GuitarCapo+ for iOS—a virtual instrument and a whole lot more

Every now and then I am lucky enough to come across something before it’s officially released. Not in the illegal torrent kind of way either. I’m talking about when a developer lets me know that I may be interested in something guitar related they’ve developed. To be fair, if it is guitar related, I’m interested. I’ll often let developers know this by saying “You had me at guitar”.

What I really look forward to though are those awesome moments when I come across something new (before its official release) that I love. The upcoming version of GuitarCapo+ is one of those somethings. Yes, a change is coming for this app.

I’ll walk you through the app as I introduced myself to it. Luckily, it’s an easy walk-through because this app is incredibly easy to use. It’s also a lot more involved than I’d have first assumed. But more on that later. Initially, the app walks you through a simple tutorial screen when you first load it up. If you’re like me and you often rush through the tutorial thinking “Whatever. I don’t need tutorials” only to regret doing that once you’re in the app, then you’re in luck! There’s a permanent link to the opening tutorial from within the app. Nobody needs to know that you don’t know as much as you led yourself to initially believe.

Once you’ve made it safely through the tutorial (or skipped it) you end up on the main screen for the GuitarCapo+ app. The interface is fairly familiar to anybody who has ever played an acoustic guitar. One advantage I will mention is the virtual sound hole. Feel free to drop a plectrum on it. That’s right. No lost plectrums with this app! In fact, put that plectrum away! This is a touch screen app. What were you thinking?

Another main screen link I’ll quickly mention is the About link. You’ll never guess what you’ll find on that page. OK. maybe you can guess. But it’s good to know there’s additional information about the app for those who like to know such things. I just love the fact that this screen is all black and white. That’s one image I don’t have to desaturate for my website.

Back on the main screen though, you’ll notice the familiar six strings found on most acoustic guitars. They’re conveniently varied in thickness so you can guess which end is up. To the right of the strings you’ll see the capo and the main chord names. There is also a little chord chart in the bottom-right of the main screen to let you know what chord is currently selected. You can either hit that chord chart to hear the chord strummed to perfection or you can run your finger over the strings in a strumming fashion. The advantage of this approach is you can play the strings you want to if you don’t wish to play an actual chord. Straight out of the box you can be playing the introduction to Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters.

One cool little feature I really like in this app is the muted string. Let’s say you select the Dm chord. The chord chart shows you that the low E and A strings are not used. Now try and strum those strings. No dice! Brilliant.

The capo itself is easy to use and that’s when the fun really begins in this app. To move the capo, you simply press and then drag on the capo (specifically where it says capo). As you drag the capo to the left of the screen, the chords you get to play get changed for you. For example, when you drag the capo to the third fret (fret positions are displayed at the top of the app screen) the Em position becomes Gm (you can watch the selected chord chart change in the bottom-right of the main screen as you move the capo). So cool.

If you want to see all of the chords for your current capo position, just click the Show chords button. Now you have six chord buttons to play with the simple click of a button. Move the capo and watch all chord names change. Don’t want to see the chords anymore? Just click the Hide chords button. Dead easy.

From the main screen you also have the ability to go to the Chord Chart area (which you do by clicking the brilliantly named Chord Chart button). When you first click on this button you’re taken to a screen that shows you the chord names (from A to G) on the left and the fretboard (first 12 frets) on the right of the screen with all fret notes marked. From there you simply click on the chord name and the app displays all the chord types in that chord group. From there you can view the flat and sharp alternatives for each chord (some with capo and some without). This just became a great learning tool for someone as lazy as me.

All of the information I’ve shared to date is good to know. This alone makes the app worth its purchase price (which will be $2.99 for the full version). But in true telemarketer style I’m here to tell you that “That’s not all!”

In my opinion the two best features of this app are (because regular visitors know I love lists):

  • Built-in effects
  • AudioBus connectivity

Effects and AudioBus? Why? Because they’re both awesome.

The effects range from distortion (don’t expect AmpliTube style or quality effects though—that would be foolish and greedy) to delay and reverb. The reverb and delay in particular are just awesome. What I like in particular about these two effects is the way they’re applied to the instrument. The delay can be added to individual strings at differing levels. What you can also do on a string-to-string basis is pan the sounds between left and right speakers (particularly effective when listening through headphones). Combine that with delay and you’ve got a killer sound. Add reverb on top and you’ll start to see why the AudioBus connectivity is so useful.

With AudioBus connectivity, killer sounds and the ability to play chords at the press of a button it is incredibly simple to now put together a simple track using chords that are guaranteed to work together. It’s way cooler than I’d initially anticipated the app to be. I’ll be keeping an eye on this little app. I look forward to seeing what it introduces next.

Oh, if you want to check it out, there is also a free version. It gets updated in the next day or two along with the full version.

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