The latest gadgets putting the prog into progress

A picture of a guitar fret gizmo

FRETX

Learning to play the guitar is a burning ambition for many, and over the years various methods of making that process easier have emerged, from Bert Weedon’s Play In A Day… to modern-day YouTube tutorials. The hard truth is that it’s never that easy for beginners, but FretX tackles the problem of which fingers go where in an ingenious way – a thin sleeve, wrapped around the guitar neck, which has LEDs that neatly light your way. Again, it works in conjunction with a smartphone app and allows you to master up to 20 chords in an hour. Beat that, Bert!

fretx.rocks

TR-09

The drum machines made by Roland in the 1980s have shaped the sound of modern music, from the clangy cowbell of Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody to the experiments of Radiohead. To celebrate three decades of the TR-909, Roland have launched a modern-day version that’s sleeker, lighter and USB-powered. Although £369 might seem a bit steep, second-hand versions of the original go for more than £3,000, so you might well see it as a bargain. roland.co.uk

ROLI BLOCKS

We’ve featured a few Roli innovations in this column, and this 10-centimetre-square block festooned with flashing LEDs is another unusual proposition. It’s faintly reminiscent of Yamaha’s Tenori-on (it’s square, you trigger sounds by skipping your fingers across its surface) but the company describe it as a “Lego-like” system: bolt-on blocks expand it into a looping, sequencing, arpeggiated marvel, all powered by a free iPhone app. The promotional video may exaggerate the ease with which you can come up with good music, but it’s darn cute to play with.

roli.com

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