We all know that learning guitar ain’t easy, and anything that can keep beginners interested while they try to overcome the inevitable obstacles is a good thing. There’s also no substitute for private lessons, because the instant feedback a teacher can give a student is crucial to learning right from wrong.
The Jamstik+ ($299 direct) aims to address both of those issues with fun, arcade-style tutorial apps to keep students engaged, and sensors in the neck that actually see finger positions to let students know in real time if they’re hitting the right notes or not. Plus, it’s super portable and features Bluetooth connectivity, so today’s tech-savvy guitar pupils can practice anywhere they can bust out an iPad or iPhone (and, in the coming months, Android Marshmallow supported devices).
Getting up and running with the Jam-Tutor app is simple, and from there you can begin fretting and picking notes with helpful prompts from the onscreen instructor. The lessons are interactive and go at the student’s pace—it won’t move on to the next chord until you nail the current one. The Rock Bandstyle games are a fun way to practice timing and coordination. Once you feel comfortable with some notes and chords, you can use the FourChords app to play hundreds of songs, with visual cues to help guide you along.
Because it transmits MIDI info via USB and Bluetooth, you can use the Jamstik with GarageBand, triggering any of that program’s sounds. The company’s website touts low latency, but I definitely had to alter my technique to compensate, although the folks at Jamstik say that the latency issue is with the audio buffer and not the instrument. The overall feel of the strings took some getting used to, as well. I see the target market for Jamstik as being prospective students who want to graduate from gaming to actually playing, who gravitate to the high-tech over the old-school, or who truly value portability. jamstik.com