Review: Amplitube Fender for iPad

by Josh

Practice time has been very scarce for me since the arrival of my new daughter, but I have gotten the chance to spend a little quality time with Amplitube Fender for the iPad.

For those unfamiliar with IK Multimedia’s offerings, this software is available on the iPad for use with their iRig adapter.  This allows you to connect your guitar to your iPad and rock out in a variety of different ways.  This software is Fender branded and contains a bumper crop of amps, pedals, and presets that showcase that signature Fender sound.  My Fender strat is in Illinois for a few internal repairs, so my test setup was not end-to-end Fender… the guitar I am playing right now is my Gibson Custom ’59 VOS Goldtop.

The amp models that you get with this application are an interesting bunch: Twin Reverb, Super Sonic, Pro Junior, ’59 Bassman, and the Deluxe Reverb.  As one might imagine, you get a broad range of different sounds from these amps.  I found myself partial to the Twin Reverb and the Deluxe Reverb, which is like to please my co-contributor John (who is a player/lover of all things Fender).  I threw a few power chords through the Pro Junior and the Super Sonic and they are not without their charm, but I like the cleaner channels of the Reverb amps.

The software also comes with some Fender-specific pedals: Blender, Phaser, Overdrive, Tape Echo, Compressor, and Noise Filter.  I don’t have much experience with these pedals, but I can tell you that I got some cool and interesting sounds playing with the Phaser and Blender together.  I was acquainted with these pedals most directly by use of the pre-sets that IK Multimedia graciously provided us neophytes, and I LOVE the TwinBlues setting which takes the Tone Boost option on the Fender Blender and marries it with the Twin Reverb amp.  A few little blues licks through this and I am hooked.

I did discover a little intricacy that really helped my enjoyment of the software: the Setup provides Input and Output levels that you can adjust to control your signal, but I was always frustrated that I was having difficulty making out the difference as I changed these settings.  I bumped the volume switch by mistake and discovered that my headphone volume was only on 25%, what a rookie mistake!  After feeling like a bonehead for a few minutes then cranking it up to 75% I was having a lot more fun.

So is Amplitube Fender worth the money?  If you like Fender stuff, then absolutely.  Personally, I think it’s worth it just for the amp models alone.  I hope that IK Multimedia continues in this vein for some time, releasing manufacturer specific versions that add new amp models and proprietary pedals to their universe.  It helps those of us that aren’t sure what amps we like, and don’t want to subject ourselves to the disdainful looks of the people at the local Guitar Center as you clumsily plunk out three chords to test our their floor models.  It also helps those of us new to pedal/amp combinations to explore without having to borrow gear from others or drop a lot of money on gear we might not like.

You can check out our review of the original Amplitube for iPad if you’re interested in other offerings by IK Multimedia.

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