AmpKit 1.2 is live in the App Store—and it’s the largest single app update we’ve ever issued. We welcome four new Official Gear Partners—Budda®, Rocktron®, Fargen™ and Sonic Edge—and add a total of six new amps with 14 separately-modeled amp channels, as well as four new pedals. See this post for the back story on how we created AmpKit 1.2.
To celebrate the launch of AmpKit 1.2, we’ve got two limited-time-only specials for you. We created a new bundle, the Summer ’11 Pack, which includes all of this new gear at a limited-time price of only $9.99 (US App Store price), more than 80% off individual gear prices. We’ve also worked with the people at Budda Amplification to offer the Budda Superdrive™ 30 Series II amp for a limited time at just $.99.
We’ll look at gear details in a moment, but first let’s take a quick look at some of the new features in AmpKit 1.2:
- Doubled fidelity* of AmpKit’s amp / cabinet simulations. Every AmpKit amp and cabinet, from the Peavey ValveKing included in the free version of AmpKit to the six new amps that we’ve added in 1.2, has been upgraded to take advantage of dual-stage amp simulation and convolution-based cabinet simulation, which results in tremendously improved tone and even greater fidelity to the physical gear they’re modeled after.
- Cleaner cleans. When you’re using AmpKit LiNK or other guitar interfaces that connect via the headset jack, we’ve found a way to restore the incoming guitar signal to its pristine state, adding back what is unavoidably lost passing through electronics that are primarily intended for voice signals. The result is a startling improvement in the quality of the incoming signal, which is noticeable everywhere but especially when playing clean—jazz, country, acoustic, etc. Also a big win for bass players.
- Fatter solos. In earlier releases, AmpKit used studio-style output shaping, which emphasizes treble frequencies over bass, ideal for recording and mixing but a bit thin for individual play. In 1.2, you can toggle output shaping between Mix (studio-style) and Solo, which fattens up the bass and provides a noticeable audio impact, whether you’re playing clean or high-gain.
- Gain goodness. AmpKit 1.2 embraces the high-gain player with an expanding set of gear and features tailored for high-gain play. The noise gate in AmpKit 1.2 is better at keeping high-gain setups under control; you can now safely play with much higher gain levels. If feedback does get out of control, AmpKit now includes automatic feedback suppression.
- Recording mixdown. When you export / share a recording via email, SoundCloud or Audio Copy/Paste, you’ve now got the option to include the backing track in your exported recording.
- Background Audio. As mentioned above, AmpKit now supports iOS’s background audio capability, so play through your favorite AmpKit setup while looking at tabs in TabToolkit, chords in GuitarToolkit, etc.
Introducing Four New AmpKit Official Gear Partners
Peavey Electronics has been our sole and primary Official Gear Partner up to this release. With AmpKit 1.2, we’re adding four new Official Gear Partners: Budda Amplification, Rocktron, Fargen Amplification, and Sonic Edge. Let’s take a look at these partners and their new gear.
Budda amps have a fantastic reputation in the marketplace, first and foremost for ultra-smooth overdrive tone. Artists using Budda gear range from legends like Alex Skolnick (Testament, Alex Skolnick Trio) and Leslie West to modern rockers Tomo Milicevic (Thirty Seconds to Mars), James Richardson (MGMT) and Lincoln Parrish (Cage The Elephant), to Nashville players Jack Sizemore (Jason Aldean) and Beau Tackett (Blake Shelton. For our first Budda offering, we modeled the Superdrive Series II 30 watt combo amp with its custom Budda 1×12 Phat speaker. This amp is revered for its combination of sweet and aggressive tones, with Rhythm and Drive channels providing flexibility and a wide dynamic range for playing jazz, blues, or hard rock. The AmpKit model includes the same Rhythm and Drive channels and faithfully reproduces this amp’s great tone. A case in point: when we arranged for the Alex Skolnick Trio to perform during this year’s WWDC event using AmpKit, Alex chose to play his usual Budda amp – only this time, the AmpKit version!
Rocktron has been a staple of pro guitarists for many years, with iconic products including the Hush noise reduction system and the Banshee talkbox. We’ve selected two great distortion effects as our first Rocktron offerings in AmpKit 1.2. The Zombie Rectified Distortion® pedal is based on rectified asymmetric distortion and delivers a monstrously heavy sound, what Rocktron describes as a “psycho-acoustic 3D sound positioning effect.” Whatever it is, we love the tone. Here’s an example that pairs the Zombie with octave and delay effects. Rocktron’s Cottonmouth Fuzz is a truly modern fuzz effect that gives give you access to a vast range of tone with a total of eight controls, including level, a full 3-band EQ, and four unique distortion controls: Bite, Spit, Strike, and Venom.
