Lighten the load with an amp in your pocket
Carting a huge, cumbersome amp around with you all the time is a guitarist’s lot in life. It’s better than being a drummer, hey?
But it’s still a pain in the neck and something that can now be avoided by IK Multimedia’s fantastic iPhone app, AmpliTube Fender. Guitar amps can cost hundreds of pounds, whereas £29.99/$39.99 will net you the iRig lead to connect your guitar to your handheld device, and £8.99/$14.99 will open up a world of music with the AmpliTube Fender app itself. Simply plug the iRig into your guitar and you can play out loud or through headphones for the ultimate portable amp and recording suite.
While the output level of the iPhone is never going to be up there with the power of a 150W amp, using this app for practice could be one of the most liberating things you’ve ever done.
Derived from the desktop software, the AmpliTube Fender app doesn’t skimp on what’s on offer, with five Fender amps available: the ’65 Deluxe Reverb, the Super-Sonic, the ’65 Twin Reverb, the ’59 Bassman LTD and the Pro Junior.
Whether you’re seeking classic compressed, distorted, or gritty blues tones, there are a variety of sounds on offer. All amp tones have been scrutinised and approved by Fender itself, so quality is high, and the results are certainly impressive and very lifelike indeed.
It’s not just a basic amplification app, however, as there are six Fender Stompboxes too so you can customise your sound. The stomps available are: the Fender Tape Echo, Compressor, the Fender Blender, Fender Phaser, Overdrive and Noise Filter.
Each element of the tone is individually selectable and you merely have to tweak the dials like you would normally – it’s a very user friendly interface.
You can even create up to 36 presets, which you can scroll through with a swipe of the finger, as well as having the option to rename them to make them easily memorable. Add in low latency for real-time playing and this really is the ultimate practice tool.
But it doesn’t stop there. You can also record on this comprehensive app, with one track free (including re-amping ability) and four tracks available through an in-app purchase (£5.99/$9.99).
So whether you want to quickly note down a riff as it comes to you, or record a four-track, complete song, this app will suit your needs. You can bounce tracks into one and master it (again via an in-app purchase) by adding reverb, or tweaking the equalizer or compressor dials to get the exact sound you require.
You can then export your recordings as M4As through File Sharing, email or to the song player. A particularly nice touch is the ability to move through your recording by swiping your finger along the image of a cassette. It would have been nice, however, to have the option to record through the iPhone’s mic, so you could lay down some vocals, or record a whole band playing at once.
Next up, the app offers the ability to import music via Wi-Fi, File Sharing, or from your iPod library, so you can play along to songs or backing tracks too. Change the tempo of tracks to help you learn songs without affecting the pitch, or utilise the in-built tools of the metronome and tuner.
Some elements are only available through in-app purchases, so the base price isn’t all you pay if you want to open up all the functions. There is also a free version of the app, with less amps and pedals if you think the cost is too high.
However, if you think it’s a lot to pay for this bit of kit, now imagine how you’d take five amps, six pedals, a tuner, a recording and mastering suit and your entire music collection on the bus. Maybe it’s not such a big spend for extreme flexibility after all.
A powerful music app that offers flexibility and multi-functions without compromising on sound, but it will cost you a fair amount.
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