Greetings reader!

Today is a very good day for you if you’ve just randomly stumbled upon our site Four Senses- Touch Smell Taste Sound! As you’ll lose yourself in hours and hours of reading, and leave with a long list of things to try, be that restaurants, recipes, products, or stuff to hear or do. Please feel free to click on the different category tags to read all the different posts we’ve accumulated over time.

The majority of posts aren’t time sensitive, so don’t limit yourself to only reading the most recent posts, but check out the vast archive of Restaurant Reviews we’ve compiled (which we’ll keep adding to on a weekly basis).

We’ll keep adding more recipes for you to try, when we can certify that they have been tried and tested by us, and proven not to give us (or you) the runs. Haaha.

Check out our Kombucha journal where we’ve documented our steps to success, and will journal our future batches as we experiment with different flavours and ingredients. Our journal is detailed enough so you can replicate and produce a brew which will rival a store-bought beverage.   

And each time we come across some good products which we think you might also like, we’ll post these things under ‘Product Recommendations’ so you’ll have all the details if you want to check them out.

We’re also known for being eclectic in our listening tastes, which include music albums, podcasts, audio books and rando stuff from Netflix, so we’ll post recommendations as we come across some good stuff which you might like to see and hear.

And there’s just so many things to see and do in Ol’ Sydney Town, so we’ll post up monthly lists of what festivals and activities you can partake in; we have a Live Gig guide which we’ll update on a regular basis; and we’ll explore a Sydney suburb each month and we’ll document each step of the way so you can replicate our travels if you like.

So in short, if you’ve just randomly stumbled upon our site! Happy days! As you’ve just uncovered a whole entire avenue of cool stuff to read, interact with and try! So don’t be a stranger, bookmark our site and check back often as we’ll be uploading posts several times a week. We guarantee that each time you visit there will always be something new for you to Touch Smell Taste and Hear!    

Product recommendation- WATERPIK Waterflosser Nano (1 year on

This thing really works!

A little over a year ago, I recommended the Waterpik Waterflosser Nano, and raved on and on about it! As after visiting a dentist for the first time in 5 years (you read correctly), they actually admitted that my teeth were in quite good condition considering the time-in-between visits. And I contributed that result, to the Waterpik Waterflosser as I’d been using the pocket pressure hose in the 6 months leading up to that dental appointment.

And in that post I had shared how my original Waterflosser (the Ultra) had stopped working after 6 months, but after experiencing firsthand the benefits of the product and the confirmation from the dentists that my teeth were looking great. Then I immediately purchased a replacement Waterflosser but had gone with the cheaper Nano model- half the size, but definitely not half the power though!

So, 12 months on I’m back at the dentist for my annual clean. And I can already tell that the dentist is not impressed that we’ve elected to only come once a year, rather than the advised every 6 month routine. But once he looks into my mouth, I can hear the surprise in his voice, if I remember correctly his exact words were “your teeth are actually in quite good condition, just a small amount of build-up.” And inwardly I was doing fist pumps, while outwardly I was looking fearful as I hate being in the dental chair. *Shudders*.

So, after the previous year’s clean, for once in many many years I was able to suck air through my lower front teeth again. The sign that the plaque build-up had been broken down and things were as clean as they’re ever going to be. And in my past experience, usually within a week, my ability to suck air through my teeth is gone, as build-up starts and over time it turns into impenetrable plaque. But after last year, I vowed to myself to see how long I’d be able to maintain these clean gaps between my teeth. And I even got a little bit nerdy about it. At night after a day of eating, those gaps between my lower front teeth are filled with bits of food from the day., so no ability to suck air through those gaps.

Then I hit my night-time oral health routine. I first brush my teeth with an electric toothbrush, and then test the suck. Still no ability to suck air through the teeth.

Then I rinse my mouth out with mouth wash, really working that between my teeth. And then try the tooth gap suck again. Still no luck in sucking air through those little gaps.

