Category Archives: Guitar

New JamStiks Coming Soon!

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Zivix, a company dedicated to making  interaction with music fun and educational through the use of technology has just announced two new products at NAMM.  The new products are the JamStik 7 and JamStik 12.  While details have not yet been released, I am expecting both models to work via BLE MIDI on most platforms.  I also expect full integration with existing Zivix software, such as JamTutor (A gamified experience that teaches how to play the guitar and how to read tablature at the same time0

The original JamStik was great, and acted as a WiFi station to connect to a device.  That original JamStik used infrared sensors on a five fret device to act as a MIDI interface.  The second JamStik, the JamStik+, added a pickup for greater sensitivity and connection via BLE MIDI.  On both versions, the D-Pad added functionality such as a capo.

”Real” guitarists often complained about the limitation of five frets—but for an educational device, it was perfect.  While I haven’t taught a guitar class for a few years, I would have loved to walk around the room with the JamStik, projecting the JamStik Plus App imterface on a screen (showing which strings are pressed and sending audio over room speakers without having to walk around with a full guitar).  To be honest, I don’t know why any teacher who teaches guitar in a classroom setting would NOT want to do this!  I did run a small class with WiFi JamStiks a few years ago…and it was a successful experience.  Remember…this is a device with real strings, so skills transfer to real instruments.

Furthermore, if you are a guitarist who plays no other instrument, I know of no better and more affordable method to interact with MIDI on a device…from notation to DAWs.

These new models address the “limited fret issue” (again, a questionable complaint in the first place), with the seven fret model aimed at beginners and the twelve fret model aimed for professionals.

I’m hoping for a 7 fret ukulele model!  🙂

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The Roadie 2 Guitar/Ukulele Tuner

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A few days ago, my friend Paul Marchese (a music educator in Illinois) made a short video and post about the Roadie 2 tuner. He demonstrated how he could tune instruments in his classroom while students were playing by momentarily swapping a tuned instrument with the student and tuning the student’s instrument using the new Roadie 2. The original Roadie was a string winder that connected to your phone, using the phone’s microphone to tell whether a note was sharp or flat. Like all sound-based tuners, the device worked, but once you are in a situation where there is ambient noise (such as a ukulele jam or a classroom with 40 ukuleles) these tuners are no longer effective.  How is the Roadie 2 different? The Roadie 2 no longer needs the phone. It relies on vibration, like a clip on tuner, and then tunes your instrument for you.

And it works, and it works QUICKLY. Sure, I can take a clip on tuner between instruments and tune that way—but it takes longer. Now, if you have one ukulele, a $129 tuner is overkill. But if you have fifteen ukuleles at home, that might make the purchase worthwhile. And if you have over 100 instruments at school…saving a minute on each tuning (or even 30 seconds) will be significant.

A word about the app that comes with the device—it works. It connects via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and syncs your device “tunings” with custom tunings you created on your phone. You can custom name instruments—as I did with “Reeentrant Ukulele” (to differentiate between that and Linear tuning).

 

I’m looking forward to tuning ukuleles on Tuesday morning (we have no school on Monday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday). I think this is going to save me hours (and over time, days) of effort. Yes, the ability to learn how to tune is still important—but instructional time (and my prep time) is more important.

If you choose to buy a Roadie 2, will you consider using my referral link to Amazon (the Amazon seller is Band Industries, which makes the Roadie 2)?

Video follows below!


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JamStik now works in Chrome

If you have a JamStik, or teach on Chromebooks, you may want to look at the latest announcement from Zivix, the creator of the JamStik.  They have created a web platform that runs the JamStik in Chrome.  I haven’t tried this yet, but it is a really exciting possibility, particularly for schools that are 1:1 with Chromebook.

To learn more, visit: https://play.jamstik.com/


Sale on Uberchord Yearly Subscription

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Disclosure: Uberchord sponsored the hosting fees for the first year of our podcast (ME&T Podcast).

Just a quick news item: Uberchord is currently offering a special discount for a yearly subscription to their “Essential Plan,” normally $9.99 per month.  The normal yearly rate will be $99, but they are offering a year subscription for $59.99 (50% the monthly rate for a year, which would be $120).  The special pricing ends June 1, 2017.

If you are interested in learning guitar–or improving your guitar skills (no ukulele–yet), check out Uberchord.   Also: if you already subscribe to Uberchord, it would be a great idea to subscribe for the yearly plan!


Monoprice and Pro Audio

One of my favorite sources for cables and miscellaneous audio products has been Monoprice (www.monoprice.com). I finally realized–today–that they are into all kinds of pro audio, including guitars and MIDI controllers. Most of my personal pro audio needs have been met through Carvin products, or by simply calling Full Compass Audio in Madison. And if I need local help (Minnesota), I go to Metro Sound and Lighting.

Carvin has traditionally been inexpensive but rugged. From my experience with other Monoprice products, I bet that Monoprice will often beat other vendors with their product–IF–it happens to be in stock.

I have used Monoprice HDMI cables, VGA cables, lightning cables, iPad cases, and more. Everything is inexpensive, but it all works. So it might be worth checking out Monoprice for other pro audio needs.