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Published on December 29th, 2012 | by Greg


Ion Audio All Star Guitar: A Fun Way To Rock Out

We first got a glimpse of today’s device almost a year ago, at CES 2012. The idea was simple: use your iPad as the centerpiece for a guitar controller, allowing you to plug your tablet into the middle of a guitar, and use a real-feeling instrument to electronically control your iOS device. Now, almost a year later, we got a chance to check out the final product, and though some of the details have changed, it’s still a fun, immediately-appealing way to play and learn guitar and bass.

If you’re familiar with GarageBand for the iPad, you know it’s many strengths and some of the limitations. The instrument samples are pretty great, and the app is responsive and offers plenty of features. But for guitar players, it’s always felt a little limited, since strumming on a tablet is awkward at best. That’s the problem solved by the Ion Audio All Star Guitar- it serves as a classy case while offering 84 notes on the fretboard. There aren’t strings, but for the most part, you won’t miss them much- those looking for an authentic guitar should buy a real guitar after all. Unless the lack of velocity-sensitivity is a buzz-killer, the All Star Guitar will satisfy your inner rocker.

Fully compatible with GarageBand, we started the app on our iPad 2 (the original model is also supported, along with some iPhones and even iPod Touch models, though we did not test them). The tablet slides into a fairly solid housing, and just like any Rock Band fan will recognize, you adjust the included strap and pop in the four AA batteries. There are no extra cables or wires, the entire thing is self-contained, and feels pretty well-balanced once setup. A built-in speaker amplifies the sound (necessary, since the iPad’s speakers are blocked), and there is access to your headphone port so you can use headphones or connect to an external amp.

For those without GarageBand or looking for an educational experience, the free All Star Guitar app includes a few included songs and four guitar sound options: clean and dirty electric, along with a a decent acoustic and a so-so bass. And the best part: there are lights on the neck that illuminate to help you learn to play. It’s not as beginner-friendly as some learning tools, but a novice will pick it up fast. And other songs are available for purchase ($1.99), from ‘Rolling in the Deep’ to ‘Hey, Soul Sister’.

Available now for under $100, you definitely get a lot for the money- it looks and feels pretty good, though the knobs are a bit plasticky. Great for parties, the Ion Audio All Star Guitar is a fun and fairly addictive experience.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Appleā€™s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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