A Totally Free Signal Chain:

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!


2 Responses to A Totally Free Signal Chain:

  1. watcat says:

    Hi this blog is great I will be recommending it to friends.

  2. enroe says:

    Good article – thanks for sharing your way of achieving your guitar sound!

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