These days, we’re seeing a number of new MIDI controllers that give guitarists access to the wide world of MIDI. jamstik+ is the latest. It’s a compact guitar that syncs up wirelessly with your Mac, iPad or iPhone, allowing you to play samples and make recordings, pretty much anytime and anywhere the desire strikes.
The original jamstick debuted in 2014 and sold well, but you’ll notice there’s a “+” in the name now. The latest incarnation adds several new features, the most notable of which is a magnetic hexaphonic pickup. This is a change from the previous model’s optical sensors, which some customers said caused a slight delay between picking a string and hearing it. The MIDI pickup provides a more natural and authentic picking feel. Its presence here should also make the jamstik+ more appealing to guitarists who have been as slow to embrace optical pickups as they were hexaphonics.
Bluetooth connectivity is another improvement on jamstik+, one that allows it to connect seamlessly with Apple’s Bluetooth MIDI software. The previous model connected over Wi-Fi by creating its own network.
In addition, jamstik’s firmware and companion apps have been upgraded to provide more instrument options—including banjo, piano, harp and sitar—from the moment the unit is connected. Other new convenience include capo shifting and a programmable directional control pad for greater versatility.
Like the original, jamstik+ uses real guitar strings and has physical frets. It can also track string bends and vibrato for a more organic and musical experience.
And while the neck has just five frets, the jamstik+ has a five-octave range thanks to remapping capabilities that let it access the entire range of notes via MIDI. The neck is also standard width, so jamstik+ won’t cramp the style of experienced players.
Granted, the jamstik has been marketed as a great way for beginners to learn guitar. It comes with tutorial apps, and fingering positions appear your device’s screen to provide helpful visual feedback.
But there are some benefits here for experienced players too. MIDI capability is a big one; the compact size is another. And when you include the access to new sounds and recording capabilities—the guitar comes with the jamMix music-making app and works with GarageBand, Ableton, SampleTank and other DAWs—jamstik+ has some pretty impressive specs.
I also believe that just having a device like the jamstik nearby and ready to go will make you play and create more often. And that’s a pretty huge benefit.
Zivix, jamstik’s creator, launched a Kickstarter campaign for the jamstik+ on March 25. Here we are, just two days later, and the campaign has already exceeded its $50,000 goal by more than $100,000. As of this post, the campaign was just shy of $160,000. And there are still 40 days to go. The estimated delivery for jamstik+ is May 2015.
Check out the short videos below for look at the jamstik+ in action.