And then I do the Waterflosser step of the night-time routine, and bingo! Gaps between teeth are back again! And I’m able to happily suck air through my teeth! And I’ve proven a point to myself, the most vital step of my nightly oral hygiene is the Waterflosser step, and for the whole 12 months I was able to maintain the air suck, but admittedly at a slightly reduced air flow by the end. Yes, of course you can get the same level of clean from using conventional string floss, but can you always get back to the molars for a good clean? And I think using water is more environmentally friendly than creating more waste with disposing lengths and lengths of floss each day. And perhaps over a year, you might actually spend less money? As the Waterpik costs under $105, and fingers crossed it might last you a few years! While dental floss isn’t cheap.

So, I’m completely sold on the Waterpik Waterflosser Nano, and I can honestly attest to its effectiveness in cleaning your teeth as good (or better) than conventional dental flossing, even though the majority of Dentists don’t endorse water flossers.

Check it out for yourself! Click HERE to read more and to purchase! Oral health made easy!

App recommendations- Fender Tune

The best FREE guitar tuner app out there!

Ok, I’m running out of experiences to blog about and its only week 2 of 2023! Oh no! I was thinking, does the Internet need a Part 5 to my Fender Play series? No, I don’t think the world needs another instalment. And the only show we finished recently was ‘Down to Earth with Zac Effron’, but after reading some reviews which stated that what was presented was Pseudoscience and misleading, I decided to pull the pin on that glowing recommendation….. So, what else had I been geeking out on during my 6 weeklong end of year break which is share worthy? And the only thing which came to mind was being able to tune my guitar on my own for the very first time!

Ok, if you read that last statement in isolation and don’t know me, you must be thinking ‘What the!’ As being able to tune a guitar is pretty simple- as there’s free apps out there, there’s clip on guitar tuners, and many homes have an in-tune piano if you want to go old-school. But for me, a blind person, this simple task has its added challenges. To date, the vast majority of tuning apps are not blind accessible, they either don’t work with phone screen readers so you simply cannot independently work/navigate  the app. Or the feedback to let you know if you’re sharp or flat is a visual depiction so that’s not going to help me at all. And all standard clip-on guitar tuners provide you with visual cues in which direction you’re meant to turn your tuning pegs, so again I’m unable to independently use those devices. And the piano method… it’s doable but you almost need 3 hands to pull it off! I.e. a hand to play the piano note, a hand to pluck the corresponding guitar string, and then another hand to turn the peg- so where I’m currently at in my primate evolution……  That all seems too hard for me. *Clashes 2 stones together*. So to date, I’ve always had to find someone to help me tune my guitar, which makes me feel like a 4 year old child again.

But as I was going through my first Fender Play lesson, they mentioned the Fender Tune app when they were teaching you how to keep your instrument in tune. And I downloaded it, without holding much hope that it was going to be blind accessible. But low and behold, it is!!!!

So, the home screen on the Fender Tune app is already the Tuner, you have three options (Automatic, Manual, or Pro), the automatic tuner is what most people would be familiar with, visual cues to inform you if you’re sharp or flat, and a satisfying tone sounds when your string is in tune! But the difference is that it’s compatible with Apple Voiceover! Yay! So, it instructs you to pluck a string, which you do. Allow it to ring out, and after a few seconds touch the screen and it would verbalise if you’re sharp or flat, and advises to tune up or down. This description of how it works sounds like most other tuning apps, but for the first time I could actually tune my guitar independently!

I was telling my wife the other day, I honestly get more satisfaction from being able to tune my guitar and hearing those ‘in-tune’ chimes, than it is to master a guitar riff. As to date, nailing a riff has been much easier, than it has been to tune my guitar on my own.

And the Fender Tune app not only helps you tune, but the app contains song tutorials and chord and scale exercises (just like Fender Play- which is a subscription based app), it also has a metronome, and it also has a library of rhythms which you can jam to, drum beats which are based on different musical styles. It’s really quite good! All of these extra functions used to be a part of the Pro Tuner option, which was subscription based.  But Fender has now made all the Pro options available to their users on the free version!

