It’s time again for Musician’s Corner, where we explore apps and accessories that we think musicians and music fans should know about. Last week, we reviewed Auria, one of the most comprehensive workhorse DAW apps in the App Store. What an amazing recording device. Apps like Auria give me hope that the iPad will actually be a legitimate recording device some day.
This week, we are going to take it down a notch and talk about an app that will help you practice the guitar. I know this is Musician’s Corner. I’m supposed to be appealing to people who already think of themselves as musicians. Guitar Suite HD is not a beginner’s app. It is a fairly comprehensive program for learning scales and chords. If you don’t already own a guitar, you can’t really take advantage of the things you will learn here.
The app opens with a guitar fret board. You will see a series of blue dots with letters on the board. Each dot represents where your finger would go on your guitar. For example, if the chord being displayed was a C Major, the board would show three blue dots. The “C” would be on the fourth fret of the “A” string. The “E” would be on the third fret of the “D” string and so on.
You can change the chord’s root note to display the finger placement for all notes on the fret board. You can also change the chord from major to minor or 5th, 6th, 7th, and so on, all the way to “augmented add 9th.”
As you can see, this is not an app for someone who has never picked up a guitar before. In fact, you have to at least be practiced in rudimentary guitar skills to understand where to place your fingers. Users can strum the virtual guitar strings to hear what the notes and chords should sound like, but this is not an app for pretending you are a rock god. It is an app for helping you become one.
The scales section is similar to the chords section. Every note that can be played within a particular scale will appear as a transparent circle on the fret board. The root note will be highlighted in blue while the rest will be light gray. You can vary the root note of each scale to display the finger placement for all notes on the fret board. You can also change the scale from major, to harmonic minor, to diminished whole tone and everything in between.
This app also includes a feature to allow you to tune your real guitar either using a digital tuner or tuning by ear. To tune by ear, select the headphone icon and tap the string you want to tune to. You can adjust the string tones between standard tuning, drop tuning, open tuning, fourths, and more. I tried it both ways and they were dead on. My guitar has never been tuned so perfectly.
If you are ready to practice your scales, you can set the internal metronome to help you with your timing. Adjust the metronome for 30 beats per minute and up to 240 beats per minute. You can also change the sound of the clicks to wood, metal, synth, retro, or even silent if you just want to see the lights blink in rhythm.
In the settings section, you can customize the app’s look and change instruments. Guitar Suite gives you chord and scale information for a regular six-string, bass guitar, banjo, lute, and ukulele. You can also change the way the instrument sounds. Switch between acoustic guitar, “Crunch” guitar, electric guitar, and banjo.
Like I said before, you have to know how to play guitar, at least a little bit, in order to make this app work for you. If you don’t know which fingers to use when playing a “C” chord, you will need to take some lessons before utilizing this app.
If you are proficient with a guitar, bass, banjo, or ukulele, then this app is great for teaching you the more complex chords and uncommon scales. It is only $2.99. When you compare that to the cost of private lessons, Guitar Suite HD is the bargain of a lifetime.
Thanks for stopping by Musician’s Corner. Do you think you’ll use Guitar Suite HD to practice your scales? Do you own a guitar? If so, what brand and model? I own an acoustic Ovation Celebrity, a short scale Gibson SG knockoff bass (no, not an Epiphone), a Fender Musicmaster bass, a Gretsch semi-hollow body guitar and a Danelectro guitar. I showed you mine, now you show me yours.