September 19, 2011 at 11:20 am

Rock Prodigy Bets People Still Want to Learn Guitar

After Guitar Hero appeared on the scene in 2005, it caused a resurgence in the playing of actual (non-plastic) guitars, if for no other reason than that more people were thinking about the guitar.

Until earlier this year, the idea of playing  a Guitar Hero-style game with a real guitar was basically vaporware. But we’ve been reminded that “Guitar Hero for real guitars” actually exists, in the form of Rock Prodigy – a guitar-learning app for iOS billed by its creators as “the funnest way to learn guitar.”

As the host of SF Music Tech’s “New Products, Technologies & Demos” panel last week, I judged two hours’ worth of demos from the stage. While presenters showed off lots of neat stuff, Rock Prodigy was the most impressive of the lot, although it wasn’t entirely “new.” The first version came out way back in January.

After a few updates in the intervening months, the Rock Prodigy app performed admirably during that on-stage demo by its developer (and accomplished guitarist) Harold Lee, and it has worked just as well in our testing today, with in-depth tutorials, a tuning fork, and a numbered-fret notation system that makes sense to guitarists.

The app actually understands what you’re playing, whether you plug your guitar in to your iOS device or rely on its microphone. If you miss a note, it can wait for you to catch up; you can slow the song down to learn it; or, if you’re really stymied, you can loop a section until you get it right.

Yes, Rock Prodigy is “for real,” and it only costs a dollar. (Songs are available as in-app purchases for $1 and up.) Assuming kids still want to learn to play guitar these days, this app is up to the challenge, much to the chagrin of neighborhood guitar teachers.

Download Rock Prodigy