Any thoughts and experiences regarding guitar sounds?

Hi Folks
I seem to have been going round in circles recently regarding the numerous options around for a “good” guitar sound and am interested to know what you guys might have come across recently in the eternal quest for tone.

Currently in my toy box I have Amplitude and Ampkit kicking around both of which have some interesting defaults on them but in my experience the demo tones are usually a little bit too much to sit in most productions and require backing off a little to sound more natural. There is of course the VST Amp Rack which initially did not make a huge impression on me but now that I have gone back to it for about the 5th time I seem to have found some new depth in that.
It was when I recently got hold of the demo for Guitar Rig 5 and instantly liked it I realised that all I seem to be doing is flitting from one thing to another without actually getting anywhere productive and just perhaps any of the above are actually perfectly good for the job if properly calibrated.

Who knows I might soon be plugging an amp in and sticking a mic in front of it, but that will cause a little too much upset to my neighbours I suspect, hence the endless quest for a workmanlike software solution for day to day use.

Generally I am looking for good clean tones and at most a mid level of “rawk” tone rather than the extreme end of the spectrum. Weapon of choice tends to be a mid eighties Strat Plus.

The above ramble is therefore a call for any thoughts on what you have found is working well for you, so any comments are most appreciated!

EDIT - seems the answer is here - probably :wink:

An opinion…

You say you have Amplitube… but is it Amplitube 3? I found that the default sounds in version 3 are much better than the previous versions. But, I do admit that I have a bunch (too many) of my own presets saved that are just adjusted defaults for the mix of particular songs. To be honest nothing sounds as good as my mic’d amp (Marshall JVM210C) but, if I recorded everything with that my wife would probably kill me. :wink:

Regards :sunglasses:

I’ve spent the last year trying out different hosts and different amp software. What I’ve decided, is that I hate guitar software. I’m into warm clean sounds, which are easy to get and sound great. But, the other part of me is into acidic high gain tones. Amp sims simply can’t do it without a lot of tweaking. I grab an amp, start playing, and it’s much more natural. I’ll keep the amp software for cleans and special effects, and use a real amp for my gain tones. I ended up with a Blackstar ID:100. It’s solid state, but has a ton of tweaking options and sounds amazing. Blows away every amp sim I’ve tried. I only bought the head because I live in an apartment while my girlfriend is in school for the next year. I use the emulated out split through a Radial DI into my lynx interface, and it sounds amazing. Plus, limiting myself to one amp sped up my creation time. I’d spend hours tweaking the sims, and I don’t do that anymore. Good luck in whatever you choose. BTW, great amps are a lot cheaper now than they were in the past.

I have had Guitar Rig 5 for some years –came bundled with Complete Audio 6 interface – and I’ve been contented with it. I’m mostly after clean bluesy tones with maybe some light overdrive, delay and reverb. There are also thousands of presets available, for instance here: A plus for GR is also that it has a standalone mode too, so you are ready to play in five seconds.

Not any cheaper amp sim/effect boxes (Boss, Zoom, THR…) have according to my tastes come near the GR. Maybe I should also mention that I monitor mostly in headphones.

A while ago I downloaded the BIAS FX Desktop demo, as this newcomer has had some praise. Maybe it’s just my laziness, but with the demo tools I could not quickly get sounds that were equal to my favorites in GR. Maybe I don’t give up yet. Any experiences from the basic or Pro version? Btw this is a plugin only, so you have to open your host first.

You can build an ISO box for an amp and mic it.

No amp… I would start with a di optimized for hi-z instruments.

I find that halion se has some good guitar sounds and they sound better when used with the vst amp. Keeping in mind that guitar is hard to reproduce unless they record the entire performances like in funk guitarist from NI. Which sounds realistic. I did managed to reproduce some very realistic country guitar by creating the fx in vst amp on a halion strat sound. Experiment with halion sounds and the vst amp and I’m sure you’ll find some interesting sounds.

I’m still experimenting with mic’ing my guitar amp, so while I’m sure I will eventually supersede GR 5, that amp sim is still currently my favorite.

