Guitarism: Pocket Accoustic Guitar – Review

20130201-160729.jpgVisit Rhisms WebSite

UPDATED: 6-24-2013

Guitarism now supports multi channel -MIDI! This new feature is called “Triple Play” and is available as an IAP from within the app for $4.99. That might seem like a high price just for MIDI, but consider that the app itself is only a mere $2.99 as is, and has a quality sound with fantastic playability. Triple Play adds a lot more depth and functionality than it might seem at a glance. Being able to control up to 3 MIDI compatible apps simultaneously is really cool. Once you start using it, and experience just how inspiring it can be, the value becomes much more evident. I have to be honest though, I think the five bucks IAP is a little high. I’d feel more comfortable with it being a couple bucks less, or better yet a full Guitarism package with all the goodies for single price. Say $6.99? Nevertheless, its not my business to argue pricing, I’m just voicing my own opinion. By the way I want to direct you to the comments of this review to consider a strong argument for the value of this apps IAPs, that Rhism himself pointed out. He makes good sense and points out a reasonable comparison vs other apps with similar and higher priced options.
However you look at it the functionality you get is compelling. This is a solid and quality guitar simulation app that isn’t developed on a whim overnight. Its a serious instrument that delivers a wonderful experience, and with Triple Play a whole world of new possibilities open up. Guitarism with Triple Play are a powerful combination.

Original Review:

Why are so many virtual guitar apps in iOS being sold without Audiobus or at least AudioCopy?
Rhism LLC gets it. Developed by a guitar player, Guitarism comes not only with probably the best sounding virtual guitar, but also a comfortable playing interface built perfectly for iPhone and iPod touch. Plus, he made Guitarism relevant by adding Audiobus support quickly. The first virtual guitar app to do so.

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Guitarsm is a six string virtual acoustic guitar with an amazingly playable design. It sounds fantastic and as close to a real guitar sound as any other app. The quality of this is amazing maybe even better than other iOS virtual guitars.
You play Guitarism with two hands, and depending on if you’re a lefty or righty (both supported) the chords are on one side while the string strumming is on the other.
Guitarism is centered on strumming most of all, but you can finger pick individual strings without discomfort. For some reason Finger Picking (Smart Strings) is available through IAP. I feel that’s a standard function and should be part of the entry price.

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A very clean and simple interface intelligently designed awaits. No clutter or any unnecessary menus. This is strait up 6 string strumming pleasure. There is of course a menu of options to offer further tools to make the most of your experience.
Change and customize keys and scales how ever you prefer. Turn on Tilted Chords and your 6 available chords expand to 18 variations by simply tilting the device left and right. Very nice option, I can’t turn it off.
Check Out This YouTube Video

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Further expanding on expression options are Hammer On and Fret Muting which can also be enabled. These are the kinds of features any guitarist would expect. Having these makes playing Guitarism about the most instinctive and natural feeling of any iOS Guitar I’ve tried.

I cant say it enough. The sound is very good. The strings respond magnificently to how you hit them. Gently strum or tap for softer sounds, or rapid taps and fast strumming for much louder responses. The string attack is incredibly lifelike. There is a nice amount of sustain that lends to the natural quality of what’s played. It could probably benefit from a selectable option for users to expand or reduce the sustained audio. Just something I’d like.

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Guitarism has its own record option, and a recordings management folder. No FX come with Guitarism, but neither do real guitars. Thanks to Audiobus support, playing Guitarism through FX apps like EchoPad (really gotta try it!) is a fun and easy way to add some very cool FX, and have it all recorded in your favorite iDAW. AudioCopy is supported as well, in case you’re without Audiobus.
You can share your recordings, chord sets etc via Facebook, and the “Rhism Nation.”

More additions are being developed to improve and expand upon Guitarism. A couple notable planned items are: More guitar types, & MIDI. Both planned to be made available through IAP. iPad native support is being considered but has not been confirmed. Its possible a separate app might be needed for iPad. I hope he finds a way to make this universal, no one likes having to buy the same thing twice.
Personally speaking I am excited by the possibility of having a 12 string added to this. I can hardly wait to see what Rhism does next.

For the record I’ve been playing this on my iPads 2&3 at 2X size without any problems at all.
This is one well made and great sounding virtual guitar. No complaints. A new must have. 5 stars!
Buy Guitarism in iTunes

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27 comments

  1. I picked it up today after it went on sale. Having been a guitarist for going on 23 years, it seems a bit weird to buy a guitar simulator app, but seeing that MIDI will be coming sealed the deal for me.

    I actually enjoyed using iShred and Guitar Studio, and was happy to have something guitar-like when I sustained nerve damage last year and was unable to play guitar at all. Just being able to record “dry guitar” to run AmpKit (which I have a stupid amount of money invested in) was somewhat of a relief. So I’ll have those apps to compare it to once I have time to play with it a bit. And this should prove amazingly useful once the AmpKit update with Audiobus support hits the app store. πŸ™‚

  2. As a guitarist, nothing beats the real thing, but this looks very interesting and ciould be great fun. Thanks for another insightful review.

