Amp Sim tips

I was just discussing this with my Bro and trying to help out a guitar customer. SO I figured I’d share it here…
Whenever using a guitar sim. Start with the most basic settings… and preferably mono at that.
Skip the presets or crazy fx chains pre and post.
Treat it like you’re just walking up to an amp and plugging in, dial something in on the “amp” controls that sounds presentable/appropriate and live with it for a while. Then worry about cabs and mics or mic placement. If you want to pick a cab first that you “feel” would be the right choice ahead of time, that is your prerogative. But try not to stray all that far from bare necessities and you will have more believable results. Of course, if you need a dotted 1/8th delay or something for the part, go ahead and slap it on.
It seems to work this way for almost all of the amp sims out there… including some of the free ones. These days my feeling is, if you stick to the basics, the tone has to be equal to a tone that somebody got somewhere… if that makes sense…
ave fun


What about inserting a tube sceamer (with drive low and tone high) as one of the first plugs?

I think this only applies to fairly distorted/high gain stuff.I read some time back that it “helps controls the lows”. I have to admit that I barely noticed the effect at first but I think I’m coming round to the idea.

One of the things I love most about amp sims is that I can quickly find a preset that gets a sound close to what I have in mind, and as Rich suggests, I don’t spend a ton of time on that first step-- just get something that’s close enough for government work. Primarily, especially for anything beyond clean tones, I want the interaction/feedback with the sound of the amp while tracking because as we all know, that absolutely affects one’s performance.

Later, during mixing, I’ll tweak the amp sims as needed, but not until I’m far enough down the line to have my target clearly in sight. At this stage, sometimes weird and wonderful things happen by exploring the sim settings, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised more than once with a serendipitous choice… :guitar:

Sure… If you feel you need the TS for the performance, by all means slap it on… but only put on what you need to play. Don’t over think it or over do it. And especially don’t do anything just to “control” what might happen in the mix. :slight_smile: Capture the performance.

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:grinning: Ha yeah, fair enough.

(Pictures mix as a cybernetic beast that needs to be horse whispered)

This is completely valid. But almost opposite of what I’m trying to convey in my tip :slight_smile:
Of course the MAIN goal is to capture an inspired performance. So yes… quickly getting a tone and getting right to the creative part rather than obsessing over the parameters is key.
But the advise I am offering is more for those who “don’t have much luck” with sims… or think they sound “fake” or like plastic and such.
It seems that the presets on most amp sims are there to showcase every single sonic capability of their awesome product … pre and post fx… multi channel, stereo, biAmp… even production grade comps and eqs. They may sound awesome by themselves. But less than ideal or even unconvincing in the mix. So what I’m suggesting is to treat it more like you are recording just an amp with one mic and do your mix magic wizard moves in the mix. You can always keep/print your clean DI for future tweaking.
If your sim has awesome presets that do well for you, rock on.
This being said… I do like to commit to a tone up front and print it. But that is not all that important to this discussion. I always have the print the DI for backup…

As a guitarist I love using a real valve amp that’s heating the room, in a big wooden box that’s thrumming with the vibration of nasty breaking up guitar speakers that rattle the valves.

But yes, when I use amp sims because I know what I like in terms of my rig I’ll usually start with a blank preset then add only the exact things I know I want - I pretend it’s a real setup!

My experience with amps is that some need tightening up and some don’t. A Mesa Dual Rec has massive low end and quite unfocussed upper mids, a TS-9 or SD-1 is the perfect antidote and the combination just works. Same with a clean fender - scooped amp sound takes a mid humped pedal nicely. On the other hand, my Mesa Stiletto combo has a very tight low end and very focussed mids, to the point that hitting it with a tubescreamer does nothing other than make it sound overcompressed and chesty. When I gigged an AC30 I had to be careful with TS style pedals to avoid a shouty, harsh tone.

Same principle with modelled amps, I’d imagine.I’d just listen to the amp you reckon you want to use, see how close you can get the tone just with the amp controls, then add a pedal sim if you think it’ll get you there.


Yup… a tube screamer or just about any fairly modern pedal acts as a buffer or bandwidth limiter. So it’s like a high pass and low pass and will “control” your low end (and high end). Some pedals have a buffer circuit that does this, others have it in the circuit and others do it naturally because the op amps and/or transistors just can’t handle it or will not pass frequencies above or below an operating range…
This is very useful in the real world moving air. And probably just as useful getting tones “to tape”.
But don’t slap a TS in front of your sim ONLY to control bandwidth if it’s not giving you something you want tonally. A simple high pass will probably do a better job.

