I’ve travelled a lot this year. More than I have before, at least, and I’ve travelled with my guitar and no idea as to when I’d be finding myself back at home. It’s mildly frustrating to travel light and to make sure you have everything you need to back you up when the battery in your physical tuner goes.
These days, it doesn’t have to be. With the invention of and elevation in smartphone numbers, you can have an entire guitar kit in your pocket to take with you. Trains have power now, as do some buses, and it’s a lot easier to charge up a device than it is to track down the right battery for the right tuner when you’re not 100% sure where you are.
There are so many guitar apps out there that are amazingly helpful. I decided I’d share six that I use on a regular basis. Like music, everyone has different tastes, but it’s always nice to hear experiences that don’t involve star ratings of “I don’t know how to use it.”
There are a bunch of guitar tuning apps on both markets, and there are some that excel in what they do (as well as there being some that kinda blow) but Fender Tune was the first I downloaded when my battery went. You have the option to set different tunings and save them so you can refer back to them whenever you like. They also offer the option to set it for electric, acoustic or bass, and the app offers chromatic tuning if you prefer it that way. All in all, it’s free and works like a charm.
Metronomes are really great to use to practice timing. You often don’t realize your timing maybe isn’t perfect until it comes to jamming and your rhythm section needs you to slow down. (Drummers and bassists are the most underrated and necessary parts of the band). Metronome+ will keep you on track when you’re on your own.
I’ve been using Ultimate Guitar Tabs since I was a wee novice who just really wanted to be Kurt Cobain. It is, by far, the most extensive and user driven collection of chords and tabs on the net. I’d go so far as saying its community was my teacher. Now I’m a grown up novice, I’ve even got a few tabs up on there myself. If you’ve accessed the website on your phone, you’ve probably got the pop ups telling you to download the app but I can tell you that having UG on your phone is 100% worth it.
Secret: I’ve got no experience in musical theory whatsoever. I didn’t even have an idea that scales existed until I was 26 and in a band and someone went to me, “Do you practice your scales?” I didn’t but I do now and Chord! provides pretty much everything you need to advance in your craft. Practice is key. It may appear to go against the punk rock mythos and maybe, in ways, it does, but there’s no extent to the sound a guitar can make and the first step to mastering it is to learn your scales.
This is gonna be a short one but bear with me. You know when you’re lying in bed and come up with a riff the way Keith Richards did “Satisfaction”, except you’re too tired to get up and write it down? Keep your guitar by your bed, open up the stock memo app and record it. Bjork, PJ Harvey and heck, even Britney Spears might cover your song too.