Getting started with GarageBand on your iPad

Wannabe rock stars can realise their musical ambitions with GarageBand on their iPad…

31 Jan 2017

What is GarageBand?

GarageBand is a music creation app that comes built into Apple devices. You can use it to get your music – whether you’re playing guitar or singing, or both – onto your computer.

You don’t need to be a musician either, with clever virtual instruments that sound like the real thing at the touch of button.

There’s an iPad version for iOS and a Mac version for OSX. We’re focusing on the iOS version for iPad.

Get started with GarageBand

Record your guitar, vocals or keyboard

To play your guitar or keyboard within GarageBand you must connect the instrument to your iPad. You’ll need a special cable to do this, such as an iRig2 made by IK Multimedia.

To connect a keyboard you can use Apple’s iPad Camera Connection Kit.

Once connected you can choose different amps to put your guitar through – for example if you’re playing acoustic and want to sound more like Black Sabbath.

Or create music with virtual instruments

You don’t have to plug in a real guitar. You can also play virtual instruments. What are Touch Instruments? Think a set of virtual piano keys that respond like real ones, and the same for guitars and bass. Even if you’ve not played a note you can sound like a pro – says Apple. Play guitar chords with a swipe of your finger or piano with a simple tap.

Give it some drums

Give your acoustic guitar or keyboard some teeth by adding drums. Drummer lets you add session drums to your recording. It was put together by top session drummers and recording engineers. Choose from drummers to suit indie singer-songwriters or electronic beats like dubstep. Each drummer has his own signature style, and they can come up with a drum pattern to match your riff.

Lay down your track

Build your individual instruments and sounds into tracks to create a song. The large black editor screen displays each track horizontally so you can have your vocal, your guitar, drums or loops. Simply drag different parts of a song onto the editor screen and adjust them to make a finished song. Tweak tiny details down to individual notes and decibels, and experiment with compression and visual EQ to give your track a professional feel.

Step-by-step guide to making music

  1. New Project window – name your song and set it up with tempo, time signature and key.
  1. Choose from a software instrument, real instrument or electric guitar to layer over each other to form the melody. You’ll also need to choose a drum beat and bass from the library.
  2. Select any areas you want to loop, or record different takes with the Cycle Region command. This lets you easily navigate between them.
  3. Adjust the pitch and use Groove Matching to fix any timing issues in your song.
  4. Then share – send it to iTunes and GarageBand will convert it to an MP4 file.

Get GarageBand for your iPad  

Cool new GarageBand features

Alchemy comes to iOS

The Alchemy synthesizer is a much loved tool of pro music production software Logic Pro. Now it’s available in the GarageBand app for iOS, bringing with it everything from hip-hop to rock and pop.

Music producer Paul Epworth says this helps him to keep ‘coming up with new tracks for my Logic sessions when I’m travelling’.

Be a superstar DJ with Live Loops

Live Loops lets you ‘make music like a DJ’, as Apple puts it. It works by recreating DJ hardware controllers and drum machines for easy access on your device. With it you can:

  • Edit them live – arrange tracks and mix them as you go, GarageBand makes sure they stay in sync.
  • Access a ready-made library of loop templates in different genres, like EDM, Hip Hop, Dubstep and Rock.

Get your best take with Multi-Take Recording

When you’re laying down a track on your iPad it becomes much easier to get the best take. With Multi-Take Recording you get multiple passes to capture your best performance, while you can audition and switch from one favourite take to another.

Get ideas down on the go

Music Memos is an Apple app that lets songwriters and musicians get their ideas down quickly by recording audio notes.

Once you’ve captured a memo you can incorporate it into GarageBand using iCloud – so you can record an audio snippet on your phone then edit it on your laptop or tablet when you get home.


Want a portable recording studio in your hands? See our range of iPads


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