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Futulele, the Future of the Ukulele?

You probably do not know this but I play the ukulele. I have for around 3 years when a friend let me have a strum on his and instantly I was converted from a guitar player to a Uke. Of course, the iPad is a great companion for a musician and iOS in general is a much more mature platform for musicians than Android, but there is one Ukulele related app that really stands out from the crowd. In fact it’s name goes as far as to suggest that it is the future of the ukulele. It is Futulele.

What I Like

Futulele is a universal app that allows you to play on your iPhone or iPad for one low cost. What’s more, if you have an iPad and iPhone handy together and download the companion remote app on the iPhone, you can use your iPhone to change the chords and the iPad to strum. This is a great touch and with the iPhones slimmer design, it is almost the perfect mimic for a fretboard.

I love the idea of traveling on the bus and getting a moment of songwriting inspiration then being able to work out the chords to a new song on the go with your headphones in so as not to disturb anyone. Or coming back late at night and busting out the app for a late night play without the neighbours banging on the walls.

The Futulele can also give you the chords of a song in order so you can strum and then just press a button to change the chord. Unlike a real ukulele where you have to think about what chord comes next and what shape it is, here you just have to press next or select the chord on the screen.

The sound impressions are pretty decent as well with a great palm muting option (for reggae flavoured playing) and several models of Ukulele’s to choose from (though I haven’t noticed a cigar box ukulele which is surprising given the shape of the iPad.) It’s not perfect but it does a pretty good impression.

What I Don’t Like

And that last point is key here. It’s a pretty good impression. Although I like the app and it sounds pretty close, it’s not a ukulele. A ukulele is one of those things that I love dumb and no matter how smart and clever these things get, musicians generally prefer the sound of analogue musical devices over digital ones. I’m sure there is an element of hipster-esq snobbery but I do prefer dumb instruments.

An extension of this comes in the fact that there are still functions I can’t do on the Futulele. There is a delay when I switch between strumming and plucking as the string is still “ringing”. I can tell you that this doesn’t happen on a ukulele.

Buy/Don’t Buy

This is one of those WTF apps that you can show off to your friends and they’ll find it great fun to play around with for an hour or so. It’s also a great app for quiet late night practice and song writing for a ukulele player but don’t expect it to be an exact copy. If you want to learn to play an instrument then pick up a real one, but you may still find a use for this app.

About Chris Wilson

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