Positive Grid has just announced Spark, a new system designed to help beginners learn to play guitar or practise their playing. You can play along to existing songs or to generated backing tracks, follow dynamic chord charts, select guitar tones and quite a lot more. The system consists of a speaker and an app that integrates with music streaming services to play music for you to practise to while generating chords in real-time.
Positive Grid Spark
Like Fender’s new Songs service, Positive Grid’s new Spark system is aimed at newcomers to guitar or those wanting an easy way to learn new songs. It displays the chords in real-time of your favourite songs with its Auto Chords feature. Play the desired song on YouTube, Apple Music and Spotify and the app displays the chords being played in real-time. This seems a bit better implemented than Fender Songs, simply because Fender’s app only supports Apple’s service.
But Positive Grid’s app has an added component called Smart Jam, an automatic backing track generator that’s based on what you play. The tech learns your playing style and create bass and drums for you to play along to. A bit spooky, but that’s the times we live in.
Another cool feature (if it works) is that the Spark app responds to your voice commands. You can tell it to stream a rock song, say, and it will do that without you having to reach for your phone. That’s great for when you’re busy trying to learn new songs and don’t want to move your hands away from your guitar. That’s another advantage over Fender Songs, by the way.
Positive Grid is also leveraging the huge library of guitar tones created for its Bias amp range. These are available on Spark, too. That gives you access to thousands of guitar amp and effects tones. Positive Grid states it provides over 10,000 tones for you to play with. That should keep you occupied for a while and adds another layer of useful goodies that makes this seem like a comprehensive solution.
Let’s take a look at the speaker. It’s essentially a desktop combo guitar amp with 2 speakers and rated at 40W. It comes with a three-band EQ, a Gain control, a knob for selecting the kind of music or instrument, a Master volume pot as well as controls for Mod, Delay, Reverb and Output. It can play audio from the analogue inputs or from a connected Bluetooth device. There’s a built-in tuner and a Tap tempo function. A pretty comprehensive offering, all in all.
The sound quality of the amp will, of course, be a major factor in the success of this system. Positive Grid are predictably enthused and there’s lots of talk about crystal-clear highs and deep bass. But IÄd be surprised if it wasn’t up to scratch. Oh and, you can use it as an audio interface to record into your DAW, too.
A competitor to Fender Songs
PG might be a bit gutted that Fender launched its song chords service only a few days before Spark. But while Fender Songs is “just” an app connected to Apple Music, this is a different animal. You’re buying into a system here, with a practise amp, thousands of guitar tones, integration with the three biggest streaming services, a band-in-a-box thingy to generate backing tracks to practise to. There’s a lot more meat on the bones here, more aspects for you to immerse yourself with beyond playing along to chords in an app. I wonder if you’ll be able to use the app on its own at some point without having to shell out for the speaker, perhaps as a subscription model.
Early Bird pricing
All-in-all, it seems like a good deal, especially given the Early Bird offers. The whole system is available for pre-order now. If you’re feeling tempted, it could be worth getting in early. The Standard RRP is USD 299.
RRP Early Bird pricing
- Spark USD 179,
- Spark plus Bag USD 209,
- Spark + HD-9 headphones USD 229