Practicing on the go? This useful tool costs about as much as a guitar pick.

Practice makes perfect, right? Well you still need to get that practice time in even when you’re away from home. The Soundtwirl app for iOS is a fun way to get some valuable practice time in when all you have is your iPhone or iPad. At its core, the app provides some good backing tracks in a variety of styles, tempos, and keys. (Two expansion packs come with the app and more are available for $0.99 each.) The handy mixer interface allows you to pull out bass, drums, keys, or guitar.

Soundtwirl enables you to use other amp simulators to generate guitar tones, so I opened up Amplitube and arranged a “session” within Soundtwirl for an old-school funk track in E minor. If your scales and chords are a bit rusty, the app offers scrolling chord and scale diagrams, and tab that moves along in real time along with the audio. I found the recording feature prone to the occasional crash. But even without that feature Soundtwirl is a lot of fun and a practical practice tool for a buck.

Test Gear: IK Multimedia AmpliTube software, Fender Telecaster


Wonderfully produced audio. Covers many different styles and tempos. It costs a dollar.

Slightly buggy.




Ease of Use:


Rig Rundown: Adam Shoenfeld

Whether in the studio or on solo gigs, the Nashville session-guitar star holds a lotta cards, with guitars and amps for everything he’s dealt.

Adam Shoenfeld has helped shape the tone of modern country guitar. How? Well, the Nashville-based session star, producer, and frontman has played on hundreds of albums and 45 No. 1 country hits, starting with Jason Aldean’s “Hicktown,” since 2005. Plus, he’s found time for several bands of his own as well as the first studio album under his own name, All the Birds Sing, which drops January 28.

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Diatonic sequences are powerful tools. Here’s how to use them wisely.



• Understand how to map out the neck in seven positions.
• Learn to combine legato and picking to create long phrases.
• Develop a smooth attack—even at high speeds.

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Knowing how to function in different keys is crucial to improvising in any context. One path to fretboard mastery is learning how to move through positions across the neck. Even something as simple as a three-note-per-string major scale can offer loads of options when it’s time to step up and rip. I’m going to outline seven technical sequences, each one focusing on a position of a diatonic major scale. This should provide a fun workout for the fingers and hopefully inspire a few licks of your own.
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