GuitarWorks Advanced Edition. (educational software) (Software Review) (Evaluation)
by J. Blake Lambert
GuitarWorks Advanced Edition is a DOS program with a graphic interface that displays guitar chords and riffs while playing them through a sound board for MIDI device (there's also a forgettable built-in speaker option). GuitarWorks also serves as the platform for some useful add-ons, including a basic How to Play tutorial book and disk, as well as a more advanced $14.95 Scales and Riffs companion disk that includes the equivalent of about six months of guitar lessons.
The setup section contains a "tuner" that plays reference notes (it's not really a tuner). You can adjust the hardware settings, the sound of the guitar, the volume, the sustain, the speed of strumming, and the type of positioning of the onscreen guitar. GuitarWorks supports Ad Lib, Sound Blaster, and compatibles. The program also reads and writes Type 1 MIDI files.
The impressive Chord Dictionary contains over 5300 guitar chords, including 9 to 12 voicings (fingerings) for each of 44 chord types in all 12 keys. The voicings are good, but some are virtually impossible to play! Still, if you don't find a voicing you like, you can create one. GuitarWorks will also tell you the possible names for a chord you create.
To build songs, you copy chords to the Clipboard from the dictionary or create them as you go. This gives you a set of chords and riffs to work with when recording.
The Recorder emulates the functions of simple music recorders and sequences: punch in (for overdubs), quantization (making n otes exactly on the beat), cutting and splicing, and time and key shifting. To record, you play chords by clicking on them in the Clipboard, or you can pick single notes using the mouse to fret the guitar. You can even bend and slide notes. The Recorder can display songs using chord block diagrams or tabulature notation.
These are a few limitations and frustrations, but GuitarWorks is a good, solid program. It can help you find the right chords, play chord progressions, lean to hear different chord types and voicings, and revive or sustain your interest in the guitar.