Ukulele Chord iPhone/iPod Apps Review

There have been quite a few ukulele apps released since my last app review. So time for a new round-up comparing the various ukulele chord apps that are out there (plus a quick review of one non-chord app).

Ukuchords

Price: Free

What is it?

Chord diagrams. Major, minor, 7 m7, 7M, dim, 6 m6, aug, 9, 7b5, 7#5. gCEA tuning only.

What’s good about it?

– Dead simple. There’s no faffing about with pictures of the fretboard. You just get chord diagrams. Easy to use – no unnecessary options.
– A range of inversions at various points on the neck.
– It actually has Em as 0432 as the default (most of the other apps here go for 4432). Which suggests the chord diagrams were looked over by a human who knows how to play ukulele.

What’s wrong with it?

– No sound.
– Not visually stunning.
– gCEA tuning only.
– No fingering suggestions.

Worth it?

I’d say definitely worth a download. This app should be all that most people will need.

Ukuchords on iTunes

Ukulele ChordKuma

Price: $1.99

What is it?

Chord diagrams for major, 7, minor, m7, dim, aug, 9. gCEA tuning only. With fingering suggestions. There are also tuning notes (gCEA only).

What’s good about it?

– Pleasent, simple layout.
– Nothing to confuse beginners. So no inversions, different tunings.
– It has an option for left-handers. The only app I’ve found that option on.

What’s wrong with it?

– No sound.
– Some of the chord names aren’t fully displayed: e.g. Ebm is shown as E…
– No suspended chords (which crop up more often than augmented or 9 chords).
– All listed as flats (so no indication that C# is the same as Db).
– Some questionable fingering. It seems to be particularly fond of barring. As you saw in the Ebm example, it used the 3rd finger for g and C strings rather than including the pinkie.
– There’s a link labeled ‘History of the Ukulele’ which just goes to the Wikipedia page for ukulele. Thanks, but I think I can find Wikipedia when I need it.

Worth it?

Not so obviously better than Ukuchords that it’s worth paying for. Might be worth the extra for left-handers.

Ukulele Chord Kuma on iTunes

UkeBank

Price: $2.99 (full disclosure: Chris, the app’s developer, sent me a copy for free)

What is it?

Chord diagrams with fingerings for major, minor, 7, m7 , maj7 6, 9, diminished and sus4 in gCEA, aDF#B and DGBE. With fingering suggestions. Sound of both chords and individual notes. Translation of various phrases into Hawaiian.

What’s good about it?

– Very beginner friendly and easy to use.
– Sound. Full chords or individual notes (but not the constant strumming you hear in the video).
– Multiple tunings but…

What’s wrong with it?

– The chords for both ADF#B and DGBE tuning are wrong. The ADF#B chords are written as if the tuning was FBbDG (i.e. a step down from standard rather than a step up) so a C chord is displayed like this. DGBE tuning is a step too low so a C chord looks like this. To confuse matters further, the sound for ADF#B matches neither the correct pitch or the chord shape.
– It doesn’t always show the easiest chord shape. So D is 2225 rather than 2220 and Em is 4432 rather than 0432.
– There are also some smaller niggles: I don’t know what the Hawaiian language bits are on there for. It would be better to get rid of that and replace it with a nut so you can see you’re at the bottom of the fretboard and so that open strings can be displayed.

Is it worth getting?

Not at the moment. The main advantage it has over ChordKuma is the multiple tunings so it needs fixing (Chris is working on it).

UkeBank on iTunes

UkeMaster

Price: $3.99

What is it?

Chord diagrams for major, 6, 7, M7, m, m6, m7, mM7, aug, dim, dim7, sus2. In high-G, low-G, D, G (baritone), Eb, A and Bb tunings. Made by the sheep entertainment people.

What’s good about it?

– Lots of chord options and inversions.
– Plenty of different tunings (although some weird options).
– Reverse looked up: you can punch in the chord you’re playing and it will tell you the name.

What’s wrong with it?

– The layout isn’t so easy to use (and it looks a bit ugly). And having the
– The chord options aren’t laid out in the order they’re most used. So the minor button is the 5th on the list.
– Lots of chords options but no sus4?
– Another app that doesn’t like open strings. So again Em is 4432 rather than 0432

Worth it?

It’s a bit pricey but might be worth a look if you’re expecting to be assaulted with some jazzy chords (or if you decide to play in a bizarre tuning).

UkeMaster on iTunes

UkuFingers Free

Price: Free ($3.99 for full app)

What is it?

Chord and scale diagrams. Chords: major, minor and 7. Scales: major and natural minor.

What’s good about it?

– You can see more than one chord at once. The app is in landscape mode and easily accommodates three chord diagrams side by side.
– Option to have note name, relative note (R, 3, 5 etc.) or just a blank circle for the dots.
– Chords and scales on the same fretboard. It’s an interesting idea.

What’s wrong with it?

– Difficult to use. Took me a bit of playing around before I figured out how to do things.
– Very limited chord options (more on the paid version).
– Very confusing for newbies. It tries to show all the possible inversions over five frets or so at once. They’re colour-coded but not in a way that I intuitively grasped. Unless you’ve got a good idea what you’re doing, you’ll be lost.

Worth it?

If you’re a beginner, stay away. But there are a number of ideas in this app that are worth exploring. It’s not a ‘me too’ chord app, so it’s very different to the other apps (for better and worse). But it wasn’t enough for me to shell out for the full version.

UkuFingers Free on iTunes

miSonata

Price: $1.99

What is it?

Not a chord app! A sort of Rock Band type game. You play along to a song as the notes scroll down the screen. Songs include Sakura, Aloha Oe, Canon in D and Fur Elise. There’s also a mode where you can widdle away playing whatever you like. They’re partnered with KoAloha.

What’s good about it?

– Fun little game.
– Nicely laid out.

What’s wrong with it?

– It’s not going to improve your playing anywhere near as much as actually playing a ukulele would.
– It’s quite fiddly to use.
– It’s not a game I’ve kept going back to.
– The ‘About KoAloha Ukuleles’ link takes you to a 404 page.

Is it worth getting? Not really. Get Rock Band instead.

miSonata on iTunes

One More Thing

I’m thinking about doing a few reviews of more general musical education apps (ear training, rhythm training etc). If you think it’d be worth it, let me know in the comments.

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