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Guitar Amps vs Modelling

Updated: Feb 2, 2021

Ever since Line6 surprised the guitar fraternity with the innovative bean shaped POD, there has been much debate around the merits of recording and performing direct using a Amp modeller instead of a real guitar amplifier.

It’s interesting in that amp modelling offers a wide variety of benefits over a traditional guitar amp. In fact, the more you think about it, the longer the list gets:

  • No mics or complicated setups

  • Direct recording

  • Instant recall of every setting

  • Ability to monitor over headphones

  • A wide range of classic to boutique amp emulations

  • Added benefit of classic/boutique effects

  • Move from studio to stage and back again

  • Can be controlled entirely inside your DAW

  • Doesn’t require a sonically treated recording room

  • Can come in the form of hardware and/or software

The list goes on and on. Some innovative companies occupy the market for amp modelling including Line6, Fractal Audio Systems, Native Instruments, IK Multimedia and Kemper to name just a few.

There isn’t anything quite like standing in front of stack system bashing out a Metallica riff whilst feeling the sonic power of your creation resonating through your bones.’ve got to capture that sound using mics whilst ensuring the room you’re in is well treated acoustically and that can be a pain in the ass. This in itself is a really expensive (and specialist) scenario and not all of us can afford a Bonamassa lock-up filled to the ceiling with boutique amp cabinets.

I’m not trying to convince the reader that one solution is better than the other but you have to ask yourself a question. How important is it that I get that nailed-on specific Marshall head and cab sound?

Surely the question is to find a tone that really works for you. Does it actually matter if it’s a real MESA or Vox emulation? For me, it doesn’t matter as long as the tone is good to my ear.

Personally, I think amp/effect modelling is in excellent health and it enables me to do post edits by changing an amp if it loses it’s impact in the mix. It also means I can record quietly if needed and have a huge selection of amps and effects at my disposal. I really love to do edit work in different physical locations armed with a great pair of headphones, I couldn’t do that without the power of software modelling.

Cheers Rob


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