What is Jamstack?
The Jamstack is a Bluetooth speaker/amplifier that connects directly to your guitar via the strap lock. Once you have the speaker on your guitar you connect your iPhone or Android to the speaker thanks to the provided cables. You then need to download a third party app to be able to the unit “to work“.
With the help of these third-party apps, you are supposed to be able to dial in amplifier and pedal tones that then play through the speaker box. This is supposed to be convenient and portable but I beg to differ. My experience and review are from my honest experience using and trying it for two days.
On one full charge of the internal batteries, you can use it for approximately 8 hours. I would expect the battery life to vary based on how loud you are using the speaker.
What does the Jamstack come with?
Included in the well-packaged gig bag you get the following items:
- A high-quality stereo Bluetooth speaker (sound great just streaming music to it)
- A clip that connects your phone to the guitar
- Cables for your phone as well as a jack connection from the guitar to the speaker
- AC adapters for all countries. This is great because it can in theory work and be charged anywhere.
Does the World Need Another Guitar Gimmick?
I know this heading sets the tone for the article, but I am being honest.
There’s a lot of new guitar products coming out all of the time. Many of these new guitar products are either a hit or miss. The Jamstack could have been awesome but there are a few things about it that need to improve.
What I like about the Jamstack
- The concept of Jamstack is unique.
- The build quality of the blue-tooth speaker is very good.
- The Jamstack also comes with all of the required accessories to hook it up to your mobile phone.
- The Jamstack website is really great
- The Quickstart guide was very helpful making sure you get it set up correctly.
What I dislike about the Jamstack
- There’s no native Jamstack app. This means you are at the mercy of third-party apps.
- I don’t trust how secure it is on the guitar. I had mine fall off the first time I used it.
- Having to hook up a phone just to play the guitar is the exact opposite of what you want
- The Price. This thing is way too expensive considering there’s no actual app produced by Jamstack.
- It doesn’t work well for left-handed players
- Most third party apps require subscription service or you need to spend more money outright to get this thing going.
Put the Phone Away!
This might be me just getting old but I think phones do the exact opposite to productivity. Anytime you have a phone in your hand you can be easily distracted. Trying to play the guitar with text message notifications coming through or Instagram notifications are nothing but distracting.
Having to rely on your phone as a virtual amplifier is a pain. I spent over 40 minutes trying to get this thing working while I could have just plugged straight into the NUX BT Lite at less than half the price and began playing the guitar. For comparison, the NUX BT Lite has its own app which works properly BUT you don’t actually need it. You can just plug into the amp and play with no phone required. I spent about 5 minutes getting the NUX BT Lite amplifier to work perfectly with the app.
Companies that think that everyone wants to play with a phone while playing with a guitar product have it backward in my opinion. Music shouldn’t be connected to tech unless it’s well integrated and easy to use.
Now to be fair, when you are relying on third-party apps and phones to be hardwired into the amp you run the risk of compatibility issues. I have an iPhone 6s+ and I could stream music from my phone to the Jamstack speaker but as soon as I used the provided cable to “play the guitar” the sound was terrible. Nothing about it sounded remotely similar to the sample sounds I could play back through my phone using the Tonebridge app.
I tried everything:
- Reinstalled the app
- Double checked the cables and connection
- Toggled all of the settings in the Tonbridge app
- Tried a secondary app which was “better” but still awful.
- Bluetooth ended up not even connecting after a while
Is the Jamstack Worth It?
I have a hard time recommending this product. For $250 USD it is way too expensive to start with and it doesn’t have its own app. If you buy this and don’t already own a guitar amp pack for your phone be prepared to spend more money on that. For $150 less the NUX BT Lite is a much better option and you can forget about issues with the app because at least with my iPhone it works perfectly.
My video review of this is what it is. My honest experience setting it up and using it for the first time following the guide. The day after I filmed the video I tried it again but I had no luck. I sent an email to Jamstack voicing my concerns and as of now, I have heard nothing back which is disappointing. The Jamstack was a frustrating piece of gear and its riddled with bugs with the hardware and iOS version I have on my phone.
I don’t go out of my way to negatively review anything unless there are problems. Due to my experience with music gear and the size of my YouTube channel I really can’t recommend something I have issues using myself.
Phones & Guitars
Anytime you make the phone the core function a device that helps you play the guitar you will no doubt experience problems. If the phone is an addition to the product that is usually fine. If the unit can not be used without the phone then the rate of issues will be a lot higher. My prime examples are amplifiers like the Fender Mustang, Marshall Code, and the NUX BT Lite. All of these amplifiers can be wirelessly tethered a mobile device but work great without them connected. These amplifiers also have their own software, unlike the Jamstack.
Phones can also be a massive distraction. So many people are addicted to their phones and I am sure just having your phone sitting on the Guitar will hinder the learning curve for beginners. I am thankful mobile phones weren’t really a thing when I was younger.
Corrections after filming
Since filming the video I found out you can actually switch the plastic phone holder around into a left-handed orientation. This is done by removing the screw that holds the hinge in place. I didn’t see anything in the instructions regarding this and actually found it in help tutorial video elsewhere.
I was able to get the unit working with a secondary “paid app” with the trial version and the tone was still not very good. My suggestion is if you want to play the guitar get something that doesn’t need to clip onto your guitar and make sure it doesn’t rely on a mobile phone to get it working.