Tab apps like Tab Toolkit are wonderful things and are brilliant as learning tools. But all they do is play the music to you, if only there was something out there that actually checked your playing as you jammed along, if only, if only…..
Hey, there is! Who knew? Guitar Bot describes itself as a casual music game, but there is a degree of cleverness to this app and indications of a lot of potential. So lets dive in.
It’s a free download, but don’t worry, there is a shedload of in-app purchase that you can make if you want to spend money. These range from additional lessons for pennies to yearly subscriptions to all services (including the ability to add your own music as GP files) for a princely £57.99 a year.
Launch the app and a bright, colourful and cartoony page opens up. This gives you access to a number of subscreens, starting with Basic. This takes you from playing single notes on open strings to your first chord. And it’s how it does it that is the clever bit. You plug your guitar in (or play an acoustic through the mic) and the software compares the pitch of the note you play against the note it wants you to play.
How does it do? It really works very well, note recognition is very solid but what is very impressive is that it handles chords as well – processing polyphonic guitar notes is a far greater technical challenge. The presentation is wonderful and the songs you play along to are really very skillful pastiches of classic guitar music (do I hear Metallica in there? And there is a wonderful AC/DC knockoff “Highway to Helsinki”).
As a learning tool for beginners, Guitar Bots is a lovely thing, it’s beautifully designed, has a sly sense of humour and the technology underpinning it all works very well. It will take a beginner quite a long way along until the premium pay wall kicks in and though this can be expensive, it does add a lot of content.
There is a limit to what this technology can achieve and I would think that the advanced guitarist would not find enough here for him or her but for a beginner, this is a very effective means of getting better faster and having a lot of fun doing it.