What is it?
Blues Masters is a blues guitar tutorial that combines sheet music and instructional video for your iPad. Not only do you get over 100 blues licks in audio form, you get to see the sheet music for each lick. The app comes with video instruction for several of the licks so you can see the instructor’s hands while he tells you exactly how to play bits from some of the biggest names in blues guitar circles.
If you play guitar, no matter how old you are, there are names you will be familiar with, such as B. B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eric Clapton, Zakk Wylde and twelve others.
How does it work?
The home row has options to browse by artist or by a list of licks. You can also use the “Spinner” to randomly sample an artist’s style. The spinner screen lets you tap to access a page of biographical information for the artist. If you tap the artist’s name at the top of the bio page you can link to the official web page for that artist.
Tap on the Music button at the bottom and you can pull up a lick and see the sheet music version. To me, the handiest aspect of the music screen is that you can toggle between full speed, 3/4 or 1/2 of the full speed. Each lick comes with a countdown metronome (most are 12 beats as most of the licks are in 12/8 time). As you turn the playback speed down, you gain time to put your fingers in the right place and build a familiarity with the piece before attacking it at full speed. The video tutorials can be expanded to full screen, and when you tap the screen you can access the volume, rewind, fast forward and track position slider controls.
You have access to the Hot List, which is where you can build your own progression by stringing together the stored licks. You can even designate what kind of backing chords you would like to accompany the lick you build. Add six licks and start the playback to just listen or play along.
Lastly, you can go to the Shop option to purchase more video tutorials of your favorite blues guitarist.
Is it contagious?
If you play guitar and would like to try your hand at blues style playing, then Blues Masters is a great place to start. The video tutorials are well done with clear instructions and a slow play-through that lets you learn a lick at slow speed so you can hit the notes correctly. The layout is detailed and easy to use.
Overall, this is a fun app and a good learning tool, and it was a treat to review. Now you’ll have to excuse me, I have the urge to play.