Pocket Guitar hits too many sour notes

Sep 1, 2009
Music

Learning to play a real guitar is easier and more user-friendly than trying to jam to the PocketGuitar app for the iPhone.  Guitar Hero memorably made the leap to the hand-held arena last year with middling results—it supplemented the plastic axe (that’s “guitar” to you non-rockers out there) by requiring a clunky plastic grip to […]

Learning to play a real guitar is easier and more user-friendly than trying to jam to the PocketGuitar app for the iPhone. 

Guitar Hero memorably made the leap to the hand-held arena last year with middling results—it supplemented the plastic axe (that’s “guitar” to you non-rockers out there) by requiring a clunky plastic grip to fully simulate strumming. PocketGuitar achieves this same level of clunkiness without any additional hardware—you cradle the iPhone like a six-string, then pick, pluck or strum with one hand while awkwardly making chords or riff movements with the other. If you want to play “Stairway To Heaven” or “I’m Only Happy When It Rains,” there are no colored blocks to prompt you— so you’ll have get start practicing.

Although you could hypothetically learn along to songs already on your iPhone, don’t expect to become a virtuoso through this practice alone. Although PocketGuitar is versatile, it lacks practicality. While you can simulate an electric guitar, bass, classical guitar, ukulele, muted guitar, and acoustic-electric guitar, and easily implement alternate tunings or add effects, nothing sounds quite right here.

The fun of tinkering on the guitar is finding unexpected sounds that go well together—and any element of discovery is sapped by the scale of the iPhone: You’re limited to the amount of a guitar neck that can fit onto the screen at any one time. The default display is four frets, and having to manually shift along the neck to play higher or lower notes while jamming isn’t music to anyone’s ears.

READ  Developing Minds Want to Know: Q&A with Qello CEO, Brian Lisi
Search for more

David Wolinsky

David Wolinsky is the Chicago city editor for The Onion's A.V. Club and is also the  undisputed 1994 Blockbuster store champion at collecting bananas in Donkey Kong Country.

    Home Apps Games