GuitarTone is another recent discovery I made when searching for ways to play my guitar on the iPhone. Luckily I follow Sonoma Wire Works on Twitter and was there to see them announce the application’s release. Since then, I’ve had fun creating my own presets for hours on end. Why? Because I believe it’s one of the easiest apps to use for playing guitar on the iPhone.
Let’s get straight into this and the black and white imagery that accompanies all of my reviews.
When you first open GuitarTone, you see an amplifier with microphone ready to go. I have to say from the start (or the third paragraph in from the start I guess) that the graphics in this app are outstanding. It’s one of the reasons I keep coming back to play in it. I do love a good graphic.
Before I go too far into this review, I’ll point a couple of things out. First pointer … I like to play my guitar on the iPhone with Airplane Mode turned on. The main reason is that I don’t like to receive text messages, meeting requests or phone calls when I’m trying to record or play guitar. Second pointer …You’ll hopefully notice there is a tuning fork in some of the screenshots below. Clicking on that will take you to the app’s built in tuner. Clever!
While I’m pointing things out, you may notice the times will jump in my screenshots. To my knowledge, I am not a time traveller. I take the shots, then I structure my review. It doesn’t always go according to my initial plan. Crazy!
Once you have safely tuned your guitar, you should notice the FX, AMP and CAB buttons on the screen. You can see them under the tuner, but you probably don’t want to go into these areas until you’re tuned. What’s the point of awesome tone if you’re out of tune?
Clicking the FX button allows you to add some effects to your sound. GuitarTone comes free with three effects pedals.
Included for free are the Phaser, Drive+ and Va-Room pedals. Each pedal has a really good sound quality to it. To add an effect, you drag the effect from the shelf on the bottom of the screen into the space above. You’ll recognise the space because it says DRAG FX HERE. There are three spaces to drag your effects to. Once placed, it’s easy to edit the effect pedal’s settings.
Once again … awesome graphics. If you’ve played electric guitar before, you’ll know what to do here. Click the pedal to turn it on/off and adjust the settings by turning the pedal’s knobs. I recommend not stomping on the pedals with your feet. iPhones don’t like that.
Once you’re happy with your effects, click the rectangular Done button towards the top of the screen. You’ll now see your new pedals in front of your amplifier on the main screen.
From here you may want to change the amplifier you’re playing through. To do that, you click on the AMP button. You’re now able to peruse your amplifier options.
As you can see, you get three free amps to choose from. Once again, they all sound great. Have I mentioned the graphics yet?
I’ll point out the MATCH CAB button now. But I won’t explain it just yet. Just remember that I mentioned it.
At this stage of the review I’d like to point out that you can save the changes you’re making whenever you decide to. For example, if you were happy with the changes made so far, you could just click the Save button (it looks like an old-school floppy disk) and save the settings you’ve created as a new preset. Or you could save over an existing preset.
Once saved, you can play to your heart’s content, or you can continue to make changes to your sound. As I’ve not shown you the CAB screen yet, I’ll continue to make changes.
If you were paying attention earlier on in the review you’d have recalled I mentioned the MATCH CAB button. Well if you turn that off—on little red light—you have the ability to have a different amp head to the amp cabinet. You could have the Tweed Blues head on the ’60 Slant 4×12 cab for example. Changing the cabinet is easy. You simply drag the amp off screen (left or right) until the next amp comes into view.
You can also click on the microphone to change it. Did someone say customisable? Yes … I just did.
So far, we haven’t left the GuitarTone tab from the bottom of the app. The next tab is the GuitarJack tab. This tab really comes into play when you own and plug in the GuitarJack (also by Sonoma Wire Works).
As you can see, you have the ability to edit the levels you get from your GuitarJack interface. I believe there may be slight differences between Model 1 and Model 2 of GuitarJack. I don’t know … I only have Model 1. As I have been mentioning in my other reviews, I test each app in GuitarJack, AmpKit LINK and GuitarConnect Cable. GuitarTone works well with all three. The benefit in using GuitarJack however is that GuitarTone recognises the interface and gives you access to PedalPack 1 and AmpPack 1 for free. That’s awesome.
The next tab in the app is for the Settings screen. You can adjust the sound levels and quality further from this screen. For further details on this page (and most other info screens) you can click the Sonoma Wire Works logo in the bottom right for an explanation of the screen you’re on.
The final screen in this app is the Info screen. It speaks for itself. If it hasn’t been explained it this article, there’s a link to the full details or additional help resources right in this section of the app.
As I mentioned above, plugging in with anything other than GuitarJack limits the sounds you can experience (without additional purchases). As you scroll through the presets available without GuitarJack, you will eventually get to a preset that says you don’t have the gear required for that setup.
With GuitarJack, you’re able to access some of those presets and create new ones for yourself using the effects and amps from AmpPack 1 and PedalPack 1.
Scary Grunge is a preset I made for myself. You can hear it in the recording linked at the bottom of this review. You can access the app’s presets (those that came with the app as well as your own creations) using the Presets button (it’s to the right of the Save button). On this screen you’ll see a list of all the presets in your system (available and otherwise).
There are more options, but you hopefully get (see) the picture. With all of the options that come with GuitarTone and GuitarJack you can spend hours creating your own unique sounds. I know I did. I ended up creating a few presets of my own.
Of course there are more effects and amps that are available in AmpPack 2
and PedalPack 2. I hope to purchase them one day. Mainly because
AmpPack 2 has an amp called Rootbeer 30. For a Root Beer/Sarsaparilla fan like me, that’s one more reason to get excited.
So, that’s what GuitarTone looks like. But what does it sound like? The audio file below lets you hear the quality of the sounds at your disposal. It also lets you hear how terrible my guitar playing is. This track features four instances of GuitarTone as recorded in FourTrack. FourTrack (also made by Sonoma wire Works) connects to GuitarTone seamlessly. It is through this connection that I’m able to export my guitar sounds. You can see more about how FourTrack and GuitarTone work together in a previous article of mine.
The first part of my recording uses the Scary Grunge preset and the final three guitar parts (they come into the song at the same time) are using the Jack Pack preset.I think the audio output is of amazing quality. I can’t say the same for the guitar playing itself. Enjoy.