So, if you want to consolidate your existing tuner and metronome app on your phone into one app, meanwhile getting your hands on some pretty cool additional free functionality (which really ought to be behind a pay wall), check-out the Fender Tune app HERE! Never sound sh*t ever again!   

Product recommendation- Fender Play (Part 4

The journey continues!

It seems that whatever I’m obsessing over this week, then becomes the topic which I end up blogging about that week- and 4 weeks on, I’m still geeking out over the Fender Play app!

So, last week I spoke of completing the Bass Guitar (Rock) Path, and was about to give the Funk path a go- so, a week on I’ve kinda completed the Funk path? As in, the vast majority of lessons are exactly the same as the Rock path as regardless of style the basic techniques are the same. So, all I had to learn was all new Funk songs (which was more like R&B songs), and the handful of techniques which are unique to the Funk bass playing style. And again, I’ve been impressed by the teaching approach and the structure of Fender Play lessons! What I was curious to see was how they were going to approach the teaching of the Funk Slap and Pop technique. As I’ve tried learning the technique several times via Youtube with various Youtubers to absolutely no success (probably doesn’t help that I can’t see what they’re doing on screen). So, I was curious to find-out if Fender Play would be able to teach this blind guy how to Slap & Pop. And I’m pleased to say that they were successful! Yay for me!

The difference maker was the approach, they actually broke the technique down to explain what you’re trying to achieve with the technique. On Youtube they just say, “Hit the string with the bony part of your thumb” for the Slap technique, and “just do the turning key wrist action” for the Pop technique and then they proceed to Slap/Pop like a freakin’ pro! And when you try it, it doesn’t sound remotely like that, and then you get discouraged and give-up.  But with Fender Play, they explain the why, the Slap technique is to turn your bass guitar into a percussion instrument, and the Pop technique was to pull the string out far and hard enough to result in the string flicking back forceful enough to hit the fret board when you let it go. And hearing the technique described like that, it was such a revelation moment when I heard it described, so much so  that I was immediately able to perform those techniques to 50% of what they were showing (I still have a long way to go to perfect the technique). So, with the Slap technique, I’m playing the strings like I’m playing on a bongo drum, as I’m beating it like a percussion instrument. And with the Pop technique, I just have more confidence in pulling that string back like a bow and arrow, and just letting that string flick back with force- like the instructor on Fender said, pull it back as far as you can without snapping the string. Haaha.  

And it was the structured exercises which reinforced the learning, they first show you, then put you through exercises to encourage you to practice what you’ve learnt, and immediately afterwards the next lessons build on what you’ve learnt by either teaching you a song using that technique or putting you through a slightly more advanced exercise to hone what you’ve learnt! So, I think that’s the difference between a free Youtube tutorial, and the professionally produced paid Fender product. And have to admit, practice is a big part as well. Since first learning the technique, and after a week of practice, I have to say I’ve come a long way in a handful of days!

So, I’ve got 3-4 lessons to go, and I’ll have completed the Funk path, they’re pretty much songs which are beyond my skill level at the moment. So, the plan is to loop back to them in the near future when I’m more confident with my Slapping/Popping. And I’ve also learnt that not all guitars are made for Slapping/Popping. So, after I was more confident with the technique on my Sterling by Music Man Sting Ray short-scale (a very slap-able bass), I tried the Slap/Pop technique on my other bass guitars, and the effect isn’t the same. I wouldn’t go as far to say that the technique completely didn’t work, but the sound quality and the sharpness wasn’t there. It seems Slap/Pop is less effective on Flat wound strings, and the Slap/Pop technique is less effective on basses where the pick-up is located too close to the fret board. So, Slap/Pop is best on a Jazz style bass where the pick-up is located closer to the bridge, and the sound is much brighter with Round wound strings.

