If you’re partial to a bit of gig attending in your spare time, you’ve no doubt at one point come across a band whose members simply dazzle you with their musical ability. Though not all band members can be at a virtuoso level, you just can’t deny that sometimes, a drummer is simply beyond a level you’ve ever seen or a guitarist simply commands the instrument like it was an extension of him or herself. More often than not when you hear a performance that blows your mind, you simply end up leaving the show thinking “I wish I could play that”. It’s usually the memorable guitar parts that tend to get stuck in your head (whether technically brilliant or simple chords/melodies played cleanly and commandingly), so it makes a lot of sense therefore when you see an app like Lick of the Day sitting high on many guitarist’s lists of helpful tools for learning some challenging and great-sounding riffs as accurately and as much ease as possible. Guitar World have definitely hit the nail on the head with this app which is intuitive to use and boasts a range of features that will leave any guitarist satisfied and equipped with a range of new riffs to play.
Open up Lick of the Day and you will immediately be greeted with the home screen which houses the business end of the app’s function, which is to provide you with a new guitar lick every day to add to your repertoire. The individual licks in your library are featured on the left-hand side of the screen in a list whilst the majority of the screen next to it is taken up by the instructional portion of the app. Here, you can see the lick notated in tablature form at the bottom of the screen with an instructional video playing along with it in perfect time above. There’s even a visual representation of the guitar neck at the bottom of the screen to show you the position of the notes if you have trouble visualising them from tablature along. Already it is obvious that what you have here is well-designed instructional app with the potential to add dozens, if not hundreds of licks to your repertoire to improve your skills as a guitarist and provide you with a depth of knowledge that even this browser-based virtual guitar cannot provide.
Learning a riff is as simple as selecting one you desire from the menu on the left-hand side and pressing the play button on the pop-up menu overlaying the video screen. Each video consists of some brief background information on the riff including its style and where you’ll have heard such a lick before. After the explanation, the instructor plays the riff whilst the corresponding notes are highlighted on the tab below and the finger positions are displayed on the guitar neck below this. Practice mode also allows you to dismiss the video and switch to a screen where the tab takes up the majority of the screen with the guitar-neck display below. In this mode you can choose to play the guitar lick on its own in a Power Tab-like fashion and you can even make a selection on the tab where it will loop between an A and B position of your choosing. This function lets you drill down on any parts you may be struggling with, whether this is a blues piece you feel like working on or simply a melody that will help you out on Guitar Hero: Aerosmith. The backing track can also be played on its own so you can jam along to it as you please.
While the app itself is free and it does come with some in-built licks already available for demonstrative purposes, you do have to purchase the additional licks in order to expand the library. Thankfully, you do get an incredible quantity of licks to choose from, each housed within collections of riffs that give you plenty for your money. The range of styles you can choose from is impressive with jazz, blues, acoustic, bluegrass, country, fusion, rock and R&B appearing on the list as a minimum. One of the attractive aspects of purchasing some of the riff packs is that you also get some well-known guitarists appearing in the instructional videos such as the legendary shred-master Zakk Wylde and Joe Satriani.
Guitar World’s Lick of the Day is certainly one of the most useful apps out there for learning some of the best riffs possible. Though some like to learn whole songs, the app’s focus on the riff allows guitarists to instead apply their skills to improvisational situations instead of being restricted to reciting a well-known song from start to finish. The extra features like the dynamic fret position display, performance notes, and being able to “favourite” the tracks simply adds to the usefulness of the app. You can download the Lick of the Day app on iTunes; it will certainly make a wise addition to your music-based app collection.