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iPad App Review: The Guitar Collection – George Harrison

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When first opening The Guitar Collection: George Harrison iPad app, the user is greeted with home video of the ex-Beatle strumming a ukulele. This intimate portrait of a rock legend sets the tone for the entire app, which allows fans a peek inside his private guitar collection. Guitar enthusiasts will adore all the features, as they treat his instruments as revered objects. Indeed, each guitar represents a part of rock history as well as aspects of Harrison’s personality. Overall the app provides an interactive experience that resembles being led on a personally guided tour of some of music’s most famous guitars.

In a clearly designed format, the menu allows fans to browse each guitar at their George Harrison Guitar Collectionown pace, which is essential due to the app’s numerous features. When viewing an individual guitar, one can read its entire history; view particular aspects of each instrument; listen to songs where Harrison played that particular guitar; see each instrument in full 360° view, zooming in and out as one likes; and in some cases hear brief excerpts of Harrison discussing how he acquired the guitar, how he modified it, and why he chose to use it on particular tracks. Want to know the history of such companies as Fender or Gibson? It’s all here.

A playlist option is included with each guitar, letting fans listen to tracks featuring that instrument while learning about the object. If you already have Beatles and Harrison tracks in your iTunes library, the app will sync up the appropriate music files with the playlist. If the songs are not in your library or on your iPad, you can still listen to song excerpts streamed through iTunes.

Another interesting feature of The Guitar Collections is the “Video Vault,” a collection of short clips that show son Dhani Harrison, guitarist Ben Harper, and two musicians who played with Harrison—Gary Moore and Mike Campbell—strumming and exploring each instrument. Watching Harper stare at the various guitars reverently, clearly overhwelmed by the experience, before choosing an instrument represents how any fan would react. Another series of videos features discussions with Dhani and Conan O’Brien; while it’s a bit puzzling as to why O’Brien is involved, he does demonstrate knowledge of guitars and the Beatles’ music. Resembling his father in voice, sense of humor, and overall charm, Dhani reminisces about playing each guitar. Mentioning that his father always allowed him to play any of his guitars (the only stipulation being that Dhani not break them), Dhani tells O’Brien that he considers the guitars part of the family. When he hands various instruments to O’Brien, O’Brien looks appropriately humbled, knowing he is holding an important piece of music history.

One must have an Internet connection to take advantage of all the app’s features, from music to video. However, some apps can be enjoyed offline, such as numerous photos—both rare and familiar—of Harrison using each guitar. His wide grin in many of the shots demonstrate how much affection Harrison clearly felt for all his instruments.

While more of Harrison’s extensive guitar collection could have been included (maybe there will be a sequel?), The Guitar Collection: George Harrison iPad app provides a fascinating glimpse into the world of a legendary musician. The way today’s musicians such as Harper highly regard Harrison’s music and guitars illustrates Harrison’s legacy and lingering influence on music. Obviously guitar afficionados will appreciate this app, as it provides extremely detailed information. But music fans not as interested in technical details will still find much to like in this entertaining yet educational program. It is a loving tribute to an incredible musician, but is also a special gift for longtime fans who always wanted to peek inside Harrison’s guitar vault.

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About Kit O'Toole