And since I’ve placed a temporary pause on my Funk path, I’ve started the Ukulele path, as we have a random  Ukulele lying around. And this has been interesting, as I embarked on the Bass paths already having some experience with playing that instrument. But for the Ukulele, I was coming in as a 100% novice, didn’t know the instrument nor how to play it correctly, and it has been great learning with Fender Play as a completely new beginner! It has been super fun learning everything for the first time, I’ve been soaking it all up like a sponge, and I’ve even recommended the Fender Play app to a mate who also has a ukulele randomly lying around. He is also a completely new beginner, even a new beginner to any musical instrument. So, I’ve joked, perhaps we can both learn the Ukulele and this same time next year, we can aim to perform to our wives as an Ukulele duel. Haaha. And anything is possible, with the help of the Fender Play app! And of course, with some practice!

So, if you want to check out what I’ve been raving on about for the past month, just click HERE! We luv you Fender Play!!!!!    

Product recommendation- Fender Play (Part 3

And we’re done! Bass Rock Path completed!

So, after 3 weeks with the Fender Play app, I’ve completed the entire Bass guitar (Rock) path. So, what are my thoughts? What have I learned? And where to from here?

My thoughts

I think the Fender Play app is a brilliant way for first time guitarists to learn the basics (and some not so basic) guitar skills- enough that they’re more likely to keep playing, rather than giving up after a few months due to the lack of progress. As persisting with the courses and lessons, has resulted in drastic improvements in my playing! And that’s only after 3 weeks! Imagine where I’ll be after a few more months of persistent practice!? So, I think Fender has definitely achieved their goals of getting first time players playing so they’re more likely to buy more and more Fender gear in the future. So, that’s check mark checked!

However, is the Fender Play app a subscription based app which you’d want to keep forever? I’m thinking not. To be honest with you I’m starting to regret paying for the full year in advance. Reflecting back now, and also projecting forward to how much use I’m going to get out of the app in the upcoming months….. Now that I’ve finished the Bass rock path, I think my usage of the app is going to dramatically drop-off in the foreseeable future. Yes, there are songs in the songs tab which you can dive into, but the library isn’t vast by any stretch (when compared to other platforms). And the other features of the app aren’t going to grab your attention for long either. So, if I had a ‘do over’, I’d probably elect the month by month payment plan, and monitor my usage over the next months to decide if I’d cancel the subscription after 3 months, or after 6 months. And then get another subscription based guitar app, like ‘Ultimate Guitar’ which has way more songs in their song library. And the benefits you receive with the year subscription, rather than month-by-month, most of the benefits are a moot point as paying for 10 months when you get 12 months of membership isn’t a factor if you only keep the app for 6 months or less. And the promise of receiving 10% off all purchases from the Fender store (a feature of the year subscription), the fine print states that this offer is only valid for US residents, so yeah, basically there’s no real advantage of paying upfront for a full year’s membership. My advice, go month-by-month.

  What I’ve learnt?

So, although the Fender Play app might not be a product that you’d keep forever, but the app has served its purpose in getting me more invested and attached to my Fender guitar! After completing all 5 levels of the rock path, I’ve now learnt things I’d never thought I’d be able to master! And it has changed my own mindset in what I’m able to achieve! Previously I’d be thinking that I’d never be as good as other bass players, as I’m blind and surely that puts me at a disadvantage. But now that I’ve gone through all the basics, understand all the core fundamentals, and have been exposed to some pretty tricky/advanced techniques, I’m actually pretty confident that I’ll be able to keep improving and honing these skills as long as I keep investing time to practice what I’ve learnt. So, if I can do it, I think anyone with a bass guitar of their own and armed with the Fender Play app can also achieve it! You just have to commit to it. So that’s pretty cool right? You can be great, just as long as you want to be great and invest the time to become great i.e. practice!

Where to from here?

Well, aside from the Bass rock path, there’s also a Bass Funk path- from a cursory glance at Level 1, the technique courses are all the same as the rock path, except for the songs that they teach you. And I’m presuming that as you get into more advanced levels they will teach you funk only techniques like slapping and popping. So, I’ll explore that next.

