1. metllicamilitia's Avatar
    What is the Jamstik+?
    The Jamstik+, made by Zivix LLC, is an update to the original Jamstik. This is a product I've known about since the original Jamstik and just haven't had the opportunity to play around with yet. The Jamstik+ is essentially a miniature guitar with five frets, though it is so much more than meets the eye. To start with the Jamstik+ uses real guitar strings. Yes, real guitar strings and it's amazing. The strings are double strung, meaning the there are two ball ends of the strings, one ends at the headstock, and the headstock is stubbed just long enough to allow for the ends of the strings. These strings also don't react quite the same way as they do on a standard guitar as they are intentionally kept taught except over the frets. This is accomplished using the faceplate at the base of the fretboard. I'm not going to lie, as a guitarist myself, picking on taught strings was a little weird to get used to at first.



    At the base of the body, you'll find the pickup just before the Jamstik+'s unique bridge, which serves as a string guide through the body of the Jamstik+. Just past the bridge, you'll find one of the few buttons on the device, this particular button is a mute button which will mute all the notes that are currently ringing. On the bottom of the Jamstik+, you'll find the microUSB charging port/connection port, the battery charging indicator light, and a 3.5mm jack. Moving to the back of the Jamstik+ you'll find the cutouts for the included guitar strap and the battery compartment. In the battery compartment under the battery, you'll find an Allen key for adjusting the string tension, and the second ball end of the proprietary Jamstik+ guitar strings. Finally, on the top of the Jamstik+, you'll find the power button and status indicator light as well the menu button and D-pad. The D-pad is used to change the location of which five frets you are playing on, the octave you are playing in, and more as the buttons can be mapped depending on what application you are using.



    I said the Jamstik+ was so much more than meets the eye, that's because you can connect to your Android or Apple devices using Bluetooth and you can even connect to a PC, which may be necessary to use the USB cable. Now currently Zivix LLC does not have any of their apps available for PC, however, that is not an issue for the Jamstik+. I'll delve into the Jamstik apps a little later on, suffice to say they are designed for learning rather than an experienced guitarist. An experienced guitarist is going to be more intrigued by the Mac and PC options because the Jamstik+ isn't just a Bluetooth capable miniature guitar, it's also a MIDI controller. This allows the Jamstik+ to be a much more useful tool for a musician. For example, the Jamstik+ can be used to play any instrument within Apple's GarageBand, it is also useful for the Guitar Pro application. One of the things that excites me the most about the ability to use the Jamstik+ with Guitar Pro is that Guitar Pro will write out the music as you are playing it.



    It is also worth noting that the Jamstik+ requires Bluetooth 4.0, Android 6.0/6.0.1, Windows 10, Mac OSX 10.10, iOS 8, or later to work. There is a list of known compatible devices on the Jamstik website including starred devices that are known to work without issue on those devices. So what is the Jamstik+? The Jamstik+ is essentially a musician's electronic Swiss army knife, so let's get into it.



    What's Different With PC?
    As I stated, Zivix does not make their apps for PC or Windows Mobile. This is one of the biggest differences, so if you're looking to pick up a Jamstik+ to learn how to play guitar, you need an Android device or an Apple device. On the other side though, PC has some big name programs that the Jamstik+ can really take advantage of if you know some music theory and like playing with electronic music or even just writing out your music. I may not have stressed enough that the Jamstik+ is indeed a full-fledged MIDI controller. This means in can take advantage of any program that accepts MIDI input.

    I struggled a little bit in figuring out how I wanted to do this part of the review. I could go into the programs themselves and tell you what you could do with them, but that would turn this into more of a music creation software multi-review. I didn't want to do that because I wanted this to be more about the Jamstik+ itself. Again, the Jamstik+ is a full-fledged MIDI controller. If your music creation program of choice allows MIDI controller connectivity, you will be able to use the Jamstik+ with it. I really only had a chance to play with the Jamstik+ with one program, and that was Music Maker by Magix. At first, there was a latency issue, but I remembered that Music Maker has a latency slider in the MIDI options which eliminated the latency issue. Even though the Jamstik+ can connect to your computer via Bluetooth assuming your computer has Bluetooth capabilities, I would still recommend using the USB cable for a direct connection.

    Once you are connected to your computer though, your creation field is nearly limitless. You can play any instrument available in the software you choose to use. While you are limited to 36 notes at a time with the Jamstik+, you can change where you are playing on the fretboard which will translate to the same change on the instrument you're playing on within your software. Even the Jamstik+'s built octave changer will translate to the program you are using. All guitar technique translate, this means chords, slides, hammer-ons, pull-offs, bends, etc. This is nice for instruments that it's harder to play multiple sounds simultaneously on, like drums. Now, these are all MIDI instruments, so you will find spots on the Jamstik+ if there is no sound associated there, and I noticed this more on drums than other instruments, however, I was using a limited drum kit. Really, if you're a guitarist and like playing around with MIDI instruments, the Jamstik+ is absolutely a great tool to utilize. So what are these programs that the Jamstik+ works with? Here's a list of a few of them.

    The Programs
    • ACID Pro 7
    • Ableton Live 9
    • Pro Tools 11
    • Reason 9
    • Guitar Pro 7
    • Cakewalk SONAR
    • Music Maker


    Conclusion
    Whether you are using another device to learn how to play guitar or jumping head first into pro music creation, the Jamstik+ is an incredibly diverse product. It's a hard sell at $280 for a tool to learn how to play guitar when you can buy a regular guitar for a fraction of the cost. What really justifies the cost of the Jamstik+ is its MIDI capabilities. After this review, you should have a good idea of what you can accomplish with MIDI and you can see how the Zivix apps, among others, can help you get started playing over on iMore or Android Central. The review is the same on both sites so you can choose your preference. The Jamstik+ was always a product that excited me and I'm glad I was given the opportunity to review it, what I did not expect was to see one of my friends get really excited about it. He creates his own music with apps on his phone, mostly electronic music, and after talking to him about the Jamstik+ he was incredibly excited about it and can't wait to see it in person and try it out. Your imagination really is the limit here, and you can buy the Jamstik+ in a few different color options, and even a lefty version directly from Zivix on Jamstik.com. If you decide to buy one I hope you have as much fun with it as I do.
    Last edited by metllicamilitia; 09-03-2017 at 05:54 PM.
    07-16-2017 02:39 AM

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