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How to master Smart Strings in GarageBand on your iPad

Find out how to add orchestral interest to your arrangements with the epic-sounding new Smart Strings in GarageBand for iPad with this step-by-step tutorial.

GarageBand - iOS - Master Smart Strings - Main

GarageBand - iOS - Master Smart Strings - Sidebar
GarageBand - iOS - Master Smart Strings - MainWhen GarageBand for iPad was sprung upon us at the iPad 2 keynote few of us could believe the sheer depth of quality that Apple had managed to cram inside. Now, a year on, at the new iPad launch, Apple has delivered an update to its premium-quality mobile music-making app. Inside version 1.2, among other things there is a whole new instrument category called Strings. This epic-sounding instrument combines a first violin, second violin, viola, cello and double bass and offers not only haunting emotional bowing sounds, but also a pizzicato plucking sound. Like other Smart instruments you can opt to play the notes yourself or have the software do the job for you. There are several different styles of string sound to pick from and you can now add custom chords to your musical key. In this guide we’ll take you through the new features of this cool instrument so you can create some epic tunes on your iPad.

GarageBand - iOS - Master Smart Strings - Step 1

Step 1: Load ‘em up

Fire up GarageBand on your iPad and as you swipe through potential instruments you should find the new Smart Strings option. Tap it.

GarageBand - iOS - Master Smart Strings - Step 2

Step 2: Familiar feel

Once inside your string zone you’ll see your chord options. A single tap will play the pizzicato pluck and a swipe in either direction will play a longer bowed note.

GarageBand - iOS - Master Smart Strings - Step 3

Step 3: Play with the autoplay

Turning the dial on the right will add autoplay. Like the other instruments this will create a musical jam of the chord you tap. Higher numbers equal more complexity.

GarageBand - iOS - Master Smart Strings - Step 4

Step 4: Turn them on and off

You can turn separate instruments on and off just by tapping them. Add them all for the full orchestral feel or just replace your bass sound with a haunting cello.

GarageBand - iOS - Master Smart Strings - Step 5

Step 5: Types of sound

Tap the box in the top-left of the interface to change the type of string sound. There are four choices. Each has their own sound and different autoplay jams.

GarageBand - iOS - Master Smart Strings - Step 6

Step 6: Get the sound right

Use the Levels button to get the sound right on your orchestral masterpiece. Use the volume slider and add effects to taste.