One great feature of the Play app is the ability to ‘Heart’ courses which you enjoyed and would like to re-visit in the future. As in your ‘More’ tab, there is a section called ‘Favourites’, where you’ll find all your ‘Hearted’ courses. So, I’m definitely going to go back to these lessons to practice all the key techniques which will require more practice and revision to master.

And there’s also a ‘Skills’ tab, I’m thinking here is where they upload any additional skills which they hadn’t previously taught you in the Paths section. For example, after completing the Rock path, I was a little disappointed that they never covered off the technique of ‘Slides’. But low and behold, how to perform slides on your bass is covered off in the skills tab section. So maybe here is where they upload new skills or add new skills after special requests from users- so as time goes by perhaps there will be more content here.

And to get the maximum usage out of the app, I’d really like to get my wife into the Play app as well! As she’s already a very good Acoustic guitar player, but there’s always room for improvement and in the Acoustic path there’s so many more genres to geek out on! So, that’ll be added life to the Fender Play app if we could get a second person interested in using it. And we have an old Electric guitar lying around, so I could perhaps see how far I can progress through the EG levels, before things get too complex for me. And if we’re circling back to the easier 4 string instruments, we also have a cheap Ukulele lying around, so perhaps I can spend some time seeing if I can play something on the Uke by embarking on the Ukulele path.  so, with these little plans, I’m sure I can milk a few more fun filled months out of the Fender Play app! And of course, there’s the song library, so we can play around to see if there are any songs which may pique my interest.

So yeah, I’ve pressure tested the Fender Play app, and I think it’s a fantastic product! I’ve gotten what I wanted out of it, and if you’re serious about picking up the guitar (in all its forms), I think you ought to try out the Fender Play app. it’ll transform you from being borderline giving up, to an avid player! It’ll transform you from being an average player, to a great player! And it’ll transform you from being a great player, to the greatest guitar player the world has ever seen! Just as long as you PRACTICE!!!!

So, to learn more about the Fender Play app, just click HERE!  Happy playing everyone!

Product recommendations- Fender Play (Part 2

Where I’m at after week 2 with the Fender Play app!

Ok, it’s starting to look like this Fender Play blog is going to be a three parter, as 2 weeks in and I’ve only got a third to go before completing the entire Bass guitar rock pat! And here are my thoughts after 66.6% of the way in.

Pros:

Pacing

In my last post I criticised the pacing of the lessons, as after reaching the end of level 1 and a handful of courses into level 2 I didn’t believe that I’d learnt all that much, and questioned if I’d be more advanced in my journey if I was learning through a different mode of course delivery. But yeah, I take it all back! Haaha. Yes, in level 2 things were still pretty basic and slow, but there was a noticeable difficulty level step up by Level 3 and more and more advanced from there onwards. So yeah, if it feels kind of slow after Levels 1-2, hang in there as it gets more fast and furious in subsequent levels.

Genuine learning

And I think we’re all sceptical about online learning, work puts us through e-modules, and we’ve all watched our fair share of Youtube ‘how to’ videos- but do we actually learn anything from just watching and perhaps clicking on the occasional interactive button? But I’ve found that I’m genuinely learning things with the Fender Play app, reasons being, I’m actually holding the instrument in my hands- and I’m doing the doing at the same time as the instructor! And the pacing of lessons, I previously criticised that it was too slow, but reflecting back the pacing is actually perfect. As each lesson they just show you enough while not too much to overwhelm you, and the next time they just hsow you a little bit more. The initial learning increments might be small at first (2.5% increments), which might seem too slow at first, but if you persist with the lessons it actually all comes together in the end! Like a 10,000 piece puzzle. Like you needed to learn and master ABC, before you’re ready for XYZ etc. So, after 2 weeks and 4 and a bit levels (there are 5 in total), I’ve really shown improvement in my bass playing. Like I’ve been playing now for 17 months (almost 1.5 years) and the past 2 weeks I’ve progressed my bass playing by 50%, I think. My improvement curve has been dramatic!

