Playing the Smart Strings in GarageBand for iPad

Published by | Friday, September 28th, 2012

You may find the Apple iPad touchscreen useful for many things in your everyday life, but did you know that you could use it to play violin, viola, cello, and upright bass? Even if you use a different Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) for your music production, you might want to consider using Smart Strings in GarageBand for iPad if adding a string part to your songs is something that interests you.

In iPad Music Production: GarageBand, Garrick Chow shows how to play the Smart Strings, including how to play in chord mode and note mode. In chord mode, the chords are made by up to five instruments: 1st violin, 2nd violin, viola, cello, and bass, or any combination of the five. Choose the key of the song and eight chord strips appear, one for every chord in that key.

Tap a chord strip to play short (pizzicato) chords. Slide your finger back and forth across the chord strip to create longer (legato) bowed notes. Adding speed  to a finger slide increases the volume of your legato bowed sound. This technique can be used to create string swells.

Switch from chords to individual notes, and you’ll access a fretless neck where you can play one of any of the five stringed instruments right on the screen. Touch a string to play a plucked or bowed note. Drag your finger to slide up and down a string.  Or choose a specific scale and GarageBand will only make the notes of that scale available, adding frets to the neck. It might technically be “cheating,” but it sure will make you sound great.

Then there are the auto-play patterns. The patterns are premade string parts in various styles and inversions that you can choose to have all five of the strings, or just your selected favorites, play in.

Watch as Garrick Chow shows you how to get started creating music with Smart Strings in this video from the third chapter of iPad Music Production: GarageBand:

In addition to Smart Strings, GarageBand also has Smart Drums, Smart Guitar, Smart Bass, and Smart Keyboards. In each, Garrick Chow demonstrates how to play and capture great recordings with Smart Instruments, as well as Touch Instruments, and real instruments. He also shows how to edit and mix your performances, and how to export and share your finished tracks with the world.

Music creation has taken a big step forward with GarageBand for iPad. Learn more about this inexpensive yet powerful app in iPad Music Production: GarageBand.


Interested in more?
• All audio courses on
• All courses by Garrick Chow on
• All iPad Music Production courses on

Suggested courses to watch next:
iPad Music Production: Inputs, Mics, and MIDI
• GarageBand ’11 Essential Training
• Audio Mixing Bootcamp
• Foundations of Audio: Compression and Dynamic Processing


Share this:Share on Facebook5Tweet about this on Twitter5Share on Google+0Pin on Pinterest0Share on LinkedIn0 - start learning today

Tags: , ,

One Response to “Playing the Smart Strings in GarageBand for iPad”

  1. nyc guitar repair says:

    Long live Slayer, thats all i gotta say.

Leave a Reply