As you travel with a song in your heart, you can be accompanied by a guitar (sort of) in your hands — and learn to play it. All your need is an iPad, iPhone or Mac (sorry, Android) and the new Zivix Jamstik, a 16-inch-long, three pound guitar with real steel strings and frets. The guitar (which looks more like a guitar neck, to be honest), is powered by an included rechargeable Li-ion battery, and connects wirelessly to your device via its own proprietary interface with the free app, Jamstik Connect. Sound broadcasts from the device's speakers, not the Jamstik. A free music app, jamTutor becomes your mobile teacher, with an online Jamstik-playing human being taking you through the basics of plucking single notes and strumming chords, while demonstrating proper hand placement and picking techniques. Meanwhile, the bottom of the screen displays an interactive replica of your Jamstik, that both guides and grades your progress, using sensors on the Jamstik. Wrong note, sloppy finger placement — it’s all pinpointed on the screen for you to correct. JamTutor’s progressive series of lessons, tutorials and stepped up challenges require some concentration, but what a cool use of a long flight or train ride — using headphones of course. Master the basics, and Jamstik Connect will hook you up with a slew of additional apps, such as jamMix and GarageBand, which provide accompanying instruments, beats and flourishes, and let you create and record your own brilliant compositions. The Jamstik comes with an adjustable, detachable neck strap, a micro USB charging cable, and two guitar picks. A model with Bluetooth connectivity is due out later this year. Other operating systems will no doubt join the band down the road.
Zivix Jamstik Digital Guitar is about $300 at www.jamstik.com.