Hiite Utaeru Guitar "M-06"

I love playing the guitar, but I also love playing “games” like the no longer available Korean app Virtual Orcheastra Studio that turned your text type-keyboard into a musical midi-keyboard. Guitar Hero as well, of course, as everyone loves it. But neither VoS nor GH offered the creative accessability of a real instrument. The closest in recent years was probrably the MTV Music Generator, which was basically like building with LEGO bricks (blocks?) that contained a riff of some sort. But it was still more like programming rather than playing a live instrument.

This Japanese DS “game” is probably the closest to capturing that feeling. It seems pretty simple, the D-pad allows you to select from eight chords, and if you hold the shoulder button, you have access to eight more. There is a string on the bottom screen that you actually strum, up and down, and you can play just about anything you want. You can choose from tonnes of chords, and you can even play power chords and add reverb. The “game” portion of the program seems to be just a list of songs that have their chords listed in the correct order they’re played, and the D-pad set the used chords as default. Then you either pass or fail the song, there’s no grade like in Guitar Hero.

But really, the genius is that you can play anything you want. It doesn’t sound quite right musically, not because it sounds too electronic, but because there are elements from real playing that seem to be missing. For example, if you do not select a chord and you strum the string, you play a muted strum. In real life, when you strum the strings without holding a chord, you just the ringing sound of the strings, which I, and I’m sure many players use often to smoothly transferring between chords.

There are a bunch of decent YouTube videos I’ve linked to, but the best one is the dude that hooked his DS up to his digtal effects pedal, which sounds fantastic. I’m sure people will be playing sounds and recording them into their computers and editing with Audio Mulch and all sorts of other music apps to make some great stuff.

Still, my guitar was the same price as a new DS Lite and for the cost of importing the game you can get a 1ten watt amp. But I really like where this is headed.

YouTube vids here, there are more as you branch out.

Edit: Forget to mention that there were actually a few musicians who used MTV Music Generator in composing some of their albums, Boomkat is probably the best well known as Taryn Manning (Eminem’s ex-girlfriend in 8 Mile) is the lead singer in it.

It’s a fantastic concept, really, but I think the core sound is just too weak and tinny, probably mainly limited due to the DS cart size. It doesn’t really help either that the guitar is one of the hardest instruments to emulate, due to, as you already mentioned, the many things that make a guitar sound like a guitar - fret noises, open strings etc.

When the next generation of handhelds arrives, maybe we can take this one level further…

I think the individual strums sound pretty decent, nowhere near as tinny as you’d think it would be.

I don’t think any instrument is easy to emulate well in this way, especially in something handheld.

If you’ve got a guitar amp you can run a cable between the DS headphone input and the input on your amp and it actually sounds a lot better. The sampling of the basic guitar actually sounds pretty good, especially through an amp–I’m not a huge fan of the effects though…

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