Capo touch 2.0 review: Use your iPad to learn how to play your favorite songs
By Jim Galbraith, MacworldAUG 5, 2014 11:00 pm PDT
At a glance
Capo is a great tool to help guitarists learn new songs. With versions available for both Mac and iOS, Capo allows users to easily learn songs by altering a song’s speed without changing its pitch, generating chords for the song, and more. The recently released
Capo touch 2.0 brings the Mac app’s innovative chord recognition features to iOS for the first time.
New to both the Mac and iOS versions of Capo is iCloud syncing of your project files. You can open a song in Capo 3.1 on your Mac, make edits to the tempo, pitch, and chord choices, then close the app. If iCloud syncing is enabled, Capo touch will display those songs in its Projects window and allow you to open and continue editing.
In order to start a new project on iOS, Capo touch requires the song to be downloaded locally to your your iOS music library; if you have iCloud syncing enabled, however, you can launch projects created on your Mac without needing to have the song on your iPad or iPhone.
Automatic chord recognition is the marquee feature of Capo touch 2.0. Available since version 3.0 of the Mac app, Capo touch’s chord recognition works well and offers a great starting place for learning songs, but it’s not perfect. While Capo touch recognized most of the chords and their placement correctly, I found that I had to perform at least a little bit of editing for every song I tried.
Luckily, Capo touch makes it easy to add, edit, and move chords. Simply tapping the chord icon at the bottom of the screen will prompt Capo touch to analyze the song at the current position and add the chord. Tap on an already-generated chord in the project, and the chord icon turns red; touch the now-red icon and that chord disappears. You can also change the chord or voicing of the chord by tapping and holding that chord. A window pops up with different chord fingerings (open, barre, chords higher up the neck, etc). You can also change the chord to a major, minor, 7th, or just pick a new chord entirely.
The tap and hold method used to reveal alternative chord functions also holds true for many of Capo’s other icons. While it keeps the design clean and uncluttered, I found that it wasn’t always apparent how to find certain controls; but as I continued to use Capo touch, it became easier and easier for me to get things done.
Capo touch makes it simple to break up your songs into regions such as verse, chorus, bridge, and solo. Tap the Regions icon at the bottom of the screen to generate a one-measure region atop the song playhead. You can grab the handles on the left or right side of the region to move and expand it; you can also label and color code regions for easy recognition. Once you’ve created regions in your project, you can loop them, playing the parts over and over until you master them.
Capo touch lets you transpose the song’s key or tell the app that you’re using a capo on your guitar, too. Just note on what fret you’d like to place your capo, and Capo touch will adjust the generated chords accordingly. One feature found in Capo for Mac but missing from the iOS version is the ability to fine tune the song’s pitch to 100th of a semitone. This fine pitch-adjustment feature comes in handy when (as is often the case) a song isn’t tuned correctly, and I hope the company can add the capability to Capo touch in the future.
In the song settings palette, you’ll find tabs for Effects, Beats, and Notes. The Effects tab is where Capo touch lets you toggle and tweak its built-in equalizer. Here, you’ll find presets to help you bring up the bass in the mix; this section also offers a feature for targeting frequencies where female or male vocals most often reside. This lets you sing along to a song as if it were a karaoke track, or just focus on the instrumentals. While this feature does help to eliminate some of a track’s vocals, the equalization affects more than just the singing, and makes the whole track sound thinner. The feature is helpful and excellent for rehearsing with, but it’s not meant for making professional-sounding backing tracks out of your library.
The Beats tab is where you can see the song’s tempo, change the time signature, and such. You can also enable or disable the built in metronome and configure whether you’d like Capo touch to give you a one-, two- or four-measure count-in before starting the song, and a choice of five sounds to help you keep time: metronome, wood block, cowbell, rim click and square click.
The final Song Settings tab is Notes, which is where you can set your instrument type (guitar, banjo, mandolin, bass, or ukelele), the tuning used for your chosen instrument and the position, if any, of your capo. As you switch between settings, the fingering of the chords displayed changes to reflect your choices. Pretty cool!
As great as Capo touch is, there are still a few items on my wish list. I’d love the ability to output a chord chart for a song to use either in the app or in printed form; the inclusion of Mac app’s fine pitch tuning engine; and continued improvement of Capo touch’s automatic chord detection.
Capo touch’s ability to slow down or speed up music, raise or lower the key, and loop regions can help musicians at all skill levels learn and practice new songs. The feature additions and improvements to the iOS version are most welcome and I hope the company continues to add and refine features, because I really enjoy learning new songs with Capo touch.