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Take Control of Recording with GarageBand ‘09
Sep 03, 2009

Take Control of Recording with GarageBand ‘09

Learn how to record complete songs with drums, keyboards, bass, strings, even horns…even if all you have is a beat-up electric guitar!

This book explains how to use GarageBand ‘09 to create musical compositions with vocals, drums, guitars, MIDI keyboards, and even the kitchen sink! Seattle composer Jeff Tolbert shares his GarageBand know-how and years of recording experience to help you get the most out of your existing gear or purchase new equipment that fits your budget and style. You’ll find out how to plan a recording session, and you’ll learn real-world recording studio techniques, such as using a microphone effectively, getting the best sounds from your gear, applying effects like a pro, using the new Electric Guitar track and the new stompbox effects, recording multiple tracks at once, and fixing mistakes easily. Two example songs demonstrate many of the techniques discussed.

More Info

Bonus! Linked-in audio lets you listen to examples while you read about them, and a glossary covers many recording-related terms. Remember us when you’re famous!

Questions you’ll find answers to include:

  • How do Real Instrument and Software Instrument tracks differ?
  • How can I make my GarageBand recordings sound less lame?
  • How do I best record a vocalist?
  • How do I use the multi-take recording option?
  • I don’t have an electric guitar. Can I still use the new Electric Guitar track?
  • How do I use the new stompbox effects and how are they different from the old GarageBand effects?
  • How can I change an effect over time in a track?
  • What should I know about punching in?
What's New

What’s New in Version 1.1

The sole purpose of the version 1.1 update is to cover the way Electric Guitar tracks function in GarageBand 5.1. GarageBand 5.1, released August 3, 2009, allows users to add up to three track or Audio Units effects to an Electric Guitar track. This was not the case with GarageBand 5.0.

What’s New in This Edition

I updated this book to cover new features in Apple’s latest upgrade to the program, GarageBand ‘09, as follows:

  • The most significant change to GarageBand, for our purposes anyway, is the new Electric Guitar track. I added a whole new topic, Use an Electric Guitar track , as well as additional references to Electric Guitar tracks where appropriate.
  • In order to simplify the potential confusion around the multiple Real Instrument recording methods, I created a flowchart in Set Up to Record.
  • I added the new stompbox effects several areas of the ebook, including Understand GarageBand Effects, and Add some pedals .
  • GarageBand will now automatically monitor your input volume and adjust it as necessary. I added a comment about it in the bullet item about Automatic Level Control.
  • I made small edits here and there to reflect new names or functions for certain GarageBand features and deleted some items that are no longer relevant.
  • Finally, I updated the screenshots to reflect GarageBand’s new interface.

I have an old version of GarageBand and don’t want to update right now. Can I get a previous edition of this ebook?

You can read about old versions of GarageBand as follows:

GarageBand ‘08 (version 4):

GarageBand ‘06 (version 3):


p>GarageBand 1 or 2: From either of the above-listed ebooks for GarageBand ‘06, you can download free copies of still-earlier editions that cover GarageBand 1 and 2. Instructions are on the second page of both ebooks.



Reader Comments

I read Jeff Tolbert’s books Take Control of Making Music with Garageband ‘09 and after that Take Control of Recording with Garageband ‘09. Being a foreigner myself (Dutch) and a complete beginner in music making and recording, I was surprised to understand every word, description, explanation, technical detail, and humorous remark in both books. Mr. Tolbert must be a born teacher, connecting all the time with the level of thinking of the beginning student in a most positive, even enthusiastic way.

In short, a big compliment!

Kind regards, Rob F.

Update Plans

April 2011 – The 1.1 version of this ebook, which is currently for sale, was updated for GarageBand 5.1 (part of the iLife ‘09 suite). We do not plan to create a new version to further discuss GarageBand 5.x/’09. However, a GarageBand 6.x/’11 edition of the ebook is available.

Posted by Tonya Engst

  1. GarageBand ‘11 Update

    GarageBand ’11, the much-anticipated update to Apple’s wonderful GarageBand application, has a number of new features that make recording and creating music even easier than before. I’m currently updating my two ebooks—Take Control of Making Music With GarageBand and Take Control of Recording With GarageBand. Here’s a list of what I plan to change:

    • Flex Time and Groove Matching: Flex time lets you fix imperfect performances and correct rhythmic mistakes quickly and easily. I’ll show you how you can easily move those off notes so they line up with the rest of your tracks. I’ll also walk you through the Groove Matching feature, which let’s you lock an entire track to the timing of another. So if, for example, you’re trying to use two loops with slightly different grooves, you can now make one of them sync up with the other so they’re in perfect rhythm.