  3. Hey guys – guitarism creator here! Clif, just wanted to say that if you used iShred / Guitar Studio for playing melodies on the fretboard, you won’t find that feature in guitarism. But if you used them for strumming, I’m pretty sure you won’t go back to those apps again, especially once AmpKit adds Audiobus support! πŸ™‚

  4. Good review, i agree about the smart string IAP or is it we just expect to much nowadays?

    Please dont count me in your random selection as I already own the app πŸ™‚

  5. I totally agree. I play guitarism with jamup hooked in (obviously through audiobus) and the result is more than satisfactory.

    I am hoping the developer will come up with the ability to switch to a bass guitar interface and apply much of this intuitiveness to that interface too!

  6. Thanks for all the votes of confidence guys!

    Just wanted to clarify something about Smart Strings. To quote the review:
    “For some reason Finger Picking (Smart Strings) is available through IAP. I feel that’s a standard function and should be part of the entry price.”

    To be clear, guitarism does allow finger-picking without Smart Strings. You can play individual strings one by one, and you can also multi-touch with up to 5 fingers to play multiple strings simultaneously. You don’t need to buy any IAPs to do this.

    That said, it’s tricky to do this on an iPhone because guitarism is highly optimized for strumming so the strings are very close together. This is a trade-off every single guitar app has to make between quality of strumming and ease of finger-picking. If you compare different guitar apps you’ll notice that the ones with a good strumming sound have strings close together and thus harder to finger-pick. The ones that optimize for finger picking move their strings further apart and have a weaker strumming experience. Some of them try to compromise and do both, and then end up failing at both. So while “finger-picking” is definitely a standard function and is thus supported in guitarism without Smart Strings, no guitar app has been able to combine “easy finger picking” with “good strumming sound” in a single interface.

    It took me about 2 years of design iteration and revision to crack this problem and my resulting invention was Smart Strings. Smart Strings is the only guitar interface I know of in any app that achieves the combination of easy finger picking and good strumming in one interface. It achieves this by spacing the strings very far apart by default (further than any other app I know of), and then intelligently bringing the strings together when you start to strum, so that the quality of the strum sound is preserved but individual strings can be played easily too. Basically it gives you the best of both worlds – the easiest finger picking and the best strumming – without having to go into the settings to switch to ‘strumming mode’ or ‘finger-picking mode’. The strings are smart enough to switch modes for you while you play.

    In the curent release (v2.21) the balance between wide and narrow is currently a bit off so the strings go narrow too often. The next update will fix this and make the feature this much more solid and usable. It will effectively be the easiest finger-picking (because the strings can be as far apart as possible) as well as the best strumming.

    So given all this, I feel that it’s fair for me to charge for a feature that solves an extremely hard design problem that all guitar apps suffer from, which took me 2 years to invent and no other app currently offers. In fact, once the next update comes out I plan to raise the price of Smart Strings since it’s getting better (existing Smart Strings users will get the improvements for free).

    1. Thank you for the detailed, and very thoughtful comments!

      While I do respect the point of view you have about the “Smart Strings” feature I still somewhat disagree about charging extra for it.
      I feel guitar ( all music apps really ) apps should do their best to emulate the natural playability without compartments of additional features that don’t match what it’s real world counter part does. Sure the finger picking is possible as is and mostly not a problem for me, but if a better option to make that aspect more enjoyable or easier to perform, it should be part of the entry price as a standard feature. Think of it this way; a synth app has monophonic and polyphonic. If a synth app charged extra for one or the other while only including one it would be a huge turn off for users. Arguably a foolish development choice. If I buy a polyphonic synth but am expected to pay for the monophonic function separately just because it has clever coding to make the experience more realistic, who cares? We just want to play the instrument. Harsh sounding, but not intentionally. Just trying to make the point stick.
      Strumming and finger picking are similar as they are also normal functions of the instrument. Regardless of programming nuances, the best options should always be the first options and never cost extra. I’d suggest including Smart Strings as a standard function and just raise the overall app price a little. I understand the IAP needs to continue brining in revenue, but not for a basic instrument function. Maybe IAPs for FX? pedals like one would expect to have to buy separately for a real world guitar? That makes a lot more sense to me.

      At any rate, Guitarism is fantastic and I love it! I hope you find a solution that will work for you but also meet the expectations of end users. Cheers to much success! Please don’t take anything I wrote overly harsh, text conversations leave out the vocal queues that indicate a positive attitude. think of me talking to you with a friendly sincere calm tone eager for your success.

      1. Thanks for the thoughtful response David! I don’t take any of this harshly at all. For the same reason, please don’t take any of my comments as harsh or attacking either – I have tons of respect for what you do, and for all my users in general, and I truly believe that I need to hear this kind of honest feedback in order to make the app better.