Ben Fargen is a legend in the boutique amp world, with customers that include Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, John Rezeznick and Michael Landau. We’ve teamed up with Ben to bring three classic Fargen amps to AmpKit.
- We really enjoy the Fargen’s Olde 800™, a production model, because of its “decade” switch: dial in 60s, 70s, or 80s and you get three very different tones reminiscent of popular amps from the selected decade. We paired the Olde 800 head with a matching cabinet based on two 12” WGS loudspeakers.
- The Super Collider™ is a rare Fargen Custom Shop special with great looks, a beautiful, rich clean channel and a stinging overdrive channel. You’ll probably never be able to own an original, but in AmpKit you can enjoy the great tone of this amp for the cost of a Starbucks coffee or two. For the matching cabinet, we started with a twin-12” Jensen stock cabinet and enhanced its crispness and high end. Like the original, AmpKit’s model includes reverb.
- The Hot Mod™ Baby Blues models a mod: Ben is known for his modifications to well-known production amps. In this case, Ben started with the Fender® Blues Junior™ and worked his hot-mod magic on it, adding a useful Presence control, a revised and updated Fat switch, and a whole heap more gain to turn the baseline amp into a completely new device with unique and excellent tone.
Sonic Edge is another Ben Fargen creation focused on pro-grade effects pedals, and AmpKit 1.2 includes two Sonic Edge beauties. The J&J Overdrive delivers an overdriven tone that is distinctive, even across AmpKit’s wide selection of overdrive pedals, delivering tone ranging from subtle sweetening to full-on tube crushing drive. I find myself reaching for the J&J first when I need moderate overdrive, edging out AmpKit’s great Elevenizer overdrive. The Tumbleweed is a dual-function pedal, combining clean boost with a snappy new compression model. The built-in boost has Brit, Cali, and Jazz modes for trans-Atlantic tonality plus a warm boost for jazz finger-picking players, while the compressor offers subtle sustain options. As with the J&J, the Tumbleweed has taken over as my compressor of choice, with its ability to also provide extra boost and bite on-demand as a nice plus.
Gain2: Meet Sultan and Uber
Besides the four new amps from our Official Gear Partners, we’ve added two more classic high-gain amp models to the AmpKit lineup. The Sultan Rack 88 is modeled after the Soldano rack-mounted X88R preamp pushed through a Mesa Boogie® 20/20 power module. It features Clean, Rhythm, and Lead channels just like the original, and we paired it with a custom-fit 4×12 cabinet. The Uber Xtreme 101 models a Bogner Ecstacy 101B, another three-channel high-gain classic which we paired with a tone-customized 4×12 cabinet. In both cases, as AmpKit customers have come to expect, our models are based on the actual circuitry of the original gear, and the gain isn’t watered down to compensate for the excessive crosstalk inherent to some guitar interfaces. So hold onto your hat and let ‘em rip!
A New Bundle and Two Limited-time Specials
We want to get all of this new gear in the hands of our AmpKit customers as quickly as possible, so we created the Summer ’11 Pack, which includes all six new amps and four new pedals. For a limited time we’re offering this bundle at $9.99 (U.S. App Store pricing), which is over 80% off the individual prices of the included gear. We’re also offering the Budda Superdrive 30, normally priced at $5.99, at $.99 for a limited time. That’s amazing tone for your money.
In coming blog installments, we’ll be taking an in-depth look at the new features in AmpKit 1.2. Stay tuned.
*Cabinet simulation is upgraded on all iOS devices; amp simulation is improved on new-generation devices: iPad, iPhone 4, and iPod touch 4th generation.
Bogner is a registered trademark of Bogner Amplification.
Budda is a registered trademark of, and Superdrive is a trademark of, Budda Amplification.
Fargen, Hot Mods, Olde 800, and Super Collider are trademarks of Fargen Amps, Inc.
Fender is a Registered Trademark of, and Blues Junior is a Trademark of, the Fender Musical Instruments Corporation.
Mesa Boogie is a registered trademark of Mesa Boogie Ltd.
Rocktron, Zombie Rectified Distortion, and Cottonmouth Fuzz are registered trademarks of GHS Corporation.