I’m sort of a Fender fanboy so when I saw that IK Multimedia was issuing a Fender branded Amplitube app for the iOS platform, I perked up. In the past I’ve played around with IK’s previous offering called AmpliTube and while I was pleased in general with the sounds, I found the choice of amps were pretty generic and wished there were models based on specific real-world amps. They obviously thought the same thing.

IK Multimedia has now offered us 5 amps based on Fender classics such as the ’59 Bassman, ’65 Twin, Supersonic, Pro Junior and the Deluxe Reverb. All the amps include controls and speaker cabinets as the amp modeled, as well as the choice to chose from other cabinets and mics. On top of that they have also included some new Fender branded effects that include a noise filter, overdrive, tape echo, phaser, compressor, and the unique and rare Fender Blender.

Just like IK’s AmpliTube, Fender has an intuative layout and beautifully rendered graphics and delivers a host of useful tools like a tuner, metronome, speedtrainer, and an audio recorder. If you’re so inclined, you can also buy a few additions via in-app purchasing such as a four-track recorder and mastering FX.

In the video below you can hear my walk-through on the AmpliTube Fender’s sound:

What I liked

The amps and effects included in this app feel like faithful reproductions of classic Fender products. I like that the reverb and tremolo are not a separate effect but instead are included as part of the actual amps they are modeled after. The interface looks great and it’s cool to see the controls of the amp and effects and interact with the actual knobs. The sounds are incredible and I could see myself using them in an actual recording.

What I’d like to see changed or included

From the standpoint of a musician who is actually using his iPhone and iPad to record music, I found it was lacking in a few areas as it pertained to workflow and signal quality. I’m constantly using other apps to create drum tracks or sequence songs. Most of these apps have made it real easy to share files back and forth with use of AudioCopy/AudioPaste, AmpliTube has not implemented this yet. AmpliTube does allow you to send your files back to your computer via iTunes file sharing, but it’s not the easiest way to work with other apps.

The other thing I’d like to see implemented is the option to use hardware that connects to the dock instead of the headphone input. IK Multimedia provides it’s own interface called iRig which works great for practice, but if you’re looking for any serious use of their apps, you might find that the noise levels introduced through the headphone input unacceptable for anything more than demos. I did however manage to record some raw guitar files in another app using an interface that utilized the iPhone dock and was able to import those files for use in AmpliTube. The video above used that technique. So if you’re interested in using AmpliTube Fender to re-amp your guitar, there is a work-around, and it sounded wonderful once the noise was gone.

The only other thing I found a bit strange was that the volume knobs on the amps acted like a pre-amps. Depending on how hot the inputs were, they would start to overdrive at around 3-4. I own several Fender amps and they all just get louder (while staying clean) unless you overdriving the input. But it wasn’t a big deal, if you want them clean, just keep them around 3 and pump up the output in the setup section.


If you’re looking for the classic sparkling Fender sound, you’ll find AmpliTube Fender to be the closest thing next to dragging out that heavy Fender Twin. It’s a lot of fun to play with and with a couple of work-arounds you might find it useful for a lot more than just a simple practice amp.

The full version of Fender Amplitube is available on the iTunes appstore or you can download the trial version, or if you have AmpliTube 2 for the iPhone or iPad you can purchase Fender amps and FX via the in-app purchase.

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Last week Clinton Kirby of Buffalo Nickel submitted a handful of songs to the iPhone recording project, one of which I immediately took to called “Heavens to Betsy”. Clinton gave me a lot of rope to work with… rope with which I was hoping not to hang myself with. So I worked up a drum arrangement and recorded some guitars and mandolin to demo my ideas for where the song could go. Here’s a rundown of apps I used and how I used them.


I used Nanostudio to create a very simple drum track and recorded some acoustic guitar samples so I could easily scratch out and arrange the song. In the end I followed Clinton’s initial arrangement cause it seemed like an old gospel or folk standard and I didn’t feel like we should deviate from that too much.


Next I loaded up a killer drum track that I created using Sonoma Wireworks’ DrumCore in to FourTrack. I then tracked acoustic guitars and a mandolin part that I had worked out. When I was satisfied with that I made a mix and did and AudioCopy of that mix.


After pasting my backing track in to AmpKit, I then began work on some electric guitar sounds and began overdubbing some overdriven and tremolo’d parts. We ran in to a little snag when we discovered a little bug in AmpKit that cuts the silence off of recorded tracks causing them not to syng up when copied back to FourTrack (this is a bug that they are aware of and have fixed for an upcoming release of AmpKit). The good thing was that I could jump back to FourTrack and record my dry guitar parts over there instead. I then imported them back to AmpKit and re-amped them with the settings I had already created for the song. They synced up just fine after that. I also used AmpKit to record a rudimentary scratch bass part through their Fender Bassman modeled amp.


We’ve disovered a great way to share files between our computers and iPhone apps through Dropbox. We all have the free version of Dropbox installed on our computers and devices and are sharing a common folder with all of the pertinent files. The great thing is that any one of us can navigate to the folder on our phones and import the files directly in to either AmpKit or FourTrack. So our bass player Bill Rester was able to download the backing track I had created and begin working on it without ever connecting to his computer. This has got to be one of the greatest gifts to those working on projects over the internet. Very exciting to be doing things this way.

I would like to point out another problem we ran in to importing files in to FourTrack. When you import a file that has spaces in the filename, FourTrack converts the spaces into percentage signs. We discovered that when you try to pull the files off during wifi sync, the link is broken. The solution to this is to simply rename the file in FourTrack before doing a wifi sync.

