Hardware into Software, 1: Zoom Tri-Metal pedal into Fender Bassman models

Had no time today to revisit the clips, but I did listen to them on my monitors at home; they are somewhat brighter than I had intended but not extremely so. There really are big differences between how the different models and their speaker emulations sound in the different software! The funny thing is that it’s hard to tell before clicking on the Tri-Metal how it’s going to sound into this or that Bassman model. Frankly they all sounded lovely clean, but in different ways; with a high-gain, Recto-ish distortion up front it sure changed a lot, huh? For those interested, my settings on the Tri-Metal were: Treble -4, Midrange boosted in the upper mids, Bass -5, Gain slightly before noon. Yeah, there’s wayyy too much of everything available on the Tri-Metal, it is the definition of over the top, so your best bet with it is to cut rather than boost. It’s got brutal distortion at 1/3 on the gain knob; it’s not playing around!

Still no comments, that makes me sad. Please speak up folks, I crave your participation 😀

Alright, ladies and gentlemen, the long wait is over! This update is my substantial return to this blog, and with it I pledge to provide more interesting content and commentary to suit my readers. I ask that you please help me out by commenting on entries and letting me know what you do and don’t like about my updates, what you think I’m doing well, what I could do better, and any ideas or requests you have for future updates. I’ve got some stuff on the list of things to do, starting with the addition of a new table of contents page to keep track of all of my articles on the blog more sensibly than they are now with the wordpress widgets.

For this update, my signal chain was my Schecter C-1 Classic (my go-to guitar for most of my gear reviewing because of its familiar pickups and sound) into my beloved Zoom TM-01 Tri-Metal distortion pedal, then into an IK Multimedia StealthPedal and on to my DAW. I used the venerable Fender Bassman because nearly all of the software I use has a Bassman model, and it’s a sound that I think everyone has had at least some experience with. There are a number of different revisions of the Bassman amp, and they can differ quite notably in their overall gain, ease of overdriving, and basic tonality; since different software plugins emulate different versions of the amp, don’t be surprised to hear some stand-out differences in the tone. I used only the cabinet simulation native to each software, so what you’re hearing in each case is just what it can do alone. That’s the norm for my work but I want to remind you and let newer readers know that’s the case!

As usual I spent a lot of time tuning each of the plugins to sound its best individually, giving my ears time to rest between tweaking each. I have a great deal of respect for all of the modeling programs that I use, and I think it’s important to try to make them shine on their own, as though each was the only software that I had to work with. Hopefully by doing that I can give you guys something useful even though you might not have access to such a range of programs. My goal in this roundup, and in the ones I will do in the coming days, is to explore how these modelers interact and function with hardware. While probably most guitarists aren’t collectors like me, we do tend to be gear lovers, and one of the important aspects when considering a digital setup is how well it can integrate into our current approach to the guitar. A guitarist making forays into the digital world expects a learning curve, but hopefully the things that have been useful and fun creative tools before getting into amp modeling can retain their utility even when the amp part of the equation is bits and bytes.

As usual the best judge of sound is your ears, so I invite you to listen to the clips and post your thoughts before I post mine tomorrow evening. I play three different sorts of things in the clips, with different emphases on playing style and dynamics; you will probably notice that each of them causes the software to react in a different way, and some of those differences are really interesting. On to the clips!

Amplitube 2

Amplitube Fender

Amplitube Jimi Hendrix

Guitar Rig 3

Pod Farm

ReValver MkIII

Overloud TH1

I hope that this update gives you all something fun and useful to chew on. After this, I won’t be able to use the same model across all of the programs, so the comparisons will have more variables; giving you this one first gives you a baseline for comparison that should keep the rest informative despite the differences I can’t control for in using different amp models! Please post your thoughts and comments, I want to hear what you think before I tell you what I think!

7 Responses to Hardware into Software, 1: Zoom Tri-Metal pedal into Fender Bassman models

  1. Jason says:

    Wow….pretty shocked at some of what I heard. Amplitube 2 sounded like complete blanket-over-the-cab to my ears, like everything else used IRs in comparison. My fave was hands down GR3 followed by Amp Fender. I’d pick those two, given the samples, if I was recording. I was also less than impressed w/ the Revalver tone. Overloud was very nice as was Pod Farm. Didn’t like Hendrix as much as I thought I would. Great job as usual.

