Today I'm reviewing two great Iphone apps that every guitarist should have! There's quite a few mobile apps to choose from, but we're going to look at a couple I think is great for any guitarist with an Iphone, Ipod Touch, or Ipad.
First up, and my absolute favorite, is the Amazing Slow Downer. What this app does is allow you to take any song from your phone's mp3 library and change the playback speed without changing the pitch. So if you're wanting to practice a tricky lick that is just too hard to practice at the orignal tempo, you can slow it down to speed you can handle and still practice along with your favorite artist. Just how slow can you go? You can slow the song down to an absolute crawl at 33% (one third) of the original tempo. There are other programs for recording or DJ's that allow you to slow music down, but the beauty of the Amazing Slow Downer is the quality of the sound. Most programs when you slow them down to even 65%, sound like an alien has taken over your headphones and played something that kind of resembles a noisy underwater version of the song you wanted to hear. But Amazing Slow Downer uses some sophisticated algorithms to allow the sound to be remarkably clean even when stretched all the way to 33%. When using the app you can also loop playback so you don't have to keep hitting start and stop over and over again. You can also select a start and end point for the loop. Another feature you can use is the "notes" section. This allows you to write some text to be saved with each song. This way you can leave yourself notes: like what time the guitar solo begins or you could even paste text tab from your favorite tab site. As a guitar teacher, I use a program like this in almost every lesson and I recommend it to all my students. There are a couple features I would love to see in future versions that would take this app from excellent to perfect. One is the ability to save your loop points for each song, so you could just automatically jump to the chorus or solo. The second is the ability to see the waveform of the song. Hopefully a future version will have these features, but even without them this is such a great tool for any musician. Usually I laugh at any program that has "amazing" in the title but in this case I whole heartedly agree! If you are looking for a more full featured program for your home computer, you can take a look at that review here.
There is also a "Lite" version of the Amazing Slow Downer which is free and allows you to try all the features. However, the Lite version can only play the first quarter of a song and you can't play DRM songs from the Itunes library. But it's a great way to give the app a try before springing for the full version.
The second app every guitarist should have is a guitar tuner. There are several guitar tuning apps to chose from in iTunes so how do you decide which one to buy? First thing to consider is your needs. If you never plan on doing a recording session or perform live, then a simple tuner will work fine and will usually cost less. But if you're like me and don't like to settle for average, then I'd recommend the iStrobosoft guitar tuner. It is the most accurate tuner currently avaiable, and it's a software version of the kind of tuner you would find in any quality recording studio. This app only does one thing and it does it well- help you tune your guitar. You can use the open air mic to tune an acoustic guitar, or you can purchase a cable which allows you to plug in an electric or acoustic electric for the most accurate reading. You can also purchase a small mic adapter which will be better than the iphone's built in one. You can also select different open tunings, use with a capo to auto-transpose notes up or down to one full octave. You can also change the fundamental pitch away from A-440 or calibrate the tuner to be in tune with another source (like an out of tune piano). iStrobosoft also has a noise filter to help cut out room noise. At $9.99 this app is a great value and saves you $60 over a stompbox version.
This video does a great job illustrating the iStrobosoft app:
That's it for this iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad app roundup, but I will be reviewing more shortly including chord and scale dictionaries and guitar tab apps. I would love to hear about your favorite guitar apps, so I can spread the word!