Amp sims - Achieving Good Tone


I remember reading that article and actually tried to find a bunch of the paid mokafix plugins that they used but mokafix is now nowhere to be found on the interwebs. You can find their old free stuff but their cheap paid stuff is nowhere.


Heh, we must have different taste. My “icepick” tone is what i shoot for, I can get a lot more round w the humbucker in my telecaster - i like those cleans to cut through all the verbs and stuff. :smiley:


I’ll see if I can dig up or make some examples. I’ve mostly moved away from guitar as a focal instrument in my own recordings, so most of my well-recorded stuff in the last few years has been for other people. I’ve probably still got raw tracks archived somewhere, I’ll post them if I find them.

But honestly, I think examples are beside the point. It’s up to the individual to dig in and find the sound they like. All myself and others are doing are just confirming it’s possible. @chasedobson has the perfect example where what one person is going for is exactly what another’s trying to avoid. Again, I think it’s down to experimentation and getting into the gain staging and effects orders to break new ground. It’s a lot of work and time, but it certainly pays off, and every time it’s a little quicker and easier to dial in the sound in your head.

I’ll also mention that my results (or perception thereof) greatly increased when I stopped comparing my amp simed stuff to real amps. Treating the sim like a separate amp that has its own quirks and character and can dial in a sound I like and find appropriate is much more reasonable than saying “omg I just can’t get it to sound like my JCM900 or Twin”, which was my initial frustration with them. Once I started treating them like their own thing and figured out how to deal with their limitations (just like I would a real amp) they started being much more usable and musical for me.


Just fired it up and it is really nice. I’ve had it installed for a few years, but never really messed around with cleans from it for whatever reason. Thanks for the heads up.

I can also recommend a freebie that kind of impressed me for cleans from Blue Cat:


Thanks I’ll check it out.


Shit, I just fired up LeXtac, thanks to that sleepmakeswaves thread, and it’s also really good for cleans. And the clean channel in Le456 is also pretty nice. I don’t know if I only dicked around with high gain sounds with these in the past. Or if it’s because I have a different interface and running into a DI box first, but both of them sound much nicer from what I remember from a few years back. Sweet.


Yeah, proper mixing would’ve brought up the tones more there, but even as-is, you can tell there are pretty good, workable tones that you are getting out of your set up.

Do you feel your new Helix is an improvement over all this?

Yeah, man, they certainly are doing what they are supposed to in the context. I totally get what you mean about that and they probably wouldn’t cut through if you smooth out the sharpness. It’s just such a fine balance to get - a little more to one side, and they are harsh and painful, a little more to the other, and they are dull and lost in the mix. I have a lot of these twinkly parts in high register and I’m having a hard time finding that balance. And I understand it’s not just the guitar tone in itself. I haven’t yet fully mastered my reverbs, so kind of struggling with placing conflicting guitar parts in the 3d space (arguable, there shouldn’t be any conflicting parts, but I just gravitate towards writing multiple independent parts that sort of occupy the same sonic space…sound cool to me when I make them and demo them, but then I drive myself nuts trying mix them properly). Another thing I’m suspecting is that I try to get a too much of the brightness of my mixes from guitars, when really I should be letting mostly cymbals and some other sparkly ear candy provide that and I can get away with having my guitars be a lot duller (so more mid-rangy and fuller). The struggle is real.

What’s your thought process, then, as far as deciding whether to mic a real amp/cab vs using modelers/IRs for a particular part/project/whatever? Sounds like you have and like both and have the freedom to use either (meaning, sounds like you still have amps/cabs/mics and the opportunity to be loud, if you want).


The helix allows me to play stuff out live too. Which is something I’ve been wanting to do for a bit.
Like not live shows, maybe one day, but to play through things end to end and switch effects really easily. So for that it’s killer imo.

I’d like to a/b some helix vs uad sims, maybe the friedman models or something.


Most of the amps I own are ‘classic’, as in well known - JCM900, Fender Twin, Fender Bassman, Mesa Mk 4, etc. They have a distinct sonic fingerprint that’s both well known and trusted. I know what I’m going to get when I plug into one and start twisting knobs, and they mostly react in predictable ways.

Amp sims, on the other hand, have an incredibly wide sonic palette, made even wider by being able to do things like stack/chain various amp models or load up different IRs at the click of a button.That’s exactly why they’re so hard to get a hold of. While even the “Fender approved Twin model” in Amplitube doesn’t sound like my '69 Twin, it does sound like a guitar going through an amp, and it’s sort of like my Fender, and maybe it sounds just like someone’s Fender, but at the end of the day, nobody’s going to mistake it for a flugelhorn - it sounds like an amplified guitar, and that’s usable in a recording. Also, you can radically alter a sound by loading Louie Louie as your IR response instead of a proper cab IR (also works for convo reverbs). You can’t do that with an AC30.

Since we’re on a wub dub bleep bloop forum, I’ll make this analogy. Nobody ever says “if you’re only going to buy one synth, it should be a MiniMoog!” because that’s terrible advice. Yes, a Moog has a sound, and it’s a cool sound, and it’s a sound you can probably only get from a Moog, but if you’re going to only have one synth, it’s pretty limited. “Buy Serum and download Reaper” is fucking awesome advice, because for the money you get this broad sonic palette that does all sorts of things, including maybe sounding a bit like a Moog. At this point, for recording, that’s buying a Marshall or Fender or whatever versus getting something like GR5 or Amplitube or even some of the free offerings. I want all those options without having to drag shit out of storage and check tubes and caps and spend half the day moving mics around. I want it all and I want it now.

As to when I use real amps? Honestly, very rarely these days. When I play live (maybe once or twice a year?), when I go somewhere to play with other people and they don’t have an amp I can use (two or three times a year?) and when I want to record the room. Reflections are a bitch - they can’t accurately be modeled, only approximated by reverbs. Mostly it just diffuses and we approximate it to a couple of orders, but you lose the…finesse of the room, especially really interesting rooms. So sometimes I want to set up a real amp in a real space with real mics and get all that goodness. But not very often. Also reamping shit in cool rooms can be fun, especially if you play it back a couple times to build up the room reflections.

If I’m being totally honest, I don’t have much interest in traditionally amplified guitars or the music that’s made with them any more. I probably don’t have any business telling you guys your business about recording guitars, except I might have some useful technical knowledge or tricks. I’ve got all this shit because I started out in the 80s all punk rock and then metal and jazz and that means you collect things to play, but I don’t really dig that stuff any more. But I’ve got it, and one day I may want it, so it sits around and if I need a guitar sound or want to do something guitarish, I’ll use an amp sim. It’s just easier for the type of things I do.

Fuck, that ended up being heinously long. I’m way too verbose on cold meds. Whatever. You asked. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


This isn’t any particular setting or anything, just what was used on something at one time minus any post eq. Everyone likes what they like, the Lecto seems to sound close to my actual amp which is a poor man’s dual rectifier anyway. There are so many plugins for all kinds of styles, it’s hard to really recommend anything except just to try them all out.


I hope it functions in the same way it looks cool.


If it has Tube Screamer, you’ll be just fine :smiley:


By experimenting with amp sim settings and effects chains, you can tailor your sound to suit your musical style.