REVIEW: IK Multimedia AmpliTube Slash for iPad

Slash is one of those players who manages to cross the divide between generations. Original classic rock fans love his blues-based style. Hard rock and metal fans dig his attitude. And kids are drawn to his guitar hero persona. Slash has always used top-quality gear and has had no hesitation in putting his name to the equipment that meets his standards. We may not all be able to afford a Gibson Slash Les Paul and his signature Marshall AFD 100 amp, but now with AmpliTube Slash you can at still rock out with a version of Slash’s iconic tone – no, scratch that, make that tones.

AmpliTube Slash is available for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch, and you can use IK Multimedia’s iRig or iRig Stomp to connect to the app. Other interfaces which use the 30 pin connector work too, and you can also use iRig MIDI to control AmpliTube Slash with your floor controller.

The app includes five effects (Chorus, Delay, Booster, OctoBlue and Distortion/Wah, the latter being available for free when you register the app) as well as a noise gate, two amplifier heads (Marshall JCM Slash Edition Silver Jubilee and the AFD 100), a single track recorder, expandable to eight tracks with mastering effects. You can export your recordings via email, SoundCloud, FTP or File Sharing. There are 30 tone presets included, and you can create your own too. There’s a tuner, a metronome, and you can import/purchase and play along with your favourite Slash tracks or any music in your library. The SpeedTrainer section lets you slow down or speed up licks while maintaining pitch for practicing. if you currently own AmpliTube for iPad or iPhone, upgrade to version 2.5 for free and all AmpliTube Slash gear models are available as in-app purchase, either as a complete set or a-la-carte.

So those amp models: it appears that there are two included, but really there’s three, with two contained within the Marshall AFD100 amp, just like with the real amp. Lemmie explain. The original AFD100 Slash amp features two modes: AFD and 34. The 34 mode is based on Slash’s modded JCM 800 2208 (which has ’34’ stencilled on the side). The second mode, AFD, adds an extra gain stage and is based on the sound heard on the Appetite For Destruction album. So the AFD model in the app is based on this amp and its two modes. Cool huh?

I plugged my Gibson Les Paul Traditional in using Sonoma Wire Works GuitarJack 2 (I don’t have an iRig Stomp handy) and let rip. I could tell you all about the sounds, but you can hear some of my noodlings here.

As you’ll hear, the cleans are very crisp and lively – I used different pick attacks for various chords in the demo – and the overdriven rhythm sounds are chunky and rich. Lead sounds a sweet and expressive. Higher gain settings are also available but they’re not quite as satisfying as the finely-detailed overdrive sounds, and the more gain you pile on, the more background noise you introduce, so go easy on the mega-gain! Slash isn’t known for going totally overboard with the distortion, so don’t feel like you have to ladle it on here. There are more metal-friendly amps in the regular version of AmpliTube for iPad if that’s what you’re after.

The effects sound good, although it’d be nice to be able to move the delay into a post-amp location. But if you really want post amp delay, you can upgrade the recording section and use the delay available there. The Distortion/Wah can be a little fiddly but the ‘Tilt’ mode is a lot of fun: it move the iPad and the wah treadle on screen will move along with it. The chorus is very musical and flexible. But for me the real standout is the OctoBlue. This stomper adds sub-octave fuzzy goodness to your tone, and even if you typically record with physical amps, the two stock presets are record-worthy.

AmpliTube Slash is a great tool for easily tapping into Slash’s legendary tone. Sure, it’s no 100 watt double stack, but it’s fun, it’s certainly recordable especially if you need those great clean and overdriven sounds, and it’s incredibly easy to use.