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The All-Star Guitar (Review)

Leon Saw

Tue Sep 25 2012


LEON Saw takes a break from playing his electric guitar and tries out the All-Star Guitar – the iPhone and iPad-compatible musical “accessory.” But does the toy melt faces or just annoy neighbours? Read on for our Tech Editor’s verdict & a chance to win one!

You wanted to be a rock guitarist. You dreamed of playing at huge, sold-out venues around the world, belting out wailing guitar solo after wailing guitar solo to legions of your adoring, screaming fans. But those aspirations were probably dashed upon the cruel, unyielding rock that was your parents’ expectations of you becoming a doctor/engineer/lawyer/all three.

Now that you’re in Australia and presumably away from their watchful presence, perhaps you can deviate ever so slightly off the strict regime they’ve locked you into and indulge your inner rock star. An electric guitar with the required amplifier and accessories may be too big a financial investment, but if you have an iPad or iPhone, the All-Star Guitar is a less costly option.

The All-Star Guitar is an accessory to the iPad and iPhone, which when attached to either running a guitar app, simulates an actual guitar. The accessory itself is shaped like a generic electric guitar. Although the plastic headstock serves no functional purpose, the fingerboard has 84 LED buttons which replicates six strings on a guitar. The body of the All-Star Guitar houses a speaker, a volume knob, and a slot for the iPad and iPhone where a guitar’s bridge, and sound hole or pickups, are traditionally situated.

I tried out the All-Star Guitar with the free version of its corresponding app on a first generation iPad, but it also works with other guitar apps such as GarageBand.

So how did the whole setup compare to a real guitar? To be really honest: not very well.

The problem wasn’t the All-Star Guitar or its app. It was simply the fact that the touch screen technology of the iPad just wasn’t responsive enough to accurately recreate the feeling of playing a guitar.

By clumsily brushing my fingers across the iPad – or rather the image of guitar strings on the iPad – the device simulated strumming a guitar relatively well. But trying to pluck individual strings in quick succession was a nightmare , with skipped notes and frequent, noticeable pauses between them.

It’s a bit of a shame considering the All-Star Guitar app has decent features. The app has a distortion switch, three guitar amplifier settings (Acoustic, Clean Electric, and Dirty Electric), and various sound effects (Chorus, Delay, Flanger, and Reverb) to play around with.

With just a touch of a button, the app can also be programmed to a different tune or even so left-handed people can enjoy it.

In tutorial mode, the All-Star Guitar app teaches the basic guitar chords by showing you which buttons on the fingerboard to press, which fingers to use, and which strings to strum.

There’s also the option to play along with songs from the iTunes media player. But because of the aforementioned unresponsiveness of the iPad’s touch screen technology, it was pretty much impossible for me.

Overall, if you’re an iPad or iPhone-user and wanted to learn the guitar, the All-Star Guitar isn’t that terrible an option. However, if you don’t have either Apple device, you’ll probably be better off picking up a real guitar and starting from there.  And if you already have basic guitar skills, there’s really no reason for you to get it.

We’ve got an All-Star Guitar (iPad and iPhone accessory) worth AU$150 to give away!

For your chance to win it, simply tell us in the comments section below, why you want to learn how to play the guitar. Or if it’s for a friend, tell us why they should win it. Remember to provide your real name and email address so we can get in touch with you.

The competition closes on October 10 and is only open to those living, studying, or working in Victoria. The winner will be picked in a random draw and announced via email on October 11.