GuitarTookit Turns 2.0

December 15th, 2011 by Jack Ivers

GuitarToolkit 2.0GuitarToolkit was one of just 552 apps available when the App Store opened on July 11th, 2008. Since then, it has had many substantial upgrades, but no single release was extensive enough to qualify for a 2.0 identifier (yes, we’re tough graders when it comes to release numbering). We’re thrilled today that we can announce a great GuitarToolkit release that clearly justifies the 2.0 designation.

iPad Support

Rather than forcing our GuitarToolkit customers to purchase the app all over again for iPad, we chose to make the iPad upgrade available to all current GuitarToolkit customers, free of charge. Happy holidays! (We do hope many of you will support our development efforts by purchasing the GuitarToolkit+ Upgrade, which is available to everyone on iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. More on this in a moment.)

We chose to reimagine the GuitarToolkit user experience for the larger screen and increased horsepower of iPad and iPad 2. GuitarToolkit on iPad provides an immersive fretboard experience, presenting more information, fully supporting landscape and portrait orientations and delivering a wider zoom range. Navigation of chords, scales, and arpeggios (new!) is enhanced by presenting multiple browsing levels simultaneously and exposing additional toggles and controls (for example, the fingers / notes / intervals toggle) right on the main interface. Here’s an example of the chord browser in landscape orientation:
GuitarToolkit Chord Browser
GuitarToolkit Metronome
Another good example of how we’ve appropriately used what the iPad has to offer is in the standard metronome. The metronome’s time signature and accent beats are now visual, and all of the metronome’s options, from audio selection to time signature to options like “visible flash” are now instantly accessible from a single metronome screen. GuitarToolkit’s precision tuner is available as a popover from anywhere in the app, including the metronome screen. Here’s an example of the standard metronome in portrait orientation, with a fun audio selection (“Terrible Timpani”) and an interesting (3+3+3)/8 time signature.

GuitarToolkit+ Upgrade

All GuitarToolkit customers, regardless of device — iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch — can buy the GuitarToolkit+ Upgrade right inside GuitarToolkit 2.0 as an in-app purchase ($4.99, US App Store price). And we think you’re going to want it when you hear what it does for you.
GuitarToolkit Chord Sheet
First of all, let us introduce you to Chord Sheets. If you’ve ever wanted to capture the chords for a new song you’re writing, share chords with your band members, or create a great-sounding chord progression, Chord Sheets is the perfect tool.

Chord Sheets are powered by GuitarToolkit’s chord library, which has quadrupled in size in 2.0 to an astounding 2,000,000 chords. For a given chord type and key, GuitarToolkit usually shows 24 different chords, up and down the fretboard, including inversions. Once you’ve selected a chord, adding it to your Chord Sheet takes two touches. A chord sheet can include any number of chords, and you can create as many Chord Sheets as you want. Better yet, you can email chord sheets from right inside GuitarToolkit and even print them if you’re on iOS 4.3 or newer.

But the best thing? Chord Sheets are interactive: when you touch a chord, you hear it play! A quick touch and the chord is strummed quickly; a longer touch plays each note in the chord more slowly. It is truly an amazing way to hear your compositions come to life. Above is a Chord Sheet in portrait orientation. Note that tuning and capo position are included on the Sheet.

We think Chord Sheets alone will justify a $4.99 investment in GuitarToolkit+, but there’s much more to this upgrade. Most GuitarToolkit customers have several instruments, and with GuitarToolkit+, we give you a way to customize setups for each; we call this Custom Instruments. To create a new instrument, you start by choosing instrument type: we support 6-, 7- and 12-string guitar, 4-, 5- and 6-string bass, banjo, mandolin and ukulele. Then (in the case of guitar and bass), let us know whether it’s an electric or acoustic, what kind of strings and pickups it has, and for bass guitars, what technique (picked, fingered, or slapped). So you can create a 6-string classical guitar with nylon strings, a 7-string electric with steel strings and humbucker pickups, or a 4-string electric slap bass.

Based on these settings, GuitarToolkit+ uses appropriate high-fidelity audio samples so you get an amazingly accurate sound quality tailored to each instrument. But your control of audio goes much further: we’ve embedded the AmpKit tone engine right inside GuitarToolkit+, along with over 60 amp/effect presets tailored for both acoustic and electric instruments. Dial up a preset, and now you have high-fidelity instrument samples playing through an appropriate amp and effects pairing, and you hear the result throughout GuitarToolkit — on chords, notes touched on the fretboard, and perhaps most usefully, within Chord Sheets.

