and bobs they learned, creating something on their own. I personally always found it much more important to be able to create your own songs, or to improvise, and less important to know all those songs of famous rock stars.

  13. Yes, sorry about that. I couldn’t get onto the site and panicked, I thought the fun police had taken down another one

  14. They should give it free at least if you buy some type of Fender product costing let’s say over $150. That way they get a sale and we get the app. Everyone is happy.

  15. I play an autoharp and the group I play with (more mature ladies you might call us) mostly play folk tunes popular with non-electric festivals so I found Riffstation and just jammed to pop hits and country songs all by myself, just strumming away and singling badly; so much fun. I had over 70 songs in my album and now, all gone. I agree with another on here that Chordify is harder to follow. There was some feature about the way Riff scrolled that made it easier to see the timing of the upcoming chords. Oh well, I’ll make the best of Chordu and Chordify. Thanks for your article and research. Sandy

    1. Hello Sandy. I totally agree. While I use Chordify quite often now, it’s really easy to lose track in the middle of a song. It’s like the recent chord is visually more difficult to spot. I somehow got used to it and now it works better, but still I agree, Riffstation was easier to follow, and visually better designed.

  16. Tried to contact Riffstation to get a refund. As far as I’m concerned theyve stolen money from me as I cannot get the app anymore and apply my license key to it.

    1. This post here was more about the Riffstation webservice (website) but I still understand your situation with the software and would be upset as well! This really sounds like a ripoff.

    2. Hello Steve. It’s a huge mess how the corporations are ripping off customers more and more brazenly. Programs are only sold with a time limit (1 year) or as a monthly subscription. If possible, even in a bundle with 2 other programs that you don’t use, but for which you should still pay money. Microfoft had once been the pioneer, now almost everyone is following on this track. 😦
      That’s why I have been switching to Linux Mint for 2 years. Unfortunately, there are still not enough special programs that I grew fond of under Windows and for which there is currently no corresponding replacement. I have to continue to use Windows for these.
      In 2017 I bought the Riffstation software for € 40. It went very smoothly: Download the program, install it, transfer the money via PAYPAL. After I received my license code and entered it, we started. After an update crash, I had to laboriously reinstall Windows and all of my programs. Unfortunately, I can no longer get the Riffstation installation file, even though I had paid for the program.
      What I found online is only a 14-day test version, which my purchased activation code does not accept.

      I can do without the referenced Chordify. I tried it: could only use songs from the internet. After entering the title, it was searched for and played, including the chords, unfortunately it was the wrong song. After 2 more attempts, I finally got lucky. The next time you try, you may get the message: You have used up your free titles.
      Sure I can play a lot for 6 € for a month, but that’s no use to me! The online selection only offers a limited number of titles. Unfortunately, there are hardly any ones that interest me. In addition, I can only use Chordify when I’m online, and that’s a problem here with us.
      But as far as the quality of the displayed chords is concerned, it is completely unsatisfactory.
      I taught myself to play the guitar 48 years ago, and over the years I have played and sung the rhythm guitar in several bands. Unfortunately, I have no idea about grades. Just for fun I had Chordify play me Beatles songs. So what chords were displayed there scared me:
      1. Wasn’t it even the right key, and
      2. Yes, you can play the songs with 3 chords if necessary, only then will they sound like shit. (And get a lot of money for that!?!)

      I cannot upload songs from the cans that I have converted to mp3 (including the many original compositions). So Chordify is out of the question as insufficient for me. And so I won’t even try ChordU (which seems to be rather imprecise anyway).

      So, if you know a decent successor to Riffstation or where you can get the paid version, you can answer.

  17. With Riff station one could drag any tune into .if I purchased a tune from I tunes which was not on you tube I could drag that in . It that the same with the alternatives ?

    1. You probably talk about the Riffstation software. This article here is about the web service. No, you can’t do that with any of these websites.

        1. There was a web service by Fender called Riffstation… you could play songs because it showed chords. At the time I wrote the article, I didn’t know there was also a software called Riffstation. I learned that by different comments on my article. The alternatives I talked about offer the same function as the Fender Riffstation website did until it was phased out. I think it wasn’t possible to drag songs into any of these services but you’re able to search for songs and then it shows you the YouTube song video with the chords you can play on the guitar.

        2. Yes this is where RiffStation was so good allowing you to download any song from say I tunes even if it was not on you tube. May be RiffStation will return one day

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