Ukulele iPhone/iPod Apps Review

I am completely in love with my iPod Touch. Not in that way. It’s not like I make out with or anything (and everyone who tells you they’ve seen me making out with it is lying because I always make sure the curtains are shut first). It’s a deep, caring, understanding love that will never die (until something better comes along – just like with person love). So, of course, I availed myself of the various ukulele related apps available and here are my findings (the prices are those in the UK, but I expect the US ones are comparable).

UkeChords

What it does: Shows you how to play chords. It’s similar to Sheep Entertainment. You select a pitch and a chord type and it has shows you how to play the chord on a fretboard.

Good Stuff: Simple, attractive, easy to use layout. Comprehensive. Shows three chord inversions for each chord. Indicates the interval (root, 3rd, 5th etc.) for each note. Lets you hear the chord.

Not So Good Stuff: If you try to select a chord with more than four notes it craps out on you. Granted you’d have to drop a note, but it would be useful to be shown suitable options. C tuning only. Vertical display only.

Price: £1.19

Overall: Excellent app. The best one I’ve tried for the uke.

UkeChords on iTunes

Scale Buddy

What it does: Show scales for the ukulele and many other instruments. You select the key and the scale and it displays all the notes in that scale on a plain text style fretboard (with the root notes in green).

Good Stuff: Good selection of scales – 16 in all from essentials like minor, major, pentatonic and blues to more unusual scale such as super locrian and kumoi. Includes C tuning and baritone.

Not So Good Stuff: Fairly nasty to look at. Can’t hear the scales being played. In the vertical display the fretboard is cut in half – so best to use it horizontally. Goes with ‘ukelele’.

Price: £1.19

Overall: It’s a handy reference but there are a lot of improvements that could be made. Worth the money.

Scale Buddy on iTunes

PocketGuitar

What it does: Virtual ukulele (and guitar). You can watch Gio Gaynor rocking out with his here.

Good Stuff: Fun to have a mess around with – particularly dialing up the reverb and distortion.

Not So Good Stuff: It takes a lot of practice to get the hang of it – more than I’m willing to put in.

Price: £0.59

Overall:

PocketGuitar on iTunes

Lelele no Onsan

What it does: Plays notes for you to tune to.

Good Stuff: Simple. Free. Low and high G tunings.

Not So Good Stuff: The notes don’t sustain for very long. It would be much easier to use if you could just switch the tones on and off.

Price: Free

Overall: It’s free. Why not?

Lelele no onsan on iTunes

Guitar Rock Tour

What it does: Guitar Hero/Rock Band game. Blobs come rolling down the screen and you have to touch them at the right time to play the music. Not strictly a ukulele app, but it has four strings, so I’m claiming it.

Good Stuff: Top game and very addictive. May yet rescue the guitar solo from oblivion.

Not So Good Stuff: “Ouch, my thumbs”. Liable to lead to rockstar tantrums. P!nk and Avril. Loading… Loading… Loading…

Price: £3.49

Overall: I’ve wasted far too much time on this game. Don’t buy it if you’ve got things you need to do (except buy it anyway).

Guitar Rock Tour on iTunes

There are also some tuning apps, but I haven’t tried them out as I don’t have a mic for it. So if anyone has, let us know your opinion in the comments.

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15 Comments

  1. dave March 11th, 2009 10:48 pm

    I love the functionality of UkeChords, but it’s danged ugly. I wrote the developers of GuitarToolkit, which has similar chord finding functionality, and apparently uke support is in the works.

  2. Hello Jodi March 11th, 2009 10:58 pm

    #1:
    http://www.dilbert.com/strips/comic/2009-03-10/
    Funny because I had the very same conversation with a friend. I love my iPhone. Yes, in that way. You know there is a mobile YouPorn site? I’m just sayin.

    Thank you for this! I’ll check these out…

  3. Emily March 12th, 2009 12:36 am

    I’m a big fan of my iPhone. It’s helped me through some long lonely nights. I’ve restricted myself from buying gaming apps otherwise I’d never get anything done.

    Thanks for the uke apps review. I hadn’t even begun to think of the uke/iPhone app connection…man, the possibilities on this thing are ENDLESS!

  4. Anthony March 12th, 2009 11:02 am

    The iphone apps mentioned are sweet. I also have OmniTuner which is a great chromatic tuner app that is configurable and well suited to tuning your uke. Its not the cheapest app at $7.99AUD but worth it for the fact you always have a tuner in your pocket. It seems pretty accurate too.