GuitarToolkit Custom InstrumentsCustom Instruments lets you customize each instrument’s icon with an appropriate shape and color for each instrument. Electric guitar icons, for example, include shapes reminiscent of the Gibson Les Paul and Flying V, Fender Stratocaster and Telecaster, and many more. You can even select which wood should appear on your fretboard when working with chords, scales, and arpeggios. Finally, you can select a tuning for this instrument, and even set a capo position. You might want to create several GuitarToolkit setups for a single instrument if you often play in different tunings. All of these Custom Instrument settings get applied in the right spots throughout GuitarToolkit: the capo, tuning, and fretboard wood show up when you’re browsing chords, the custom icon appears when you’re switching instruments, and so on. Custom Instruments are great fun and quite useful.

So, for $4.99 (US App Store) you get Chord Sheets and Custom Instruments. Pretty sweet, no? But there is one more thing ….

Astute readers might have noticed the modifier “standard” when we discussed GuitarToolkit’s metronome above. That’s because GuitarToolkit+ includes an Advanced Metronome — in reality, it’s a complete drum machine tailored to give you unheard-of flexibility in creating metronome patterns for play-along and practice.

Each pattern can include up to 32 drum tracks, and you can choose from 75 different percussion instruments, from basic (bass drum, snare, hi hat) to exotic (timpani, jingle bells) to outlandish (Vibraslap, scratch). You have fine-grained control over the time signature, with bases of 4, 8, and 16 and as many as 16 beats. Each beat position on a track can be nil, a normal beat, or an accent; editing is as simple as touching. We even support both triplet feel and triplet mode.

You can create and save any number of patterns, and GuitarToolkit+ ships with nine great examples. Here’s what the Advanced Metronome looks like: 8/8 time, seven tracks featuring agogo bells. (iPhone and iPod touch users please note that Advanced Metronome is temporarily iPad-only. Rest assured, it’s coming soon for iPhone and iPod touch, and if you purchase the GuitarToolkit+ Upgrade, you’ll receive Advanced Metronome automatically as soon as it’s released.)
GuitarToolkit Advanced Metronome

So that’s GuitarToolkit+: Chord Sheets, Custom Instruments, and Advanced Metronome. All for $4.99. We think that’s a compelling upgrade for every GuitarToolkit owner.

Core 2.0 Enhancements

In addition to the iPad version and the GuitarToolkit+ Upgrade, 2.0 includes a solid set of improvements to the core app.

  • Chords: Increased the chord library from 500,000 to 2,000,000 chords, with 71 defined chord types versus 46 in the prior release. Improved the chords themselves, especially in alternate tunings. On the iPad, you can jump directly to matching scales.
  • Scales: increased the count of scale types from 104 to 924. In addition to full-fretboard view, we added “Scale Boxes” which are playable scales at various starting positions up the fretboard, ideal for learning and practicing scales. GuitarToolkit 2.0 can present over 20,000,000 of these Scale Boxes. With the new Scale Finder, touch notes on the fretboard and find the scales that match. On the iPad, you can jump directly from any scale to matching chords.
  • Arpeggios: New in GuitarToolkit 2.0, for 71 different chord types. As with Scales, we provide “Arpeggio Boxes” which are playable arpeggios at various frets, perfect for learning and practice.
  • Capo Support: Enable a capo, and touch-drag it anywhere on the fretboard. Chords, scales and arpeggios adapt automatically.
  • Significantly higher fidelity instrument audio: We more than quadrupled the number of instrument string samples as well as the quality of those samples. You’ll definitely be able to hear the difference.
  • Metronome: More and higher-fidelity metronome sounds, including the Terrible Timpani which really keeps you on the beat during practice. New time signatures.
  • Alternate Tunings: We added 32 to bring the total to 167. Of course, the number is really unlimited, since you can create your own completely custom tunings. As always, GuitarToolkit constructs chords, scales, and now arpeggios for each tuning.

So that’s GuitarToolkit 2.0. We can’t wait to hear what you think!

Gibson, Les Paul, and Flying V are registered trademarks of Gibson Guitar Corporation.
Fender, Stratocaster, and Telecaster are registered trademarks of Fender Musical Instruments Corporation.