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Part instrument and part looper/recorder, Thumbjam is well regarded in the community as one of the first and best iPhone music apps. Development has continued to keep pace with new technologies, as well as adding Universal iOS support.

As an instrument there are many samples available for playing with the on screen note bars. As the name implies, you can jam out fully with just your thumbs and a small learning curve. Importing your own samples is made easy with AudioCopy/Paste. There is even support for creating multi-sampled instruments, using a specific sample for different octave ranges.

The looper allows you to lay down quick melodies, or even import a backing track from another app. A lot of thought has gone into this app, but this is most evident in the looper where each recording is a separate instance. If you mess up, you can just keep hitting the "Delete Last" button to only remove the latest loop, instead of starting over from scratch.

On iPhones this is practically an Essential app, you really can jam with just your thumbs, but on larger iPad screens the experience is a little awkward to play.

Reader Comments (7)

yup i agree with that rating. I wouldn't even say it is a strong awesome after using it for a few months, only compared to other apps you can now get at the same price or less. But awesome is still accurate for the number of quality sounds you get to start with, the simplicity and function of the app.

August 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymouse

I've gotten more songs out of this one app than anything else on my iPod or iPad. For the iPad, I wish you could tilt the interface on its side and have the reorient itself. But I don't see why a larger screen makes it less playable -- just less thumbable, and much better for chords.

August 21, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdswo

Essential or awesome, it's just one of the best music APPS THAT DEFINED development of iOs as platform for creating music.

Imho ThumbJam is very nice samples + very nice perfomance controls (it's BETTER for fingerdrumming than BeatMaker!!! you can have different volume from left to right on each pad) + excellent little friend for everyone - i mean this multilayer looping you can make loop and than jam with it

August 21, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterqmish

For me, ThumbJam's greatest strength lies in that it makes it insanely easy to import your own .wavs and automatically create your own instruments (seriously, if I can do it, anyone can). Once you've done that, you can play them with sequences you made Genome (which makes it an impressive Rompler in its own right -- and with AudioCopy and Paste, it beats out SampleTank for usefulness), or play them through the interface -- ever wanted to do weird string/pitch-bends with a marimba? Or how about a choir that controls like a theremin? Seriously powerful and fun.

August 21, 2012 | Unregistered Commentervictor

Tim, you are ouf of you f**'n mind (j/k), but I agree with the awkwardness when on the iPad. I feel that it is essential for live multisampled instruments, and it is really an all-in-one solution for so many things (midi recording, looping, multisampling, midi controller, audio-to-midi converter, thru mapper, and sample library converter (it is one of the only apps that correctly fixes any issues with copy/paste legacy or sonoma). For someone who wants to record multilayered sampled instruments easily it is really essential. Of course you qualified with the iPhone peice as essential, so I can't gripe too much...

August 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarlow77

Awesome is a great rating. Thumbjam is exactly that. Essential is a weird rating anyway. It could only ever be essential to the reviewer and perhaps to other people like the reviewer. If your iOS music requires realistic and playable string sounds, for instance, thumbjam is basically essential. 

Not sure I understand the bit about playing being awkward. It's the same as any other freescale iOS synth. Indeed, I think they're all pretty much biting thumbjam's innovation. On the iPad, it's much easier to play chords the same twice. 

There are some other extremely nice features of thumbjam you didn't mention.
* You can get the midi from each loop you record. This is sorta epic.
* It will background with 10 loops running without a hitch though it's trivial to bounce those loops into a single loop (stashing your previous loop set away for later) if you want to share the load a bit.
* You can set it up so the white keys on your external midi synth act like the thumbjam keys. That is to say, it will recognize any white key you play as the appropriate note in the selected scale. Hard to describe but incredibly easy to play. Killer feature. 
* You can loop/record audio from the microphone.
* You can split the screen and have two sounds going at once on the iPad 
* Extremely robust midi implementation including sending continuous note data and midi thru. Plus, OSC.
* audio to midi and good lord, a lot of stuff

August 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWill

I lied. You can't get two sounds at once but you can indeed split the keyboard. I just realized last night that you can actually set different scales and key ranges on each.

August 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWill

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