The All-Star Guitar (Review)

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.

There are 17 comments

  1. Jeffery Jong

    Honestly, I’ll be learning how to play the guitar to pick up chicks and imagine an UNUSUAL guitar like this, double the chicks :p

  2. Marcella

    Well, as an ex-gamer and quarter-time musician, learning guitar (via iPad) will perhaps enable me to become a better guitar player without bruising my fingers. :p. but yeah, learning to play guitar is handy because it’s one of the most portable music instruments!

  3. Maykin cheong

    Been thinking of buying an an all star guitar for my housemate all the time as she is learning ukulele by herself at the moment, however she is not able to control the ukulele very well thou… Anyway , all star guitar might suit her more 🙂

  4. Hayley G

    My boyfriend is always on my back to pick up the guitar again after just having our first baby – now I have that fat belly gone, I can hold a guitar again! Only thing is I am a lil rusty at it after so much forced time off, so this would be magnificent to win! x

  5. sonya n.

    I’ve started teaching myself using Youtube because I can’t afford ‘proper’ lessons… I want to learn so I can teach my daughter!

  6. Faysie

    This fabulous prize would be..
    A perfect pressie to my son
    from me..
    He wants to learn how to play…
    Winning would make his day!

  7. Kirsten W

    I’d love this for my son. He wants to learn the guitar, but like all young boys, he isn’t very patient and struggle to learn via ‘traditional’ methods. All-Star Guitar would be perfect for him to begin on and see if the guitar is what he wants to play. It would teach him the basics (in a way he responds too) without us having to outlay for expensive guitar lessons at the start.

    I want him to become involved in music as I believe all children benefit from exposure to it, and the All-Star Guitar would be the perfect balance of electonics and music.

  8. Jodie F

    My step daughter would love to learn how to play. We have tried watching on youtube how to play the basics, but this sounds great for her!

  9. Ignatius John

    Always wanted to larn to play the Guitar but time got away from me. Found a Guitar in the rubbish bin few months back have been practicing to play but All star Guitar sounds great for a learner

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