The 25 Best Guitar and Music Apps
Everything you need to turn your smartphone or tablet into an extension of your guitar.
Although pricey by basic app standards, Chord! offers a comprehensive interactive chord encyclopedia based on interval relationships, giving users many different inversions and fingerings.
It also offers interactive scales with alternate fingering and optional piano displays. Next time your jazz-bo keyboard player starts jamming on a C major 13 chord, you can find the perfect scale in which to improvise.
When it comes to practice, nothing beats playing with a full ensemble.
The Guitar Jam Tracks series of apps provide full-band backing tracks for rock, reggae, jazz, “humbucker blues” and acoustic blues, delivering the ultimate experience in woodshedding. App developer Ninebuzz also offers a Scale Trainer & Practice Buddy app for $4.99.
In addition to the five previously mentioned styles, it includes an in-app purchase option for Garage Rock and the ability to float in tracks you’ve written in GarageBand and other apps.
Amps, Effects, Recording and Tools
Since inspiration often strikes at inconvenient times, GarageBand can be a songwriter’s most invaluable tool, especially if you’re far away from your instrument.
With realistic-sounding virtual-guitar tones that can be strummed as chords, regimented into scales (including exotic-sounding Klezmer and “South-East Asian” scales) or played as standard fretted notes, GarageBand makes it easy to sketch out song ideas. It also offers amps and effects to suit practically any kind of music.
And because it offers simulated bass, drums, keyboards, strings, a sampler and even a virtual amp that you can plug into using an audio interface, you can write full demos and even smartly produced and mixed songs.
Recording enthusiasts know the power of the “bus” on a console: it’s what keeps everything connected.
Now a recording-obsessed app developer has created a program that works like a bussing system between music apps, allowing users ostensibly to rout the signals from numerous apps—including AmpKit, Amplitube, StompBox and Animoog (see all below)—into GarageBand or other recording apps. Finally, your tone is always at your fingertips.
Guitarist Alex Skolnick told Guitar World that he uses AmpKit+ almost religiously for warm-ups, whether he’s running through the blazing solos and riffs that he’s co-written with Testament or the jazzy chordings and improv ideas he plays in his eponymous trio.
That’s because AmpKit+ replicates the sounds of four amps—the Peavey ValveKing and 3120, as well as vintage “British” and “Colonel” amps—and the effects of 10 stomp boxes, plus mic and cabinet options. In-app purchases include more options, such as the Peavey 6505+, but those on a budget can check out the free version of AmpKit, which offers the ValveKing and a pared-down selection of effects.
Either way, you’ll need Peavey’s AmpKit LiNK, which ranges from $19.99 to $99.99, depending on the model. Like other apps mentioned here, AmpKit+ has Audiobus support.
Like the PC and Mac programs of the same name, IK Multimedia’s AmpliTube offers digital stomp boxes and selectable head, cab and mic options.
App users can mix and match 11 stomp boxes, five amps, five cabs and two mics in the full version and a more basic rig in the free edition of the app.
In-app purchase options include a handy four-track recorder and a few more effects for writing on the go. Also available are branded versions of AmpliTube that offer the unique sounds of Slash, Jimi Hendrix and Fender amps for $14.99. Like AmpKit, AmpliTube requires its own endemic interface, the iRig, which retails for $39.99, and it has Audiobus support
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