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Review: ChordMate for Mac, a powerful tool for guitarists

ChordMate for Mac, available from the Mac App Store for US$51.99, is a guitar chord library that makes learning, identifying and building custom chords to play on the guitar easy.

If you already play guitar, ChordMate will encourage you to learn and play new and different chord voicings and inversions on the guitar that you might not normally play.

In essence, ChordMate is a vast and complete digital chord book for your Mac.

I spent a bit of time with ChordMate, and discovered some real advantages to investing in it, particularly if you're learning guitar, teaching guitar, or looking to increase the variety of your chord repertoire. Or even make a chord sheet for a song.

Functionality

Say you're learning the guitar and there's a chord from a song you want to play. Let's say this chord is C. With ChordMate, simply enter "C" into the search box and a variety of different ways to play a C chord will appear in tablature form, specifically showing you where to place your fingers on the guitar neck and which notes you will be playing.

Because there are so many different ways to play C, with so many different voicings, ChordMate has a filter system to help narrow down what you're looking for depending on whether the chord is open, barred or a root position, etc.

This can be a bit complicated for beginners, but the filters go even further to break down the results. There's 'quality' (for the purest voicing), 'ease of play' (for the easiest voicing) and 'fret' (depending on where you want to play the chord on the neck).

When you click on a chord, ChordMate plays the sound of that chord (with a classical, electric or acoustic guitar sample). Hearing the chord helps you know what kind of sound you're looking to achieve in playing.

For teachers, ChordMate lets you easily export, copy and paste chord diagrams as image, PDF or text, making it really easy to put a selection of chords together, perhaps for a song to study and practice.

Additionally, if you've discovered a chord on the guitar, but you don't know what it is, ChordMate lets you draw in the notes, identifying what the chord is as well as giving you an audio sample. This is a great tool for songwriters. How many times have you made up a chord, but had no clue as to what kind of chord it is? This tool solves that problem!

Furthermore, ChordMate allows you to place different chords together in a chord progression and then play audio samples of them, so you can hear what different chords voicings sound like one after the other.

One really nice feature of ChordMate is custom tuning. Say you like to play with different string tunings, like drop D or open G. Just choose your string tuning from a list of presets or add a new tuning, and ChordMate will show you how to play any chord in that tuning.

Design

Design wise, ChordMate is simple, but it does have Retina display support.

In terms of use, ChordMate can be a little overwhelming to the novice user because it has so much to offer. There are so many different options, short cut keys and filters, it can be hard to know where to start. But once you get your head around it, and with a little knowledge about playing the guitar, it becomes extremely easy to use.

Conclusion

ChordMate is an invaluable tool for guitar players, particularly students and teachers. However, at $51.99, it's certainly not cheap. But considering the enormous depth it has -- with many filters and parameters when searching for and identifying chords -- you surely won't ever need another chord book.

Simply put, if you're looking for a complete chord library app with enhanced features, you need not look further than ChordMate.

ChordMate is available now on the Mac App Store.

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