Review: My Electric Guitar

Great beginnerís guitar-learning software. (July 14th, 2010)

A great way to take that first step to becoming an electric guitar master. Includes tuner, metronome, videos, recorder, and chord dictionary.

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Product Manufacturer: eMedia Music Corp.

Price: $29.95 US

The Good

  • Simple user interface.
    Easy and efficient lessons.
    Encourages creativity.
    User-friendly.
    Effective built-in tools.

The Bad

  • Faulty tuner.
    Ineffective and distracting chord games.
    Lessons not very deep.

If you have ever wanted to learn guitar, there are many ways to begin. My Electric Guitar by eMedia Music Corp. is a great way to take that first step to becoming an electric guitar master. My Electric guitar is a simple, user-friendly guitar learning software that takes you through 62 steps of casual and relaxed beginner lessons. You need only supply a guitar and your Macintosh.

These lessons are intended for younger learners, ages 9 and up, and older users might find talking guitars and the ever-smiling teenage guitarists a nuisance, but the animated Rocky the Guitar who leads the lessons is endearing. No matter your age though, the efficiency and practicality in the way the lessons carry themselves dwarf the lingering traces of the intended audience.

The software comes with a Table of Contents, Lessons, Songs, and Techniques so you do not get tired of surfing through 60 pages of cartoon and guitar lessons. The 60 plus lessons are separated into 5 sections, including an introduction to the guitar, and guitar-playing basics, such as strings, basic chords and stroke patterns. The third section covers reading tablature notation. The fourth section includes advanced power chords and ends with advanced stroke techniques in the fifth section.

Opening Screen

Opening Screen


Each section with a setting of happy teenagers rocking out while the talking guitar congratulates you. Almost every page has an option to hear the song played live, as well as an option to play the sound and control the speed with a simple slider bar. An instructional video covers each new technique introduced.

sample screen

Fretboard, Tabs, and Options


Three games scattered throughout the software helps you with chord memorization. You have a few seconds to match up the chord flying past on the screen with the chord on the animated fretboard. These games are rather weak because they either show you the answer and you just have to mouse around until the correct answer appears, or you can memorize the 3 possible options in their order and match them up as the letters appear on the screen. I found myself not memorizing the chords, but actually memorizing their order in order to get that perfect 5 out of 5 score. The games are so short, you don't really have an opportunity to actually learn the chords. Luckily, there's an option to completely skip these games, which will be a relief to some people.

Game Screen

Game Screen


The software also comes with some handy tools. Right off, you learn about the Automatic Tuner. This is the only tool that I thought was lacking in quality. This tuner uses your Mac's built in microphone (or a detached one if you don't have a built-in) and matches the tune of the open strings to a little bar on the tuner. When the bar matches up to the bubble with the correct letter, your string is correctly tuned. I tested this tuner twice, with and without the amp. Without the amp, the tuner is completely useless. The quiet sounds of the strings are almost impossible for the tuner to make out, and I could not tune one string.

Automatic Tuner

Automatic Tuner


I saw a significant improvement with my amplifier. After I plugged in the amp, the tuner picked up the notes more clearly. I managed to tune the first four strings easily and quickly, but when I got to the higher, fifth string, the tuner gave out. As I tuned, the bar jumped about randomly, not even coming close the B note mark. At first, I thought I had the wrong note, so I tuned each string with harmonics, an effective technique used to tune strings where you play a note on a string to match it with the string after it. After using harmonics, I found that every note after my first string was about half a step flat, which is a pretty big deal. When I checked it again with the tuner, it said it was correct, which leads me to believe that tuner is somewhat of a "close enough" deal.

In addition to the faulty tuner, the software comes with a metronome that you use to keep the beat when playing, a digital recorder, and chord dictionary. The over 250 chord charts are very useful in more advanced playing. All these effective tools deal with guitar essentials, and you can use them throughout your guitar career. They all mesh simplicity with an easy-to-use interface. The built-in metronome can save you up to $300 on professional metronomes, so that is definitely a plus.

Metronome

Metronome

A Good Buy

Despite the constant overcast of that "Blue's Clues" feeling, the weak tuner (pretty dang important if you want to be a guitar player), and the sad attempt to get learners to memorize chords, My Electric Guitar is still an amazing beginner's guitar-learning software. I must emphasize that this is for beginners, so there is only a couple weeks worth of information if you compare it to taking formal music lessons. To become an amateur player, you should take what you learned in My Electric Guitar and purchase more advanced software, also offered by eMedia, or hire a teacher. Yet, one thing that makes this software worthwhile, especially for younger learners, is that it encourages creativity and urges you to create your own music.

The $29.95 price tag doesn't even cover one guitar lesson in today's market, so this software is a must-buy for children who want to learn guitar and for older learners, it is also a useful beginning learning tool. The Macintosh product tested here, works in Mac OS X 10.3 and up, but the hybrid CD also works in Windows XP and Vista.

by ilene hoffman with Sam J.


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