Following GarageBand has long been a good way to follow what improvements might be in store for Apple’s flagship Logic. And many Logic users use GarageBand as a sketchpad for bigger sets – Apple, of course, hope that GarageBand is a gateway drug to their delicious higher-end studio. GarageBand ’09 is no exception.

New Models

Lessons may be the feature about which you’ve been hearing the most in GarageBand ’09, but the major improvement in the software itself is the new guitar amp and effect modeling. I’ve confirmed with Apple that this is a new engine from the ground up, not what you’ve been hearing in previous versions or even in Logic Studio 8. It’s clear a lot of work went into the modeling; the models sound absolutely terrific, and I’ve heard from at least one very talented guitarist that the results will stand up to high standards. Whether that makes Apple’s models a Guitar Rig or AmpliTube “killer” remains to be seen – my sense is that, at some point, that’s about taste in models and features, as all of these models are getting pretty darned good. But given that the guitar models in Logic in the past have been slightly lacking, this is one to watch.

Amp models: Marshall, Mesa Boogie, Vox, Fender Combo and Tweed
Effects: Sustain, Delay, Phaser, Overdrive, Fuzz, Chorus, Flanger, Vibrato, Filter

If you want to open GarageBand ’09 projects in Logic, you can. Logic will read the whole project, and the only feature that won’t work is the guitar amp models and effects. Your project will open, but any tracks using those effects will have the effects disabled. (Again, I’ve confirmed this with Apple.) That presumably means that you’ll want to export those tracks to audio, then import, if you really need to go in this direction.

Of course, this is really unfortunate, because as Macworld’s review notes, you can’t actually control these effects with anything other than the mouse. Apple hopes you’ll upgrade to Logic, but for now, you won’t get these models there, either. That means the IK’s, WAVES, and NI’s of the world are very much safe for the time being.

GB09 and Logic

Will Logic get these amp models? Well, of course it will. Apple won’t comment on future releases, but even Apple has said that their upgrade policy is to introduce improvements to Logic and GarageBand/iLife on an ongoing basis, then migrate those improvements. So, the question is, will we get a Logic “8.1” with new guitar effects, or do we have to wait for “Logic 9”? I’m guessing we’ll get a point-one release for $29.99 or something, but, um, that’s an easy prediction — I’ve got roughly 50/50 odds.

What’s somewhat disappointing is that Apple seems not to have just implemented these as Audio Units, which would have meant you could drop them in Ableton Live or Rax or Kore or whatever you want – which could have convinced more musos to upgrade to iLife ’09.

GarageBand Hacks? By the way, I think there may be a way to hack control of GarageBand’s effects. They support automation. And GarageBand has in the past responded to Mackie Control, I believe — correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t that how M-Audio’s iControl GarageBand controller worked? (That controller appears to be defunct. Anyone still got one?) It’d be fun, just for the heck of it, to find some way to control these effects with hardware.

My guess is, whatever Apple has decided about “beginning” users, the guitarist just discovering software is even more likely to wonder why he/she can’t stomp something to enable or disable effects. Or you could just leave that fuzz on … all the time.