The JamPod is a cool little accessory for you guitar and iPod. It’s a tiny little guitar amplifier that sits on your iPod and allows you to jam with your guitar to music on your iPod through your headphones. I thought this was a fun thing so I pre-ordered one back in March of 2005 for $29.95. The current price of the JamPod is now $39.95.
Using the JamPod is pretty simple. The JamPod sits on top of your ipod where the headphones usually plug in. it connects to the headphone jack and the remote connector which provides power to the JamPod. On top of the JamPod are two jacks; one for the cable which plugs into your guitar and the other for headphones. The only control on the JamPod is a wheel for controlling the gain of the amplifier.
Getting a proper sound from the JamPod is a little tricky since adjusting the gain control also affects the overall volume of the mix, so lower gain gives a cleaner guitar sound, but less volume. Higher gain gives you more distortion and more volume. In order to get the desired sound you want and balance the sound of the guitar with the music you are listenign to, you need to fiddle with the volume of the ipod, the gain on the JamPod and the volume of the guitar.
I found that the sound quality of the JamPod is rather poor. Especially anoying was the fact that it picks up a lot of noise from the hard drive on the iPod which tends to go on and off during a song. Also the distorted guitar sound is very harsh and unpleasant.
The construction of the device was also quite poor, When I recieved the device it didn’t fit in my ipod because the contacts on the tab that fits in the remote jack were not seated properly. So when I inserted into my ipod the contacts got pushed up into the housing of the JamPod and wouldn’t make contact. I had to actually remove the cover of the JamPod to reposition the contacts and then it was able to sit properly on my ipod. I recieved one of the first units shipped so they may have worked out some of the quality problems since then.
Despite the poor sound quality though, if you tweak it you can get a somewhat usable result. I find it I get the best results starting with the volume of the iPod at maximum, then reduce the gain on the jampod to get the music volume where I want it. This seems to reduce the noise from the hard drive to where it doesn’t completely overpower the music. then I turn up the volume of the guitar to where it is a good balance with the music.
Because of the poor sound quality the JamPod is more of a fun toy than a serious guitar accessory, But given the price you can’t really expect great sound quality. This isn’t a device that I use every day, but I have found certain situations where it is very useful like when travelling. If I’m staying in a hotel, I can just put the ipod and the JamPod in my guitar case and I’m able to practice without disturbing anyone or carrying a lot of equipment and I have access to my entire music library. I find it is mainly useful for those occasions where I want to be able to practice without disturbing anyone and where portability is a concern.
The manufacturer’s site is here.