ThumbJam [rating: 4.5/5]
It’s rare to see an app with so many positive reviews and so few negative ones on the App Store. So we decided to check ThumbJam out.
Apparently it can make anyone into a live performance pro, and groups of iPhone users into their very own synced up band!
ThumbJam should not be looked upon as a tool for creating tracks with (although you can record your jam sessions, and some loops or tracks), but rather a live performance tool that provides some assistance to make you sound good, in tune, and perhaps record that.
Instruments included number too many to list in their entirety, but include Cello, Violin, Viola through Flute, Acoustic Guitar, Rhodes, Synth Choir and even signature sounds from Jordan. So, a lot. And a set which overall contains a bunch of staple instruments splattered with an eclectic smattering of some more diverse ones too.
ThumbJam is easy enough to pick up and use by anyone, with any level of skill. And that is despite its interface looking a little daunting initially. Its really impressive array of instruments have been sampled at very high quality, and at various frequencies to provide authentic and dynamic sounds across a large range of notes. And ThumbJam consequently sounds great when your iPhone is hooked up to your home sound system.
Once you have started to master the app, and wish to delve deeper you may want to encourage a friend or two to get a copy, and jam together. The app provides ways to sync your devices so that they match each others tempo, key and scale. This is all done via Bluetooth.
Multi-touch is implemented pretty well, allowing you to play many notes at once, creating chords, and also affect pitch, vibrato and glissando by moving your fingers, or tilting and turning the device. So you can really get into the music you are performing, and even perhaps fall off your chair if you get too carried away. In many ways ThumbJam is a musical instrument in its own right. I did get a few notes to stick while pushing the multi-touch limits of the interface. But it was infrequent, and easily remedied by stopping the instrument.
Every instrument has a plethora of settings you can play with to affect how they behave and sound. And the “keyboard” of ThumbJam is customisable to have more notes on screen, or change its octave range.
A recent update to the app added the ability to save and load tracks, and share / import them with apps like BeatMaker. And a further update has allowed you to use the app as a MIDI or OSC controller.
The author (Jesse Chappell) has obviously started building a relationship with users, and is listening to their feedback, as well as enjoying the music that many of them create. One example of that is here, and indeed in version updates many of the requests that this user had have been implemented.
One notable request, that many early reviews of this app picked up on, was the lack of a metronome to help when recording loops or tracks. This has been added as part of a recent update. And added with an impressive array of settings. As have more instruments, and usability tweaks and enhancements.
On any other platform this app would be considerably more than $6.99. And it wouldn’t be being updated quite so often either. It may seem expensive for an iPhone app, but the price hardly reflects the level of detail and professionalism, not to mention love, that has gone into producing what is probably the best music creation app for the iPhone at the moment.
A Twitter comment I received when reviewing this app said that the new iPad update “defines what my iPad is for”. I personally prefer using this on my iPhone. I like having it in my pocket for moments when inspiration strikes. But can also totally see how iPad users are able to get more from their larger interface, and the enhancements made to the app specifically for the iPad. What’s more, according to Jesse, “This is just the beginning for the iPad”.
If you like making music, and are at any skill level from beginner to pro., you are going to find something you like in ThumbJam. In short, if you are into music creation in any way, and have an iOS Device, get ThumbJam! It’s addictive! Now, where was I…
- Massive array of instruments.
- Massive amount of control.
- MIDI & OSC live output.
- Occasional stuck note.
- Amount of control can be overwhelming.
$6.99 (View in iTunes)
Updated: Jul 26, 2010
Current Version: 1.3
1.3 (iOS 4.0 Tested)
Seller: Jesse Chappell
© 2010 Jesse Chappell
Requirements:Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 3.1 or later