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Inexpensive practice tools

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by plarry, Dec 15, 2012.

  1. plarry

    plarry Banned

    Jan 15, 2011
    I've read a bunch of threads started by people looking for "affordable" practice tools like MIDI devices, backing tracks, etc. I'm surprised at how much some them are ready to pay for stuff that, IMHO, would be 1. overkill and 2. not the best way to really improve their playing.

    So, my .02 bucks and 3 suggestions:

    - Akai Pro LPK25 Laptop Performance Keyboard: < $40
    Create your own "practice tools" and learn a lot in the process! A bunch of vids on YT.

    - iRealB "The perfect practice tool for professional musicians and music students". Available for iOS, Mac OS X and Android, under $20. (irealb.com). Incredible value for money, IMHO! Demo on iOS here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpRcT9pIDQg and on Android here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1_cAwpjhhQ

    - Audacity: create or import a backing track / tune and play with it to your heart's content... Change the pitch / tempo, etc. FREE. (install LAME library for mp3 export)

    Hope this helps.
  2. Kuroth


    Dec 2, 2012
    Excellent Info..

  3. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    Best thing I've bought was my Cafe Walter practice amp. Not really cheap, but well worth the money many times over.
  4. plarry

    plarry Banned

    Jan 15, 2011
    @Kuroth: You're most welcome, Sir! Glad if it helps.

    @BassChuck: Not the first thing I would buy but good call. Don't know the price and it doesn't seem easy to find, to say the least. "Electro-Harmonix Headphone Amp Portable Practice Guitar Amplfier" may be an alternative? $50-ish. Demo on YTube.

    Can come in very handy if you spend a lot of time in hotel rooms... I don't anymore, thanks God! ;)

    And again, I'm very pleased with my latest acquisitions (iRealB & Akai kbd). Much more useful than all the backing tracks & play alongs I had used before. For less than 60 bucks!
  5. plarry

    plarry Banned

    Jan 15, 2011
  6. Yools


    Jul 24, 2009
    Deepinaharta, TX
    A good free program for creating drum loops is Hydrogen. Fairly sophisitcated and flexible; allows one to program complete songs as well as simple loops, and you can directly edit the drum sounds or use your own. Here's an example of a rough demo I did for a song:

    God Told Me To Kill You

    This was q&d, and one could get a much better mix and overall sound .

  7. wrench45us


    Aug 26, 2011
    I d/l'ed the iRealB app last night.
    This is exactly what I need to kick start playing along to backing tracks.

    It's a brilliant bit of technology and may take a chunk out of Jamey Aebersold's Play Along series. 1300 jazz standards.
    300 rock/blues/pop. Might be a big help for anybody involved inhaving to learn 60 songs in 3 days marathons
    There's an editor to build any song that's not available from their forum.
    Just about anything can be edited -- change tempo, change keys, change chords, set up alternate chords, set up a loop on a section...
    There's a mixer for boosting or damping piano. bass. drums.

    There are add-on tools for guitar chords, piano chords, chord scales in treble clef. I know they have the information, but bass is somewhat negelected in their additional tools, but it wouldn't surprise me if they expanded in that direction at some point.

    Check out the videos at their site www.irealb.com

    bottom line is I got my wife an iPad for Xmas, but ownership of that may become an issue.
  8. hgiles


    Nov 8, 2012
    Between iRealB, unRealBook, BIAB, GarageBand, I have everything I need.
  9. Anonymatt


    Jan 3, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    Aebersold's stuff is very high quality, but they need to develop a convenient way to get songs a la carte.

    I use a great app called "play by ear". It's like having a patient friend at the piano.