Agile Partner’s TabTookit – another great resource for learning guitar

A short while ago I wrote about apps that I’ve been using on my iPhone to help learn how to play guitar. I’ve just found out about a new one from Agile PartnersTabToolkit.

Their first app, Guitar Toolkit was clearly at the top of the heap, and it had to be to justify it’s $10 price tag. I consider $10 for an iPhone app to be well, well above average.

The TabToolkit is a guitar tab reader that supports intelligent tab formats, like Guitar Pro. The intelligent formats contain more information than just text, such as rhythm, and can contain multiple instruments. TT also has a metronome, and a view of the fretboard where notes are highlighted as they are played.

So, you want to learn a song? You start with either downloading the tab file from your PC via wifi, or using the built-in downloader to snag it off the web. Once the file is in TT, you can adjust the playback metronome speed, metronome sound, whether or not you want to hear the note being played, whether you want to see them being played on a fretboard or keyboard, and then hit play.

During playback touching the screen stops the playback, and you can drag the music back and forth to get to a particular spot. Then hit play again to restart playback.

I think with the right set of tab files, TT would be one heck of a resource for learning guitar.

But while all this makes a really cool app it’s not what bowled me over. That came when last night I got an idea for how to improve it (see below) and went looking for the developer’s email address in the app. Instead I found a feedback function. It asked me for my email address, and gave me an area to enter a message. I did so, and hit send.

An hour or so later I had a reply. It could have been just a canned thank-you, but it contained the idea I suggested. Regardless, to be able to submit an idea and get feedback that quickly is awesome. I can’t say that Agile Partners is the first to provide this facility, I don’t if they are or not, but it’s something any intelligent iPhone developer should jump on.

While the Tab Toolkit is a great app, there are some things I think would make it even better:

  • Provide a way to select the bars that play. This could be done by making the bar dots at the top of the display toggle when tapped, or by holding on the red line to toggle start/finish spots. Rarely do I need to repeat an entire song – it’s usually a riff or solo that needs the most work, and it would be nice to just repeat those.
  • Provide auto repeat. Play the song or selected bits, then show a countdown (user selectable in the length, or maybe just 0,3,5, or 10 seconds) and repeat.
  • The speed at which the music scrolls is inconsistent because sheet music isn’t written to a horizontal scale that corresponds to the rhythm. So when you’re in a bar that has lots of notes the display moves very quickly. When in a bar that has just rests or a note or two, it moves very slowly. This is pretty disorienting. I would like to see them add dots above or below that correspond to the beats, so help interpret the horizontal scale. Either that, or change the display of the music so that the horizontal scroll speed stays more constant. Of course, it could be that I’m the only one who thinks this is a problem 8-).
  • Being able to change the metronome speed from the playback window would be nice.

Highly recommended!

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