Song Surgeon 4 Review

Song Surgeon 4
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  • Review Summary:

  • Song Surgeon 4 is a jazz guitar practice tool that quickly allows you to pull songs from YouTube videos, slow them down, loop licks and transpose audio tracks to different keys.

When heading to the practice room in the 21st century, jazz guitarists have a treasure trove of material and tools at their disposal to choose from when setting up their daily and weekly practice routines. With so many apps and software packages to choose from, it can be difficult to know where you should spend your money in order to get the most bang for your buck in the woodshed.

Song Surgeon allows guitarists of all levels to slow down, loop, change the key and download their favorite songs from Youtube.

Song Surgeon 4 Overview

Song Surgeon has a myriad of useful features, but I believe jazz guitarists will mainly use the program for the following 2 purposes:

  • Transcribing songs and solos: by slowing down and looping difficult to hear passages, they become a lot easier to transcribe.
  • Playing over backing tracks Song Surgeon makes it easy to transpose and slow down backing tracks so you can practice at your own tempo and in any key you like. You can also loop and isolate difficult passages of the chord changes.


Song Surgeon 4 Screenshot 3


While YouTube has provided millions of guitarists the ability to access rare and even out of print songs by their favorite artists, it can be difficult to learn these tracks directly from the site. One of the most interesting features of Song Surgeon is it allows you to download Youtube videos and translate them to audio files.

  • From there, you can adjust the tuning of the track (which is very important for older tracks or tracks that have been uploaded from vinyl).
  • With two clicks of your mouse you can set loops over any lick in order to listen to it over and over when transcribing your favorite solos and phrases.
  • You can also slow down any tune with the click of a button, and reset the tempo with one click to jump back to the original speed after you’ve lifted that tricky phrase from a solo.

Song Surgeon Video Demos

Click the video links below to watch two demos that feature four essential practice functions from Song Surgeon 4.


Video 1 demos tempo and pitch adjustment:




Video 2 demos the Youtube sniffer and looping:



If you are looking for a practice room tool that will allow you to turn your favorite YouTube videos into audio files, loop licks from solos you are transcribing, slow down and transpose licks and entire songs, then Song Surgeon 4 is for you.


  • Available for MAC and PC
  • Can loop licks for practice
  • Turn Youtube videos to audio
  • Loop licks or song sections for transcription
  • Can easily change key or tempo of any loop or song


  • Some learning involved to use the software
  • The interface could be more intuitive
  • YouTube Sniffer will find errors sometimes
  • A bit expensive

  1. DavidJul 31, 2014 at 12:02 am

    Hi Matt

    You can do most of the stuff demonstrated in Audacity and that program is free.

    The downloading of from YouTube is also easily done and the music track separated. There is not enough in Song Surgeon to warrant paying $50.00 for it.


    • Dirk LaukensJul 31, 2014 at 11:44 am

      Audacity is an audio editor and something completely different. You can’t slow down in Audacity, at least not in a convenient manner. The purpose of Song Surgeon is to facilitate transcribing. With one click of a button you can download audio from Youtube, set a loop, slow down or traspose.

  2. BrunoJul 31, 2014 at 9:45 am

    Hi Matt,

    nifty piece of software. If you don’t really need the video to audio conversion, Sonic Visualiser ( is an excellent free alternative, I use it all the time.


    • Dirk LaukensJul 31, 2014 at 12:19 pm

      Hi Bruno, I didn’t know Sonic Visualiser, just installed it.

      2 main differences:

      • The audio quality of Song Surgeon is much better. Slowing down in Sonic Visualiser introduces a lot of digital artifacts.
      • Ease of use: Song Surgeon’s interface and functionality are aimed at transcribing. Sonic Visualiser is a spectral analyser, slowing down is only a side-function.
  3. HolgerJul 31, 2014 at 12:59 pm


    Nice piece of software! Thanks!
    I use Transcribe! for the same job since a few years. It’s great and available for Windows, Mac and Linux. This type of software is very, very useful!


    • Dirk LaukensJul 31, 2014 at 3:37 pm

      I’m going to try out Transcribe!, it’s been years since I’ve used it…

    • noelAug 1, 2014 at 11:12 pm

      yep, transcribe seems just as good. it’s also got the pan function which i find useful in a lot of wes montgomery’s playing, since he was panned to one side in the audio spectrum in his recordings.

  4. TomDMJul 31, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    Does not appear to be as flexible as Band In A Box.

    I have tried quite a few of these practise tools and I always return to BIAB.

    • Dirk LaukensJul 31, 2014 at 3:37 pm

      Hi Tom, BIAB is a completely different tool, you can’t compare the two. BIAB is automatic accompaniment software, Song Surgeon is software that makes it easier to transcribe. I use both daily…

  5. Mark RhodesJul 31, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    I downloaded the demo. Looks like just what I need.

  6. Ken NiehoffAug 1, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    Can I do the same things but pull songs from my iTunes library?

    • Matt WarnockAug 1, 2014 at 6:28 pm

      Yeah for sure you can.

  7. Tone LynnAug 2, 2014 at 11:54 pm

    I’d like to know if the song surgeon is compatible with zeki android?

  8. Tone LynnAug 2, 2014 at 11:55 pm

    I’d like to know if the song surgeon is compatible with zeki android? Thank you very much.

  9. Patriots2006Aug 3, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    Dirk, can you tell me what makes Song Surgeon worth buying over transcribe which is cheaper? I’m undecided at this point but I need lots of work on my improv and tired of the poor results I am getting.

  10. George GecikAug 13, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    I’ve been looking into transcription software for a while and Song Surgeon looks best because you can and must actively “LISTEN” to transcribe. Therefore, it is a teaching tool and not just a means to short cut the learning process.

  11. AngelikaAug 23, 2014 at 10:17 am

    Dirk, I downloaded Song Surgeon 4 (standard 59$)right now. When I want to sniff youtube it says I have to buy professional but the pro version is 79$.
    This was not shown in the article above. It makes me belive that I get the sniffer by 59$. This is not o.k.

    • Dirk LaukensAug 26, 2014 at 2:45 pm

      Sorry about that Angelika, didn’t realize the standard version doesn’t have the Sniffer. I’ll contact the developer to see what we can do…

      • AngelikaAug 31, 2014 at 7:49 pm

        Dirk, thanks a lot for you help. I got a free update from Jim. Now I can use the sniffer…

  12. 3rdwaveriderDec 24, 2014 at 5:32 am

    This is a great tool to have in the tool box. I have used it recently to transcribe a a clarinet solo in Autumn Leaves and transcribe it for guitar. I was able to import the track from my iTunes library, slow it down. isolate sections, play it on my YRG MIDI guitar directly into Sibelius. The You Tube Sniffer is really unique, as well. A lot of the songs that I am asked to play with the church choir are hard to find anywhere except on YouTube, so it’s become my first stop when looking for hard to find spiritual audio files. Once downloaded, there’s no need to go back to YouTube or watch the video; it’s all in Song Surgeon. There are alternatives worth checking out but this one really stands out.

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