If you’re a regular reader of this blog then you’ll know I’m not a big fan of trying to sound like other players, or cop licks from them note for note. I’d rather encourage you to pursue your own voice on the guitar, and try to be as original as you can be; after all, and somewhat ironically, a unique sound is what makes the guitar greats stand out—even though they’re copied to death. Anyway, this time I couldn’t resist, and who wouldn’t pay $30 bucks to play with Hendrix’s gear?
What do I need?
First you need an iPhone, (I’m assuming you already have one so I didn’t include this in the budget) or some kind of Apple gadget like an iPad. You then need to get hold of an adapter that lets you plug your guitar straight into your iPhone or iDevice. There are plenty of options, some of which are very expensive, but as I was just dabbling I bought an iRig adaptor for about $13 which lets you plug your guitar into virtually any iOS device. If you don’t have an iOS device then you’ll need to shell out for the iRig2 which is basically the same but works on multiple devices, and on Android; the red one is cheaper for some reason.
When your iRig has arrived you’ll need to download the Amplitube Jimi Hendrix app, which costs about $15. The app is a multi-FX processor and recording studio that gives you instant access to incredibly accurate digital models of Hendrix’s gear. You can even browse Hendrix’s back catalog and select the presets for specific songs. However, it doesn’t seem to be available for Android users at the time of writing, but the original Amplitube app is, which you can check out here (there’s a free version which lets you play with the basic settings, but the paid version is where the action’s at, and includes a ton of effects, pedals, cabinets, heads and mics). The Android one does actually include the effects for the Jimi Hendrix version of the app but not the presets.
Ease of use
I’m not one for fiddling about with gear, I’d rather just plug into whatever’s available and play, but I have to say that this is one of the easiest apps I’ve ever used. The layout is perfectly intuitive and changing between presets, effects and amps etc. is an absolute breeze.
What does it sound like?
I have to admit it sounds pretty good, even though I wasn’t using a Fender Strat. Check out the audio below. This is me messing around with the Star Spangled Banner preset, and recording it using the app's built-in 8-track. The only problem I had was finding a way to get the file itself out of the iPad. I managed to do this by exporting to Drop Box, then downloading the file itself from Drop Box onto another device.
Download Audio: M4A
What’s the verdict?
In my opinion the presets are a little hit and miss. Some are spot on like Star Spangled Banner and Purple Haze, but some leave you wondering. You can of course play with the actual effects themselves, which for me was a lot more fun than the presets. The app comes with the following classic Hendrix effects: noise filter, fuzz box, octa-vibe, uni-vibe, and a Hendrixy wah. I thought they were incredibly close to the original sounds, and Hendrix freaks will get chills when they crank it up.
All in all, it’s a fantastic product for the pocket money price tag, and endless fun. If you’re not big on Hendrix then there’s a Slash version available which I haven’t tried, or the regular Amplitube app with literally hundreds of effects from which to build your digital rig.
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