Digital instruments can emulate e the sounds but not the physical construction — you don’t “play” a piano or guitar found on a touch screen so much as activate its programming. That’s why actual instruments continue to provide the reality of musical training, performing and personal
entertainment. That’s not to say that digital can’t enhance an instrument — take the Jamstik+ as example. It’s filled to the core with digital tech, from Bluetooth to MIDI, but replicates a guitar because it has an actual heft to it that must be held, along with frets and strings that fingers must be in contact with in order to function.
As you can guess, the Bluetooth strips the Jamstik+ of having to use a cable to connect to a computer for either providing data going back and forth (for lessons/training) and for providing audio from the physical manipulation of the device. This also means you don’t have to do this through WiFi — so the device is truly portable (try finding a WiFi connection you can trust at a Starbucks or on a college campus’ grounds, yeah). It’s made for both Mac computers as well as iOS devices (phone or tablet via an app) so obviously Android users are left out of this (at least at this point).
Now there have been devices in the past purporting to teach guitar playing (meaning learning chords) but they’ve been choppy affairs that didn’t have the tech behind them that’s available today. Jamstik+ not only “senses” where your fingers are placed through an infrared light sensing (as in the chords) but displays them as a visual indicator. And because there’s a real-time feedback as you’re using it, this makes the “Smart Guitar” actually smart (fyi, the magnetic pickup makes the response quicker and more efficient). That’s important because what the Jamstik+ is doing occurs in real time — otherwise its value as a teaching tool would be nil.
Being that it’s also a MIDI device, the Jamstik+ i sable to function in environments where synthesizers and other MIDI_based applications can dwell. And sure this means you can use with Garaeband and other compatible apps. FYI, if you don’t know/care about MIDI, just ignore.
Those looking for another controller for Guitar Hero or the like can move on — this is a professional device designed for serious use, even if there are “games” to help you learn how to play. Not that you can ‘t have fun with the Jamstik+ — it’s just that you are going to be learning how to play the guitar for real, not pressing colored buttons in time to the music. So it helps if you bing a determination and serious point of view to the Jamstik+ and let it take care of instructing you on how to play guitar. Then freak out with some cool jamming. Being portable, there’s nowhere it can’t go– so you don’t have an excuse for leaving it in a corner. And the fact that the rechargeable battery can last for up to 10 hours means that you don’t have to always be worrying about it dying out just as you’re getting into it (variable as always but this does mean that you’ll get a minimum of 5+ without incident).
Real strings and real frets make this a viable alternative to learning guitar electronically — always a bugaboo since it requires personal perseverance. but the $299 retail is well worth it because you can grip this “guitar” and play it using real strings and real frets — it’s a toy if you are looking for fun and maybe the white or blue version would be the best choice, but it’s also serious if you’re looking to play guitar, in which case get the black model.