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One of the thing i do is set proper input gain and a narrow cut around 3khz to remove fizziness of the amp sim… it’s sounds more natural

Roger that Rich. For me my preference is not to lock in the tone at the start because I have NEVER had a case where I didn’t want to change it in some way later in the process. I’m just a lowly one-man show with an interface and no hardware, and am not set up to split signals and capture DI while doing other stuff. Yes, I know I could be with more gear but it’s not in my interest to do that (and I simply do not have any space for it). So I need to work with just the one input and make do.

But we’re in violent agreement about just getting on with it and not stifle the creativity, no question about that. :slight_smile:

Here’s an AmpSim tip.

Use Schuffham. <<<


I’m just as lowly as you, brother… :slight_smile: But you don’t need any fancy splitter. You can do it inside the daw routing. Either send the input to 2 different channel… or record the output and use a pre fx send for a DI print… or record the input as the di and use a post fx send with the sim and record that. You might even be able to set this up as a track template and never have to think about it again…
have fun

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Yup, S-Gear makes it easy. The most fun you can have with headphones on. You can overdo the effects though, and you need to get the input level correct or it can go beserk, but other than that it’s the only one I’ve ever played that made me want to play it. I still have latency issues that make recording tough with it though, got to get that figured out.

@rjwillow Rich, thanks for that-- you’re right of course, I just haven’t explored doing stuff like that (yet)…

And a big +1 for Scuffham S-Gear2. Huge fan of that sim. My other go-to is Amplitube (3 and 4), and recently picked up the CLA GTR package when it was on blowout sale, but haven’t used it as much yet (natch). I also have Peavey’s ReValver, but I find it way to fiddly to use well-- plus for some reason it keeps forgetting my registration info and I have to re-activate it every time I open it. That got old real fast so I’ve let it lie for the past couple years…

I’ve tried a bunch of sims in the past 4-5 years and had a lot installed on my laptop at one time. Anything that did not need an ilok was at least demoed. I got rid of most of them like the IK multi and NI that had in app-purchases and then dumped anything that wasn’t 64 bit.
I kept a couple free ones like the voxengo and the California dream. I bought waves gtr3 for my bro and wasn’t impressed at first. Since I wanted some the wave ssl stuff, I broke down and bought it for myself. That’s where this tip originated. When you get to the meat and potatoes of GTR3 it is actually very good. it’s my go-to for playing and re-amping. But the same thing goes for IK and NI. the basic amps pretty much nail it.
@Jonathan The scuffham is the one with the “wayfairer”, right? I had some fun with that for a couple of weeks while I was building/rebuilding a customer’s computer. Can you get that w/out an Ilok or is it now a slate only thing?
I’m perfectly happy with what I have… But that wayfairer stood out…

The Scuffham plugin definitely does not require an Ilok. Just a regular ol’ 64-bit plug.

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cool… I thought that Slate bought them out or something. But I guess it’s just cross-marketing.
My buddy got it with the $14 a month Slate deal. Also the first thing on google was a press release talking about Ilok compatibility. But now I see that it is “available” with Ilok…
$129 isn’t that bad. But not in the cards right now…
have fun


I’ll add that the best improvement made using Eleven, Softube or Amplitube is to turn off the speaker emulation and use a third party cab sim (Recabinet).

It remove a lot of the fizz sound with high gain sound.

The big problem of amp sim is that they seem to sound never as good as real amp…until you really finish a mix with one. They have the capacity of being mix friendly which is not always the case with real amp.


I agree with you %100 you can always go back later and add stuff if you feel you need it. I also tend to record it a bit darker then eq in th emixing stage I have found it isn’t so hard to squeeze out a great guitar tone this way.

I have guitar rig, and I find my biggest issue with it is that a lot of the presets are too complicated to dial in quickly. If I find something that is kind of close to what I want, there’s all sorts of stuff going on where I can adjust the sound, it’s hard to know where to even start. so unless the preset already sounds just the way I want it, then I can’t bother using it.

When I stick to simple setups, and it doesn’t sound the way I want, I know exactly where to reach when something is close but off.