This handy practice tool walks you through some important concepts.

At some point, most inquisitive guitarists confront the intricacies of modes. Ninebuzz’s Modal Buddy is an iOS app that breaks down modal theory and lets you practice modes in context. The beautifully designed app has two main sections: learn and practice. The learn section walks you through six chapters of examples that explain how modes are created and why they work with specific chords. Some of the Q&A information is questionable (like the suggestion that a Mixolydian scale works well over a major 7th chord), but most of the info is pretty solid.

Once you get the concepts under your fingers, the practice section provides various backing tracks for working out modal ideas. Each example shows the five main fingerings—based on octave shapes—and offers a vamp (in the relative key of G) to solo over. Unfortunately, the vamps are only available in one key, and most of the theoretical info is available for free online. (Plus, at five bucks, Modal Buddy does far less than other comparably priced apps.) Modal Buddy isn’t something you’d want to break out on a gig, but it’s a well-designed practice tool that may help guitarists get past important theoretical hurdles.

Ratings

Pros:
Well-designed.

Cons:
Questionable scale suggestions. Backing tracks only available in one key.

Street:
$4.99

Ninebuzz Modal Buddy for iOS
ninebuzz.com

Educational Benefit:

Ease of Use:

Build/Design:

Value:

It’s not difficult to replace the wiring in your pickups, but it takes some finesse. Here’s a step-by-step guide.

Hello and welcome back to Mod Garage. After numerous requests, this month we’ll have a closer look at changing wires on a single-coil pickup. As our guinea pig for this, I chose a standard Stratocaster single-coil, but it’s basically the same on all single-coil pickups and easy to transfer. It’s not complicated but it is a delicate task to not destroy your pickup during this process, and there are some things you should keep in mind.

Read More Show less

The emotional wallop of the acoustic guitar sometimes flies under the radar. Even if you mostly play electric, here are some things to consider about unplugging.

I have a love-hate relationship with acoustic guitars. My infatuation with the 6-string really blasted off with the Ventures. That’s the sound I wanted, and the way to get it was powered by electricity. Before I’d even held a guitar, I knew I wanted a Mosrite, which I was sure was made of fiberglass like the surfboards the Beach Boys, Surfaris, and the Challengers rode in their off time. Bristling with space-age switchgear and chrome-plated hardware, those solidbody hotrod guitars were the fighter jets of my musical dreams. I didn’t even know what those old-timey round-hole guitars were called. As the singing cowboys Roy Rogers and Gene Autrey strummed off into the sunset, the pace of technology pushed the look and sound of the electric guitar (and bass) into the limelight and into my heart. Imagine my disappointment when I had to begin my guitar tutelage on a rented Gibson “student” acoustic. At least it sort of looked like the ones the Beatles occasionally played. Even so, I couldn’t wait to trade it in.

Read More Show less

Need an affordable distortion pedal? Look no further.

We live in the golden age of boutique pedals that are loaded with advanced features—many of which were nearly unthinkable a decade or so ago. But there’s something that will always be valuable about a rock-solid dirt box that won’t break your wallet. Here’s a collection of old classics and newly designed stomps that cost less than an average concert ticket.

Read More Show less
x