App Review: David Ellefson Rock Shop
A little over three years ago, bassist David Ellefson launched his Rock Shop series of informative videos on YouTube, focusing on “all things music, all things music business, and all things that rock.”
Now, the Megadeth low-ender has teamed up with Pocketlabworks to launch the David Ellefson Rock Shop App, a bass and guitar amp for iOS devices. Even with some really cool features, the app is developed for simplicity, as Ellefson himself prefers straight-ahead technology.
“I like to hit the button and it had better work,” the bassist said when asked about technology. “I think that’s the good dynamic between me as the end user/artist and working with someone like [Engineer Kevin Robertson] at Pocketlabworks because that’s the side of the business they know.”
As you might suspect, the app is strictly software, and as such you’ll need an interface to plug your bass in. We used the Pocketlabworks iRiffPort (not included). Upon opening the app, an introductory video of Ellefson plays. For those anxious to get to the nitty gritty, you can skip the video.
The main screen displays your amp settings – for bass you have volume and Bass, Mid, and Treble controls as well as Bright and Limiter “switches.” Leaving the controls flat will give you a built-in tone close to Ellefson’s signature sound. You also have control over your tone by choosing what cab you use with 4×10 or 1×15 options. True to real life, the 4×10 is punchier and clearer, while the 1×15 gives a warmer, fatter low end.
The guitar side of the app gives you Volume, Gain, Bass, and Treble with more general Clean, British, and Metal switches to dial in quick modeling. While this side of the amp doesn’t seem as useful for bassists, I found the Metal setting actually gave a decent distortion on bass.
The app has a separate screen for effects, including Chorus and Flanger with Rate and Depth controls. The controls differ on either side of the app as the guitar effects include Reverb and a Gate, while the bass section has Slapback and Gate. Again, it seems the effects can be used on either kind of instrument more than the labeling suggests.
All the controls, effects and settings can easily be saved and labeled as presets, which comes in handy for practicing certain tunes to get the right sound. Of all the playing features, it seems the only thing missing is an integrated tuner.
Another handy feature for practicing is that the app has iTunes integration so you can play along with your music library. Even further, you can adjust the pitch and speed of the song while setting a loop to go over difficult passages. Hardcore Megadeth fans will know that their iconic Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying? album is record slightly out of tune, and the David Ellefson Rock Shop app accommodates for that specific album by getting it tune for play along.
Beyond all play-along functions, the app has “The Deck,” with links to all of Ellefson’s online presences, including his website, his Twitter and Facebook accounts, Google+ account, and of course his YouTube account. The YouTube player is hooked up to his channel and can be played in the app itself, so you don’t have to switch apps to watch his Rock Shop tutorials. (If you’re using an older version of iOS, YouTube will open in your browser.)
This app offers a great sounding, straight-forward amp and practice tool that’s sure to satisfy. A tuner would be a welcomed addition in further versions, but the David Ellefson Rock Shop App knocks it out of the park.
The David Ellefson Rock Shop App is a universal app, designed for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch and is available on the App Store for $9.99. The app requires iOS version 4.2 or later.