Guitarism Vs Live Guitar

I've been playing with both of these apps for several weeks now. Although Live Guitar has way more features and more guitar samples, I'm just not feeling it. Regardless of features, it just feels so much more natural to play Guitarism. i don't know, maybe it's just me. How do the rest of you feel the two apps stack up against each other? Anyone have any good video of Live Guitar use?



  • Isn't Guitarism an iPhone portrait mode only app? That's why I've avoided it. On the other hand I find it impossible to hold Live Guitar like a guitar. I'd need foot long fingers to pull that off.

  • Guitarism on iPad blown up x2 works great. An iPad(or universal app) is on the way.

  • I know what you mean. If I require a guitar part that guitarism can handle then that would be my first choice. But you get more versatility in Live Guitar, so it still has a place.

  • Which one works best depends on how you want to play; I'm biased, of course. Most of my guitar training has been classical based, so that's how I built it. I've never been a fan of a top-down approach (other than with Jeff Healey, who was awesome).

    We've got a free version of Live Guitar that has full MIDI support. It's not a one-size-fits-all sort of thing, and we want people to know what they're getting before dropping any cash. Both Guitarism and LG are inexpensive, so everyone should get both :-).

    @TedBPhx -- how short are your fingers? Mine are not exceptionally long, and I have no trouble wrapping around to the fretboard on either the iPad or the iPhone!

  • I find that Live Guitar just requires more thought to play, which may make it feel less natural. The different sequences of chords once you go beyond the first four gets a little confusing. With practice it gets a bit more comfortable though. Live Guitar definitely wins in the features department. Both are useful.

  • I talking about using LG in the pick mode which I want to because that is how I understand music but my normal size hands just won't wrap.

  • Ahhh -- yes, with pick mode, it's hard to reach. The bezel of the iPad is wide enough that even if the fretboard were close to the edge, it wouldn't work very well, which is why it's moved up a bit (and spread out, to make hitting the right string and fret possible).

  • Lemme first say that both apps are really cool and amazing. I will say that as s guitar player, I think i am drawn more to guitarism because it is laid out like a guitar. With live guitar, while the chord idea is cool, i just dont have the patience to learn something new that ive spent years already doing. i think this is the same reason i also dont use ifretless as much. Im so used to how a real bass feels and how to play it that if anything isnt similar, it kinda puts me off.

    To secret base design, if you could make the fretboard changeable to landscape mode with ability to strum even a little part, that would make me wanna use it. as of right now it just feels too unfamiliar.

    aside from that though, the sounds are awesome and work well with the amp/pedal fx available on audiobus. i think for someone who's never played guitar, they might dig it more than an old fart like myself.

  • edited April 2013

    For fans of both of these apps there is another app that may interest you. It is non AB, but is feature packed and still at sale price of $1.99 £1.49.

    Discchord post about it here. If you like it you could use his iTunes link to purchase.

  • I won't say too much for bias religious reasons.. but my own experience (as an advanced guitar player) was that I purchased both. Live guitar I couldn't figure out. Played with it for 15 mins and couldn't tell what to do to get started. It is a very discouraging UI. Guitarism I loaded up and was playing and singing songs within 30 seconds.

    So all I can really say is that I'm not sure which is better but Guitarism is much much easier. :-)

  • edited April 2013

    @Ryan and all the responders to this thread. Ya, it's really not about what is the better app for features but more about how easy/comfortable/intuitive it is to play. Like Ryan said, Guitarism you can just pick up and play a song almost instantly with minimal setup. I also notice some chords get cut off too soon when switching with Live Guitar. LG does have a lot of features and worth having loaded on your iPad as well. I guess because I actually play real guitar I fon't want to have to over think it when doing so on the iPad.

  • @SecretBaseDesign thanks for the video. I noticed i have a long fingers except for my pinky finger which often misses that fourth chord position. Aside from that i get chords cutting out too abruptly that after a while I kinda get frustrated.

    This reminds me of my last guitar purchase. I went in the store and picked up a $500 guitar, and I just wasn't feeling it. The neck thickness and action didn't agree with me. the next guitar I picked up was a $200 guitar and I feel in love with it from the word go. Felt like it was made for me. i Plugged it in and the sound was equally to my liking.

