It's a strange and wonderful time to be learning jazz guitar!
Technology has changed the way we learn this music. And while there is absolutely no replacement for listening to great jazz musicians and putting in the hours on your guitar...
We're pretty lucky to have the tools we do!
So today I've decided to give a shoutout to some amazing apps that have helped me become a better jazz guitarist. 📱
5 apps every jazz guitarist should have
I really love when someone is able to take something really complex and put it into an accessible format that anyone can use.
(Heck, I mean I run a jazz guitar website, that's my everyday life! 😜)
That's exactly what Tempo has done with this beast of a metronome. It's got every time signature you could imagine, and has speeds from 10bpm-400bpm.
Some mobile metronomes don't go lower than 30bpm, which is really a dealbreaker if I'm doing some kind of metronome accuracy exercise.
It's also got the ability to do tap-tempo (if I need to figure out the bpm of a tune on-the-fly) and even program entire setlists.
I'm sure we've all had a jam where we keep calling tunes at the same tempo... no more of that!
As much as I love practicing with a metronome, if I do it too much I'll have a craving to play with a real drummer.
However, it can be hard to get a jam going with some of my friends if we're not rehearsing for a real gig.
Drumgenius is a collection of drum loops from actual professional jazz drummers.
There are so many styles and time signatures, and you even have the ability to change the tempo. So basically, it's a metronome on steroids.
Really inspiring to play along with, and really shows the potential of practicing with technology.
You know a jazz app is the real deal when Dave Liebman endorses it! 😮
This one needs no introduction - by now this is quite a famous app used by jazz musicians worldwide.
If you need a backing track on the go, this is the app to get. You've seen me use it in my videos to demo tunes - the backing tracks sound pretty convincing and are great for this purpose!
Of course, this app can become a crutch if you use it too much at gigs and don't actually know the tunes that you're playing off of it.
Which, I'm sure, is not how the developers intended it to be used anyways! So, use wisely, and make sure you're not using it in place of properly learning the melodies and changes.
4. Amazing Slow Downer
If you're first starting out with transcriptions, the thing to do would be to try to play along with the recording.
This allows you to internalize the solos and really "feel" like the soloist. It's a great way to get some of that magic Wes Montgomery time feel into your playing!
However, easier said than done - these lines are often too fast to tackle if you're a jazz beginner.
Amazing Slow Downer lets you slow down recordings without changing the pitch. Even better, if you do have to change the pitch (jazz records are notoriously out of tune) you can adjust within the app.
Ever wanted to play along with Kind of Blue at 440Hz? Now you can!
You can also loop sections (ex. if you're just trying to play along to the guitar solo) and export your files as mp3s.
This one has saved me a lot of money over the years, believe it or not! iStrobosoft is the most accurate mobile tuner out there, hands down.
It's measured in cents, which is what pro luthiers use when they're setting up your guitar.
This is exactly the kind of accuracy you need when you're setting your guitar's intonation (which is probably easier than you think).
Now you can do your intonation yourself, and play those sweet sweet jazz chords above the twelfth fret without scheduling a trip to the repair shop.
Bonus: Kajabi (JazzGuitarLessons.net courses)
If you're a JazzGuitarLessons.net member, make sure you have the Kajabi app installed on your phone! This is the new-and-improved platform for all of our courses and the JazzGuitarMastery membership.
It's like Netflix, but for jazz guitar lessons. If you want an in-depth, step-by-step approach to mastering the art of jazz guitar, be sure to check it out 😊
So, what are YOUR favourite apps for jazz guitar? Let me know in the comments below, and as always, have a wonderful day! 👍
Interested in learning beginner jazz improvisation?
Improvising "jazz style" on songs from iRealPro shouldn't be a headache. This guide shows you the 4-step process to apply scales that make you hear the sound of each chord while improvising.
Marc-Andre Seguin is the webmaster, mastermind and teacher on JazzGuitarLessons.net, the #1 online resource for learning how to play jazz guitar. He draws from his experience both as a professional jazz guitarist and professional jazz teacher to help thousands of people from all around the world learn the craft of jazz guitar.