    Whats also cool is if you have a chordie songbook online, the songs show up pretty well on your iphone safari for a mobile songbook although there is a download ‘as ipod document’ feature at chordie.com, I’m not sure that you can actually sync it to a iphone(I haven’t tried yet).

    have fun

  5. Richard March 12th, 2009 11:09 am

    Thanks for the tips!!! Just got my Touch a few days ago. I’m still figuring out t iTunes, but I did a search for ukulele and uke first thing, but came up with nothing. I have Uke Chords on my old PDA that really raises some eyebrows at the local uke club. Everyone wants one. Can’t wait to get to work so I can do some downloading… I mean so I can work really hard.

  6. Mike Gilbert March 12th, 2009 5:50 pm

    I’ve been using the “Apple Earphones with Remote and Mic” to record my uke playing with the free iTalk app. It’s good enough for reviewing my playing, and it couldn’t be more convenient. These are the $30 Canadian earphones, not the $80 ones that Apple promotes.

    I also use Guitar Toolkit, which has a chromatic tuner, metronome, and guitar scales and chord dictionary. The guitar stuff is useful as a reference, but the really useful tools are the tuner and metronome. The tuner works with the earphone mic. It’s pretty accurate, though sometimes I need to restart the Touch to make it work properly. The metronome is really cool – it will play the beats as audio or as a flashing light, and you can tap on the screen to set the tempo. I should probably use it more often…

    There is also a fake book available on the app store – I think it’s called iReal Jazz or something like that. Has anyone used it?

  7. Woodshed March 12th, 2009 9:16 pm

    dave: I don’t find it that ugly. But if GuitarToolKit added uke support I’d definitely be interested.

    Jodi: I don’t think I’ve ever been so desperate for porn that I couldn’t wait til I got home.

    Emily: I’ve bought games that I rarely play. But that’s mainly because I could play Texas Hold ‘Em for hours on end.

    Anthony: Thanks very much for the pointers. Good to know.

    Richard: Just make sure to keep your fingers hovering over Windows and M.

    Mike: Thanks for the reviews. iReal Book looks interesting. I might check it out.

  8. Ukulele Tabs on iPhone: Tab Toolkit « Ukulele Perspective November 6th, 2009 4:51 pm

    [...] editing programs.  ChordKumu ($1.99), UkuFingers ($3.99) , UkuleleSan (free), Ukechords (free), Ukulele (see Al’s review), Scale Buddy, Leleon, Pianist, Jam Buddy, Looptastic, Melodica, FretBass, [...]

  9. Matt December 29th, 2009 5:02 pm

    Talking of Ukulele apps, have you tried out the Ukulele Tutor iPhone Application?. It is aimed at beginners and provides everything you need to get started playing a number of different songs. Only £1.19 as well!

  10. Cecilia June 7th, 2010 9:20 pm

    Guitar Toolkit has Uke support, now, and it works great!

  11. Woodshed June 7th, 2010 9:32 pm

    Cecilia: Thanks for the info. I’ve been thinking about doing another post with the new uke apps. But there are so many I don’t even know where to start.

  12. Ted Lampen January 5th, 2011 10:29 pm

    How can u not include ukuleletabs I think ur finds it’s the best :)

  13. Woodshed January 16th, 2011 11:50 am

    Ted: I think ir finds otherwise.

  14. bruno April 14th, 2011 4:38 pm

    free apps:
    ukufingers free (very good) all positions, in the free way there is only major minor and seven but worth it
    fretboard le (very good)

    pay apps:
    my best is fretboard, all scales, chords notes, inversions, etc, perfect for learning and improvisation (it’s my opinion, of course)
    also very good is chord kumu (major, minor, 7, M7, m7, 6, 9, aug) but without inversions
    also very useful is basichords, all chords and inversions: major minor 7 M7 m7 9 6/9 7b5 7#5 m7M m7b5 m9 dim7 aug sus2 sus4 7sus4 (different instruments also with the same app: mandolin, cavaquinho, bouzouki, banjo, guitar)

  15. Sam March 14th, 2013 7:31 am

    Futulele is a great app for iPad. It turns your iPad into a Ukulele. It costs but is worth it. You can then take a uke with you anywhere on your iPad!

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