Recording the guitar with an iPhone

A while ago I posted this article on my custom-built and twice-hacked website. I put a lot of effort into the website and a decent amount of work into the article. It seemed logical to me to keep at least one of them. So, with minor edits that make the content relevant to this new website, here is the saved article.

I’ve not written anything in ages. That could be because I’ve been busy working on the redesign of the webWICKED website. But it’s not. Well, not entirely. That was the reason for the first week of me not posting anything here. However since then it’s been me trying to work out how to play my beloved guitars now that the family has a dog. It may not be obvious what one has to do with the other, but let me summarise quickly like this.

I had a guitar room. We needed a dog room. I lost a guitar room.

Eventually I’ll win that room back, but until then I need an alternative. And thanks to my resourcefulness, the Internet, technology and the wonders of iPhone apps, I have found many solutions. Let me list them for you.

The first thing I needed to do was work out how to best connect my guitar to the iPhone so I could play guitar anywhere. This led me to three leading choices.

  1. AmpliTube iRig
  2. AmpKit LiNK
  3. GuitarConnect Cable

I researched all three online—they all rate very highly—and ended up going with the GuitarConnect Cable by Griffin Technology because I could buy it cheaper than the others on eBay (thank you current Australian dollar). Plus I already have the StealthPlug by IK Multimedia. I wanted to see what one of the other contenders were producing.

So far I am very happy with my purchase. The cable connects brilliantly and I like how the guitar end of the cable is at the same end as the headphone connection. So I don’t have to sit right next to the iPhone to play if I don’t want to.

Next I needed to work out what to use to enable the guitar to make guitar noises. Amplified noises with effects like a real guitarist with a real range of pedals would use.

I’m not a real guitarist by the way.

This led me to quite a range of guitar apps for the iPhone.

  1. AmpKit … There are two versions of AmpKit. The free version and the paid version that I’m sure you could waste spend days in (AmpKit+). With just the free version you have the opportunity to edit the amp settings like you would a real amp, the pedal settings (you get two pedals for free) and even the placement of the microphone (of which you can also choose the style) in relation to the amp. With the pedals you have preset sounds to choose from as well. Plus you have the opportunity to record your playing. All for free. Pretty cool. You also get a guitar tuner and metronome thrown in for free.
  2. AmpliTube for iPhone … AmpliTube (and the recently released AmpliTube Fender) offers very similar features to AmpKit (or visa versa). Again you can record your playing, you get a couple of free pedals to choose from (with presets as well) and quite a lot of amplifier control. You again get the metronome and built in tuner. Something else you get is the opportunity to purchase additional amps and/or effects from within the app. Well … just like in AmpKit. If I’d mentioned that earlier you’d have noticed the additional similarity yourself.
  3. PocketAmp … PocketAmp is a much more simplified guitar–iPhone interface option. This app allows you to choose from limited amplifier settings and some effect settings (in the paid version) like the two apps mentioned above, but it doesn’t offer the capability to either record your playing or tune from within the app. Being able to play along with songs on your iPhone is pretty cool all-the-same.
  4. iShred LIVE … This is the app that is actually recommended by the GuitarConnect Cable. And for free it’s pretty damn impressive. However, my saddest point first … the ability to record doesn’t come for us iPhone 3 users. Having said that, this is one of my favourite free guitar apps. The sounds are awesome. You get one simple amp and three pretty impressive effect pedals. Once again you get the metronome and guitar tuner with built in effect presets (plus the opportunity to create your own preset sounds).One thing I really like in the iShred LIVE app is the ability to listen to, and in a way test, the other effect pedals before you buy them. That is a very cool feature. If I had the iPhone 4 I’d really consider this as a very cost effective little package.

And there you have it. I am yet to make any purchases in regards to the iPhone apps I’ve mentioned above. But soon I shall. It will probably be AmpKit I buy first. Just on account of the fact I’ve always wanted a Peavey amp.

And if all goes well that purchase will stop me writing on, or developing, any of my websites.

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