Sound fundamentals

Sure, you can learn the bass guitar (or any instrument that matter) for free on Youtube, there are enough channels out there that you can eventually put everything together. However it’s the fact that Fender Play leaves no stone unturned, and it is delivered in a systematic highly structured way which makes it money worth spent. Like in learning new things, sometimes you just don’t know what you don’t know! After a year of bass playing, I wanted to improve my playing as I knew there was a huge skill gap between me and other players. However I just didn’t know what I needed to learn to get better, what was I lacking? And what are the names of the techniques I needed to know, that matter what key words did I need to use to find these skill gaps of mine? I had no clue! But Fender Play takes you through each step of the way, honestly I thought Levels 1-2 were too basic for me, but I ended up learning all these basic fundamentals which I wasn’t aware of, just because I picked it up on my own with little formal pointers from others (or I just didn’t listen to my wife when she told me I had to use more than just 2 fingers on the fretboard). But through Fender’s repetitive methods and showing you a very small step at a time, I’m confident that I’m learning all there is to know to become a solid bass player with correct technique.

Cons

Different Instructor styles

And I hope that I’m giving you a balanced opinion, so I’ll also include some negatives of the experience thus far. And one is the teaching styles of the different Instructors. I think there are 5 instructors in the Bass guitar rock path (3 male and 2 female). However there is one dude who I don’t like much. Once I hear his voice I literally drop the f-bomb in disappointment, as his teaching style I find quite hard to learn from. It’s like he is impatient in teaching beginner learners? So, he explains things less detailed than others, or speaks at a rate faster than others which makes it hard to follow, or he just sounds impatient for being made to go so slow? But I find each time it’s his turn, I don’t master that technique as quickly as compared to learning with other instructors, or I just can’t wait until his lessons are over. While the other 4 instructors are great! One other little critique is that sometimes the lessons seem to be too similar to each other? It’s like the 2 instructors were both assigned very similar lessons, and their unique approaches of delivering their lessons just end up being too similar. Or it also feels like behind the scenes they’re not coordinating their respective lessons as well as they should. But hey, each lesson is around 5 minutes, so it’s not a huge waste of my time.

App peculiarities

By in large the Fender Play app functions very well, but the one peculiar thing is that it doesn’t allow you to re-watch a lesson, which I’d think would be a pretty fundamental aspect of learning- the whole repetition aspect. So as the lessons have been getting harder and harder since mid-way through Level 3, I’ve found there are more occasions where I needed to re-watch the lesson again. But once the lesson is over, there isn’t a replay (or play) button. And just exiting that screen/lesson isn’t enough to re-start the video when you tap back into it. But you need to check that you’ve completed the entire course (even if it has 4 other lessons within it which you haven’t completed), then exit the course, and then tap back into the course and select the lesson which you want to re-watch. So, it takes 5 taps on your phone just to re-play a segment. Not a deal breaker, but just a little bit annoying if you have to re-watch things multiple times.

Simplified versions of songs

And perhaps this has been my pet hate thus far, the courses in each level have ‘feedback modes’, where after you’ve learnt a technique, then they teach you a popular song which uses the technique which you’ve just learnt. But to keep it manageable for new learners, they teach you a simplified version of the original song. Sure, I understand what they’re doing here, as they want you to walk away feeling like you’ve achieved something, like you’ve just played the famous riff to a Green Day song etc. However, to make it achievable, they have simplified the riff/verse/chorus, and I think oftentimes placed it in a different key which is easier to play. So yeah, you’re learning a riff/song, but then when you pull up the song on Spotify, you can’t play along either, as they’re different enough that a few times I couldn’t even believe that I’ve learnt the same song! This is annoying, because I thought the reason why people are learning instruments at a mature age, is to be able to jam along with their favourite songs, not just so you can play a riff alone in isolation, but to find what you’ve learnt is not transferable to the real thing, this has been annoying. And the one video which I did see from the Song library, the instructor also started by saying that what she was going to teach learners, was a simplified version of the song. Like hello, why would I want to learn something which isn’t the original?