  2. Dave Thomas says:

    As much as I hate to admit it the Guitar Rig sounded the best followed by Overloud. 😦

    Revalver III had way too much trebble and sounded the worst. Amplitube 2 was too muffled. Pod farm Fender and Hendrix all sounded middle of the road and a maybe bit too trebly.

    I found all of the clips to have a nasal harshness in the high frequencies. The other thing that made it hard to judge was the loudness of some of the clips varied, revalver was fairly quiet and Overload was well overloud 🙂

    I always check your blog while im at work otherwise I would have commented earlier…

    I would like to hear a more tubey distortion rather than a transistor…

  3. Dave Thomas says:

    I know you tried to use an amp in common, but the bassman seems a strange choice for a metal sound, I assume the Tri-Metal is masking a lot of the tone, im guessing thats the distortion of choice for you?

    I prefer more gain in the amp, and using a booster for the final crunch…

    I would of went for this if I was doing a golden era thrash metal shoot out! :

    Amplitube 2 British Tube Lead 1/2
    Revalver III ACM900
    Guitar Rig 3 Lead 800
    Vintage Amp Room White Amp
    AnalogueSims JCM900

    Personally I like to have the speaker sim seperate from the pre/power section so i would disable the cab sim for Amplitube, Revalver III, Guitar Rig, and use a convolution wav to remove Vintage amp room and analogSims cab modelling, adding my own at the end of the chain, normally I use my 1×12 so I normally run without.

    Would of liked a pic of the settings too…

    Keep up the good work 🙂

  4. Jason says:

    I like what you did using the Bassman to give an idea of real fx in the chain. I’d like to hear the same thing (or future test)done though with all stock cabs disabled and run through one IR. I won’t run anything through a stock cab anymore and as they are gaining in popularity (impulses) I imagine I am not alone by a long shot. That way I could get an idea of the character of the amp itself.
    Regardless, your work here is much appreciated.

  5. Agreed says:

    Hey, guys! First, the Tri-Metal isn’t my go-to distortion or anything, it’s just something I happened to have right on hand 🙂 This series of updates is primarily experimental. I’m just curious how they all sound with a physical pedal up front. The reason I used the Bassman model is because A) I’ve used the Bassman in real life and it takes pedals pretty well, and B) almost every software has a Bassman model! However they model different versions of the amps, and their cabs differ substantially, too, so there’s not much controlling for variables to be honest. Still, not everything I do here has to be super rigorous I hope. Haha. Jason’s idea of running into an IR with all stock cabs disabled is a good one, in fact I might re-render this test like that to make it more useful.

    Dave T, I’ll do some “genre” comparisons in the future, but this small series of updates are just for me to explore (publicly) whether and how well my pedals work with the various software that I use here. I think it’s a pretty important consideration because a lot of us have at least a few pedals – hopefully not everyone is over the top with 40 or more like me, it’s a sickness I tell ya – and it matters for getting “our” sound whether we can use our physical gear with the digital environment.

    I’m going to see what I can do with the IR thing for now to try to “standardize” this a bit more, and then I’ll run another pedal or two through. I actually have a patch that I do a lot of gear demos with which recreates my THD Univalve and TE 4×12 V30 cab sound in the modeler, using Amplitube 2’s THD Bivalve as the amp and a cabinet from Amplitube Metal. It sounds just like my real thing, and if I don’t tell people that I’m using a modeler they never ask.

    I am somewhat hamstrung by the lack of a good monitoring rig right now. We’ll be moving at the end of this week, and one of the first things I’ll do is set up my studio at the new house. I may slow the pace ’til then just because I’d rather wait until I can put up known quality content than risk the final product only sounding good on my headphones. Man, mixing on headphones is lame.

  6. StChris says:

    Hey Agreed, really cool blog. I think this can really get somewhere. Do you have any hardware amps? Or there are some websites where people post their clips of original amp recordings. Could you try to get that sound with the amp sims and then post the clips so that people can see if the difference is still great or if the sound is indistinguishable? Just a suggestion.

    Thanks a lot for your hard work.

  7. geareview says:

    I’ve carved my hardware amp collection down to a fraction of what it was. My trusty THD Univalve, a Fender Champ 600, and a Vox DA5 are doing it for me in the physical world these days.

    Interesting idea for a feature, though – find a Youtube video with a nice tone, then post a few different programs’ takes on that sound? Hmm… 🙂

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