  • @AkaMarko -- I understand completely about finding the right guitar (and that probably goes for finding the right app). I've got a cheap Danelectro that has somehow become my main guitar. For the price, it has no right to feel or sound as good as it does, to the point that I can forgive the metallic blue metal flake paint job!

    LG plays differently that Guitarism. Jam Maestro is another approach, and I quite like it, actually -- some very good ideas, and I'd recommend that too. Pocket Guitar is hugely popular; I can't stand trying to fret a chord with it, but many people love it. All of the apps are inexpensive (less than a pack of strings), so IMO, it's worthwhile to try things out and see what works best for you. The comments here are very helpful, though; there are some things I'll tweak for the next release.

  • edited April 2013

    @SpookyZoo. Thanks for that link. I've been having some fun with Jam Maestro. Slick app. This would be a nice addition on the bus line.

  • I just got Jam Maestro and really enjoying it too. Definitely another bus candidate.

  • edited April 2013

    I sometimes hesitate to say this for fear of sounding too self-important, but I think you guys would understand: independently-created apps are very much artistic creations, just like music, movies etc. An app made by 1-2 people strongly reflects the personal experiences, biases and priorities of its creators. This is also sometimes true of big-budget apps but not as often. LG reflects the biases of its creator, and guitarism reflects mine. So to an extent it's like asking whether you like movie X or Y - heck, watch 'em both if you can. Then again, "Beatles vs Stones" never gets old, so in the same way it can be fun to discuss and debate what people prefer :)

    To elaborate, the features (and lack thereof) in guitarism map directly to the way I play an acoustic guitar. I rarely strum the same exact chord for very long, so guitarism had to have 'tilted chords'. Fret muting was highly tuned to sound like my favorite songs that use that technique (if you're curious, Lightning Crashes and Coming Back To Life). The default chord layout maps directly to what I usually noodle on whenever I randomly pick up an acoustic for a few minutes. And most importantly for this particular topic is the fact that I'm primarily a vocalist not a guitarist, so I always sing when I play. Thus, everything about guitarism's interface design is intended to let me play it without thinking too much, so my brain can focus on the lyrics and vocals instead.

    I find that LG's strumming interface makes you do more mental work and less physical work, and guitarism is the other way around. So your success / failure with each app is based on which kind of work you prefer to do. While singing I can't afford the cognitive load required to remember the 2^4 finger combinations for chords on LG. But if you're focused on the chords and strumming, the LG interface may work better for you as it reduces physical error (since your fingers don't move around).

    The other big difference is perhaps one of depth vs breadth. LG has way, way more features, and they are extremely useful. But in my case, instead of working on midi, custom chords, extra sounds etc, I spent 6 intense months tuning the guitarism strumming to sound extremely smooth. I wrote a lot of code, and threw most of it away when it didn't work, iterating many many times to get to what you use today. guitarism does borderline-ridiculous things to ensure smoothness of strumming, mostly invisible to the user. For me it was partly over-perfectionism and partly an experiment to see how smooth it could get. I'm still not 100% happy with the results even today, but I think I've hit the limits of what an iOS touchscreen can do - more improvements will require custom hardware.

    Now to actually work on midi, custom chords, extra sounds, etc etc etc :)

  • +1 to what @Rhism said. There's a lot of diversity in how apps are designed and played. Anything from Cantor to SoundPrism to Orphion to Glitchbreaks gives you an idea of how the developer thinks, and what they think is important. What works for one person may make zero sense at all to another.

    Big-picture wise, decent guitars might start out at $200, and you can easily get into the thousands. Think about how many guitar apps that would be... IMO, it's worthwhile to invest in a few, learn a little bit about them, and find what you like.

  • edited April 2013

    Could I pose the two of you a question.
    If you were to redesign your apps as teaching tools for children,what would you change/add/do differently?

