Developer: JamPlay, LLC
Price: $1.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0

iPhone Integration Rating: ★★★★☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★★☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆
Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

The next time someone calls you a Capitalistic Pig, whip out your iPhone, open JamPlay Guitar Pack and lay siege upon their auditory senses with a lick or riff from within its library. If that doesn’t quieten them, educate them on the concept of hypocrisy, using their iPhone to hit your point home.

Why do I bring up Capitalism? Because it’s the first thought I had when using JamPlay Guitar Pack. The number of quality apps within the App Store’s guitar-related genres is off-the-charts ridiculous and Guitar Pack adds to this consumer circus.

JamPlay.com is a guitar-tutorial website that, since 2008, teaches its subscribers guitar lessons via (primarily) video tutorials and other means. Its pool of guitar-gods is unlike any I’ve ever seen: 45 instructors with a combined 626 years of playing experience across a broad spectrum of genres, such as metal, bluegrass, folk, classic, jazz and many more. Fans of the site (and of guitar-playing in general) who own an iPhone have undoubtedly flipped their fretboards upon hearing JamPlay released an instructional app.

The app consists of three main categories: Videos and Lessons, Reference Libraries and Utilities.

Videos and Lessons contains libraries of lick and riff instructional videos, entertainment videos, which houses videos, interviews, improvised play sessions and more (with more to come) and an Exercise Library containing video exercises focusing on such aspects as alternate picking and chord progressions. The Exercise Library also contains integrated tabs and a metronome, so players get the most out of their practice.

Reference Libraries contains a hefty chord library, accompanied by fretboard illustrations and a dial which allows you to choose from practically every variation of its chords. The Scale Library is just as large, featuring scale diagrams for all diatonic and derived scales and the ability to choose which key you want the scale played in.

The app’s Utilities menu contains a large collection of “Jamtracks,” original music you can play along to, a very nice, customizable built-in metronome and a standard, built-in tuner.

Using the app is easy and pretty straightforward, even for guitar players and the graphical user interfaces leave little question as to how to use its features. However, as content-heavy as the app is, it’s not without fault.

The instructional videos, while filmed well and from multiple points of view, are relatively short and can be hard to follow for beginners. Adjusting the angles, closing in more on the “action” and slowing the instructional pace down, while honing the instructional content so it’s more in-depth and easier to follow would improve the app immensely, while appealing to a much broader base of players. For example, each video begins with the instructor playing the lick/riff at full speed, which can immediately be a turn-off/intimidation factor for any user below the intermediate skill level. By slowing things down and focusing more on the instructional aspect, JamPlay will appeal to players of ALL skill-levels. As it stands now, the videos can be VERY intimidating, which defeats their purpose.

Other minor drawbacks are that the Reference Libraries could be more interactive. Also, the tuner could be more customizable, like the metronome e.g. allowing users to tune their instruments to different modes, detune, etc. That said, the tuner does work well; it just doesn’t jive with the quality of its sister-features.

By contrast, where this app really shines is in its Exercise Library and its Jamtracks utility. Both are incredibly useful and fun and, by themselves alone, could easily provide the content for a quality guitar app.

Overall, JamPlay Guitar Pack, as with any app, does have its faults; but considering all this app has to offer, these can be easily overlooked. With so many instructors from so many different backgrounds, there is much to be learned here by ANY player (regardless of skill) from ANY background. Moreover, considering its low asking price, what you get in return more than makes up for its flaws. JamPlay Guitar Pack is as diverse as they come and, at $1.99, is practically a steal.

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