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How use the Sampler in GarageBand for iPad

Remember those stuttery samples from classic tunes? You can re-create them on your iPad…

One of the most fun features in GarageBand for iOS is the Sampler instrument. Based on the seminal studio machines that ushered in the hip hop era in the early Eighties, the sampler records a sound and then enables you to play it from a keyboard – cue endless fun with dog barks, burps and meowing cats.

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Fast-forward thirty years and GarageBand has placed sampling beneath the fingertips of the iPad generation, integrating it smoothly within the tablet-based version of the application. Operation is simple, and it’s a really fun way to capture and add your own sounds to your projects. We think you’re going to love getting the lowdown on this brilliant feature. So let’s dive in and sample some stuff!

Step-by-step: Sample songs in GarageBand


1 Open Sampler

In GarageBand, create a new track. From the Instrument selector, swipe left or right until the Sampler option appears. Tap the screen once to open the instrument.

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2 Capture a sound

Get your iPad close to the source of the sound you want to sample and tap the big red start button when ready to begin recording. Tap it again to stop when you’re done.

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3 Trim

The sound will appear in the waveform display, which defaults to trim mode. Drag the edges of the trim region to capture the bit of the sound you want to use.

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4 Reverse/Loop

Tap the ‘rev’ button to play the sound backwards. The ‘loop’ button lets you set a portion of the sound that loops continuously as long as the key is held down.

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5 Tune

Tap the tune button to adjust the base tuning of the sound. Tap a key and move the sliders to tune the pitch of your sample against the reference tone.

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6 Shape

The shape button accesses the envelope control. This lets you shape the way the volume of the sound changes over time. Drag the circular points to move them around.

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7 Change sound

Tap the my samples button to access the sound library. Here you can choose from the factory library or sounds you’ve created. Tap a sound’s name to load it.

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8 Rename and store

In the Library, tap a sample to select it, then tap Rename. Type a new name, then tap Done. Tapping Add to Library will enable you to access the sound from any other project.

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9 Change layout

Tap the keyboard button to bring up the keyboard controls. These allow you to change keyboard widths and layouts and enable the Velocity slider.

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In-depth: The GarageBand Sampler

Click the image to view it full size.