So yeah, there’s my thoughts after week 2 and 66.6% of the way through the Bass guitar path. Although my cons might have seemingly outweighed my pros, but in the end I’ve been loving the whole experience! From what I’ve been able to learn, I’ve been able to apply it straight to songs I’ve always been wanting to play. So, it’s now enabled me to just take a song from Spotify, first play along on the piano to determine what key its in. Then I play the corresponding scale on my guitar, so I can lock in on which potential 7 notes I need to play. And by listening to the song 3-4 times as I find my root notes on the bass and find my groove, I’ve been able to self teach myself a new song a day. Thanks to Fender Play! For more info about the Fender Play app, please click HERE! Play on baby, play on!

Product recommendation- Fender Play

Now this is how you learn!

So last year, it was all about Masterclass for me- where we signed up to a year’s subscription in the attempts to learn some new skills. But what I found, was the classes were targeted at an advance learner ( which unfortunately I was not for any of the topics which we sat through)- therefore I didn’t think I really learnt anything after 12 months. So as my year’s subscription came to an end on 11 December, that evening I signed up to Fender Play, a second attempt at learning/mastery of a new skill!

The funny thing was that I didn’t know anything about Fender Play until days before my Masterclass subscription was going to expire when I sat through a Youtube advert which caught my attention (I usually skip them as soon as I can). And it immediately intrigued me, as I was already inclined to the online learning style of short videos as we had just experienced a years of Masterclass, and the past year I’d also been trying to master the art of bass guitar playing- but have hit a skill wall and have been seeking methods in how I could take my playing to the next level! So, this seemed serendipitous.

And within 10 minutes I had the Fender Play app downloaded to my phone, and by that evening I was sitting through my first lesson. For those who aren’t familiar with Fender Play, it is both a web-site and app, developed and offered by the musical instrument maker Fender as an accompanying tool to help beginner players learn how to play a guitar.

From a marketing perspective, it makes perfect sense for Fender, as people buy guitars but if they never learn how to play it properly soon they will give up and the guitar is banished to a basement or attic (or sold cheaply on reverb). And that means that’s another potential repeat customer lost to Fender. But if people are taken through lessons, they get better, love it so much so they play more, and then they’re more likely to buy a second or third Fender etc. So, it makes sense for everyone for Fender to provide this product.

The app is designed to teach players how to play Electric guitar, Acoustic guitar, Bass guitar and Ukulele guitar- so you simply elect your instrument, your preferred genre of music, and your current level of guitar proficiency. **Note: more genres are available for the more popular instruments, compared to the limited options for Bass and Ukulele. And once those options have been made the corresponding level and lessons are presented to you in your ‘Journey tab’.

The lessons are short 5 minute videos, delivered by a team of young musicians. They all follow the same teaching structure, so although you may have 5 different instructors in a Level, you know exactly what to expect from each lesson. For me, I was super curious to see if I could independently use the app and if I could follow the lessons on my own- as I’m blind. And I’m pleased to say that the Fender Play App is completely accessible, as in my Apple Voiceover was able to navigate, read  all of the apps content, and activate all features. And the lesson instructors are using both visual and audible modes  to convey their instructions. As in, they painstakingly verbalise all of their instructions several times and always verbally explain what they’re doing as well as show it visually- so it covers off most people’s learning styles. Which is fantastic for me!

The lessons are delivered as first an instructional video, then followed by a second session of self-learning- so you can practice what you’ve learnt in your own time, as many times as you like. And when you’re done, just check the lesson as completed, and move on to the next lesson.

In-between acquiring new skills, there are lessons where you’re taught little riffs or extracts of popular songs, so you can apply what you’ve learnt by playing a well known song which is the main reason why people are picking up the guitar so they can play famous riffs. And the options to practice and to test yourself is pretty cool as well, like there is a feedback mode where you can record your own playing and you’re given a score in how accurate and in rhythm you’re in. So that makes it a bit more fun and gamifies the learning experience.

