Best smart guitars for all skill levels
In this modern age of technology, many of our regular household items have become digitized, changing how we work, communicate and entertain ourselves. Therefore, it’s hardly surprising that musical instruments are following suit. Smart guitars are packed with features that assist with learning, playing and augment the sound and allow it to be recorded, sampled and looped. They can also connect with a whole range of peripheral devices and apps.
These guitars also break the mold when it comes to looks. Many options no longer resemble what we would term a traditional guitar, Some don’t even have strings. The Jamstik Studio MIDI Guitar is a popular choice as a hybrid model with analog and digital outputs. It supports Bluetooth connectivity and comes with Jamstics’ software MIDI package. It is essential to understand the various designs and features available to determine the best smart guitar for you.
What to know before you buy a smart guitar
Traditionally, the shape of a guitar would affect its sound. However, since these smart guitars no longer rely on acoustics, the design and shape can vary greatly. Some are hybrid models that look like conventional guitars. Some have a minimalist skeleton frame, whereas others have no body and are just a fretboard.
Just as acoustics don’t define the shape of a smart guitar, neither is its size. Many are lightweight and portable. You can play hybrid guitars acoustically that look similar to conventional guitars and come in half, three-quarter and full sizes.
The range of features and effects is what sets these guitars apart. Some are designed with learning and training in mind and have pre-programmed lessons and light-coded fretboards that show which strings should be pressed. Others are loaded with sound effects and have multiple recording, looping and playback options. The most advanced can emulate other instruments like keyboards and drum sets, allowing experienced users to create and record full musical tracks.
What to look for in a quality smart guitar
While a compact design is certainly more practical and easier for learners, it does limit the number of scales you can play. Many smart guitars have short fretboards of 12-18 inches. Those looking for a wide-scale range will need a 22- to 25-inch fretboard, similar in length to a conventional guitar.
The ability to link these guitars to computers, mobile phone apps and digital controllers provides users with access to various useful tools. You can now compose, record and sample music now through hardware built into the guitar. Additionally, some have pre-set effects, such as modulators and oscillators.
Thankfully, sound and size are not the only advancements on these smart guitars. You can say goodbye to annoying cables too. Most use Bluetooth connectivity, are WiFi-enabled and have USB ports for uploading and storing sounds and effects.
How much you can expect to spend on a smart guitar
As these guitars have many digital features, they are often more expensive than a conventional guitar. A simple model with minimal features can cost up to $200, whereas MIDI-capable options can run as high as $800.
Smart guitar FAQ
How are smart guitars powered?
A. Unfortunately, many of these guitars require batteries. You can plush some into a DC outlet. However, this does limit its uses. The very best have built-in power cells and you can recharge them similar to a mobile phone.
Can I use a smart guitar as a MIDI controller?
A. Certain models have MIDI out ports and can be used with music production software. Others have built-in MIDI software and can be used to replicate various instruments, which can then be looped, sampled or recorded right from the guitar.
Do I need any extra equipment?
A. Most are designed to be stand-alone instruments and are sold with all the necessary software and hardware to get started. However, for serious musicians and producers, the ability to link these guitars to other devices and equipment is what makes them so versatile.
What’s the best smart guitar to buy?
Top smart guitar
What you need to know: Available in three vibrant colors, this MIDI-capable option is suitable for learners and professionals alike.
What you’ll love: It uses wireless Bluetooth and has a USB C port for charging. It has a full-sized fretboard with a compact headless design.
What you should consider: Some users report issues with latency.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top smart guitar for the money
What you need to know: This ukulele has a traditionally shaped body made from spruce and European maple.
What you’ll love: The specially designed fretboard has built-in LED lights to show the correct finger positions. It comes with a downloadable teaching app.
What you should consider: The included carrying bag is made from fabric and won’t protect against drops.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: Designed for portability, this smart guitar breaks down into several pieces that fit into a regular backpack.
What you’ll love: It can be used with headphones as well as an amplifier and has onboard sound effects that emulate an acoustic, electric or classical guitar.
What you should consider: Its built-in battery requires charging roughly every 6 hours.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Chris Gillespie writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
Copyright 2022 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.