Tonestack 2 promises improved modeling quality and faster preset changes. I’ve tried Tonestack 2 on an Iphone 4s, a 6 and an Ipad Air 1 and the app performs well on all of them. The 4s chugs a bit when you adda lot of effects or routing options – particularly on high quality settings – but is always usable. But with more powerful hardware there is a definite jump in quality. Everything sounds more defined, more detailed, bigger. Really just more of everything. Sound quality is so subjective – but there is in the update a refined clarity and transparency about the old Tonestack models. Take the Fender Twin model – it was always a very strong piece of modelling but now there is a more visceral sense of texture to it, particularly with single coils. Effects are also improved. Effects, especially the modulation and filter effects, were always among the strongest of Tonestack’s virtues but now they sound dazzling. I was playing with the updated 1970 Wah and just fell into playing the Theme from Shaft and I don’t think I have ever got as close to that tone.

As an update, Tonestack 2 adds improved sound quality and much quicker preset changes. Which is not bad for a free update.

Now where was I? Oh yes, so this big version 2.0 update of Tonestack gives more refined effects and amp modeling and much quicker preset changes, It also gives a shedload of new amps and effects. And all of them can be purchased for a very reasonable

£7.99.

The Amps

OU812

Guess what this is meant to be. And it is a sophisticated and remarkably nuanced imagining of the classic 5150 amp. There is a tight and focused lead tone in there but also a very pleasing set of clean tones.

Wrecking Ball and The Nazz Jr

Based on 2 Dr Z designs, these are great for rootsy rock but flounder a bit at very high levels of distortion. But clean, these were a revelation and worked very well with Tonestack’s modulation effects.

Clementine 30

Orange amps appear to very hard to really model well – possibly the PC version of Amplitube has the best version, But I think that this is the best version you’ll find on iOS. The tone is rich and thick and made for early 70’s blues rock. It’s not a thrash metal amp model but what it does it does very well – especially with the tube screamer model.

Lightning Bolt

It’s a very, very good Supro model. Clean tones are suitably rowdy and clangy (a very good country tone with a Tele I found) but wound up you get a lovely Communications Breakdown sound, a great tone for most of rock up to about 1973, and lets face it, most music went to crap after that anyway.

Jazz 460

A difficult one this – the Roland Jazz is the only really classic solid state model that you’ll find in amp sims. But it is a hard one to do right. And this one does not work for me. 5 different guitars, 2 different interfaces and it still sounded thin and shrill. Even- despite the brilliance of Yonac’s modulation modeling – the chorus is a bit duff. A big disappointment.

Dual Shaman

But this isn’t! It’s a Fender but not as we usually know it. For a basically clean amp it has a ton of attitude and is basically Dick Dale on tap. It has a similar rollicking quality to the Lightning Bolt – the clean tones are if anything more focused, more aggressive even if the overdriven tones as less effective than the great Supro model.

Bear in mind that a lot of these models have a lot of knobs on them, and so are much easier to use on an Ipad.

Lester R147a

This is an amazing little thing. Its a model of a Lesley cabinet and amp, something that has been modelled many times. But never anywhere near as well as we have here. This gives you waves of richly modulated tone, with hints of chorus and flange as well as that familiar Leslie warble. The base amp also has a warm plummy character that is ideal for classic jazz. The whole package is deeply musical and may be the most enjoyable thing in the whole package.

The Effects

Tonestack does great amps but Yonac’s background is in synths and effects and that becomes very clear once you start playing through the wide range of Tonestack FX. Modulation effects in particular are simply epic with some of best flanger, chorus and filter effects I,ve ever

heard. So the new effects have got a lot to live up to. I’m looking at the guitar effects today and will come to the bass package in my next post.
Apex +

Modelled on the Wampler Pinnacle Deluxe (isn’t it nice when things have names instead of numbers?) this is an intensely sophisticated and nuanced pedal. there is plenty of grunt in there but also transparency and a tactile weight to the tone. I think you’ll be using this one a lot.
Bourbon Neat

Specifically modelled on the Wampler Paisley Drive, this covers similar ground to the Apex without quite the degree of dirt but with perhaps more control over the mods. It is a corker.
Headbanger

Mild, gentle, vintage tube overdrive….ok, I’m lying but this a particularly versatile metal zone clone with a nice tight character.
Superb OD

