GarageBand Software Instruments

Introduction                   meet the hard drive orchestra

GarageBand's "software instruments" are midi instruments that live on your hard drive as "Audio Units" Have a look at our Tutorial: the GarageDoor | Audio Units . GarageBand instruments are triggered by midi commands like:
play E above middle C on trumpet at velocity 64 and hold for two beats.
Because these are instructions, not sound data, you can easily change the midi track to another instrument (change the track from trumpet to saxophone) or a different pitch without distorting the sound (unlike real audio data where manipulation of the recorded sound can cause distortion).
An example: You can only transpose recorded loops and tracks up or down a few semi-tones before things start sounding funny. Transposing midi data, on the other hand, simply instructs the software instruments to play at a higher or lower pitch, and they will sound fine over the entire range. (There are limits to this, of course, mostly because of the physical nature of the original instrument. You wouldn't give the bass part to a piccolo player....... )
Add more Instruments to Garage Band

You can add many more instruments . They have to be in the AUDIO UNITS format for GarageBand to recognize them.
Audio Units is Apple's audio plug-in technology that allows you to create audio effects and virtual instruments for Apple applications such as GarageBand and Logic. Try a Google search for audio units and you will find free AU plug-ins among the many commercially available ones.

Instruments can be bought from 3d party software instrument makers like AMG , Atmosphere, Native Instruments (Kontakt, Battery) and others.
Over a hundred packs from different manufacturers are available in the "software instruments" category

For more on Audio Units, see our special Hangtime AU Tutorial

TheGarageDoor Image Gallery

synthpack 154 Synthesizers

Software Synthesizers for GarageBand from AMG

Check out this volume from AMG: a library of GarageBand software synthesizers. The collection is called SynthPack for GarageBand and contains 154 brand new vintage synthesizer instruments for use in GarageBand.
Quoting AMG: "Specially programmed sounds from some of the classic synths of the 80s and 90s in one superb value SoundPack for GarageBand. Synths featured include MiniMoog, ARP 2600, Matrix 12, Xpander, Octave Cat, Juno 106, MKS70, MemoryMoog, Matrix 6, MC202 and more! The library includes sounds that can be categorized as follows: 37 - Basses, 25 - FX Sounds, 5 - Strings, 5 - Brass, 10 - Lead, 36 - Pads, 10 - Sequence Noizs, 3 - Organs, 9 - Choirs, and 14 other misc. sounds too hard to categorize!"
SynthPack for GarageBand is on the AMG bestseller list.

SynthPack for GarageBand can be ordered from their website .


JamPack 1 (discontinued) Jam Pack 1 is no longer available. It had 2,000 loops including many for hip-hop and electronica; over 100 additional software instruments, including a concert grand piano and 12 string guitars; over 100 additional pro-quality effects presets; and 15 additional guitar amps, including surf, grunge, heavy blues, and atmospheric.
The Jam Pack 1 sounds: The 22 guitar amps: The Jam Pack 1 effects:

Jam Pack : Remix Tools

Jam Pack : Remix Tools contains: *Dance-floor grooves (beats, bass lines, synth hooks and keyboard riffs). * Over 2000 loops. Vintage Roland drum machine sounds from the TR-606, TR-808, TR-909 and CR-78. * Drum kits in over 20 styles (hip-hop, R&B, electroclash, house, trance, downtempo, 2-step and more). * Synths, basses, pads, filters and sweeps, turntable effects (scratching and needle drops)


Jam Pack: Rhythm Section

Jam Pack: Rhythm Section contains: *Core rhythm track elements from modern rock beats to country shuffles and world grooves. *More than 1,000 drum beats and fills and more than 1,000 bass lines, chord progressions, guitar and keyboard riffs. Software drum kits from jazz brushes to modern rock . *Percussion sounds: congas, bongos, shakers , etc. * Acoustic and electric basses in studio styles from Motown to unplugged rock.
(source: Thor)

Jam Pack: Symphony Orchestra

Jam Pack: Symphony Orchestra contains over 2000 loops and more than 30 of the most important orchestral Software Instruments.
These are the 1226 unique loop names in this JamPack; variations bring the total number of loops to 2203.

Overview of contents, arranged in groups:
  • Strings.
    • first and second violins
    • violas
    • cellos
    • double basses
    • a concert harp.
    • you can control the dynamics and expression of each instrument and articulations like staccato, tremolo and trills.
  • Brass & Winds.
    • flutes
    • oboes
    • French horns
    • trumpets
    • trombones
    • tubas
    • You can control the playing style of individual instruments.
  • Percussion.
    • bass, snare and field drum
    • cymbals, gong and bells
    • woodblock and others.
    • pitched percussion instruments, including timpani, celesta, xylophone, marimba and the glockenspiel.
  • Keyboard.
    • Steinway grand piano
    • harpsichord
    • church organ.

Range           fit this in your car......

The whole range of MIDI instruments is beautifully illustrated by the original GarageBand onboard keyboard: drag the lower right corner and watch it grow to encompass the whole 128 note midi range (nearly eleven octaves). You would need good speakers to hear the low end, and good ears for the top.
(Every octave up doubles the pitch. Counting up from middle A-440Hz , the top A is 440x2x2x2x2x2 = 14080Hz. (compared to 3520 Hz for top A on an acoustic piano) The bottom A is 440/2/2/2/2/2 = 14Hz, sounds like this and that is not even the lowest note....

GarageBand's Instruments          where's the banjo?

GarageBand's original line-up of instruments:

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