Top Questions

What is the JamStik?

The only mobile (backpack) friendly "guitar-like" accessory for your favorite Apple device featuring real frets- real strings – real expression. The patented finger sensing system sees you fingers and all of their fine nuances to guide the teaching experience, practice, create or perform, anywhere from a train, plane, automobile or the stage.

We are not out to replace the guitar. Our mission is to bring more guitar players in to the world and to provide existing guitarists with a new tool in their arsenal.

What can I do with the JamStik?

It teaches guitar through the bundled JamTutor system where you can see your finger positions on screen to help correct right from wrong while experiencing interactive "fun" exercises to learn and actually play. The skills you learn on the JamStik translate directly to the full sized guitar. It works with Garage Band and hundreds of other music based midi apps. If you already play, it goes anywhere, it can sound like any instrument, any guitar, any keyboard, any synth - it's unlimited.

Where can I purchase a JamStik?

Currently through indiegogo, those who wish to support and receive the jamstik may do so, but only for US consumers only.

We will be expanding internationally later in 2014, and as soon as we are able to support/ship to/sell in your country/region, we will make the announcements here and on our indiegogo campaign.

Does the JamStik support Android?

While the Zivix apps (JamTutor and JamMix) are developed in cross-platform code, Android platform compatibility is driven by hardware and Android's prioritization of MIDI and audio. We love Android and our intent is to fully support Android devices with the same attention and detail we do for iOS, however the reality of devoting resources for developing on Android largely rests on the platform's ability to support audio and MIDI as a prioritized element of their core OS code.

As a MIDI device, JamStik will drive anything on Android as-is, connect it and go. The same for MIDI control in Windows - JamStik is agnostic in regards to platform on it's output.
At current, Windows support for the Zivix apps (JamTutor and JamMix) is also largely a product of hardware and OS limitations. We're working towards finding a Windows solution, but similar to the Android scenario outlined above it's a compromised affair.

All future updates regarding Android development will be posted on our indiegogo campaign. So make sure to follow or support us.

Does the JamStik support Left Handed Users?

Currently we are working on solutions for left handed players, but it is a bit more complicated than just flipping strings. The strings of the JamStik are designed to sit in small cradles that allow the JamStik to detect the picking intent of the user. Through lots of testing, we feel it is optimal to create a specific left handed version of the Jamstik that will require more time to develop after we have shipped the right handed version.

All future updates regarding left handed Jamstik development will be posted on our indiegogo campaign. So make sure to follow or support us.

Additional Questions

Does the JamStik play like a normal guitar?

Yes…The JamStik uses real guitar strings and frets, so the playing feel is very authentic. String bend and picking volume add to the realistic experience

Why does the JamStik only have 5 frets?

The JamStik is designed to be a mobile device that pairs with other mobile devices such as the iPhone and iPAD. As such, it is meant to be portable, and fit in a backpack. When learning guitar for the first time, it is important to get to know the chords that can be made in the first five frets. There are tens of thousands of songs that only use the first five frets. Moveable “bar chords” can be learned within the first five frets and later can be extended up the neck of a conventional guitar.

Is the JamStik limited to just the range of the first five frets?

No, the JamStik includes a four directional D-Pad that serves as an electronic “capo” that can shift the note range up and down the guitar neck and into other octaves

How is the JamStik different from other guitars?

The technology inside the JamStik makes the device 100% digital, does not need tuning, has very low latency and it’s form factor allows the JamStik to go anywhere. The JamStik does not make any sounds on its own, it utilizes the unlimited potential of your device and the app you are running. It sends out digital codes that tell another device such as an IPAD what notes to play. This code follows the MIDI standard.

Why is the JamStik only available in the US? When will the JamStik be available in other territories?

The simple answer is, we will add more territories as quickly as we can. There are a variety of consumer electronic and localization requirements/approvals for each country. You have our commitment that this topic is being addressed as much in parallel within the 2013 development process that we possibly can.

Can a developer build an App to work with or complement the JamStik?

Absolutely we encourage it 100%. We are confident that someone will create an app that we can’t even imagine. Our team has plans to create an SDK and be able to provide support to any serious app developer. Please contact jamstik@zivix.net

What does the JamStik use for sensors?

Sometimes switch-based guitars refer to their system as using “sensors”, but these are used as switches. The JamStik uses analog sensors. This means that instead of being on and off, the JamStik can detect precise finger movement and detailed expression such as string bending and vibrato.

How do the JamStik sensors work?

Zivix has multiple patents on a method to precisely detect the position of a fingertip. It uses a small amount of infrared light that makes a fingertip glow, and receptors can then read where the fingertip is, and track its movements.

What happens if a string breaks?

The strings do not need to be tuned, and are just put under a realistic tension to simulate a guitar feel. The mechanical design if very durable and the strings do not flex as much as a normal guitar, so a string should not break under normal conditions. If one does break, it can be easily replaced.

Does the JamStik need batteries?

A rechargeable lithium battery is included inside the JamStik. This can be recharged via the USB port. A charger is supplied, but it is also compatible with existing chargers such as the Apple iPhone and iPAD chargers.

Can the JamStik be used as a MIDI controller?

Yes, MIDI is output on both the USB connector and by wireless WIFI. The WIFI signal that is received is put in the format of CORE-MIDI and is compatible with the wide variety of MIDI apps on IOS and PC devices.

Does the JamStik come with built-in sounds?

No, the JamStik outputs MIDI format note codes. The receiving device translates these codes into sounds. In addition to standard guitar sounds, there is a large variety of other sounds available on PC and IOS devices.

Does the JamStik have a pickup like on a guitar?

No, special pick detectors are used to tell if a string has been picked. The intensity of how hard the string was picked is sent as a digital code. The JamStik is designed to be quiet when used, so the strings do not die down gradually in volume, but instead stop vibrating right away. A timer is used to keep the note active. This note-on time can be shorted by using the “palm-mute” switch that is located on the bottom of the JamStik.

A Little History On Digital Guitars

What is a “digital guitar”?

There are two kinds of “digital” guitars. One kind (a “digitized guitar”) takes the output from a normal guitar and analyzes the signal to figure out what note was played. The output can then be converted into MIDI. The other kind of digital guitar stays digital from beginning to end, there is no conversion needed.

What are the advantages of keeping things digital?

There is always a delay (“latency”) when the output of a normal guitar is analyzed. The analysis always has to start after the note was played, and so is always trying to catch up with what just happened. Also, the delay is different for each string. The guitar needs to be in tune, or the conversion will make mistakes. A digital guitar does not have these problems. Digitized guitars also have problems with tracking fast changes such as “string bend” that changes the pitch of the note when a string is pushed sideways.

What are some other approaches to make a digital guitar?

Most digital guitars use some kind of switch in the fret area. Sometimes these are actual switches, and sometimes they are switches underneath a smooth surface. Another approach is to make a kind of switch by using the contact of the metal string with the metal fret. For this to work, the fret has to be divided into six separate areas, one for each string.

Challenges of a digital guitar with switches?

While there is not usually the problem with latency as in digitized guitars, a switch does not capture any of the expression that is part of a normal guitar experience. For example, with divided frets, string bend can’t be captured since when you move a string it will cross over into another area and give a false note reading. The problem will all switch-based methods is that they are just on and off, while effective guitar playing uses a lot of nuances to get the kinds of expression that people expect to hear.