Review: GuitarJack

Another interface I used for the testing of guitar emulators in my recent test of 11 iPhone guitar emulators was GuitarJack by Sonoma Wire Works. I was doing my testing using the GuitarJack Model 1 for the following reasons:

  • It was on sale when I purchased it (reduced to $49.00 USD)
  • It connects to my iPhone 3GS
  • I wanted it.

From what I’ve seen and read, GuitarJack Model 2 is way cooler (as are the iPhone 4GS and the iPad). But I can’t write about that other than to say “I want all of those things!”

But let’s learn more about my experiences with GuitarJack Model 1 and the 11 apps I tested it with.

Unlike the other interfaces I have (including the JamUp Plug I wrote about previously) the GuitarJack connects to your iPhone using the dock connector and not the headphone connection. A positive experience I had was that the GuitarJack connected to my iPhone with or without a case attached. A downside I experienced was that the connection was touchy if the iPhone was moved about while in use. This may have something to do with the fact my iPhone case is really thick because it doubles as a connection to a mini tripod stand (it’s seriously thick and sturdy).

When the connection is in and your iPhone isn’t messed with though, the GuitarJack is pretty impressive. I found it generated some pretty good sounds and may have even controlled the unwanted noise I sometime experience when playing guitar on the iPhone.

Another thing worth pointing out is that the GuitarJack is pure metal (it’s actually constructed of metal). \m/

It’s very sturdy and will no doubt outlast my iPhone. Speaking of which, you’ll need one (iPhone 3GS or worse for the GuitarJack Model 1 like I’ve got).

You might not be able to make it out on one of the images below, but I’m running GuitarTone (also by Sonoma Wire Works) for this article. The main reason being that plugging your GuitarJack in while playing GuitarTone gets you access to additional amps and cabs ($9.99 USD value). The interface partially pays for itself!

You will of course require other components to successfully play guitar in your iPhone. You will especially require a guitar.

Having an electric guitar is cool, but without the ability to connect it to the GuitarJack and the amplifier emulator you’re running, it’s not as cool as it could be. Your guitar isn’t living up to its full potential. To make sure my guitar is being all it can be, I plug it in with my standard 1/4″ guitar cable.

Of course you’re going to want to hear your output in something better than the iPhone’s built-in speakers. GuitarJack allows you to export your sound easily with its handy 1/8″ line-out connection. I generally choose to play into headphones. My family and neighbours thank me for that choice often.

With all of your pieces on the board, it’s time to put them into play. Below is what a connected GuitarJack looks like.

Check and mate. One really cool thing about this interface is that you’re using a regular guitar cable that plugs directly into a solid, metal interface. It feels good and the connection is strong. As I mentioned earlier, I’d like the dock connection to be more solid, but I understand that locking it in could become dangerous if you aren’t careful with your phone. All things considered, I’d rather the GuitarJack came out in an emergency rather than damage the dock connection of the iPhone.

Speaking of connections, how does this interface connect with the apps I tested it with? To be honest, it connects with fewer apps than those interfaces that use the iPhone’s headphone connection. iShredLIVE, Mobile POD and AmpliTube didn’t recognise the GuitarJack for me. Although I don’t believe Mobile POD works on the iPhone 3GS at all. From my own research however, I have discovered that the Mobile POD should only work with the Line 6 Mobile In interface. But I digress …

For a full rundown of the apps GuitarJack does work with (according to my tests), please see the handy document I created below.

The results are also available as a PDF complete with links to all of the apps mentioned (click their icons).

At the time of writing, GuitarJack Model 1 is still on sale for $49.00 for us iPhone 3GS users and $149.00 for the Model 2 (for all people current with technology). It’s the most expensive of the interfaces I own, but the added ability for the mic input (which I’m yet to use) is pretty cool.

Finally, the sound. I really do like spending a night with the Sonoma Wire Works app family. I can almost build a complete song using GuitarTone, FourTrack, InstantDrummer and the GuitarJack interface. The only thing holding me back, is me. I have an ability issue.

All the same, I’d like to share a very simple track/riff I put together for this article. It’s four tracks laid out in FourTrack using the GuitarJack and two custom presets I made in GuitarTone. I hope you enjoy it and get a feel for the sound quality you can expect when using the GuitarJack Model 1 in an iPhone 3GS.

Four to Four by Scarebear

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