Skip to content

January 24, 2016

iPad Pro and Learning to Play the Guitar

by Andreas Schaefer

Since I left school I wanted to learn playing the Guitar but for various reasons it never clicked. After Rocksmith I had issues progressing but eventually my new iPad Pro became the way to go.Having a demanding job as Software Developer and having 4 boys my time is limited in which I can play the Guitar. As much as I love to play as much effort it takes me to get started as I get interrupted quite often. So I was looking for a way to get started quickly and take any opportunity to squeeze in a few minutes here and there.

Using my laptop did not work, paper was hard to read due to my aging vision and my memory is consumed by too many other tasks. Rocksmith did show the way where I could just get started and could focus on playing rather than all the other stuff like tones, sheet music and adjusting music to the speed I am able to play. Whatever I tried did not work out including using an iPad as I had a hard time finding a good place to put it so that it was stable enough to interact with.

End of last year I got two items that should change it to what I need. First I got the MiStand which is a great stand for devices. I bought two of them and now I use two feet and one head to quickly move from my office to my play room and back. Later I got an iPad Pro and that devices it just made for that. Not only is the display big enough to see the details, I can display two apps so I can see my notes and music player side by side. In addition with Line 6’s AmpliFi I can play my music together on the same Amp as my Guitar. To control my music on the iPad I am using Capo 3 which is so much better than it’s original version. I can slow down to any percentage I want, it has a measure / beat counter, loops and displays chords it discovered. The last feature is not perfect but it helps me to easily find chord changes in the progression.

To display my music notes I use PDFPen and place my documents on Dropbox to easily manage them on my laptop and then display them on my iPad. To scan them I use a Fujitsu ScanSnap and then place them manually in Dropbox.

As I am a Locals of TXBA I can watch any of his lessons in a browser. So I open the page in my iPad’s Safari browser, log in and then play along. Again AmpliFi is amplifying both the sound from the Video as well as my Guitar and so I can easily control the volume of both.

When I originally bought the iPad Pro learning playing the Guitar was not on my mind and it took a while to figure out how to do it but now it is just perfect. I can sit down and just play for a few minutes. So when I start up my Xbox One to play Destiny I can use the time to log in and select my character to play until its ready. Sometimes I play way longer that I originally planned but that’s fine.

One of my first success stories is Rebel Rebel from David Bowie. Not only did I get the riff automated so that I can play it blind but I also could get the chords in and work on intonation and muting. It gave me the feeling of not just play along but actually making music.

My current setup is an iPad Pro, MiStand to hold the iPad in place, AmpliFi 150 is the amplifier which I control with the iPad app AmpliFi. To display the music I use PDFPen over Dropbox and play/control the music with Capo 3.

In the future I want to incorporate My Beat Buddy foot pedal to have a drum machine so that I play without following another guitar but that requires more setup time which I don’t have right now and I am also not there with my guitar playing skills.

By the Way you might wondering why I don’t play Rocksmith anymore. When I started to take lessons my focus shifted from just playing along to understanding the progressions and to figure out myself what a guitar player is doing. Rocksmith is still a good tool but it fails when it comes to learn playing without it. I rather play a limited version alone than a perfect copy where I can only play along. Rocksmith fails to teach on how to play it and why it is played this way. Maybe when I proficient enough I use it again.

Read more from Personal

Leave a comment