It’s a Boss SD1, and a damned fine one at that. What more do you want?
Fu-torn IV

A copy of a Mutron, this sort of filter effect is Yonac’s real strength and this is the best modelled one I’ve heard on iOS.
Hex EQ

parametric EQs make my head hurt, but this is as good a one as I’ve found on iOS. very fiddly on the iPhone though.
Shimmer Reverb

It’s a niche effect but if you like your Johnny Marr fantasies as much as I do, this is a distinctly nuanced effect that will add a lot of character to your tone, it really loved my Baha Tele.
Compsustain TT3

Based on the CS-3, it is among the least effective of the new models, Tonestacks Nashville Sky has a more musical compression and covers all the bases the TT3 handles, but is simply better.

Bass players can feel a little aggrieved about the lack of attention they have from the modelling world, both on PCs and on iOS. The odd Ampeg model here and there, with only Amplitube on the PC devoting any real attention to our 4 string brothers, and even Amplitube’s bass package is a decade old.On IOS it is a little better, Bias have a selection of bass amps and of course the architecture of Bias allows potentially unlimited variations thereof. But only Jamup offered both amps and bass effects in one add-on package and very good is was too.

But now Yonac have stood up to the challenge as part of the Tonestack 2 update, with an mixture of amps and bass effects that looks like it could exceed Jamup as the new favourite for bass players.
I’m not much of a bass player, but I plugged in my lovely old Godin SD4, a very nice bass with a Tele type body and the tone of a very good Fender Jazz and gave the package a go.

I had purchased the bass package as part of the Tonestac 2 update for a frankly silly £7.99, which gave me all the new amps and effects. You can get it now for £14.99, which still represents very good value for money.

In operation the bass amps and effects work in the same way as any other effect in Tonestack, so you still have the same beautifully simple and flexible routing system and IAA and Audiobus implementation and it still works very well even on quite elderly hardware – it still sounded good on my iPhone 4s, but of course everything is a lot zipper on faster gear. Bear in mind that a lot of the new stuff has a lot of virtual knobs and so looks much clearer on a full sized iPad.
The amps

Acoustic Pro

Rather pretty emulation of the classic Acoustic 360. Lots of tone options but a very good option for jazz as the tone is both full and cutting.

Bass 15

Versions of the Ampeg 15 crop up often in amp sims but this is a good one. A lovely smooth warm tone, not so good for Geddy Lee impersonations but a great soul-funk tone.
Clementine 200

What is this based on? A great basic clean tone but this really comes alive when it’s pushed into mild overdrive, a great chewy, flexible tone.
Ginger

Based on the SWR Redhead, this is a solid decent tone, but does not really approach the transparency of the original.
Bass 700

Based on the Gallien Krugar 700, this is another solid performer, I’m not sure if the GK design has really aged that well, but this is the closest you’ll find on iOS at the moment.

Bass 800

Like the 700′ this is a good, solid amp model but lacks a bit of character, but this may be my anti- GK bias here.
Bassdude

Now this is right up my strasse, this Superbassman clone has a ton of attitude, a great clanky open tone and sounds very good with a strat plugged into it as well. Loved it.
The Effects

The Brass Buster and Bass Muffin Pie

Very good models of classic bass overdrive pedals, the Brass Buster in particular has a rich, spacy, tone that really works on guitar as well.
Bassoct and Bass Chorus

With good headphones the Bassoct is wonderful for really pushing out some sub bass lines and the chorus seems to really suit some jazzy noodlings. These are not the most versatile models you’ll find, but work very well on any leftfield bass playing out there.
You also get a couple of bass EQs and a bass comp – all of these work well.
The whole package is quite similar to the bass pack that Jamup has had for a while, but with more models, more detailed emulation and of course the much greater flexibility of the Tonestack routing system.
I think that bass emulation is generally a year behind what people are achieving with guitar emulation but this is the most expansive, most versatile and fully achieved bass package available on iOS. If you are a bassist, you really need to buy this.

So conclusion? This revamped version of Tonestack sounds noticeably better and has expanded it’s capabilities in all areas. With it’s brilliant sound quality and tonal flexibility it is by far the best single amp-effect package on iOS. Better than Amplitube, better than Ampkit, better than Jamup.
Tonestack, already fantastic, is now simply better. Play guitar? You must buy this.

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