Ask Damian Erskine: Practicing on the Road

Q: Do you practice while on the road? If so… how?

A: Actually, I tend to be more inspired to practice while on the road because I tend to be very ‘high’ on music while traveling and doing what I love! I get very single-minded and focused when on the road and can’t seem to stop thinking, listening to or playing music.

However, finding a way to practice can be a bit difficult. For years, I’ve toured with a headphone preamp of one kind or another. The one I’ve used the most is the Korg Pandora personal effects processor, which essentially allows you to plug your instrument in, choose some effects and play using regular headphones. It works great, but the sounds have always bugged me a bit.

Lately, I’ve been falling in love with Peavey’s AmpKit, an iPhone app which was passed to me to check out pre-release and has just hit the app store. It does the same thing but (in my opinion) sounds better. It also means one less thing for me to remember on the road and also now allows me to upload backing tracks to play against, which is great for shedding new material.

The app also allows you to record what you’re playing. In order to truly get everything out of it, you’ll have to buy the Ampkit Link, which allows you to plug your instrument into the phone and gives a headphone out. It’s well worth it in contrast to the cost of a physical headphone amp.

I now make sure to load the app with any tunes I specifically want to practice before I leave town, and I can practice what I want, when I want and where I want as long as I have my phone, bass, headphones and the Link (which is small and I keep in my bass case, as it also doubles as a connection to plug directly into the phone and use my tuner app).

Everything seems to be moving in the direction of the phone or tablet computer (which, for most musicians, means an iPhone and iPad) as a computer replacement while on the road… why should practicing in a hotel room be any different?

Check out the Peavey’s demo video:

The app comes in two versions. The free version, with the Peavey ValveKing amp with clean and high-gain lead channels, two ValveKing cabs, two pedals, two mics and the built in Noise and Feedback filter. For $19.99, you can get the AmpKit+, which offers more amps, cabs, pedals and other features. The AmpKit Link is $39.99.

For more, visit Peavey’s Ampkit web page.

Note: I’m not affiliated with Peavey or Agile web partners.

Have a question for Damian Erskine? Send it to [email protected]. Check out Damian’s instructional books, Right Hand Drive and The Improviser’s Path.

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