Guitar Gravitas is yet another iOS chords-and-scales app for guitar players, but this one’s worth a look because the layout is so damned useful. Unlike many other scale and chord apps, Guitar Gravitas presents exactly the information you need when you have the guitar in your hands and are ready to practice. It puts as much info as possible onto a single screen, without getting cluttered or confusing.
My other favorite chord and scales app for the guitar is Chord!. It packs pretty much everything you will ever need, and it looks beautiful. However, you’ll spend a lot of time tapping between sections to get where you want to be. There are separate sections for everything.
Guitar Gravitas: Killer features, great layout
Guitar Gravitas, on the other hand, is all about the single screen. Fire it up on an iPad and you’ll see a guitar fretboard along the bottom edge of the screen (in landscape — the layout rearranges itself a little in portrait). You’ll also see a big box for diagrams above that, and a small source list to the left, from which you can pick the type of scale or chord you want to display.
That’s fine, but it’s the way this setup works that makes Guitar Gravitas stand out. For instance, you can instantly change key at any time by tapping the alway-on list of keys, from C to B, along the top of the screen. Other always-visible toggles include switching from note names on the diagrams (Bb, F# etc.) to scale degrees, aka the position of a given note in a scale, represented by a number. That’s essential stuff, and requires a trip to the settings to change on many other good apps.
When in chords mode, the diagram box shows all the different ways to play the selected chord, in standard B&W diagrams. Tap one of those diagrams and that particular fingering shows up on the guitar fretboard at the bottom of the screen. Plus, the app plays the chord out loud (you can switch the sound off if your prefer).
Matching scales and chords
Scales mode is similar, but with scales instead of chords.Guitar Gravitas offers one neat (and possibly unique) feature called Matching Chords/Scales. Depending on how you use it, this mode shows only the scales matching the selected chord, or only the notes and chords that match the current scale. What does that mean? It means you can quickly get a list of scales that can be played over a chord. That way, you can then improvise a riff or solo and be sure not to hit any bum notes.
Guitar Gravitas really is great. I love that it’s so easy to switch between various chords and scales, but without losing context. I also like the left-handed mode, the alternate tuning mode (super-useful, this one), and the capo mode. However, developer Mad Harmony could improve a few things, in my opinion.
For instance, the scales are diagrammed in guitar tab notation, rather than in the more intuitive fretboard-style diagrams used for the chords section. And the chords diagrams are numbered with the fingers you should use to fret each note, rather than the note names or scale degrees. That’s neat for beginners, but in advanced mode, there should be an option to change this.
All in all, though, Guitar Gravitas is a fantastic app for guitarists. There’s a free trial version with fewer features, and the full versions costs $6.
Download: Guitar Gravitas from the App Store (iOS)