Superficially, the Gibson Learn and Master Guitar app looks like a great app, and it’s hard to argue with the price (free!) when comparable apps may run $10. The Gibson guitar app features a tuner, metronome, chord charts, and video lesson previews, as well as a link to Gibson.com. It features some similarities to the gold-standard Guitar Toolkit app, but unfortunately they are only skin deep.
What’s not to like? Unfortunately, quite a bit.
The tuner simply doesn’t work accurately. The needle frequently lands on the wrong note, and it’s so far off that, even in chromatic mode, it’s not clear which way you should tune the string to get it right. I repeatedly compared what the tuner showed on this application to the tuner on Guitar Toolkit, as well as my piezo-based headstock tuner, and while the other two consistently agreed, the Gibson tuner was all over the map (frequently telling me that my low ‘E’ string was an out-of-tune B, for example.)
Furthermore, the tuner on this app doesn’t suspend sleep, which means you have to keep futzing with it to prevent your iPhone from going to sleep mid-tune.
The metronome is simple and works well, but the tap tempo feature on Guitar Toolkit’s makes this one seem lacking in comparison. The implementation is simply klutzy. You have to stop the metronome, tap in your tempo, and then restart it – and then it still delays for a moment, giving you the old tempo for a beat or two. Perhaps this would work better on latest-generation hardware, but the same feature in Guitar Toolkit works fine on a all iPhones.
The chord chart covers so few chords to really be useful. You’ll look in vain for diminished, augmented, or interesting extended chords – you know, the kind of stuff you might actually need to look up on a chord chart.
The real reason for the existence of this app is the Lessons tab that contain a few “previews” that Gibson has chosen to offer of the Gibson Learn and Master Guitar course. This is basically the real point of this app, and the reason it’s free: this app is basically an advertisement for their instructional DVDs.
Ultimately, if you’re looking for a more serious guitar iPhone app, I would probably look at Guitar Toolkit instead. It basically has better implementations of all the functions of the Gibson Learn and Master Guitar app. However, if you are just looking for something free to play around with, then go ahead and check out this app.