The ultimate mobile guitar setup

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(Last Updated On: April 4, 2019)

Going mobile

I’m not a professional guitar player, but I do play with a band occasionally. For short trips to rehearsals and gigs, my home setup is fine: guitar, cables, accessories and my Helix Floor with its backpack. That all fits nicely in my car. But with family or for work I quite often go on trips by plane – and I mean commercial flights where space is not so generous…Hence the need for a truly mobile guitar setup.

This time I’ll flip things around and start from the solution.

Components

I will list below the components of my mobile setup, some purchase options, and then discuss caveats and alternatives:

1) LapAxe EX series guitar (short scale, ~60cm long overall, tuned in standard)

https://www.lapaxe.com
See purchasing options for Travel Guitar

2) Apogee Jam HD – the latest, 24 bits 96 kHz version

I’ve reviewed this item in the past, find it here:

Guitar Interfaces for iPad and iPhone

Apogee JAM 96k Guitar Interface Input for iPad, iPhone and Mac
See purchasing options for Apogee Jam

3) iPad Pro 10.5

Apple iPad Pro 10.5-inch (256GB, Wi-Fi, Space Gray) 2017 Model
See purchasing options for Ipad Pro 10.5

4) Bias FX from Positive Grid, for the iPad

BIAS FX: Guitar Amp & effects – Positive Grid Inc
See purchasing options for Positive Grid Bias FX

5) Audio Bus 3 for the iPad

Audiobus 3 – Audiobus Pty Ltd

6) AnyTune Pro+ for the iPad

Anytune Pro+ – Anytune Inc.

7) Garage Band for the iPad

GarageBand – Apple

8) Other iPad tools such as Guitar toolikit, guitar pro, etc

Guitar Pro – Arobas Music

9) JBL headphones

JBL E45BT On-Ear Wireless Headphones (Black)
See purchasing options for JBL Headphones

With this setup I’ve played in places ranging from airport lounges to cockpits of sailing boats. The LapAxe bag is quite small and the rest of the gear fits nicely in a backpack. If you source a larger backpack you can even fit all in one.

Caveats

– Dependency on the iPad

– A chain of gear that has to be connected every time I want to play, and that is not concise and monolithic

– No speaker apart from the iPad- Short scale guitar is harder to play than a normal one

The alternatives I’ve considered:

– A portable tone shaper such as the Mooer Audio GE200 or a Line 6 mobile pod instead of the iPad. The issue is that the iPad is virtually limitless as you can download new software. So from tones to tuners to background music and even recording you can do it all. Dedicated gear sounds great and it’s ‘plug and play’ but will be limited to what comes in the box

– An iPad dock. Focusrite had one but apparently it is discontinued. I’m in the market for a new one, especially if it has built in speakers. This would make the iPad setup monolithic

– A speaker. The Marshall Stockwell is the one I tried but it’s a bit heavy. I’m thinking of sourcing a JBL flip in the near future

– Other travel guitars. The travel guitar brand is the one I used before. It was 76cm long and required one step for assembly (the LapAxe is pick and play and 62cm long) but the scale was natural, similar to my Gibson SG. I’ll always keep an eye out for more portable natural scale guitars and also smaller ones that tune to standard

There’s a plethora of options out there to assemble your mobile guitar setup and the quest is to find one that works for you. The above setup is my ‘ultimate’ for the moment, but it may change once new gear comes out.

Ultimately my goal is to be able to play everywhere and anywhere – hope that is your goal too.

Travel Guitar by the Ocean

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10 COMMENTS

  1. […] This was a great addition to the Jam family. Apogee keeps improving the product at every release, and have come a long way since the first model was launched. The Jam family continues to be one of the best options for mobile guitarists. More on the subject can be read on the ultimate mobile guitar setup article. […]

  2. Have you come across a guitar interface that works with the iPad internal speakers? Some people say that the original Apogee Jam does, but their site says it won’t work with my iPad Pro 10.5…I’d really like a simple connection from my guitar to the iPad with no headphones, but it doesn’t seem possible!?

      • That’s great news (I bought an irig HD2 yesterday though, as it had an amp output, so might have to return it for the Jam 96k)

      • I tried an irig hd2 today and whilst it worked well, it won’t work with internal iPad speakers. Sod’s law that the apogee 96k is out of stock everywhere, so I’ll need to track one down second hand. Is the sound through it into iPad Pro speakers ok?

        Does the Jam Plus play through iPad speakers, do you know?

      • Hi Matt, not sure about the Jam Plus, worth checking with Apogee. With the Jam 96k directly into iPad I’m using Bias FX. It sounds ‘OK’ on the iPad speakers. Of course better with external headphones or powered speakers.

  3. Thanks. I assume I can just plug headphones or speakers into the 3.5mm iPad port? Can I us that to connect to an amp too (sorry if that’s a stupid question)

    • Yes you can. I use that with small Marshall powered speakers, JBL iFlip, etc. I would not connect to an actual guitar amp as this would ‘colour’ the sound in addition to the software on the iPad, unless the tone on the iPad is very clean. If you want to discuss further email me at contact@audiogeek11.com

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