I couldn’t play the guitar before I tested out a JamStik. I can’t play guitar after I tested out a JamStik. But, that doesn’t mean it can’t be a useful tool for professional musicians using mixing software to compose or students looking for a digital music tutor.
The JamStik ($199) is a wifi-capable “smart guitar” that connects to iOS smartphones and tablets or computers. Once linked into a network and connected to composing or mixing software like Garageband or Avid Protools, the JamStik allows a composer to play the guitar directly into the digital recording.
Free apps downloaded from iTunes allow the user to play live via the iOS device. A small amp or speaker plugged into the audio jack is recommended.
Related: Audio Gadgets Blossom for Spring
Those apps can also aid in teaching would-be guitar players, allowing them to practice chords with visual guides The JamStik probably can’t make a full-on guitar player out of the user, but it can definitely serve as a positive teaching tool. Its strumming feels like a larger electric guitar, and it’s difficult at times to sustain a note — but that might correct itself with more practice.
The device’s name leaves a little something to be desired, considering that mentioning the product in mixed company made a few folks giggle. The moniker lends itself to images of dirty neon storefronts with black-painted windows.
That picky criticism aside, the JamStik charges quickly, links up via wifi easily and plays for hours. It does exactly as advertised and can fill-in as a serviceable digital recording instrument.