I’ve seen plenty of guitar apps in my lifetime – enough for two lifetimes, in fact – but JamStar, an app by an Israeli programming house, has almost won my heart.
The premise is simple – you tune your guitar and then play notes or chords. The app (which runs on a phone or your browser) senses your strum and lets you move on or asks you to repeat the notes. You do this, ad infinitum, until you get good. The app gives you feedback as you play, offering pointers, and you can move from basic G-C-D strumming patterns to, say, more complex folks songs. As a self-taught guitarist, I could see how having an app to simply say if your Am chord sounds like a buzzing mess is valuable.
I tried the app yesterday with an acoustic and it immediately picked up my chording and plucks. It was easy enough for a beginner – the chord patterns are clearly denoted on the screen – and I could definitely see it as an alternative to light up guitars like Fretlight and Gtar.
Kobi Stok built the app using a number of “polyphonic algorithms” to identify chords and notes. He is a gigging musician in Tel Aviv and worked for SAP prior to this project. They’ve raised $800,000 from seed investors including Jeff Pulver and the Micro Angel Fund.
“We’ve recently partnered with leading educational music publishing company, Alfred, to secure the rights to leading music catalogs from the likes of Led Zeppelin, Green Day, Foo Fighters, Muse, R.E.M., Evanescence and others. With this amazing partnership we were recently able to launch real lessons for top hits,” said Assaf Bivas, JamStar’s marketing head. The company has also signed a partnership with Dean guitars to create Dean signature lessons.
The service makes money by selling various lessons including Rock/Pop and Jazz/Blues standards. “We have musicians on staff who tailor make the lessons to fit with progress and experience our user base brings to the table. Our sole purpose, is to teach you guitar in the best possible way,” said Bivas.
The app is available now for Android and iOS and you can play it for free in your browser.
The app came to be when Stok noticed his friends playing Guitar Hero and learning nothing from the experience. The app, in turn, acts as sort of a “real” guitar hero. By listening to how you play and responding with almost no latency, JamStar gives you a helpful look at how bad you sound.