Editorial - users and developers

If you own a musical instrument you know what a personal relationship it is. We hold these things, stroke them, push, pull, tickle and bend them ... hell we even stick some of them in our mouths! Guitars too inspire a fanacital loyalty as each player learns the feel of their particular instrument and develops techniques to coax the best sound from it, no matter if it's a $10K LesPaul or a $50 knock-off. Each one has some magic buried in there somewhere amidst the inevitable weaknesses. And that magic makes it part of your musical family... perhaps part of your life. This bond in turn joins you to the larger guitar playing community 'out there'. Visit any guitar store, be it a tiny hole in the wall music shop ( if you can find one ... ) or one of the giant emporiums and I'm certain you could strike up healthy conversation with most anyone present about their favorite guitar. Fender vs Gibson , single coil vs humbucker, mahogany vs alder, 010's vs 015's ...

But what about a Guitar App? Can such a thing ever be an instrument? Can a piece of software running on a reatively disposable electronic device transcend the screen it's trapped behind and become an extension of you, the player?

I agree, it's a tall order. But it's early days yet and there are examples in the App Store which point the way ( see my full reviews for a couple of examples ). But the thing missing right now is that as the player of a virtual guitar I don't feel an 'investment ' or bond with the app.. For a lot of us I suspect we purchase a cool graphics Interface which makes a musical sound for the price of a bagel then ... when's the next update?

As users we have to do better. We need to contribute to the process. We should all be writing to the developers of our favorite apps, not just about what we want, but to explain how we are using their creations, how we relate to them and how we feel about them. And developers too need to respond and get involved with their users.  I know the App Store doesn't permit a two way conversation via the review process which is a shame. I think a field where developers could post thoughts would be a great addition. But every app has a support link or a web site address ... we should use it. I think that a developer who builds a community around their product, a user-group who is involved and feels like they participate in their App is the developer who will create a real instrument that can have a ongoing life.

I reach out all the time. Not always with a result, but I can say that the authors of my favorite two guitar apps ( hint : see my full reviews ) are incredibly responsive and seem to want to know what we are doing with their babies. The conversations I've had have been interesting, in-depth and absolutely made a difference to the time I've spent with the apps. I've become much more engaged with them and I enjoy playing them more. While they might not yet be quite as indispensable as the beaten up old strat I've been toting around for 30 years, they sure do feel more and more like instruments. The more we contribute the more the authors will understand the user's ... no ... player's needs and respond. It's a win -win.