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Guitar playing: before iPad & after iPad

By April 25, 2010websites

Screen shot 2010-04-25 at 10.15.57 AM I've played guitar since I was about 15. These days I play an acoustic steel-string guitar—a Taylor 310-CE if you're interested in that sort of thing. Mostly, I figure out songs that I like and then sing as I play. If I really like a song then I'll spend the extra time memorizing the lyrics.  But that takes a lot of time so I don't do that much anymore.

Before I had the iPad my routine would be to Google the song name and add the word 'lyrics' or 'chords' (the latter if I was too lazy to figure the song out myself). After I found the chords/lyrics, I'd print them out and put them on my music stand and plunk away.  My music stand has a slew of paper on it, and it's hard to find songs now using the paper.

Then I discovered how to do the same thing, in a much easier way, with my iPad.

The folks at have an iPhone app called Ultimate Guitar Tabs (sadly not optimized for the iPad yet) that costs like $2.99.  It lets you search for songs based on artist or name, thus quickly giving you access to the lyrics or chords.  On the iPhone the display was much too small to read. But on the iPad it's perfect.

And you can bookmark songs that you like so you can come back to them later.  This is much better than shuffling through reams of paper (my long-standing tradition). But wait, there's more!  The app has an 'auto-scroll' feature that slides the lyrics up slowly so that you don't have to reach over to scroll up when you get to the middle of the song and need to see the rest of the lyrics.  You can even adjust the rate at which the music scrolls.

There are other apps for reading music such as TabToolkit (iPad optimized; $9.99) and I'm sure a whole slew more are on the way. I wish that I'd had stuff like this when I was learning to play guitar, but it probably did me good to learn how to figure things out on my own.  Now I'm older and lazier. I just want life to be simpler. And with my iPad it is.

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  • John Wolaver says:

    I play guitar (72 Martin D35 and a 1963 Gibson B45 twelve string) and presently doing much the same thing as you used to do. I am very interested in buying a Ipad as I now have over 300 + songs captured that fill about 5 three ring binders, but I have a couple of questions.

    I use many different sources to find the music I want including just listening and capturing the words and figuring out the chords. I then put all lyrics and chord notations into a word document and will usually increase the font size so as to makeit easier to read. I also work hard to keep all notation down to a maximum of 2 pages (No page turning).

    What I want to do is to move these songs to an Ipad and have it auto scroll in a seamless manner at a predetermined programed rate custom for each song.

    What I mean by seamless is, a half page (or so) is displayed, and the top line is dropped and a new bottom line is added until the end of the song no matter if it is one or two pages long. I do not like a foot pedal approach because it could be to slow, choppy, and a distraction.

    Will this work for me.



  • Harry Styron says:

    But Ernie, for years I’ve been doing the same thing with my desktop computer and my laptop.

    To learn a complicated song, I open one window with the chords and lyric and another window with a video of a performance of the song. It’s my chance to learn from the greats, dead or alive.

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