This is the basic playing interface. Hold the chord buttons at the top and strum or tap the strings! The current "Song" is shown at the bottom of the interface and it includes all your button assignments, and effects settings. Songs can be arranged in a sequence ( a Playlist ) and selected with the left/right arrows. And yes, the list can be set not to change with an accidental tap… I think the developer actually plays this thing!!
iShred Settings and Options
The left up arrow reveals a menu of augmentations to the iShred. You can choose an audio track to play along to, start a new song, set up your all your songs in a sequenced Playlist and read the excellent Help file. Sorry, "AirPlay" won't let you stream to an Apple TV … see the sharing thumbnail.
The settings let you adjust master volume, overall guitar tuning, turn vibrato and pitch bend on/off, switch the display for left-handers and turn off animation for slower devices (though the help calls the iPhone 3GS "fast" … so I don't imaging this being much of an issue these days!) Several chord /scale labeling variations are also included. Crucially a little local "strum" pad lets you preview the sound without returning to the app. Well played!
iShred: Editing Menu
The lower right arrow button reveals all of iShed's editing functionality. From here we can access screens to Edit buttons, add effects, make recordings and play backing-tracks.
The "Edit" pane allows users to choose the functionality of any selected button. It can be Blank, a single Chord, a custom User Chord, a Scale, a Chromatic Scale, a fretboard display, an Effect Setting, or a Button page! Here button one, is Blank. Read on ...
Here I've dialed up a D Sus 4 on the first button. Note that the right- hand dial even provides a choice of inversions played in different fretboard positions.
A User Chord lets players create a New User Chord ( tap the Up Arrow) and choose a note for each string from Open to the 22nd fret.
User Chord Editor
Here we are playing a chord fretted low string to high : fret 11/9/10/mute/1/mute. The actual notes sounded are shown directly under the buttons. Yup, you can play chords impossible to finger on real guitar without help from friends! ( advisory : don't try this chord…)
A Scale Button
A button can have a scale assigned to it. The dial allows selection of any Major/Minor scale plus a selection of pentatonics, blues, modal choices and a couple of exotic variations. Here we've dialed up a C major Pentatonic on the second fret… the last dial lets us play notes right up to the top of the fretboard.
The Scale Playing Surface
This is a C Minor Scale in the 9th position ( fret). The button reads "C-s9-Minor ". Notes are played by tapping. The root notes ( C ) are marked with big squares, the middle sized squares are the 5th interval and the smallest the 3rd interval. The other notes are all in the scale …. so theres no wrong notes here! Just shred! We can bend notes by sliding a finger on the screen after tapping the note. It sounds very realistic too … no odd audio artifacts creeping into the sound like I've heard in lesser apps. Hammer ons and offs are very natural. If you can do one on a real guitar you'll do it here too!
The "always in scale" scales are awesome, but who doesn't want a wrong note every now and then? Seriously, better players than me know when to play outside the scale, or modulate to another variation. So these scales reveal all the notes of an actual fretboard with the defined scale marked with root, 3rd and 5th intervals. Makes sliding notes into tune breeze.
If you actually know your fretboard then you don't need help. Pick a position on the guitar neck and play whatever you need to. Here we'll see the fretboard from the first fret.
This button is showing the fretboard from the 5th fret. Hope you know what you're doing….
As an aside sometimes note changes get a little static sounding, its an unavoidable result of sample based instruments, but adding vibrato by shaking your device works wonders! Just turn it on in the settings!
Effects Configuration Buttons
Assign a button to an Effects Slot … there's six, and configure the pedal board for whatever mayhem makes you grin!
Each Song has 4 pages of Buttons … 40 in total. To switch between them while playing assign a button two the page you'd like to jump to. This button will take us to page 3.
Lots Of Buttons
So here we have a Cmaj Chord (selected), A Csus4 chord, a Cminor Scale on the 9th fret (always in tune), a Cmaj chromatic Blues scale on the 10th fret ( all notes available), a blank fretboard on the 5th fret, a button to activate the FX 2 slot configuration, and a Button to take us back to the Page 1 buttons ( presumably this is Page 2).
Effects: The Pedal Board
At the top is an Amp simulator which can be turned on/off. It adds a little warmth to the clean sound. The overdrive switch kicks in some distortion which can be tweaked with the drive level. Its quite sweet sounding for solo notes.
Individual pedals can be tapped to edit and activate them, indicated by their yellow glow and yes… they can be dragged around to set up your own custom pedal order.
Overall the quality of the effects on offer is very good IMO … but things get very subjective. I do come at things from the POV that this whole thing costs $5 and lives in my pocket! On the other hand I've paid for real pedals that sounded worse than these...
Note the handy preview strum button and the pickup selector at the bottom!
Tap on a pedal to reveal its pedal-like adjustments. Theres a threshold and compression ratio and a make up level control ( in case you like to really squash the signal) … and a footswitch ? OK its a bypass button unless you've got very nimble toes during a gig.
It breaks up the sound like it should. It glows red and shoots lighting bolts. Whats not to like … if you like this sort of thing? Personally I've never got on well with fuzz pedals … not even the ones with built in sirens ( anyone old enough to have a clue what I'm talking about?)
A Dual chorus which instantly harks back to the Police to Echo and the Bunnymen (anyone … anyone?). Not quite the magical Roland JC120.. but it sweeps the sound around nicely.
I'd call this a Flanger I think. Its a modulated delay effect with the twist of having selectable modulation patterns. Makes some pretty crazy swirling, beating sounds. What can I say? Turn the knobs.
Ah tremolo an oft overlooked treatment IMO. This one has an oscilloscope which displays the envelope shape of the volume changes. The effect itself has plenty of depth and can really bring the guitar to life. Don't over do it though.
A standard delay ( up to 2000ms ) with regeneration ( feedback) and level controls. The delay time can be set by tapping (e.g. a desired tempo) or with a nifty slider that scrolls thorough the range of available delay times.
This pedal applies a tone boost ( up to 18dB) in the signal's mid range ( 1.4KHz to 4KHz ). So if your Strat doesn't bite enough for you twang it up here. Turn up the level and sweep through the frequency range until your ears bleed.
It's a wah-wah pedal! This one works by tilting the iDevice along its length to "depress" the pedal and make the guitar cry. It works, but I prefer to hold the device sideways when playing. This means I have to tilt it left/right which is awkward … and it makes trying to play accurately a bit dicey. I like to be able to change the axis of control, or have it modulate the effect automatically. By where I strum on the stings maybe?
The Edit menu also access the built in recorder. From here you can record your own playing and them use it as a backing track to play alone to. Recordings can be shared over the internet (MIDI I guess) or turned into an audio file. These files can then be played with the built in player, trimmed, looped and jammed to. These jams can then be recorded and mixed with the backing track. With the advent of powerful iOS multitrack recorders this isn't really the best workflow … but it does work.
The player can also playback your music library if you'd like to mix it up with the pros.
Here I've used the Airplay feature from the Preferences menu to download a recording that someone did of a Green Day song. No "Airplay" isn't a way to get the sound of iShred streamed to your Apple TV. It's a feature that delivers (seemingly random) user recordings to your App for you to play with. This one uses the effects very nicely to emulate the introduction the song. Clever.