So let’s say you arrive at your big gig. You have everything set up. Mic check? Check! You strum your six-string and notice it’s out of tune. You look into your gig bag and suddenly you realize your TU-2 Chromatic Tuner is missing! Have a smartphone on you? Well, you’re in luck my friend.
Since the days of the flip phone, technology has gone a long way for these little suckers, and what many don’t realize is that these devices are more musically inclined than most would think. Sure, maybe you can just tune your guitar by ear like a normal musician, but when it’s just so easy to take one minute and download a free (on Android and Blackberry anyway) tuner app, there’s really no excuse to not have it as a backup at the very least. Read on and check out some apps that are not only great tools for all musicians, but just downright fun!
This week, we will be featuring apps for Google’s little green robot, but come back next Friday for the best the iPhone has to offer!
Gstrings Guitar Tuner
Starting off our list, this free app has plenty of useful features that can turn your Android device into a full blown acoustic tuner! Although there is no physical input to plug in a direct line, the app uses the phone’s mic in order to transcribe the frequency. I have personally been using this app for years now, and several settings such as Manual Mode let you find whatever pitch you’d like, even in between flats and sharps. I’ve placed my phone about a foot away from my amp during a loud gig, and this tuner app held up surprisingly well. Other features included besides the auto and manual modes are settings for instrument frequency optimizations which include violin, cello, bass, mandolin and several others. As a bassist, it does get annoying when cheaper tuners just can’t get a consistent read on that low E string's pitch, but this app handles it just fine once it’s optimized for bass. Considering everything the developer crammed into this free app, you might consider buying the donation version at $3. If not, it’s always free.
Simply put, this is a virtual guitar in your pocket which compiles a bevy of other fun but useful features into a nice looking package. You’ve probably seen commercials of guys playing a full arrangement on a subway using nothing more than their phones, and although I’ll be the first to say that phones are by no means going to replace any real instrument anytime soon, it’s actually kind of fun, perfect for killing time in between waiting for a bus or on a lunch break when you just can’t get enough music in your life. Besides being a virtual guitar, this app also works double as a quick reference tool. Simply type in what song your trying to learn and it will not only give you the key signature and the chords, but links to the tabs as well, making learning songs not only much quicker, but offers a much better view, something anyone familiar with looking at tab pages through a phone’s screen will greatly appreciate. Other notable features include the ability to play on top of any song stored on your phone, customizable UI, capo presets and even song creation!
Uloops pocket studio
For all you DJs on the go, Uloops is a powerful cloud based social music studio able to tweak, mix, loop and share any of your creation with hundreds of user, all in the palm of your hands! At first, the sheer amount of options might seem overwhelming for some but there are plenty of preloaded tracks for you to dissect and mess around with, giving you a good grasp on the capabilities of the app. Just download the top user created track and you’ll definitely start to realize just how powerful Uloops can be. There’s even a full-blown drum machine that lets you oversee every single beat and tweak as you like, all through the UI's multi-touch interface. Notable features include 125 instruments, 35 drumkits (17 components with independent volume, pitch, pan and reverb), recorder, modulator, synthesizer and 12 different channel mixers among many, many other highlights. For $5, this one will most definitely give you your bang for your buck, and the optional lite version has plenty of features for anyone not ready to take the plunge.
So there you have it, a free all-in-one tuner, $4 pocket guitar/refrence guide and a $5 powerful pint-sized studio. While there’s plenty more where that came from, these apps will sure to be great assets for all of your musical endeavors. Come back next week when we will be featuring the top music apps the iPhone App Store has to offer and every Friday afterwards with plenty more from Android, iOS, Blackberry and Windows Phone 7!