Unbiased review on the Jamstik – Analyzing the product

My rating: 8 of 10

So what is this thing called Jamstik? let me start the review by first explaining what the Jamstik is, and who are the creators of this device. Simply put the Jamstik is a portable MIDI guitar controller. And the real emphasize here is on PORTABLE. It has real strings and real frets, and can connect to your iOS (and recently added Android and PC compatibility) directly with a cable or through wireless Bluetooth connection. It interacts with your device (Iphone/Android) through several apps created by the Jamstik team, including an interactive guitar lesson app series, targeted mainly for beginner and intermediate players.

product screenshot

As for the creators of the Jamstik, created by Zivix, a Minneapolis based hardware, software, and technology company, who is its main focus is on music instrumentation. They don't have a lot of products yet as I believe they are a small team who started relatively new, only in the recent years, they say they started developing software/apps for multiple platforms including iOS and Android since 2010 and the Jamstik itself was only released on Sept 2015, so that's kind of “new”, and they started with the Jamstik on Kickstarter. For those who don't know what Kickstarter is, it is a global company that help creators and inventors around the world find the support and resources they need, from donations to early discounted purchases, in order to make their ideas, a reality.

NOTE: The Jamstik hit their goal on Kickstarter within only four hours of starting the campaign, whereas normal, successful products might take days to achieve their goal, and that is something really impressive and worth mentioning!

Now we know a little bit about the product and the team behind it, so let us examine the several features it offers …

  • Portable! can go anywhere with you because of it's small size
  • Price: currently at 300$, not too cheap but not too expensive either. Best place to buy: here!
  • Real strings, real frets, transitioning to real guitar is easy
  • Sounds similar to real guitar, and have other multitude of sounds to choose from
  • Never needs tuning as the sound is processed electronically within the app
  • Can be used as a creative MIDI tool to create and mix your projects

Everything sounds cool and awesome, it's a guitar but also a portable MIDI controller that connects to your favorite device wirelessly, can play any sound you like and create music and play anywhere even when travelling. But … and a big BUT here, when the product got released and started production officially, and people started buying it through their website or Amazon, a lot of negative feedback started to show up day after day.

Read on …

I will be breaking down some of the most common complaints I found on amazon and try to analyze them, see if we could learn something new and get to a better understanding of the product, good or bad, worth the money, suits all guitarists or actually the product talks to a more specific category and so on …

amazon review, rates

These are the overall product reviews done by customers who actually bought the product from amazon and tried it. Could be better I know, I mean, I personally would have questioned why such promising product, that claims to change the way we learn how to play the guitar, would have less than 4 stars on amazon. What are the customers complaining about regarding this product.

A great product in my opinion is 4 to 5 stars rated, Jamstik according to amazon customers' ratings, is 64% above 4 stars which is not bad from a startup company that have released the product only less than a year ago. But as I said we need to dig deeper into this to be able to come to conclusion whether this product really worth buying or not.

So the complains consist of the following:

  1. Compatible only with the iOS – when the product just got released, a lot of customers complained why would it run only on iOS devices and Mac, ignoring the wide range of other operating systems like the PC windows and Android. This thing alone have generated a lot of negative feedback back then (I would say less than 4 stars) from the customers on amazon. But now after almost a year, the Jamstik team have realized that there is a big potential in the Android and PC market and they upgraded the product to become compatible with these systems. This is huge! we see now that the real rating on amazon would have gotten a lot higher if they introduced the wide range compatibility right from the start. This is essential to know and understand.
    Jamstik and Ipad
  2. Latency – many customers complained about latency, which is a small delay between when you actually pick a note, to the moment you hear it played. This is mainly because of old firmware (software out of date) and they fixed this with upgrades. Also another thing might be causing this, an old device, like the iphone 4s for example, the device can't handle the communication speed and bluetooth connectivity of the device and might generate latency. I also heard of a Bluetooth headphones caused such a thing. So, check what kind of device you have, if it is a fairly strong enough system like a new Ipad or Mac, there shouldn't be a problem.
  3. Does not feel like a real guitar – while they worked so hard to make the experience of playing on the Jamstik be similar to that of playing on a real guitar, with real strings and real frets, some people just didn't feel this way. Some actually did and they were happy with the product the way it is! so I think this is a totally objective matter depending on each person's preferences. A thing to keep in mind!
  4. The guitar lessons presented by the company, are not bad, but let's say a more professional guitar teacher for example, would not commend them, but this is understandable. The guitar lessons for the Jamstik are made for beginners and presented in a way that is less conventional, to generate more fun out of them. So, more fun, the learning is acceptable, but a conventional real lesson by a real guitar teacher is obviously, more powerful.
  5. It needs some time to get used to holding it at the beginning.
  6. And last but not least, some people complained about a “buzz” sound on one of the strings. I don't know what might be the cause of this, real guitars can “buzz” sometimes, maybe a bad or an old string, not totally sure. This buzz sound does not get recorded by the app of course, it is only a mechanical sound on the device itself.

So basically, we can conclude the following:

The Jamstik definitely is NOT a bad product, it has some promising aspects and features and the company and the team behind it are great professionals that are pioneering this field of MIDI guitars, the customer support is amazing and they are working around the clock to fix current issues and enhance upon the product. Most of the bad reviews are regarding issues that are currently FIXED, this product has been around for a year now and many stuff can happen during that period of time, remember that!

You have to figure out if that thing is suitable for you or not, using all the information I've given you above. If a grasp of a real guitar with a real sound is more important for you, then this product is probably not for you. This product is more like a smaller version of a guitar (it is NOT a real guitar, nor it is an alternative to a real guitar), the sound is artificial, well because it is, the sound from the Jamstik basically come from a microprocessor, that receives data from sensors mounted on the Jamstik, and through software you get to hear what you are playing in real-time, similar to guitar-hero of the PlayStation. So I can understand that this might not be appealing to some type of people, I totally understand this, but people who kind of give this thing a very negative feedback are overlooking a big and important issue here, and that is PORTABILITY and the ability to take this with you anywhere you go, and practice your chords and licks and enhance your fingers agility – a HUGE plus, as well as being a STANDALONE MIDI guitar, that are capable of generating many sounds and creating music wherever you go.

I also don't think that the real intent of the Jamstik team is to create a device capable of replacing a real guitar, but instead, I believe what they're trying to do is an alternative way of learning the guitar, as well as making you explore your creativity and compose music more easily. In all cases, I repeat, this may not be suited for everyone, and certainly many still prefer the normal way of buying a guitar and taking lessons, of which I also recommend and promote, but the reasons I'm presenting this “unorthodox” product here are:

  1. My job is to present to you all the options available for learning the guitar, as long as they are legit, and make good reviews about them so you can decide for yourself if a particular product or method is for you or not.
  2. Innovation. For years the MIDI guitar market has been struggling, this is the first of it's kind to achieve success, and I encourage new and innovative ideas and would like to support the team, as long as I research their product and confirm it to be beneficial to the visitors of this website, in a way or another.

Lastly, I hope I have analyzed the product as objectively and unbiased to both sides, the customers and the company, as possible, and given a 100% honest review and helped you understand more about the product, and whether it suits you and can benefit you with your journey of learning the guitar or not, is up to you to decide. If you have any questions regarding this matter, or any other matter presented in this website, please feel free to contact me via email: Elias@noviceguitar.com or simply write a comment below and I will reply to you as soon as possible.

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