  • @commonstookie Interesting question :) Would depend entirely on two inter-related things:
    1) What are we trying to teach them? How to play Happy Birthday? What different chords sound like? How different chords relate to each other in a key? What chord progressions sound good / not good? How to play a real guitar?
    2) Age of the children - can they read? are they familiar with music theory & chords?

    If it were about teaching a child to play Happy Birthday (or some other, less license-heavy song) I would make something like Tiny Piano. A piano keyboard is far easier to grok than a fretboard, for a beginner playing simple melodies.

    If it were about teaching a child how to play a real guitar, it'd be very graphic images / photos / videos about how to hold basic open chords on a real guitar, how to fret strings, how to strum, etc.

    If it were about teaching the sounds of chords, chords in a key etc then I might make something like Soundprism (though I might not have had the ingenuity to come up with that interface) with more explicit labeling of chord names and chord positions relative to the root.

    If it were about what chord progressions sound good / not good, it would probably be something like guitarism but with a progressive "lessons" or "examples" system that sets up different presets and describes what each preset is trying to convey wrt harmony, dissonance etc.

    If it were just about messing around on a phone and making pretty guitar sounds, I'd make a more colorful version of guitarism and remove the chord names :) My 2-yr old can play this app

  • Agreed w/@Rhism again -- what are you trying to teach, and who are you trying to teach? I've got some things on the schedule for LG that might help with instruction. Some time in the next few updates, I'll add graphic displays for the chords. I'll also add overlays to the fretboard interface to show different scales, and things like that.

    I'd love it if everyone learned to play a real guitar, and I hope that my app can be a catalyst for some people. The way I see it working is that the app makes it easy to fret a chord, and move between chords -- and because it's all with normal chord shapes and positioning, it translates directly to the real deal. Strum or pick a few things on the app, and then move over to the guitar. The hard part with a real guitar is fretting the chord correctly, but at least you know what it should look and sound like. Starting to play a real guitar can be frustrating; an easy-to-play-but-somewhat-real app might reduce that frustration.

    Under the hood, Live Guitar uses ChordPro formatted tab transcriptions (which used to be available in the Usenet newsgroups, but are now locked up by, and other tab sites). These have the chords, lyrics, chord progression -- really great stuff. I learned a lot of songs by looking at the tab transcriptions. Chordie was looking for an app developer to partner with them, but we never got onto the same page as to how a partnership might work.

    For things to do differently... The way that Jam Maestro builds chords is very clever -- and I think that might provide some incredible insight into how the fretboard works (and would lead to being able to solo and improvise effectively). Check out the chord setup in that app -- really really clever....

  • edited March 2014


  • edited April 2013

    If I wanted to design an app to help to teach a child to play guitar, regardless of target age group and end aim of teaching process, I'd probably start with an experienced guitar teacher, explain what I want and the concepts/limitations of touchscreen use on iDevices. Then we'd see what ideas they come up with and go around the loop brainstorming a few times before doing any programming.
    All successful teaching methods have been built on experience of how people learn a skill, in translating to a touchscreen paradigm, any innovations in the app should ideally follow and enhance those methods.

  • After thinking a bit more -- for a kid, a ukulele might be a good starting point (smaller scale, easier on the hands). My kids both started with a 1/2 scale acoustic nylon string. Whatever you do, I think bringing in a real world physical instrument into the mix is essential.

    And +1 to @PaulB's suggestion of bringing in an experienced guitar teacher. I take guitar and bass lessons (mostly focusing on music theory these days), and all sorts of ideas come out.

  • To be fair to @AkaMarko, his original question wasn't about which one should he buy, since he's already bought both. A lot of responses (mine included) have been variants of the "buy both" message which misses his point. Of course, a thread with a title like this could be used by non-buyers to make purchase decisions, so the "buy both" response is perhaps intended more for them :)

    @AkaMarko Regarding your original question I'd be curious to know what other guitar apps you (and others) find better or worse relative to guitarism/LG - WI Guitar, OMGuitar, GuitarStudio/iShred, etc. They're not on the bus yet but I'm guessing they will be soon - iShred developer Frontier has publicly said so.

    @commonstookie I'd be curious to know if you had a concrete lesson goal / age range in mind, as my response would vary wildly depending on that.

