Phone Guitar: The New Air Guitar?

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Way back in the late 20th century, if one didn’t have a guitar, that person could have at least pretended to play one. You know…”air guitar.”  But as the 21st century kicked in, and with it, technological breakthroughs like wireless Internet and smartphones, many applications, or “apps,” sprung up.  Among those apps were those that have to do with guitars.

I will admit to being among those who have yet to own a smartphone, never mind that I’m not a professional musician, but I’m not one to think that “phone guitar” would necessarily mean playing a guitar over the telephone to someone. Because even I can’t deny how much of an impact smartphones have had on this world. There’s a smartphone app for almost everything, even for guitars.  With many of those kinds of apps out there to choose from, I thought I’d randomly write about a few of those.

For example, you’ve heard of GarageBand, the pre-eminent music-related software product that was originally on Apple’s Mac computers, but was introduced for their iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone last year?  With the advent of GarageBand now being a phone app, it’s become more possible for people with some instrumental playing knowledge to start a band without having to buy instruments.

Or if you’re looking for an iPhone guitar app that lets you want to definitely rock, you could consider one by Frontier Design that happens to be called, somewhat appropriately, iShred.  This app can let you create your own songs, or your own guitar licks to existing songs, and even lets you try out some effects.

You can buy iShred at or see how others have used iShred by visiting

Google Play, which carries apps for phones that have their Android operating system, a.k.a. Droid, at has a host of guitar-playing “apps”, the most popular of which is called Solo, available in a free, ad-supported demo version called “Solo Lite,” that plays like an acoustic guitar, as well as in a $3.99 version that can also play like a classical or electric guitar.  Basically, Solo lets you play to any music loaded on your phone, or you can use it to create your own licks.

Solo’s manufacturers are at

Oh, and might there be any guitar apps for that relatively new Windows Phone?  Well, the people at Honey Run Software came up with one called–what else?– Honey Guitar.  Based on an acoustic guitar setup, the Honey Run folks say that theirs is the “most playable,” with “instant and easy chords” and “innovative free picking.”  If you have a Windows Phone 7, you can download Honey Guitar at

It’s very debatable whether guitar-playing apps are enough of a substitute for real, actual guitars.  Even the venerable Wall Street Journal raised the question recently of whether learning how to play guitar through apps or online video instruction will replace the kind that guitar learners get face-to-face from actual guitar teachers.

“In the Future, Who Will Need Teachers?” [Wall Street Journal Oct 23, 2012, subscription may be required]

Given, of course, that many guitar players have been known to learn it themselves, without the need for instructors, I think the bigger question would be whether a band that plays smartphone-sized virtual instruments would go on tour. I don’t see that happening anytime soon, because many fans aren’t quite ready to accept that.  While “phone guitar” might as well be the new “air guitar” for now, who knows if professional touring “phone musicians” becomes the norm in the next quarter-century or so?

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