And in addition to the learning modules, there is a library of hundreds (maybe thousand’s)of popular songs that you can learn/master- taught by real instructors who use the same teaching methods as what you’re now familiar with from the lessons. This is a great contrast to just tablature apps, as with Fender it actually feels like you’re being taught, rather than just learning/fumbling around  on your own. But I guess this might be a pro or a con, depending on your learning style and preference.

And there is also a section of skills, so perhaps if you don’t want to follow a structured lesson plan, but just want to explore or pick-up a particular new skill or two. You can get in there and cherry pick what you want to master. And there are other features like ‘cord challenge’, a game to improve your fretboard finger dexterity, while there are some articles which can probably be better described as long-form adverts for Fender….

But if this all sounds too good to be true, oh yeah, I forgot to mention the price. You have 2 options, you can either pay per month or select the annual subscription. We elected the annual, as you’re meant to save 2 months of fees, have access to an ongoing 10% discount off any future Fender purchase, and when you first sign-up the annual subscription gives you a 14 day free trial (compared to 7 days for the monthly option). It works out to around $220 Aussie dollars for the year, so not cheap but not too bad if you compare it to actual lessons with a proper teacher. But the question would be, are you getting as much from the virtual teachers, compared if you actually got formal face-to-face lessons?

Well, to be honest I think if I had completed an entire ‘Level’ with a real teacher, I’d probably be progressing onto more advanced things by now. So, as I’ve mentioned I’ve been learning bass for a year now, never took any lessons, but I’ve learned on the fly. As in I pick a song which I want to play proficiently and my wife teaches me which notes I need to know, and then for the next days I keep playing with the song recording off Spotify, and I eventually learn  the song. But do I have my technique locked down? No. Do I know any musical theory which sets the foundation? No. Have I developed some bad habits? Heck yeah! And have I missed some fundamentals along the way? Of course. So, after completing Level 1 in Fender Play for Bass guitar, I’ve now filled in all of those gaps. And there were just under 20 lessons to complete in Level 1. Which for me, it took slightly less than a week to complete, as I’m on holidays and I’m a bit obsessive and compulsive that way. But for other people who are busy with work and maybe kids as well, getting through Level 1 might take weeks, or perhaps even a month or two! So after all that time, how far would you have expected to progress?

So after an entire Level (and there are 6 levels), I think I haven’t really learnt all that much, if compared to maybe having 3 half hour lessons with a real teacher face-to-face. So, in that respects, a virtual learning mode is probably not as effective as the conventional method. And by the tail end of Level 1, I was expecting to be learning more difficult things by that stage, but it was still super basic. And now that I’m a third of the way through Level 2, it’s still pretty basic stuff. So, where Masterclass was targeted at a too advanced audience, perhaps Fender Play is targeted at a too beginner audience. But admittedly their attempting to teach you everything you need to know, assuming that you have next to no prior experience with guitar nor with music theory.

But I think this is just one of a few reviews I’m going to make on the topic of Fender Play, I’ll blog again once I’m further into the Levels, perhaps I’m too quick to judge.

But in the end, the lessons are easy to follow, totally accessible, pretty simple- so it motivates you to do more and more as you’re quickly mastering the techniques, and its all at your own pace so you work it around your own busy schedule and at your learning pace. So, for these reasons, I’m sticking with it (although I’m within my free trial period and can pull-out at any time).

Is it worth the price? I think it is, if after a year you’ve mastered a new skill and you’re playing songs which you previously couldn’t imagine yourself ever being able to! Then $220 a year is chump change!

Would we keep it beyond the year? Now that’s an interesting question. As I’m on pace to complete the entire Bass course in a matter of weeks. But if you have the instrument and the interest, then you can try your hand at Electric, Acoustic, and Ukulele- so that might take you more than a year to get through. And there’s the library of songs which might keep you coming back for more, after you’ve finished all the lessons. But yeah, let’s see after a while if the Fender Play app is something which we’d keep for ever and ever.

For more information about the Fender Play app, click HERE to visit their web-site. Play on guys! Play on!