Next big update Wednesday, and seeking some feedback from y’all

March 28, 2009

Just wanted to let everyone know that I’m going to take a little bit of time off blogging until Tuesday or Wednesday. I appreciate everyone dropping by. I’ve got to get some reviews finalized for FrugalGuitarist, and I also have some academic stuff to handle. If I happen to do anything interesting before my next real update, I’ll definitely post a link here, but I thought it’d be better to let everyone know not to expect anything new for a bit.

I do have an idea planned for the next real update, though, which I think will be of interest. I haven’t done any comparison in awhile, and I’ve got some great software in now which will make any comparisons I do in the future even better. So how about a new shoot-out for Wednesday? 😀

If you want to help me figure out what shoot-out to conduct, post here and tell me. So far I’ve done Vox, Fender, Marshall, and Mesa Rectos. I do need to post an update showing how Overloud TH1 1.1 does those sounds, that’s also planned for next week, but I want to do a new shootout… Maybe I could compare each software’s dirt pedals, with clips? That might be interesting, and it would give you guys something to think about. To keep it fair I could even use a free amp simulator as the actual amp in the comparison, so that the only variable would be the different pedals in the programs.

Comment and let me know if you like that idea, or if you’d like to see something else. Soon I’ll be doing this for some effects, as well. Ideally this blog is interactive, I’d love it if everyone would give me their ideas for stuff to do so that I could go forth and make it happen. Talk to me, folks!

Back In Action! A Tri-Fold Update

March 23, 2009

Three items of interest to my readers!

Item One: I’ve been working with Overloud TH1 1.1 lately, gearing up for the review of the software I’ll be doing for Frugal in the next issue. It’s very, very interesting. Some of the coolest and most intuitive routing I’ve ever used. I had the chance to do a quickie “collaboration” with Harmony Central forum user Zygoat, who got an AxeFX unit not too long ago and has been posting clips. I asked him if I could jam over one and he said sure, so I fired up TH1 and recorded some lead to the great sounding clip he had up. He did the bass and all rhythm guitar, and the drums too. I just recorded the lead track. A synthesis of AxeFX and software, haha. Don’t tell Cliff, he’s remarked on occasion that everything that isn’t AxeFX is just a toy (I think you can imagine my response to that gem!).

The fact that I had to make the guitar fit in an already mixed track posed some interesting challenges. I broke out a few plugins to make everything fit together. I wanted to place the guitar in a certain way in the mix, both in terms of its “sound” and also in the stereo field. I’ll write a run-through of the process here, explaining what I did and why.

To get the amp tone, I used Overloud TH1’s “SLR” amp mod slider function which lets you adjust continuously between two amplifiers’ properties, not just a fader but it actually alters the internals to make a hybrid of the two amps. This is a hybrid of the “Overloud Custom” on PlexiBright channel, and their Soldano SLO amp model, about 55/45 in favor of the Overloud Custom PlexiBright. I’m not using a whole lot of gain, because I wanted my playing to come through… Read the rest of this entry »

Just a heads up…

March 17, 2009

I won’t be posting anything new on the blog until this weekend most likely. My grandmother passed away in our home this morning at 10:30 AM, finally letting go of her long fight against cancer. She was a wonderful woman, so strong and loving and an inspiration to everyone who knew her. It was hard not to love her if you got to know her, and we’ve had people drop by all day with tears in their eyes, some real surprises… I was there when she passed and I can only say that I’m glad that she isn’t suffering anymore. She was more like my mom to me than my grandma, and I will miss her so.

A Totally Free Signal Chain:

March 15, 2009

Well, first off this is a PC-only signal path, so my apologies to my readers who prefer Macs. I’ll try to hunt down some quality freeware for Macs, but it does seem like the PC enjoys a real advantage here. Sorry guys, I love Macs too but I’ve been a PC user for so long I didn’t feel like changing when I built my latest computer! (Plus, you can’t really build  Mac, at least not totally legally as I understand it).

Anyway, that said, I wanted to put together a total amp modeling and effects signal chain that would give you professional-quality results without spending any money (which might be helpful for you folks who bought Amplitube Fender recently, I know everyone around here is feeling this economic pinch…) For this clip I used:

1. GVST Effects Gtune, Ggate, Gduckdly for my tuner, noise gate, and ducking delay. Love their effects, killer stuff.

2. Aradaz’ fantastic OUR Cabinet Sim, blending Alu’s Mesa 4×12 and Noa’s Soldano 4×12

3. Bootsy’s awesome Epicverb, the best free reverb plugin I’ve ever used. I like it better than many IR-based reverbs because of its tweakability and versatile algorithms, easy to dial in the perfect reverb for a track.

4. LePou’s Soldano amp modeler, covered in a recent post!

Here’s a screenshot, you can see my signal path and all of the settings I used in this clip. It’s too big to fit on the blog, so click the thumbnail to view it (you might have to click the image again when it loads up so that you can see it full-size).