  • @Rhism just jumping in, I think Jam Maestro has great potential. Really nice features.

  • Pre Audiobus, my "go-to" guitar app for chord work would have been WI Guitar, but I don't think he has plans to update it (at least, the last I remember hearing). I'd be happy if he did, but in the meantime looking firward to the Guitarism for iPad update!

  • Thanks both of you for taking the time to reply.i guess to master any instument the mantra is practice,practice....
    This is how a child improves.but you couldn't say it is fun and it doesn't necessarily need to be,as any 'reward',comes from repeated and regular practice.
    I was just wondering if apps could supplement the learning of a real instrument (guitar).

  • edited April 2013

    @Rhism, re Beatles v Stones = Beatles. ;-)

    Re: guitar apps i own. Guitarist, Guitarism, Live Guitar, and now thanks to this threaf, Jam Maestro.

    Fav app to just pick up and play is Guitarism. Guitarist I bought 2 years ago and not even worth mentioning really.

    Live guitar I think has the best approach and possibilites for playing with other apps via midi.

    Jam Maestro is probably the leader in choosing how you play the virtual guitar. My main pet peave tho is that some of the samples are out of tune. Equivilent to intonation problems. I can't see how this passed the developers ears. Try playing an F# in different positions. I do like this app the best for arpeggios.

    I guess the bottom line is, if someone asked to to whip out my guitar so we could all have a sing a long, I'd either reach for my real guitar or Guitarism app for the ease in setup and instant play.

    I guess the title of my thread could have been, "what's your fav virtual guitar app".

  • While not for beginners, I'd recommend Tab Toolkit -
    You can download tab transcriptions ( has many), and this will show you the guitar parts, and actually allow playback of songs and whatnot. As I mentioned above, is also a good site; lots of chord-based transcriptions, so it's easy to get strumming and going.

    Also not for beginners, iRealB is worth looking at. This is a "real book" app. This has the chord progressions to EVERYTHING. Mind-boggling what you get. My understanding is that chord progressions to songs are not copyrightable (or everyone who used the 4-chord progression would be in trouble). So, they can put the chord progressions in for whatever you want, and it's all free and clear. All the Beatles. All the Stones. All the jazz standards. Everything.

    There is no easy way out, though, if you want to master the real thing (and that's worthwhile). Practice, practice, practice. Maybe you get a blister on your little finger, maybe you get a blister on your thumb. For kids, start with some basic chords (C, G, D, E, Am), and you've already got a ton of songs that can be played. Learn the E and Am barre chords, and you've got every Ramones song ever.

    It doesn't take many chords to be able to play a song...

  • @commonstookie For learning songs on guitar, IMO the best software aid is Rocksmith. It's remarkably good at pacing and adapting its 'lessons' (i.e. riffs from rock songs) to the player's skill level, and way more fun than just practicing by yourself. Of course it costs way more than most apps. Also, most HDMI TVs have atrocious audio latency, so you're best off playing on a PC or use analog audio cables from your Xbox/PS3. Along the same lines, Soundslice looks promising. In the apps world, Songsterr is really good for the same style of learning.

    Of course, this assumes you subscribe to the "learn guitar by learning songs" school of thought. If you'd rather learn by understanding music theory, scales, modes, circle of fifths, etc then I don't think a good guitar-centric app exists but I like the way Soundprism approaches this space. If I were to design a guitar-centric app for this I would probably ... I don't know, but it might look very different from guitarism and more like Soundprism and perhaps Jam Maestro.

    @AkaMarko Yeah I was surprised to see Guitarist had a lot of buzz and attention, given how unusable I found that app to be. I gave Jam Maestro a try and I find it to be more of a programming tool than an instrument - and that's a compliment. The reason I made guitarism was that I found all the existing guitar apps to feel more like programming tools and nothing was really good at letting me 'just play guitar', but all those other apps CLAIMED to be good for playing live. Jam Maestro on the other hand embraces its programmatic experience and doesn't pretend to be anything different. It clearly shines brightest in terms of step-sequencing, composing, creating tabs and then playing back the results, and doesn't try to be a live performance instrument.

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