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Guitar modeling amps DO deliver what they promise

If you don't like the sound of your stock presets on your modeling amp or multi-effects pedal, you have nobody to blame but yourself.

Above is the isolated guitar tracks for Limelight by Rush. I picked this one in particular because I think Alex Lifeson's guitar tone is one of the best ever recorded because he does not use an over-trebly ratty sounding overdrive.

There are some modeling amps and multi-effects pedals that feature this exact sound as a preset. All you basically need is a guitar with bridge humbucker pickup, play the song, and you've got the tone...

...but the internet would tell you otherwise.

A longstanding complaint of all guitar modeling, be it in an amp or pedal, is that all factory presets regardless of who made the amp or pedal sound awful.

No, it doesn't sound awful.

The guys who program these things during development actually do listen to the original studio recordings, approximate what the tone sounds like, program it as a preset, test it many times until it's right, then send it out to production. The vast majority of the time, these programmers actually do nail it and get the sound right the first time.

The problem is the player and not the software.

Rewinding the clock back to the '90s for a moment, I'll talk about a multi-effects I unit I owned before for many years, the Alesis Quadraverb GT. That thing did just about everything well except overdrive/distortion. This was '90s early digital modeling tech, and it didn't sound right because of how new digital dist/od was at the time. The tech needed to get out there and mature.

Well, it has matured. In fact, it matured properly right around 2010. Virtual amps via PC software got the sound right first, then as the tech became cheaper and easier to produce, it trickled down into rack units, then to multi-effect pedals, then to amps.

And here we are. Now we have it all. And dopey guitar players (mostly metalheads) still complain.

Reminder: Most original studio guitar tracks of famous rock songs sound awful on their own

These are the isolated guitars for Flying High Again by Ozzy Osbourne:

Yes, guitarS. Plural. Very plural. Randy Rhoads had his guitars double, triple and sometimes even quadruple layered just to get them not sounding like total garbage - yet still do when listening to them isolated.

This tone is buzzy, ratty, muffled, overblown, has too much reverb, and is just plain terrible.

And when programmers actually program a sound like this as a preset in a modeling unit, they know it sounds awful but put it in anyway. After all, everyone wants that Randy Rhoads tone, right?

No. Nobody wants it. Nobody wants a trebly, nasty overblown mess of a guitar sound.

You got what you asked for

To anyone who complains about the stock presets in a modeling unit not sounding right, you got what you asked for. The tone is there. You just never liked the actual original studio sound to begin with...

...and that's why you're better off just programming your own presets with modelers. Tedious to do? Not really. You just have to sit down, learn how your modeler does what it does and create your own custom presets.

For multi-effects, it doesn't matter whether you have a DigiTech RP55, ZOOM G3Xn or BOSS GT-1000. For modeling amps, it doesn't matter whether you have a Peavey Vypyr VIP 1, Line 6 Spider V 240 or Fender Mustang GT 200. The fact of the matter is that with ANY of these things, you will have to sit down, learn the thing and actually do some basic programming.

And yeah, I know the word programming scares some people. Don't be afraid of it. Tone modeling is just one of those things where you have to craft your own tone and that's just the way it is.

However, on a final note, being I just recently acquired a Line 6 Spider V 60, I might write up a better manual on that. Maybe. I'm thinking about it. I personally think the amp is very easy to use, but again, the whole programming thing does scare some. If I decide to put a book together on how to use the amp, yes I will of course announce it here.

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