A Marshall guitar rig can cost you upwards of $3000. What about a Marshall rig that mixes your guitar with thousands of your favorite tunes, runs off of a battery, weighs in at only a few ounces and fits in your shirt pocket?
Most musicians are gear freaks. As a Mac user I love cool gadgets that not only serve a useful purpose but look cool as well. The JamPod fits the “cool looking but useful” toy category a musician and Mac user would want.
The JamPod is a tiny guitar amplifier that plugs into the top of any Apple music player that has the 3.3 volt DC power plug. Since it gets it’s power from the iPod, there is no power cable. The JamPod lets you play your guitar, bass or other electronic instrument along with the music from your iPod, through your iPod’s headphones. You can also do what I did, which is plug the JamPod’s output into a stereo or sound system for monitoring.
The 2 foot cable included with the JamPod converts a standard 1/4″ guitar output to the 1/8″ mini needed. I would recommend a longer cable. With the included 2 foot cable, it’s easy to move and pull your iPod off the table onto the floor (like I did). The iPod and JamPod survived the fall just fine.
I jammed along with AC/DC’s “Back In Black” for starters. I adjusted guitar’s balance with the music by tweaking the iPod’s volume level. I was able to give my Stratocaster some distortion by turning it’s volume up high. Next was some old Who. I went for a little cleaner sound by backing my Strat’s volume down.
A regular guitar amp will have a “gain” knob which adjusts the level of signal going to the pre-amp. A low signal going to the pre-amp results in a “clean” guitar sound. Driving a high signal into the pre-amp results in a “distorted” signal. With the JamPod the volume knob on your guitar serves the same purpose as the regular amp’s gain knob. Adjusting the volume level from your guitar low creates a more “clean” sound. Cranking up your guitar’s output will drive the JamPod’s pre-amp harder, creating a distortion sound.
The JamPod’s distortion tone is good enough for a practice amp yes, but not suitable for studio or live applications. I don’t think Pete Townsend or Eric Clapton will be using it on their next albums.
The portability and convenience of the JamPod is great. I love having an iTunes library practice amp in my pocket or my laptop bag.
I’d love to see a guitar tuner built into the JamPod which uses the iPod’s display. I’d also love to see a future version of the JamPod that has some internal processing such as delay, reverb, chorus etc. Perhaps an even more fancy future JamPod could record to the iPod!
For $29.99 you can’t go wrong with a JamPod. To quote DVForge’s web site: “If that’s not worth thirty-bucks, we don’t know what is.”