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The Blog

With an iPhone and $40 You Too Can Be A Guitar God

Fair warning to Keith Richards (Mr. Clapton pay attention too). I hooked my iPhone to my MacKenzie & Marr Ian Tyson Limited Edition with a gizmo called an iRig, fired up "Satisfaction" in the associated program and played along. In all humility I was astoundingly good - better (again with humility) than Keith himself. In fact Keith was doing such a fine job on rhythm I added my own embellishments to the tune. Later Willie Nelson backed me up on "Pancho and Lefty". I outdid myself. You'll have to take my word for it since no one else was around to judge. The electric sound was also delivered to my earbuds so only I could hear it.

Jonathan Mackenzie, the other founding partner in MacKenzie & Marr Guitars prefers acoustic folk with a bit of Celtic flavour. He has little love for electric guitars. I, on the other hand gravitate towards acoustic blues with built-in raunch. Truth be told I am a secret rock n' roller at heart. Hanging my head is shame, I'll also admit to being a bit of an Apple fanboy so when I saw the iRig I couldn't resist. It's not much more than a cylinder that connects an electric guitar to an iPhone or iPad and headphones or powered speakers. Coupled with a free app the iRig allows multiple guitar effects and an infinite number of settings for tweaking the sound. I had my Ian Tyson Ltd fuzzing and buzzing, reverbing and wah-wahing. At one point I hit the "Heavy Metal" setting and - no word of a lie - the guitar sounded like a Kirk Hammett rehearsal. Cranking out full-on rock 'n roll from a solid wood acoustic guitar with a built in pickup blew me away. Doing it through headphones will no doubt make my wife ecstatic. She already labours under the misapprehension that I lack any real guitar playing skill.

In addition to all the cool effects the app offers the ability to load and play along with a tune from the device's iTunes library. The song can be slowed down without changing the pitch - a great way to learn. If you're intrigued by the idea of your amplified acoustic guitar doing double (or triple etc.) duty as a full electric axe and you own an iPhone, iPod or iPad here are some links you may want to check out:

The iRig -available at most Apple Stores for $40.

Amplitube iPhone App - the free app from the same people as the iRig. There are multiple add-ons that can be purchased

iShred App - another free app that works with the iRig. I found the pre-sets to be a bit more interesting than those supplied with Amplitube

Taylor EQ App - If you're just looking for acoustic amplification through the iPhone and headphones this does the trick. The maker claims the various EQ presets duplicte the unique sound of different Taylor guitars but to me they all sounded the same. No effects

Have fun....oh and if you see Mr. Richards, don't tell him how good I think I am. He's already got one high maintenance ego to worry about. He doesn't need another.

Our 2010 Appearance on National TV

Kevin O'Leary Playing the MacKenzie & Marr Tofino on Dragon's Den

Kevin O'Leary Shows Off His Musical Talent | Dragons' Den Canada

Here's the original text from our pre-launch of Tofino back in January of 2010.

 

Tune in CBC on January 13 at 8 PM to see Jonathan and I pitch our business to five savvy investors on Dragon's Den. We know we have a winner in both our Tofino acoustic guitar and our business model. Selling high end acoustic guitars direct from the factory to musicians over the Internet means huge savings compared to retail. Will the Dragons recognize either our cedar top guitar or our business plan as worthy of an investment or will they tell us our "valuation is nuts, we're being greedy an/or there's no business here". We're betting they love the guitar and see the savings to consumers as a winner. Think we're wrong? Leave a comment or visit our Facebook page to add your input to the Dragons Den poll.

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