I’ve been reading a very interesting article today on IOS app pricing on Musicappblog. The conclusion was that really, you’ve never had it so good. Jamup for £4.99? Bias for £4.99, Tonestack for a frankly silly £2.99? But what if you’re nervous about handing over such vast, Icelandic Banking System crushing amounts of money? What do you do?
Well you can download Tonestack GO for the princely sum of £0.00.
The layout and design are identical to the full-fat version of Tonestack, if you’ve used it before, and ahem is very similar to Jamup’s layout if you’ve used Postitive Grid’s app before (and if you have not – why not?) Tonestack is perhaps a degree less crisp and attractive, but then Tonestack has to show much more information, Tonestack after all allows split signal chains, Jamup does not.
With the landscape format, it’s a much more pleasant and intuitive control service than Ampkit or Amplitube. One nice touch is if you double-tap to zoom into the controls, a side wipe in the screen will take you to the controls of the next device in the signal chain. It’s a little touch that make using it that little bit easier and more pleasant and indicates the degree of thought that Yonac have put into this app.
So what do you get for your zero pounds and zero pence? Well, you have a Marshall-a-like amp and cab, a tube-screamer clone, digital delay and reverb and a chorus. Most of the great guitar music ever recorded has been done on much less than this so lets plug in and give it a go.
Clean, the amp model is….lunatically good. On a Fender, a bridge pickup will give you a ton of spank, a great, percussive noise that is perfect for country. The neck pickup is almost impossibly fat but bell-like in it’s clarity and with terrific note separation and definition. It is a long way from a shimmery, Fender-clean tone. It is a solid, chewy tone, perfect for any Hendrix-SRV-Gilmour yearnings you may have.
Using humbuckers, everything is smoothed out. The neck is perfect for jazz and blues and on both single coils and humbuckers, the tone is very touch sensitive and a strong pick attack will bring out a strong percussive quality to the notes.
I found it very, very hard to stop playing it, it simply sounded so good and felt good to play.
Overdriven was less overwhelming. There is not a massive amount of distortion in this amp and the tube screamer is really needed to push it to metal territory. It is not a bad tone by any means – much better than anything in Amplitube – it just suffured in comparision to the sensational clean tone. The mic and cabinet emulations will also allow you to fine tune your tone.
On to effects, the aforesaid Tube Screamer is really, really good. Subtle, warm and organic in physical form, every sim maker has a version of it and very rarely makes it work. Yonac have done it, it pushes the drive channel of this amp along nicely but with the controls pushed back it just pumps a bit of juice into the clean tone for a warm, chewy blues tone.
The delay and reverb are powerfully competent affairs. They are models of digital units and they do exactly what they set out to do, giving you a solid, very clean delay signal and an especially warm reverb.
The Chorus is simply lovely, warm and shimmery, it is a very well thought out effect that like so many of the effects in Tonestack, appreciate subtlety. Of course you can get the whacky woo-woo noises if you want, but a sensitive hand on the controls will give you a rich, musical effect that will not swamp your signal.
Of course you also get a good tuner and metronome and a record function. There is no looper as you’ll get in Jamup but that is not a catastrophic loss.
What Jamup does offer is the fantastic on-line patch library which is not just a store of hundreds of great tones (and a few bad ones) but is also a gateway into a wider community of users. Tonestack’s old fashioned patch system has no really usable patch import system and no central library of patchs at all. Jamup is way ahead of everyone here and if there is one thing I’d add to Tonestack, it would be a better patch system.
So you’ve got a pile of great effects, a very decent overdriven amp channel and a truly beautiful clean channel for no money at all. If you’ve never played Tonestack before, really you have to try it. Having played Bias, Tonestack and Jamup an awful lot over the summer, I’d say they compliment each other very well. Bias and Jamup are slightly ahead for super-saturated yet defined metal and djent tones, but I’d choose Tonestack for the quality of the clean sounds and the exceptional beauty of it’s effects (especially the modulation and filter effects).#
What? You’re still reading this? Download it now! Go!