Hello and welcome to this week's article! Today we're going to talk about a long awaited topic: the best free guitar amp simulators, which ones are, where to find them, how to use them :)
First off let's put it this way: the last ten years have seen a very fast acceleration towards guitar amp modeling, with the release of increasingly accurate softwares that recreates hardware circuts, both solid state or Tube driven, that tries to recreate the final result in terms of sound. This effort to bring hardware processors to the digital domain has brought to the birth of digital amp modelers, both hardware (like the Line6 Pod, that we have already covered on This article) and software.
On the software side the scene is rapidly evolving, with the release always more accurate modelers, such as Peavey Revalver, which features the proprietary license of Peavy amplifiers, or Ik Multimedia Amplitube and Native Instruments Guitar Rig, and the market is lately trying to explore the smartphone and tablet market too.
Those abovementioned products are commercial all-in one bundles that features an array of virtual amps, cabinets and stompboxes, but also in the freeware domain there is a wide range of quality software, developed by engineers that decides to share with the public domain community the results of their researches, often offering products that have absolutely nothing to envy to the commercial ones. Here are the most used:
- LEPOU PLUGINS
LePou - Lecto - Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier Clone
LePou - LeGion - An original voiced amp by LePou, very popular in the DIY Djent world
LePou - Le456 - An ENGL Powerball Amp Clone
LePou - SoloC - A Soldano SLO100 Amp Clone
LePou - Hybrit - A Marshall Superlead/JCM800 Hybrid
- THE SERINA EXPERIMENT PLUGINS
TSE - X30 - Based on ENGL E530 Rack Mounted Amp Unit
TSE - X40 - A Hybrid between A Mesa Dual Rectifier and A Peavey 5150
TSE - X50 - A Peavey 5150 Clone
- NICK CROW LABS
Nick Crow - 7170 Lead - A Peavey 5150 Clone
Nick Crow - 8505 Lead - A Peavey 6505 Clone
- ACME BAR GIG
AcmeBarGig - C15 - A Very High Gain Amp
AcmeBarGig - Series 60 - An Original Voice amp, is supposed to replicate a "8000 Watt Head"
AcmeBarGig - Razor - An Original Voice Amp, capable of many different tones.
AcmeBarGig - Shred - A Full guitar amp suite, featuring 6 different amp models with interchangeable tone stacks (Engl, Mesa, Marshall, Vox, Krank, Fender).
There are also many other great, free, amps available from AcmeBarGig in their "Classic Hybrid Line."
NDZeit - DirtHead - Sounds like some kind of Peavey clone but with a voice control that lets you shift the voicing from American to British, similar to what Blackstar have done with the HT series. It includes a Cab sim that we'd recommend you switch off.
NDZeit - TubeBaby - Pretty basic emulation but with different amp "types" including. American, British and Custom. It includes a Cab sim that We'd recommend you switch off.
- IGNITE AMPS
Ignite Amps - NRR 1 - Great Sounding High Gain 3 Channel Amp, the digital version of their actual hardware Soldano clone
Ignite Amps - The Anvil - A VST version of the Amp designed by Andy Zeugs
Ignite Amps - Emissary - A beautiful looking and sounding amp, so powerful and versatile that it doesn't even need a booster
Pvthp7 - Peavey 5150 - The simulator of a Peavey 5150 head with snake skin tolex
Pvthp7 - Krank Revolution - A Krank Revolution emulation
Pvthp7 - Mesa Boogie Mark 3 - As the name says, a Mesa Boogie Mark 3 emuolation
Pvthp7 - Baron K1000 - a Baron K1000 custom head emulation
Pvthp7 - Randall Solar - an emulation of the Randall Satan, the Ola Englund signature head
This russian programmer also produces one free multiband noisegate called "3 Band Noisegate", also downloadable from the site.
- How to use these virtual amplifiers: the typical chain to use these Virtual Amp Modelers is the one we've already seen on the Basic Guitar Chain article:
NOISE SUPPRESSOR -> OVERDRIVE -> AMP SIMULATOR -> SPEAKER SIMULATOR ->SUBTRACTIVE EQ->COMPRESSOR->BOOSTING EQ
The Noise Suppressor will clean our sound from the hum of the pickup-cable etc, then the overdrive will be needed only if we need to boost the amplifier, giving it that extra "chug" required for modern metal tones, but if we don't need a sound that edgy we can skip it.
Then we need the Speaker Simulator to recreate the cabinet sound taken from a microphone, and then an Equalizer to filter the unwanted frequencies before they become Louder due to the Compressor, whose main use is to tame the lows. Finally, if we need to boost some frequency, we can add another Equalizer after the Compressor.
Comment if you wish to suggest other Virtual Guitar Amplifiers!
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