        I do understand your point. In the world of physical instruments, when you buy a guitar you buy the whole thing, you don’t pay extra to use certain strings or certain frets, so for the same reason users wouldn’t want to pay extra for something that feels like it should be part of the instrument. On the other hand they feel more comfortable paying for things that feel like they’re separate from the instrument, like effects. As such, I feel that smart strings is exactly that – a special pack of strings you buy which allows you to do more than the normal strings.

        It’s a tricky issue. Folks might feel that MIDI should be included in the price, and custom chord creation should be included in the price, since many other apps include these things as standard. Something like smart strings is at least a unique, exclusive feature that you can’t get anywhere else. But either way, if I were to include all those features as part of the app and increase the price, I would end up pricing the app out of the range of a lot of people, and then I’d get negative reviews from people who only use 1% of the features and complain that it’s not worth the price. Or if I don’t increase the price then I don’t really get a return from my investment in working on those features. Because of this I personally believe very strongly in IAPs to allow people to buy the parts of the app that they want, and skip those that they don’t care for, thus essentially naming their own total price for the app based on what they will use.

        If I could start from scratch I would probably have made a free base app and then charge for sets of features separately like advanced techniques (muting + tilting + hammer/pull + smart strings), recording+export functionality etc. Of course now that some of these features are in the app I can’t take them out, so now I have an app that some people tell me is easily worth $10, and others say is not worth more than $1.99. The people who want it to be $1.99 probably don’t need any of the advanced features, and would rather have a basic chords-changing app that cost $0.99 or free.

  7. Another thought I had on this last night. Many guitar apps offer a strumming mode and a ‘lead guitar’ mode to play notes on a virtual fretboard. And of course, real guitars can be played in both ways. But guitarism doesn’t have a lead guitar mode, because I find those fretboards to be completely unplayable – they are all ‘hunt and peck’ exercises where your brain is too busy worrying about finger accuracy to think about music.

    So I’d like to create a really good lead guitar interface where you can focus on the music. Something that far exceeds all the other apps. It might take me months of trial and error to get it working, and for all I know I might fail and give up. But if I succeed, it will be a first.

    So if I create something like this, folks might feel it should be part of the app since a real guitar lets you play lead or rhythm without charging extra (never mind that it costs hundreds of dollars…). But if a ‘lead guitar’ IAP is not going to be acceptable to people, I would rather (a) not spend the time to try inventing it, or (b) sell it as a separate ‘lead guitarism’ app. Neither of those are good outcomes – the best outcome is that this would be part of guitarism so folks can switch back and forth quickly, re-use their IAPs across both modes, etc.

    Would be great to hear your thoughts on this πŸ™‚

  8. “full Guitarism package with all the goodies” can’t happen till I’m done adding goodies πŸ™‚ And I may never be done adding goodies πŸ™‚ So the IAPs will continue…

    But I hear you that you think $5 is high for this IAP’s functionality. The two main comparison points to guitarism Triple Play are Chordion and polychord. Of course these are all excellent apps and each offers its own unique strengths and flavor, but a quick comparison shows:

    Chordion: 2 instruments at a time, $5
    guitarism + Triple Play: 4 instruments at a time, $8 ($3+$5)
    polychord: 6 instruments at a time, $10

    Given this comparison I felt that $5 is a reasonable price for the Triple Play IAP. But of course, always open to feedback. Any thoughts on things I could add to Triple Play to make it worth the $5 in your eyes?

    1. I didn’t mean to be harsh, if it seemed so? You know, I hadn’t even considered that comparison you pointed out. That really puts things into perspective. Like I said though its none of my business how apps are priced. I was just stating my own personal opinion, which to he honest I’m really kind of on the fence a bit regarding IAPs. I don’t prioritize MIDI, so my expectations may be skewed? I’m unlikely to ever pay the IAPs you used as comparison.
      On the flip side, those who do often use MIDI or depend on it may see it as a great value? We app consumers are honestly very spoiled. Anyway, you make a really solid point. Im starting to see the point of IAPs better. I’m going to refer to your comment in an edit and point out the comparison you made that makes a load of good sense.

      1. Not harsh at all – just sincere and honest, which I value *immensely*! As anyone on the Audiobus forum can tell you, I quite enjoy discussing this stuff with folks and am quite open and transparent about my side of things.

        The fact that you don’t prioritize MIDI is exactly why I believe IAPs are a good thing – you don’t have to pay for things you don’t want. I’ll be adding many more value-packed IAPs to guitarism, and all combined it’ll probably eventually become a $20+ app but instead of paying the full amount people can just buy the pieces they care about.

  9. Just downloaded it 19/10 for my ipad mini, however it wont run, saying I have an old ios; 7.1.2. Seems odd since ios 8 is so new and buggy? Any advice?

    1. Hi Col – I’m really sorry to hear that! It’s true that the latest Guitarism version v3.25 requires iOS 8, but that means the App Store should have given you the previous version v3.24 which works fine on iOS 7. It seems like it gave you the wrong version of the app. I’d recommend contacting Apple to either fix the issue or giving you a refund…

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