So, last night, I came across some info about Amplitube 4 when I was looking at ways to record bass. I’ve been using the Rocksmith cable and was curious if there were other ways that weren’t pricey that would also allow me to hear what I’m playing as I play it. Right now, with the Rocksmith cable and Audacity, I play “unplugged” on my electric. I know that this affects technique on bass. I press the strings really hard, and I’m sure it affects my speed as well as other things.
Amplitube looked interesting. Its a “real time guitar and bass multi effects processor” according to the IK Multimedia website. I saw that the company makes a bunch of different types of software for musicians, has been doing so since the 90s, and also manufactures various input devices that allow guitars and basses to be plugged into computers, tablets, smartphones and maybe even other devices.
I also noticed that Amplitube has a “free” version available for Mac and PC, so this evening I grabbed it. Its called the Amplitube Custom Shop.
Although I’m curious about the devices that IK makes, I don’t want to spend money just yet. Before going to bed last night, I Googled “Amplitube and Rocksmith cable” and saw that people were able to make the cable work as an input device for Amplitube, so I went that route, and it worked!
In my setup, on my Windows 7 desktop, I had to plug in the Rocksmith cable, let it detect and then, since I had Amplitube open already, tell it to use the cable. I went to Settings, Audio MIDI Setup and set the input device to the Rocksmith cable. I then set the left and right channels to “Input channel 1” and when I played my bass, the program registered the incoming vibrations and my speakers & subwoofer became an amp!
This is really exciting for me, because I don’t generally plug in, even though I have an old Hartke bass amp in the living room by the piano. I rarely go outside of the home office to practice because between the TV and toddler, I find myself pulled away from bass… not that I’ve been practicing regularly for months anyway.
Amplitube basically has software-rendered models of guitar and bass hardware that users can select to emulate amps, cabinets and effects pedals. What this means is that users can potentially experiment with a wide selection (I think its 300+ devices at the moment) of virtual hardware and really alter their sound. The free version comes with less than the paid versions, but it has access to a store, much like Apple’s App store and the Google Play store.
I haven’t gone to the store yet, but what I *love* about it is that users can pick anything in the store and try it for free for 72 hours. Afterward, the device that was tried gets shelved for 6 weeks until the user wants to try it out again. That’s just fantastic! We can play with all kinds of toys risk-free and only purchase what we like. Its like free dim sum!
So, I experimented with a bunch of the presets and found some that I like. Those of you who play guitar probably have more options with this than I do, but I tried a lot of the guitar presets on my bass accidentally, and found that they make my bass sound like… a guitar! Of course, I was experimenting with just the presets. I haven’t tried to individually select items, like maybe some guitar pedals (stomp boxes, in Amplitube) and pair them with bass amps and cabinets.
So, here are pics of some of the free amps and presets we get, to give you an idea of what’s available for no money and a bunch of electrons. I believe that the program can also record and even be used to create loops and tracks, but I’ll learn more about that as I experiment. For now, its fun just to be able to try out different sounds with my bass in real-time. So far, I gravitate towards the Bass 3 preset and Jazzy Comp, which is a guitar preset.
Oh, also – the program can run as a stand-alone desktop app, which is how I used it, or as a VST plug-in for other DAW’s. For those of you unfamiliar with that, it means that if you have another program that’s used for mixing music, like Logic or Pro Tools or Fruity Loops or the free Reaper program (which I have), you can use Amplitube in there, as if it were a virtual instrument or effect. I haven’t tried this yet, but its amazing to me that this type of flexibility is even an option.