A note about my settings: while the delay, reverb, and cab sim should all be what I’ve used if you want this tone, I recommend that if you lower the threshold of the GGate noise gate and turn the Overdrive on the Soldano amp simulator up, and adjust the Treble to be higher as well on the amp sim. I am using a physical BBE Orange Squash and BBE Freq Boost in front of my DI which gives a nice boost but raises the noise floor going in. HOWEVER, I tested this plugin without any such external hardware to be sure that a similarly good tone could be had without them before posting it – it can! Just up the gain and treble to compensate for the lack of physical pedals. Another good option would be to use the freeware BTE Audio TubeScreamerSecret plugin in front of the amplifier, which simulates an analog TubeScreamer pedal extremely accurately and would probably let you use the same settings that I’ve used here (with the GGate threshold lowered, of course).

Here’s the clip. As usual, try not to focus too much on my sloppy playing, instead listen to how the stuff sounds 😉

This is, in my experience, similar to the quality you can get from the best professional amp sims. Which means a job very well done by LePou, Aradaz (and those who contributed IRs, Alu, Dimi, Noa for contributing my favorites!), and Bootsy, as well as Graham Yeadon who does the GVST plugins (grab the whole pack for a comprehensive free effects setup). Tone that’s easy on the wallet!

I just wanted to thank everyone…

March 15, 2009

… who has come to my blog recently thanks to the Fender clips. It’s been really fun responding to you guys (here and on the forums) and getting clips, etc. up for the software. I’ve loved seeing my blog traffic hit new highs every day, too. Thank you to everyone for dropping by, I hope it’s been a useful resource to you. I’ve got plenty of stuff coming up, soon to come are some new software comparison clips, hopefully with the addition of software from another big company! If there’s anything you guys and gals ever want to see, just drop me a line here and I’ll get to it as soon as I can.

Thanks again!

A couple of cool freeware programs over at G.A.M., check ’em out!

March 13, 2009

The big news today as far as I’m concerned is the release of SoloC, a fairly anticipated PC freeware amp simulator vst fully modeling a Soldano. I have to say, it’s absolutely incredible. I’d pay this guy money if it weren’t free.

Now with a direct link to the plugin, thanks to LePou and KVR forums member A3ntar! I’ve updated the link per A3ntar’s request so that it will always point to the most recent version, as well.

Here’s his post on GuitarAmpModeling, you’ll have to register an account to download it but it is SO worth it, and here’s a very quick clip I recorded with it. Signal chain is an explorer with a high-output humbucker in the bridge, into a BBE Main Squeeze/Orange Squash compressor, into a BBE Freq Boost, into StompIO, into the SoloC Soldano plugin. In the DAW’s VST path, I’m using GTune (just a tuner), GGate (configured as a noise gate), the Soldano, and Aradaz OUR Cabinet Sim using one of the user-provided IRs that just happens to be a Soldano 4×12 cab.

Also, development continues on another very promising freebie amp sim from a different maker, Ken aka AcmeBarGig Effects, a multiple gain amp based on his novel approach to 12AX7 emulation which comes with some built-in effects, called Duel Gain – here’s the thread on GAM. The community is helping him locate and squash bugs now, but when he gets it up and running it’s going to be a very impressive modeler, with cab simulation built in as well as built-in stereo reverb and an adjustable noise gate. It already sounds good but as it’s still in the early stages it’s pretty far from bug free. But keep an eye on it, he’s a talented guy and I’m sure he’ll get it lined out soon.

The amp modeling community is one of the coolest software communites I’ve ever had the pleasure of being a part of. A bunch of crazy guys making excellent software for those of us with digital tastes!

Amplitube Fender and Physical Pedals II

March 12, 2009

I said I’d add some more posts if there was interest. Well, I’ve had so many hits on these postings since the first one four days ago and plenty of forums appreciation as well, so I’m going to consider that interest until someone tells me otherwise! Gotta give a shout-out to the good folks at GuitarAmpModeling and KVR, especially, and the many members at Gearslutz as well. My internet experience would be much less entertaining and informative if it weren’t for all you ladies and gentlemen.

A user over at KVR encouraged me when I said I might put up a post with a couple of more standard dirt pedals into Amplitube Fender amps. After a bit of discussion we settled on the Digitech Bad Monkey, an all-analog overdrive with a tone similar to the venerable Tube Screamer, but with active EQ circuitry and more gain on tap along with some other cool features at a very wallet-friendly price. The second pedal was my pick, the Vox Joe Satriani signature Satchurator distortion, because A) he suggested a DS-1 and Satch was a DS-1 user exclusively for his dirt tone back in the ’80s and B) I love it. The Satchurator’s product literature describes it as “based on a discontinued vintage Japanese distortion pedal,” though it definitely doesn’t sound like a DS-1 (more like a DS-1 into a JCM800, which if I remember correctly was Satriani’s setup back then). Read the rest of this entry »