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Review: GuitarToolkit

February 10, 2010


Every now and then, I get the opportunity to share one of my "must have" apps with AppAdvice readers, and GuitarToolkit is one of those apps. It has a permanent home on my iPhone. I play electric guitar, acoustic guitar and mandolin, and I do regular gigs with a few bands. Weekly rehearsals and at-home practice is a regular part of my week, and GuitarToolkit is just what the name implies: an indispensable tool for stringed instrument players. So let's have a deeper look at why this app should be on your iPhone if you play any instrument with strings, regardless of your musical prowess.


GuitarToolkit has five main modes: • Direct support for 6 and 12 string guitar, 4, 5 and 6 string bass, banjo, mandolin, and ukulele with a full chord library, plus standard and alternate tunings for each instrument • Highly accurate chromatic tuner using the iPhone microphone (or iPod touch with microphone headset) • Precisely accurate metronome with a visible flash option, tempo tap pad, 13 sound effects and 12 time signatures • Massive chord library (over 500,000 chords) for quick and easy reference, including chords for alternate tunings. You can even strum chords in the app to hear what they sound like! • Chord finder: simply touch the notes on the fretboard that make up a chord, and GuitarToolkit tells you what that chord is! This is a great way to learn about those great sounding chords you've been playing • Visual overlays for scales in standard or alternate tunings and the ability to use the interactive fretboard to touch each note and hear what it sounds like • Supports “lefty mode” which adjusts chords and scales to reflect a left-handed instrument

The Breakdown:

The Good:

If you play guitar, you need this app. It's just that simple. At a cost of $10, this app is priced on the higher end for an iPhone app, but considering the functions it performs so well and the cost of the devices it can replace, GuitarToolkit is an incredible steal. In real-world use, I have always found the tuner to be very accurate and easy to use. The metronome has come in handy countless times in rehearsals and other situations. The ability to simply tap out the tempo of a song using the metronome is not a new feature to metronomes, but GuitarToolkit's tempo tap feature is so easy to use, I like it more than my BOSS Dr. Beat that set me back $70...which I obviously bought before GuitarToolkit + iPhone. If you want to learn scales or write a solo, the fretboard feature should be indispensable for you. Not only does it show all the notes in a variety of scales, but you can hear the notes just by tapping them. But the feature I am perhaps most impressed with is the chord dictionary. I sometimes use alternate tunings when I play, and to have such a robust visual chord dictionary is incredible. I don't play mandolin nearly as much as guitar, so I often forget my mandolin chords. Prior to GuitarToolkit, I would have to scour the internet for a great website to provide this information, so to have this treasure trove of information at my fingertips amazes me. Aside from the rich feature set, GuitarToolkit has a smooth, intuitive UI, and the app is slick and responsive. Lesser features include a high contrast mode for the tuner, the option to flash the metronome with the tempo and the ability to switch to "lefty" mode in the chord dictionary. Little extras like this give GuitarToolkit the feel of a high-end, professional app well outside its $10 price range.

The Bad:

So what is this app missing? Well, not much, honestly. That said, a feature that I really, really would love to see included in a future version of GuitarToolkit is a chord transposer for capo players. Not all guitar players can just slap on a capo and transpose chords on the fly, so GuitarToolkit would be the ultimate app if it had this feature. The good news is that when I emailed the developers to suggest this feature, they told me that it was on their list of popular requests. So perhaps we'll see it in a future version.

The Verdict

Of course, not every iPhone owner is a musician, but for those of you who are, GuitarToolkit has some features that you may wonder how you ever made it without. And for a meager $10, it's worth the buy. It's also worth mentioning that GuitarToolkit Lite is also available for $6, but it has fewer features. So I recommend the full version for a mere $4 more. Clearly, I love this app and use it quite a bit, but if you own and use GuitarToolkit, leave a comment below and let your fellow AppAdvice readers know what you think!

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