Make a Cable to Use Your IPhone or IPod Touch As a Guitar Amp

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Introduction: Make a Cable to Use Your IPhone or IPod Touch As a Guitar Amp

Welcome to my first instructable and it's not very good, so consider yourself warned.

If you own an iPhone or an iPod Touch and happen to be a guitar player chances are you have already heard of either GuitarBud by PRS or of iRig by Amplitube.

Both products allow you to connect your guitar to your iPhone or iPod Touch and use it as a practice amplifier via their own apps or any others that can do the same. Isn't technology fun and useful? It's also expensive and hard to find especially in Portugal.

Inspired by these products I decided to do my own version, only much cheaper and not as nice looking. On the next steps I will try to explain how to make your own cable.
If you don't understand anything feel free to contact me or ask in the comments I will try to make it clearer.

Step 1: Things You Need

Despite the street prices of these things they are actually pretty simple and cheap to make here's what you need.

- 1/4 inch female mono jack socket. This will be used as the input for your guitar.
- 1/4 inch male stereo jack socket or a 3.5mm stereo female jack socket. This will be the output, headphones go in here. I used the 1/4 inch because I had it laying around along with a 1/4inch to 3.5mm adapter, if you prefer you can use the 3.5mm and spare yourself the adapter.
- 3.5 mm stereo video cable. The most important part.

In the last picture you can see three cables the white one came with my iPod Touch and has a built in microphone, the black one are my headphones that lack the built in mic, and the grey one is the one we'll be making.

This is why we need the 3.5mm stereo video cable, it has the same lugs as the white one. One for the mic (in this case the guitar input), and two for the headphones (in stereo were available).

Step 2: Cuting and Soldering

See those three plugs with colored rings around the plastic? Yeah, the yellow, red and white things. Those won't be needed so just use an axe to chop them off.

The red one is what we'll be using as the guitar input. So take your soldering iron and solder the 1/4 inch female mono jack socket to it. Red lead goes to hot lug, bare wire goes to the sleeve.

You are left with the yellow and white ends, these will be the headphone output, once again use your soldering iron to connect the white and yellow leads to the hot lugs of the jack, again the bare wire goes to sleeve or groung.

Step 3: Congratulations Your Cable Is Done

Congratulations!
You should now have something like this.

To make everything tidier and more resistant I suggest you use a small enclosure.
I used a film canister, I made a hole in the bottom and another in the lid, for the input and output jacks and a hole in the middle where the cables get in the canister.

In the last and first pictures on this instructable you can see the whole setup, ready to be used (no guitar present since I couldn't fit it in frame and still show the app.

Step 4: Testing Everything Out and What Apps to Use

You finished your cable, everything is connected but how can you be sure you didn't screw up without spending your hard earned cash on apps?

Easy. Remember that app on the first screen called Voice Memos the one that came with the your iThing and you never use, because you don't have a mic and if you do you were busy screwing around with auto tune or making your friends sound like chipmunks?

Open that app and press record if you did everything right every time you play a note the needle at the bottom of the screen will move, and you can record your guitar with your iThingy!

Sure it sounds bad, but it's a start and it means everything is working fine.
Now quick to iTunes and let's download some apps.

I won't go into too much detail, but as of today, there are 3 apps that sound very good and will allow you to use your iThingofabob as an amp:

- PRS Jam Amp - The most expensive one, but it includes a tuner and a nice music player that allows you to jam along with your uploaded songs and slow them down or change their pitch.

- Amps & Cabs - Quite cheap at 79 cents and sounds great. You get three amps and three cabs, all of them with different tones and gain stages.

- RiotFX- Also costs 79 cents, you only get one amp, but several effects, that you can use at the same time. The sound is very good and plus you get stompboxes to play with, every musician likes that.

The last picture has nothing to do with the instructable, but It was the guitar I used to test the cable so it deserves some credit, plus everybody likes guitar shots and before anyone asks it's a Tokai Telecaster.

Well that's it for my first instructable hope it's easy to understand. Feel free to make any suggestions and point out ways I can improve my instructables, ask any questions, and share your experiences.

Thank you for reading it, I hope it was useful.

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    user

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    46 Comments

    I tried with android but it keeps on recording anbient sound
    Any sugestions

    hey i have an android 2.2 and i was thinking of getting a cable that one end you plug into guitar other into ur phone... its like 3 bucks (NZ) in bond&bond but i still dont know about the app to add distortion etc? can anyone help???

    thanks

    My axe is a fender! ... oh you mean a real axe.........

    Use a sword instead...lol

    Boas! Onde arranjaste esse cabo e quanto custou?
    Eu preciso de uns como esse para uns monitores de carro, audio e video no mesmo cabo =)

    A more elaborate circuit here.

    http://sgitornado.altervista.org/diyirig.html


    Active balanced signal.

    Deal extreme has that AV cable for $2. Including shipping from China. Takes weeks though.

    Hello, can you send me the schematic of this? I cant understand a lot from this pictures. pleas send me schematic. I have 4 pin audio conector only I dont know which wire where would be soldiered. thak you.

    Would it be possible to make this without the sockets? I am happy to crocodile-clip my leads in. If so, how would I wire it up?

    Thanks,
    ~H4ZZ

    Do you know SVJ, aren't you the winner of this month?

    2 replies

    SVJ?
    Don't think I do, but the again I'm getting old and senile.

    Is/are he/her/they on instructables?

    Winner?

    Yep, I'm clueless.

    SVJ (Sciences & Vie Junior) is a french magazine.
    Every month, there's a giveaway for an invention. Last month, the winner made the same thing and won 1000€!

    Thanks for the ible, works pretty well!. I went a different route tho. I use a discarded headphones with mic but same concept, I did use your idea for the housing with the canister, brilliant!.
    cheers.

    irig.jpg

    I originally got the PRS connector and it sounded terrible with IK-Multimedia Amplitube as well as the new Ampkit apps on my iPod touch. It definitely had issues with the input impedance mismatch. I recently got the Peavey/Ampkit iLink interface and it is a drastic improvement. The iLink is actually active and runs on 2 AAA cells it solves the impedance and feedback like problems of the PRS interface (I have not tried the iRig interface as they were very slow on delivery). I then went back and tried the PRS interface with both a compressor and a clean boost pedal set very clean and that seemed to solve a lot of problems. I believe that incorporating an opamp IC or a discrete transistor circuit into the interface would help immensely with the overall sound quality. In any case the iPhone/iPod touch are great for guitar when I am stuck in bed. Then I added a Vibe-it speaker device (makes any large hollow object into a speaker) stuck to the guitar and it makes beautiful controlled feedback like having an Ebow on every string. I also have hooked the interface output to my bedroom guitar amp (Ampeg Gemini II from the 60's) and it works very well.

    I has thinking on doing this too, but I was afraid of frying my iPod or worse, using my guitar's pickups as speakers anfter wiring using a bad pinout.

    user

    You should probably mark the wires before you chop the connectors off. Then you'll know what to solder later.

    1 reply

    @dirq If you look at the pictures you'll see that the wires inside are colored to match the connector they were formerly attached to.