FretBud is the simplest, most useful guitar-scales app ever

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Fretbud is super-simple, and that’s what makes it so useful.
FretBud is super-simple, and that’s what makes it so useful.
Photo: FretBud

If you’re learning to play the guitar, then you will constantly be looking up two things: Scales and chords. After you get a bit further into it, you’ll add arpeggios to that list. And you will keep referencing them for years, becasue there are a zillion way to play each chord, scale, or arpeggio on the guitar. And here’s the problem. Reference materials for these three essentials are a pain to use. Either you spend more time clicking around an app than you do practicing, or you have to keep a ton of PDFs around, and try to keep those organized. Now, though, a super simple (maybe too-simple) app finally ge ts it right. It’s called Fretbud, and I love it.

Fender Bluetooth speaker looks like a 1950s tweed-covered guitar amp

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Fender Tweed Monterey
This, believe it or not, is a Bluetooth speaker.
Photo: Fender

This is Fender’s new Tweed Monterey. No, it’s not a tweed-covered guitar amp from the 1950s, although it certainly looks just like one. It is, in fact, the sweetest-looking Bluetooth speaker I’ve ever seen. It might not be the most practical, most portable or even best sounding Bluetooth speaker around. But if you want people to think you play guitar, this is the perfect accessory for your fake sleeve tattoos.

The Jammy is yet another attempt at an iOS-ready travel guitar

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Jammy is air-travel friendly.
Jammy is air-travel friendly.
Photo: Jammy

Truth: Every wireless musical gadget has to have its publicity photos shot in a park. Never mind that the user/model is wearing headphones, isolated from their idyllic surroundings, and likely struggling to read their iPhone display in the hot sun. The Jammy is no different. It’s a 17-inch-long practice guitar that can not only be taken to the park, but splits in two for carrying on planes.

Control your analog guitar pedals with this iPhone app and looper

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DC Pedals Bluetooth Looper will switch your pedals in and out using an iPhone app.
This box will switch your pedals in and out using an iPhone app.
Photo: DC Pedals

There are great guitar effects apps for iOS, apps which take the signal from your electric guitar and process it with weird and/or great-sounding effects. And there are also several Bluetooth gadgets that let you control those apps with your feet.

But what about the other way around? Is there a way to take a guitarist’s collection of old-school analog effects pedals, and control them from your iPhone? Well yes, now there is. It’s DC Pedals’ Bluetooth Looper and VirtualLooper app.

Learn to play a musical instrument with iOS

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learn to play
You don't have to build your own guitar, thank God.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Learning a musical instrument is hard. Really hard. It takes a long time to make anything that sounds like music, and yet still people put in the long hours and the hard work to become great at their chosen instrument.

There’s no way around practicing, but there is. lot you can do to make the practice easier, more effective, and much more fun, and all you need is there on your iPhone or iPad.

This box turns your iPad into the ultimate guitar pedalboard

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iRig Stomp I/O Pedalboard
Nothing can bad can happen to your iPad down there on a stage floor. Nothing.
Photo: IK Multimedia

Electric guitar players have effects pedals. It’s an addiction, and a law of nature. We keep buying little stomp boxes in pursuit of the perfect sound, and of course we don’t even call it sound. We call it “tone.” But the sensible players don’t try to beat the addiction. They switch to software. Instead of buying and trading expensive hardware boxes, they move to something like iOS effects apps, which let you experiment at a fraction of the cost.

And that’s where IK Multimedia’s new iRig Stomp I/O Pedalboard comes in. It’s a hardware pedalboard that provides guitar players with a familiar front-end to all those amazing iOS effects.

These tiny guitar amps can be controlled by your iPhone

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laney iphone amp
So cute.
Photo: Laney

Laney’s new Mini-Laney and Mini-St-Lion are tiny, portable, desktop versions of the U.K. guitar-amp company’s popular full-sized amplifiers. They come in retro and modern styles, and mono or stereo versions. Plus, they can be hooked up to any amp-simulation software on your iPhone using a single cable.

Guitar Gravitas, Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition, and other awesome apps of the week

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Awesome Apps
'Appy weekend.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

This week we have apps that will help you to learn everything about your guitar, read up on the latest news, and use the Touch Bar to edit text on your MacBook Pro. But who are we trying to fool with all those? This weekend you’ll all be playing Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition all day long.

Bias Mini Guitar amp is controlled by your iPhone

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bias mini guitar
This slimline, portable amp can sound like any other amp, ever.
Photo: Positive Grid

iOS is getting to be a serious platform for musicians. Lots of musicians already know that, but now some amazing hardware is appearing that takes advantage of the little devices. The latest is Positive Grid’s Bias Mini, for guitar and bass, 300-watt guitar amplifier that takes its sounds from an iPhone, iPad, or Mac app.