Guitar powerhouse Gibson and software developer Legacy Learning Systems quietly released their iPhone application "Gibson Learn & Master Guitar Application" on March 1st, promising that this is a "must have" application for guitarists. Being a guitarist myself, I decided to give the app a quick rundown.
The first part of the application contains an obligatory chromatic tuner. After I fired this up, I re-tuned my Ibanez acoustic since it had been sitting in its case for quite some time. Turns out, this tuner is a very capable piece of software when coupled with the iPhone's microphone. It took only seconds to achieve perfect tune, and I didn't encounter any errors along the way. Also included here is a "mode" button, which takes you to a list of alternative tunings if you're so inclined.
The second sub-application is a metronome which, I'll be honest, I won't have much use for. You can dial the BPM from 1 to 225, hit start, and the classic "ticks" of the metronome begin clacking away while the needle sways happily from one side to the other. Really, this is something that I will find limited only by my own imagination...maybe I could use it as white noise sometime?
The third part of the application is the Chord finder, and aside from the chromatic tuner, I think I'll find the most use from this module. When you first tap on the Chords heading at the bottom of the application, you're presented with a long list of chord names such as Am7, Asus, E7 and so on. There is also a subsection at the bottom of the list for "Barre Chords on the 6th String," and it contains chords like F7, Fsus and others.
It's this module I might spend most of my time in. When you tap on the name of a chord, you're taken to a visual representation of a guitar neck, complete with fret dots, wood grain fretboard and strings. Numbers represent where your fingers should go, and muted and open strings are also indicated. You can't actually "strum" this illustration from the application, but the utility of just being able to refresh yourself on chords "at will" is very nice.
The third module in this app is the "Lessons" module. Here, the publisher gives you video previews of their other software titles so that you will, hopefully, buy more of their products. I applaud the effort, but only time will tell whether the inclusion of these previews will net them more cashola. Tapping on this module brings up a list of video previews, along with a small picture of the lesson. When you tap on a preview, the iPhone's video software takes over, and you're presented with a clip of a guitar lesson covering a variety of subjects in cluding "Going Beyond the First Position" and "Jazz Guitar." A couple of the clips are very short (one minute or so in length), and some are actually full-blown lessons, bordering on one-hour in length. I'll have to spend some more time with the videos to see what all they offer.
The final module is a link to Gibson's site, presented in a special iPhone format, and it remains within the application itself rather than going externally to the Safari browser. There, you can peruse news, features, artists & events as well as site help and contact information if you have questions about the app or Gibson guitars. Some less-then-subtle music and spoken word play in the background when you tap on this module, and more information is presented audibly as you view the news, features, etc.
Overall, I'm impressed with this absolutely free offering from Gibson and Legacy Learning Systems. I didn't experience any issues in my initial trial run of the software, and I think it offers quite a bit to casual musicians for the price of nada, zip, zero. You can't beat that now can you, Mr. Negative Pants?