There are numerous guitar-teaching aids out there, many of them rather clever, but the people behind the Populele think they’re onto something different. It’s a proper acoustic ukulele when the electric learner wheels are switched off, but your very own tutor when switched on.
The Populele works through a series of lights embedded on the fretboard. When you’re learning chords, say, you can play along while watching an app that tells you when to hit a certain chord.
It probably helps if you have a certain amount of skill already: I tried and failed to make anything resembling the correct sound. Still, the company claims normal people will be up and running within 15 minutes.
Popuband, the company behind the Populele, isn’t just targeting students with a desire to self-learn: it also believes that schools and music teachers will embrace the instrument, envisaging a teacher who will create a whole ukulele ensemble through the company’s software.
The app comes free – there are no subscription charges – which means Popuband must make all its money from hardware sales. And that’s why it doesn’t come cheap: $149 for the basic uke, $199 for one with a bag and other accoutrements. And that’s with $50 off its standard price.
Looking to the future, Popuband aims to make a guitar version. Cost and shipping dates aren’t yet known, but let’s not fret about such details.
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