(This post may be of interest only to musicians, especially those that roam)

A few years ago, if a guy wanted to travel the world with a guitar he had few options: Carry around a ton of gear, or get a dedicated miniature travel guitar.  Now there is another choice

While consumer items don’t bring long term happiness, I am excited about my new Apogee JAM.  It is going to revolutionize my guitar playing.  The 15W practice amp I picked up last month for $92 is now up for sale, replaced with this wonderful electronic gizmo.  At $84*, it is superior to the practice amp in every way

Jam and iPhone

Jam and iPhone

Winnie loves it because she no longer has to listen to me practice. I love it because it is portable, easy to use, and more functional. Instead of lugging a 6.2 lb beast up a hill to guitar lessons, I carry the Jam in my pocket.  If I want to have a spontaneous rooftop concert, I just roam with the guitar to our terrace.

Channeling My Inner Slash - Playing some GnR

Channeling My Inner Slash on our Terrace – Playing GnR Sweet Child O’ Mine

The Jam is a digital converter and preamp with a standard plug and play interface, so applications like Apple GarageBand recognize it as in instrument input. There is zero configuration, you just plug your guitar into the Jam, plug the Jam into a Mac or iDevice, and it is ready to go.

My New Amp (One of Hundreds to Choose From)

My New Amp (One of Hundreds to Choose From)

GarageBand lets me setup backing tracks, implement all type of effects, and record practice sessions for playback and critique.  There are certainly more powerful tools, but this works seamlessly across our iPhone, iPad, and Mac.  And at $0, the price is right

The Jam gets its power from the Mac or iDevice, so there is no extra power cord or charger to deal with.  With a Mac this is no problem, but the iPhone can drain in a few hours of use.  With an iPad2, playing for 90 minutes with the display off dropped the battery by only 8% (Amazing!)

For a traveler like me, this product is a dream, enabling guitar play anywhere and everywhere.  No longer do I need to worry about a practice amp, or carrying around extra gear.  I love it

* Amazon is an incredible company. Normally $99, the price on the Apogee JAM recently dropped to $84.15.  Not one to just let something like that slide, I contacted Amazon through their online chat system and asked for a credit. Normally their policy is to guarantee the price for only 7 days after product delivery. “Sorry, but your product was delivered 12 days ago.  We aren’t able to credit the price difference.” But when I asked if I was allowed to return the current device and order a new one at the lower price, they saw the error in their ways and gave me a refund. That is how customer service should work. Thank you Amazon!

(Based on a 5 minute online chat at 1 am on a Sunday, I earned about $180/hour for this chat)