PocketGuitar is a fun little app which lets your iPhone act like a guitar. It shows you a fretboard, and you can hold chords and strum. Different settings allow you to use the guitar as an electric guitar, acoustic guitar, classical guitar, or even a ukulele or a bass.
The sound can further be modified with a variety of effects like chorus, delay, or auto-wah.
It’s difficult to know how to review PocketGuitar, because, to be honest, it’s a gimmick. It’s cute. You can strum a few chords, but actually trying to play a song on it is next to impossible, because the iPhone’s flat screen and the absence of any tactile feedback makes it very hard to tell what strings you have fretted.
PocketGuitar does light up strings up to the fretted note, to show you where it thinks you’re holding it down, but, really, that’s not enough. Even experienced guitar players will struggle to get their fingers to land where they want them without strings to feel.
Wondering if the small screen was part of the issue, I experimented with the bass setting. While I was able to clumsily pluck out a few recognizable basslines, it was simply not worthwhile way to create music. It’s too clumsy and awkward. It might be easier to pluck on the specific notes you want on an ipad, but, of course, you could never hold an ipad like a guitar’s neck and wrap your fingers around it.
There were some frustrating limitations, as well, which suggest that the application was not written by guitarists. For example, you can’t barre strings. A lot of guitarists, for example, will play an A Major chord by holding down the second fret on the B, G, and D strings with their forefinger. Trying this on PocketGuitar gives you only a single fretted note, and two other open strings. Which note does PocketGuitar think you’re trying to play? It seemed random.
Ultimately, PocketGuitar felt like a gimmick to me. As a gimmick it’s fun, but since it doesn’t have much in the way of real utility and it strikes me as something that should probably be a free app, rather than an even-$.99 paid one.