Music Technology

MiKord handles fret fingering to make guitar playing a strum idea

The Premise. Though the guitar is one of the easiest instruments out there to learn, the hardest part of playing it well is coordinating chord changes with rhythm. When a person is just learning, there is a lot of stopping, looking at finger placement, and then playing is resumed. With persistence and patience, the instrument is eventually learned if a person has any musical ability at all. But for those who don’t really have any musical propensity and wish that they did, a potential solution is in the works.

The Product. MiKord is a learning aid/connected assistant for those who’d like to be able to play guitar chords, but would rather skip to the part where the glamour and riches ensue. The product gets strapped to the neck and makes the actual chords as the user presses down on it, while the digital readout tells a person what strings to play and what chords are being used via preprogrammed music downloadable from the MiKord website. Unfortunately, there’s no missing its white, brick-like protuberance from the fretboard for anyone hoping to pass as a calloused guitar deity.

The Pitch. The video for the $65,000 campaign demonstrates placement of the product on the guitar neck and the digital music readout, but it seems strange that the campaign doesn’t include a person actually playing a song while using the product. The background music used suggests that a person could potentially play just as well, but there is no clear indication that the background music is provided by someone who is actually using the product.

The Perks. There are eight tiers from which a backer may choose. For $165, a backer gets one product with an expected delivery of November 2014. An additional $20 needs to be included for shipping.

The Potential. For those who have a disability in their left hand or fingers, have severe arthritis, or just aren’t musically gifted but wish they were, something like this product may be of benefit. A sense of rhythm is still required to make this product work, as well as a good enough ear to know when the chord changes need to happen. Picking patterns will still require agility and dexterity in the right hand. There will also still be a certain amount or coordination required for the flow of the song as chord changes and rhythm take place, but it may not require as much effort as if one actually had to form the chords on their own. This item will not actually help a person to learn to play the guitar, but it may help them to make music. There is no substitute for an actual teacher and being patient enough with oneself to just learn to play the instrument and practice, not even with something like ChordBuddy.


DrumStooled weds a bass drum and stool to keep you strummin’ and drummin’

DrumstooledMusicians who travel around must bear the weight of their instruments constantly. Drum sets in particular can be cumbersome to tote around and a pain to set up. DrumStooled combines a stool with a bass drum so that musicians who are so inclined can play the guitar and the drum at the same time. It cuts down on luggage for bands that travel around. One of these French instruments costs rockin’ backers €600 with an estimated delivery date of September 2014. DrumStooled hopes to raise €30,000 in its 60-day Indiegogo campaign.


For guitar solo acts, the BeatBuddy goes on

editors-choiceThe Premise. You’ve practiced your scales, know a few chords, can play a song or two, and are ready to start jamming with other musicians, but you’re still too shy about your guitar prowess. Or maybe you’re a working musician, and need something to help compose your masterpieces when the band isn’t around, or something to accompany you on solo gigs.

The Product. The BeatBuddy is a drum machine that functions like a guitar effects pedal. For those of you who haven’t become lost in the vast deserts of musical gadgetry and their jargon, this is a device that will accompany your playing with a drum beat, is foot-operated, leaving hands free to shred, and splices your guitar and amp, allowing both backbeat and axe to play over the same speaker, keeping gear (and headache) to a minimum.

The Pitch. A no-nonsense approach to presentation of the BeatBuddy is well-suited to the seasoned musician. Product specs are succinctly presented, benefits are simply and comprehensively listed, not “pitched,” and concerns are well-anticipated and addressed. These guys thought of everything, from possible shipping issues, to potential backlash from unemployed drummers. The video and audio production of both the sales and drum-sampling films are extremely high quality, demonstrating that the people behind this product know their stuff, even if their delivery of the dialogue makes it clear that they’re pro musicians and not infomercial MC’s.

The Perks. While the early bird tier for the new rhythm section ($179), has sold out, the standard backer pricing of $219 is still around, but incentives to contribute beyond that are minimal, considering how much more one is expected to give. $399 sweetens the deal with a t-shirt and dibs on the first BeatBuddies off the line, and $1,000 gets a song/beat you can choose and name yourself produced and uploaded into the product.

The Potential. With features like the ability to transition between beats to accommodate song sections (verses, choruses, bridges, etc), software that lets you create your own beats, pro-studio quality samples, and a $200 price tag, the Beatbuddy makes for a sound purchase which will continually benefit any level of musician and grow with you as you shred your way up the ranks to rock god.