One of the great things about Apple’s iOS devices for musicians is having the ability to play and record our guitar while on the go. When the hardware and software allowing us to do this was first introduced, we gave the companies a little leeway on the quality just so we could play, but that’s changing.
Personally, I think that was a fair trade-off. But being able to play and record guitar on an iPad or iPhone has gone beyond a novelty, and like most things, users are demanding more quality.
For the last few weeks I’ve been playing around with GuitarJack 2, a new $149 device from Sonoma Wire Works. GuitarJack, unlike many of its competitors, plugs into the iPad and iPhone’s dock connector, so it’s a digital signal.
What this means for you is a clean, clear signal for your guitar. There is nothing worse than having a noisy signal even before you start adding amps and effects to your guitar. You end up spending more time trying to cut out the noise than you do playing.
The GuitarJack has a 1/4-inch instrument input that has configurable Pad, Lo-Z and Hi-Z modes. There is also a 1/8-inch headphone jack and a 1/8-inch mic/line input with Pad, Normal and Boost modes.
The design of the GuitarJack is stunning. It’s sleek, attractive and something you would be proud to carry around with your Apple device. But this is a guitar device, so the proof is in the sound.
I tested GuitarJack with Ampkit to dial in some high-gain tones and it worked beautifully. Ampkit recognized the hardware right away and the quality of the signal was evident. I also tried it with AmpliTube, but that software requires an iRig connector and would not recognize the GuitarJack.
I also used Sonoma Wire Works FourTrack software on the iPhone. When you open the software with the GuitarJack installed, you get a window allowing you to adjust preferences of the devices inputs. FourTrack also has amp and effects modeling built-in, so you can build a guitar tone without using apps like Ampkit if you prefer.
Of course, FourTrack allows you to record four tracks of audio as well. The app basically gives you everything you need to take advantage of every aspect of the GuitarJack.
I always worry a bit about connecting anything to the bottom of my devices and leaving it there. I wonder if it could break off or damage the dock connector, but in my experience, the GuitarJack was just fine. I held up my iPhone and the GuitarJack didn’t pull or drop, so it’s balanced really well. Plugging a guitar cable in does add some pull, but it still wasn’t a problem for me.
I’ve been a fan of Sonoma Wire Works for many years. They are a company that cares about its users and they make very high-quality software and hardware products. If you’re looking for a device to play your guitar on the iPhone or iPad, I highly recommend GuitarJack 2.