So what did Clinton think? He loved the drums and the tremolo guitar and will be taking this to Natalie Long who will be singing on the track. I’m stoked to hear what they do to the track.

I’ll be working on a video talking about some of these thing very soon, but for now, know that we are all excited about the implications of this sort of technology and what it means for collaboration and songwriting. I can’t wait to hear the end result and hope you guys will get something out of this as well. Stay tuned!

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If you’ve been following me on Twitter or YouTube or this blog, you know that I’ve been turning my attention to Apple’s IOS products and their evolving potential for music production. You also probably know that every year I pick a creative project that will generally take me a year to finish. This year I’m going to make a record on the iPhone… with a little help from my friends.

So I plan to document our progress and the video below is the first of many entries to come. Currently I’m using the following apps: FourTrack, AmpKit, Moog Filtatron, Nanostudio and Beatmaker. For hardware I’m using GuitarJack and Peavey’s LiNK.

Are any of you guys recording with an IOS device? If so I’d like to hear your story!

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Last week I had the pleasure of photographing the folk/western music artist Daniel Rogers. Rogers was very charming and brought some great props and wardrobe that blended in well with our surroundings at Old Alabama Town.

I did my best to make everything look like it was lit by natural light sources… event though Daniel was primarily lit with a Canon 430ex speedlight through a large shoot through umbrella. The photos below are all straight out of camera… enjoy!

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For almost 20 years I’ve looked for ways to be able to play and record my guitar without disturbing my family or neighbors. My first solution was to build an enclosure that basically sealed a speaker and a microphone together into a box, which I then covered up with blankets and shoved into the closet. While this worked okay, it was certainly not the stairway to tone heaven.

Later came the magic of the SansAmp. It was a little black direct box with various dip switches that sort of simulated an amp in the way that hearing your friend tell you the plot of a film simulates actually seeing the film. But at the time it did allow me to play and record without making a sound… and for that it was the best thing available.

Then of course came the Line 6 Pod. Now… I am very fond of my Pod and have used it on a lot of recordings. It’s a very functional peice of equipment and it actually does sound like all the different amps that it claims to model. I thought it was the end all and be all to amp modeling… until AmpKit.

Now, I am admittedly very excited about the technology that’s being developed for the iPhone and iPad. I am a bit of an iPhone junkie at this point and am currently working on a new record on the device. I’ve discovered quite a few apps that I now use on a daily basis and plan to use on this next project, but none have excited me quite as much as Ampkit.

AmpKit is an amp simulator that models real world amps and has an interface that’s incredibly easy to use and configure. But the most important part is that it’s the only Amp simulator that allows you to access the high gain options of these amps without getting feedback…. and it sounds GREAT!

I could write more here, but instead I decided to make a video so you could see and hear AmpKit in action. Enjoy!

For more information go to http://www.agilepartners.com/apps/ampkit/

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Well, to be honest, I wasn’t at CES and I don’t know what the reaction of the floor was, but when I saw the following products announced on IK’s Twitter feed… well let’s just say it piqued my interest.

As someone who is recording a new record on the iPhone, I’m finding most things to be a challenge. Specifically I’m finding the vocals to be a challenge. Companies like IK Multimedia and Agile partners have made playing your guitar into the phone a joy with Amplitube and AmpKit, but currently I’ve seen nothing for he vocalist… until now.

IK Multimedia has introduced two new products that directly address this problem. They’re producing the iRig Mic and their vocal processing app Vocalive. Judging from the Soundcloud files that they’ve posted, the combo sounds surprisingly good. I’m hoping to get one in my hands soon where I can give you a more in depth review, check out their promotional YouTube video:

For more info, check out IK Multimedia’s website: www.ikmultimedia.com.

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December 22, 2010 | Category: Gear, Video, music | Leave a Comment

I recently heard a cover of Big Star’s Thirteen done by my good friend Clinton Kirby and bandmate Natalie Long. It’s been on my mind every since. So last night while everyone was asleep I croaked out my own version and recorded it on my iPhone using Fourtrack.

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Peter Pan

November 17, 2010 | Category: Uncategorized | Leave a Comment

Working for a world class theater such as the Alabama Shakespeare Festival has its perks… and most recently that perk is shooting for the musical Peter Pan.

A couple of weeks ago I had the privledge of shooting the advance photography for the show and had a great time doing so. Tonight I finally get to photograph the dress rehearsal and I’m excited to say the least!

Below are some of the publicity photos, the first of which is a poster that is not the officially sanction piece. The director correctly felt that Hook dominated the frame and gave the wrong impression of his importance in the show. After much futzing around, we felt it looked better without Hook in the shot. But I personally loved this version a lot and got permission to post it here. Enjoy!

(note: The show does not include the background pictured. I added that in post.)

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Sucked Out

October 26, 2010 | Category: Gear, Video, music | 2 Comments

Okay, so I thought I’d do a cover a day for a week… but life is what happens when you’re making other plans… or so they say.

Below is my version of “Sucked Out” by the group Superdrag.

Again this was all recorded with the iPhone on using the FourTrack app and GuitarJack interface from Sonoma Wireworks. Drums were a loop from Drum Core, acoustic guitars and backing vocals were recorded directly into the iPhone mic and everything else was through a Shure SM57 plugged into GuitarJack.

Anyway, watch the video and if you like it download the track below that. Let me know what you think!

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October 24, 2010 | Category: Gear, Video, music | Leave a Comment

Spent a half hour last night recording a cover of Weezer’s “Butterfly” on my iPhone last night. Might be interesting to put together a few cover tunes for fun. I’m all excited about playing and recording again.

This audio was recorded in the bathroom so it would have a little “verb” to it. Watch the video below or download the song for free below that!

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