Contrast the following two tracks:

New York Blues

Rising from the Ashes

The former is GR 5 Pro. The latter is a Hotrod Deluxe III mic’d with an AKG D950, straight on (not 45 degree angle) about about 4" off axis and 4" away from the cabinet.

Granted there are other things at work here: the latter was also recorded using the amp’s reverb and using live effects and no plug-ins, whereas the former is all VSTs for the amp and effects.

Both songs were recorded on a Strat, albeit different ones:

  • The former is a 79 American Strat hard-tail with a Seymour Duncan in the neck position, which was used on the rhythm guitar track (position 4 on the selector). The lead used the bridge pickup, which is stock. I played both tracks without a pick.

  • The latter is a 2015 American Strat soft-tail with no modifications to it on one rhythm track, and an '87 JB Player solid body on the other rhythm track and also the lead. I used a pick on all tracks.

Thanks for some great thoughts and suggestions in these replies!

I would love to investigate the real world amping more when I can find a decent space but for now have gone for the Amplitude 3 deal that was out recently. As soon as I did this the Amplitude 4 news was announced, so I have to apologise now that it was all my fault!
There are some great tones to be had with Amplitude, but as with all things, paying attention to the levels right through the chain makes a huge difference.

I also bought the desktop version of Ampkit which is Mac only I think and have to say this is actually the one that my ears prefer more than all the others to date. Unfortunately there is not a VST version of this at the moment though.



There’s a youtube channel called MixBus TV and he’s done some good videos on Guitar Tones, mostly in the Metal genre if I recall. My guess is that your sounds are probably already better than you think they are. You can tweak forever. You sound like you have a great rig and a lot of experience.

Great info in this thread. Good guitar tones is an endless topic. I’m hearing a lot of excellent guitar tones on all kinds of recordings these days. We’re in tone heaven really with so many choices from plug-ins to patches to real amps and great mics., cabs, rooms. I

I’m often surprised at how a tone in the clear sounds somewhat unsatisfactory, but then when placed in the mix, it’s just right.

In terms of Cubase for guitar, some of the track presets give excellent staring points or even ending points for interesting sounds.

I like the Quadrafuzz plug-in for all kinds of things and still need to learn to use it better. The VST Amps have some great sounds. I like to take two different sounds panned hard L and R. I have a Pod X3-Live and it’s adequate for some interesting sounds but I’m using it less and less. I’ll probably retire it soon.

Yeah, a real amp in a music shop wouldn’t sell very well if it sounds like the little fart that comes out of the studio monitors when you solo the channel in a final mix! :laughing:

For live use real amps is a total other animal though!!! :sunglasses:

Most of my album recordings are using GR 5, and I particularly like the “Citrus” amps which I believe are supposed to be models of Orange amps. I find I can fiddle with the knobs similar to a real amp. I went to the local store to test a small Orange, but it had technical issues, and I ended up with an Egnater Rebel 30. I have a couple of recordings with that real amp that you can hear as well.

The real amp is highly dependent on the room conditions. I don’t like to place the mic too close to the speaker for the sort of music I’m playing. But I keep going back to the GR5 for my home recordings because I have much more control over the total sound.

This is so very true.

Guitarists often search for the best, fullest, most beautiful tone. Unfortunately there often just isn’t any “tonal” space in a mix for such a thing. As a mixer, you often only have the space in the mix for an illusion of a beautiful tone. Soloing it off just reveals how much you’ve had to tonally slice and dice to make it fit. Just try not to solo it if the guitarist is in the room :slight_smile:

I love the “L” button on the cubase mix channel for just this reason.

I tend to agree. That said, in lots of the rig rundown videos I’ve seen, some of the top touring pros use set-ups where the signal is getting highly processed in the digital domain and yet what’s coming from the cabs and monitors sounds great in the house and I’m sure the on-stage sound is working too.

I like it all and feel like the tonal possibilities I have now are so much wider and more interesting in many ways than anything I had when I was “limited” to a Fender Twin and a Les Paul “only.” heh.

For a bar or jam band setting, a small venue, I love hearing the sound of real amp with effects best. On recordings and in live shows, I’m open to whatever people or I come up with. It’s all positive to me. There’s so much to pick from. The VST Amp rack together with some track presets is certainly something I’m glad Cubase offers.

Take care.