YOU don’t hear guitars in the pop charts very often these days.
But one of the giants of the rock music industry has launched a brand new bid to teach a whole new generation of people how to play.
Fender is a firm known for releasing some of the world’s most iconic guitars, ranging from the Stratocaster played by Jimi Hendrix to the Telecasters played by indie stars like Blur’s Graham Coxon.
It’s just launched a new website called Fender Play that’s designed to introduce the YouTube generation to the delights of six strings.
The guitar firm faces an uphill struggle because sales of guitars are down across the world and cool kids (unless you think Ed Sheeran is cool) are more likely to be using synthesizers than strumming the instruments their parents played.
I’m not a beginner, having played guitar for almost two decades. I taught myself through trial and error, listening to records and slowing them down to get the complex bits.
But I haven’t played the guitar much recently, because like so many people I’ve been lured by the weird world of synths and drum machines.
I have to say that sitting through a few lessons on Fender Play really sparked my love of the guitar again.
It allows you to pick a genre and then learn to play your favourite songs by strumming along with tutors.
There are hundreds of songs on offer from a variety of genres including fifties rock’n’roll, blues, classic rock, nineties indie, grunge, punk and pop, which impressed me.
There are also lessons on basic skills such as tuning the guitar or playing without the annoying buzzing sound produced when strings vibrate against frets.
New users can log the skills they learn and plot their progress using a “my path” feature, which is a clever way of learning new skills
The website has a cool, crisp aesthetic that reminded me of Apple Music and the lessons were clear, straight-forward and very easy to follow.
Wannabe rock gods can use iPhones and other gizmos to help them achieve their dreams[/caption]
It costs £15.99 a month, which is a lot cheaper than a real-life guitar teacher, and seems tailor-made for a world where we’re used to sitting in front of computers, watching people talk direct to camera on sites like YouTube.
After testing it for a few weeks, I’m pleased to say it actually rekindled my enjoyment of playing guitar – which is no mean feat, considering I have declared guitar music dead on many occasions over the past decade or so.
Play is not Fender’s only hi-tech offering. It has also released a series of amplifiers which are fitted with wi-fi and bluetooth called the Mustang GT Amplifier Series, which simulate the analogue beasts played by legends like Neil Young.
These clever little gizmos can be programmed using an iPhone and are designed to recreate some of the famous tones heard on hit songs throughout the ages and can played at much lower volumes than old-school valve amps, which use analogue circuitry.
It remains to be seen whether Fender can persuade kids to get strumming again, but I was very impressed with Fender Play and hope it does get people excited about the guitar again.
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