Tascam GB-10 Guitar & Bass Trainer/Recorder review

A phrase-trainer and recorder to help you write, practise, and get a better handle on your playing

  • £141
  • $199
(Image: © Tascam)

MusicRadar Verdict

A phrase trainer, recorder, metronome and tuner in one, the GB-10 is the sort of tool that can make you better, and it takes away some of the pain involved when working out your favourite songs by ear.

Pros

  • +

    Easy to use.

  • +

    Good range of features – metronome, tuner, looping...

  • +

    Great practice tool.

  • +

    Invaluable for jotting down musical ideas.

Cons

  • -

    No centre-cancelling feature.

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What is it?

We are all familiar with Tascam’s range of home recording equipment, its mixers (opens in new tab) and audio interfaces (opens in new tab), but its phrase-trainers are well worth paying attention to if you are looking for some performance-enhancing kit.

Tascam’s phrase-trainers are practice tools of the best kind, in that they make figuring out the guitar parts from your favourite songs that bit easier. It’s magic really. Simply play the track, the device slows the part down while maintaining the track’s original pitch, and you have a little breathing space to work out the chords and the positions. 

And you could take Tascam’s phrase-trainers everywhere. The latest is the Tascam GB-10, a guitar and bass trainer-recorder that sees some new features enhance its versatility.

Designed to be positioned on a desk, the GB-10 has an angled fascia and a generously sized LED screen. Like its predecessors, it allows you to slow down tracks while maintaining the original pitch. 

Performance and verdict

Feed it an MP3 or WAV file, set the tempo, and guitar-in-hand get transcribing. You can also change the pitch of the song so you needn’t retune your guitar to match the track.

The GB-10’s looping feature lets you play troublesome phrases back over and over again. 

As anyone who has dropped the needle back and forth on a record, ruined a cassette or near launched their laptop through the window while trying to parse the intricate hemi-demi-semi-quavered hellscape of a Kerry King solo might attest to, this looping feature really helps take the pain out of transcribing.

The GB-10 has 2GB of storage space on its onboard SD/SDHC card, enough for around three hours of CD-quality music, and it will accept cards up to 32GB in size.

It’ll work with guitar or bass, and takes a pair of AA batteries, USB power or a 5V adaptor And it comes with a suite of onboard effects and amp models to help you nail the tone of whatever it is you are working on.

There’s delay, reverb, chorus, auto-wah and compression, plus a built-in chromatic tuner and metronome. Use the USB 2.0 jack to download music files to the device.

Also consider...

(Image credit: Future)

Boss RC-3 (opens in new tab)
If you fancy a phrase-trainer but don't see the value in a standalone unit, the RC-3 loop station has an onboard phrase-training feature – and it's a pretty decent looper too.

Supermegaultragroovy Capo 3 (opens in new tab)
A practical software solution for working out how to play songs. As it stands, it gives you a real head-start on figuring things out, plus its standard phrase-training facilities are excellent.

But where the GB-10 sets itself apart from its rivals is its recording mode. If working out other player’s songs and riffs is one part of the jigsaw, the next is recording yourself and playing it back. 

Nothing improves you quicker. There is an optional RC-3F footswitch so you can do this hands-free. It’s quick and easy to get going, and the interface is neatly laid out, welcoming novice players and pros alike.

The quality of audio when using the Variable Speed Audition function is excellent, even at half speed, and its pitch control is such that you can concentrate on your playing. Just put your headphones on, use the balance feature to match your guitar's input gain to the source track, and away you go.

Hands-on demos

Tascam USA

Specifications

  • TYPE: Phrase-trainer and recorder
  • KEY FEATURES: MP3/WAV file playback and WAV file recording, tuner, metronome, onboard Amp simulation, compressor and multi-effects; tempo control: 50% to 150% in 10% steps; Key control: ±6 semi-tones with ±50 cents fine tune, loop playback
  • FOOTSWITCH: Tascam RC-3F (sold separately)
  • POWER: 2x AA batteries, 5V Tascam adaptor, USB
  • CONTACT: Tascam (opens in new tab)

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