Friday, September 2, 2011
Posted by Ron Hostetter in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 07:00 AM
The Tools Menu
The Tools menu in Amplitube is where I really started getting excited about this thing. First, there's an extremely easy to use guitar tuner. Play a note, and the tuner tells you in a big bright display how out of tune you are. A sliding scale gives a good visual indicator showing if you are sharp or flat, and moves smoothly to the middle to show you are in tune.
The Metronome provides a click track for practice. This is where I really started enjoyed using the product. Since I'm not a very good guitarist, I tell myself all the time that if I just practice my scales, I'll become the next Eric Clapton. I've learned over the years that practicing scales with a metronome greatly improves my speed and accuracy. Just tap on the Metronome, and dial in a BPM speed and let it rip. My only gripe is that the sliding adjuster is difficult to set on an exact speed (I still can't seem to get it to land on 100.0 BMP on the nose).
The last item on the Tools menu is the demo. There are 8 demo tracks included. Turn on the demo track to hear a guitarist much better than myself play some riffs, then use that sample to play around with your sound.
The Song Menu
This is by far my favorite part of the software. I play in a cover band, and so I'm always trying to learn and master somebody else's music. The Song menu is an amazing tool to learn songs, solos, and riffs. You can load up a song from your iPod library, or transfer a song to the device through WiFi. This feature is great. I wanted to practice a song that I had on my home computer, but not on my iPad. I clicked the "Add Song" button in Amplitube, then selected WiFi. Amplitube then instructed me to browse to a web address (the ip address of the iPad itself, port 8080) on the computer where the song resides. I went to my home computer and dialed up the address in my browser. I was presented with an upload page, where I browsed for my MP3 file, and clicked upload. Back on the iPad, the song was now available to play in Amplitube. Amazing.
With the song loaded up, I could now play the song, and play along with it. I wanted to master the solo in the song, so I used the A-B Loop buttons to zero in on the solo itself. The solo part played as an endless loop while I practiced along with it. I had trouble with it at first, so I used the "SpeedTrainer" slider to slow the playback down. Once the solo was playing at half speed, I was able to isolate the notes and practice along with it. I then gradually increased the speed, playing along as I got better and better at playing the solo. Once I was comfortable with playing the solo at full speed, I got greedy and then increased the speed. The "SpeedTrainer" can adjust from half-speed to double-speed. Once I was playing at double-speed, I realized I'll never be another Eddie Van Halen.
The Song player even features a "No Voice" button that strips the vocals out of the song. It works pretty well most of the time, although the song takes on a new, compressed and processed tonality. I found that this button also tended to strip out the solo as well, leaving you with a fairly clean backing track to play with. This is a great tool for learning songs!