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REVIEW: Castiv Guitar Sidekick

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November 30, 2010

Ready to rock ... the Castiv Guitar Sidekick holds the iPhone while tuning the guitar usin...

Ready to rock ... the Castiv Guitar Sidekick holds the iPhone while tuning the guitar using the Gibson app

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Gizmag's Paul Ridden recently took a look at the Castiv Guitar Sidekick, a smartphone mount that puts your small screen digital device right where you need it – at the end of the fretboard. Since then we've been putting the Sidekick to the test – read on to find out how it performed.

There are guitar apps aplently out in the wild these days, but their usefulness is stunted if you can't see the screen whilst you have your axe in hand. The Castiv Guitar Sidekick is designed to solve this problem by providing a secure mount that clips over the strings above the nut where it can easily be viewed.

Jarrod – teacher and lead guitarist with Aussie band City Escape – was our guinea pig for this road test. We asked Jarrod to put the Sidekick through its paces and give us his thoughts.

“It’s pretty basic when you look at it, which is what you want, really,” says Jarrod. “You don’t want to spend time fitting fiddly gadgets to your guitar, wasting practice time setting up this and that, risking scratching the surface, etc. You just want to get on with it and play.

“The Sidekick took me only a minute to set up straight out of the packaging. I had it on my guitar and was tuning the strings using my iPhone app immediately. That’s one thing you have to watch with these types of devices. They’re like a capo. Put it on your strings and you need to tune your guitar – every time. It’s the same when you remove it, too. But if you’re not doing it every five minutes it’s not really a hassle.

“I found I had to pick the strings louder than I would normally to tune up because some of the notes wouldn’t register on the app because of the distance between the point of impact on the string and the mic on the iPhone. Usually, I would have my iPhone in my lap while I tune up.

“But for playing along with a tab app, digital sheet music or listening and playing at the same time, it’s a handy little gadget. It held my phone quite securely – although if you get a bit carried away and move the guitar neck around too much it worked like a whammy bar on the strings. And it can detune your guitar, like I said, if you get carried away."

“My advice … use it while sitting down. And avoid heavy metal,” he jokes.

As a teaching tool, Jarrod thinks the Sidekick has possibilities.

“It puts sheet music or tabs right in front of your eyes and when you’re learning to play the guitar you’re usually looking at your left hand to make sure you’re placing your fingers correctly on the frets (for right handed guitarists), so this is directly in your line of sight.

“You don’t need a magnifying glass to read the screen or bend your neck at crazy angles to see the screen.

“While I’d usually use my laptop when I’m reading music, it’s not always as portable or convenient as I’d like so the Sidekick is an easy solution. It fits easily in my guitar case, too, so I’m more inclined to take it everywhere I go and less likely to lose it.

“In my opinion, it will encourage beginners to practice more and its adaptability means they can use just about any smart phone, iPod, etc, to learn to play or improve their skills. Hey, anything that encourages kids to practice more is a good thing, right?

“And most of the school kids I teach have a smart phone or access to one so that’s not a problem, either. I wouldn’t use it in a classroom setting but I can see its value when the kids are practicing away from class,” says Jarrod.

"With so many guitar apps available, I reckon the Sidekick will help most players take advantage of them."

The Castiv Guitar Sidekick is available for US$29.99.

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