    • New guitar amps: Apple has added 7 new guitar amp models to their roster of virtual gear. There are now 12 different amp models to choose from, giving you a wide variety of tones and sounds for your songs. They’ve also thrown in 5 new stomp boxes, giving you a whole studio full of virtual toys to play with. I’m planning to talk about strategies for getting great guitar tones, how to get the most out of one guitar, and how to use guitar amps and stompboxes to effect other instruments as well.

    • Synth programming: GarageBand’s synths aren’t the most full-featured models out there, but they’re capable of some interesting tones. I’m adding a section on programming the GarageBand synths so you can create all kinds of new, exciting sounds to use in your compositions.

    • Personalizing you loops: GarageBand comes with some great loops, but they’re pretty ubiquitous. I’ll show you how to add effects and use other tricks to make your loops more unique, and I’ll walk you through the creation of a new tune using a wide variety of loop-warping techniques.

    • Mixing and effects: I plan to add to to the sections on effects and mixing, giving you more information and a lot of tips and tricks to make your masterpieces really shine.

    • Interfaces and mics: I plan to update the sections on audio interfaces and microphones, adding some newer equipment and suggesting compelling options for those on a budget (which is all of us, really!).

    • Creating a Ringtone: I touched on iPhone ringtones in past editions, but I’m adding a much more detailed walkthrough, showing you exactly how to write and export your very own personal ringtones.

    Posted by Tonya Engst (Permalink)

  2. Listen to Jeff

    Author Jeff Tolbert talks about GarageBand ‘09 in MacVoices podcast #967 with host Chuck Joiner. You can tune in and find out what Jeff has to say about guitar amps, Magic GarageBand, in-GarageBand artist lessons, and more.

    Posted by Tonya Engst (Permalink)

  3. Savvy GarageBand ‘09 Documentation Now Available

    Good documentation can be hard to find these days, and Apple’s GarageBand has particularly suffered in this regard, since relatively few books have focused on it over the years, with even fewer titles for later versions of GarageBand. Our guess is that most publishers didn’t sell enough books about earlier GarageBand versions to make it worthwhile to release new editions. It’s also tricky to find someone who is good at writing about how to use the Mac, who has time to write book-length documentation, and who is well-versed in real-world GarageBand usage.

    In an example of ebooks breaking the constraints of the physical world, our two GarageBand titles have been steady sellers, and interest in them has grown over time, so naturally we wanted to update them for GarageBand ‘09. We were relieved that author Jeff Tolbert found the necessary time while working on his ever-increasing number of music-related projects. (We’re hoping that we don’t regret our flip “remember us when you’re famous” line by having Jeff sucked out of the Take Control orbit when he hits it big.)

    So, we’ve just released new editions of the 117-page Take Control of Making Music with GarageBand ‘09 and the 134-page Take Control of Recording with GarageBand ‘09.” They cost $10 individually or $17.50 in a bundle. To purchase both books with the bundle discount, use this direct link or look for the “Buy Both” option in the left margin of either Web page.

    • Take Control of Making Music with GarageBand ‘09: This 117-page ebook provides step-by-step instructions and linked-in audio examples for using GarageBand’s built-in loops to create three songs, explaining not only how to use GarageBand’s editing and mixing features but also how to be playful and creative while composing tunes that please the ear. Readers will learn how to plan a song, get the most out of Magic GarageBand, edit and arrange Real Instrument and Software Instrument loops, create exciting mixes, and export projects. The ebook also covers how to change track volume, tempo, and panning dynamically, and how to work with GarageBand’s effects.

    • Take Control of Recording with GarageBand ‘09: This 134-page ebook explains how to create musical compositions with vocals, drums, guitars, MIDI keyboards, and even the kitchen sink. Readers will learn how to get the most out of their existing gear or purchase new equipment that fits their budget and style. The ebook covers how to plan a recording session, and it discusses real-world recording studio techniques for tasks such as using a microphone effectively, getting the best sounds from your gear, applying effects, fixing mistakes, using the new Electric Guitar track and new stompbox effects, and recording multiple tracks at once. Two example songs demonstrate many of the techniques discussed.

    If you own an earlier version of one of the Take Control GarageBand titles, you may have received an email message about getting a free (for those who purchased after January 1st, 2009) or discounted update; otherwise, open your PDF and click Check for Updates on the cover to get update details.

    Posted by Tonya Engst (Permalink)

The Author

Jeff Tolbert is a composer and musician living in Seattle. He is currently writing music for advertising and video games in the comfort of his home studio. He plays bass for several Seattle acts, as well as guitar, piano, ukulele, trombone, percussion instruments, and household objects. He wishes he had an extra $200,000 so he could buy all the gear on his wish list. Jeff’s blog is Film Scoring.Info.