Music Blog

Cranking My Marshall

I spent an hour or so today tinkering with my Amplitube 2 software and Cubase. Mostly, I’ve been experimenting with ways to get a killer distorted Strat sound. I haven’t liked what I’ve come up with so far. My Strat doesn’t seem to like to just be plugged into an amp. It insists on special treatment.
If you don’t know what the Amplitube 2 software does, suffice it to say that it’s the mother of all amp emulators. It’s computer-based, and includes models of 14 guitar amps, 16 speaker cabinets, 6 microphones, and it includes 21 emulated effects pedals and 11 rack effects. Oh, and it throws in a tuner for good measure.
Long story short, my Ibanez Destroyer loves this software, but the Strat has been sort of uppity about it. I mean, I’ve gotten good sounds, but those have been mostly clean sounds. When I go for the distortion, I haven’t much liked the sounds. I’d started to accept the possibility that all of my distortion was going to come from my Destroyer. But then I discovered something cool, sitting right there on my computer.
I found a VST plug-in by AudioDamage called Fuzz 2. It’s a “transform model of a famous vintage fuzz pedal”. I inserted it into my signal chain before the Amplitube 2 insert, just like you’d do a real fuzz pedal (the virtual version of plugging your guitar into a fuzz pedal and then plugging the fuzz pedal into the amp). Once I did that, I found myself with all sorts of creamy distortion. The sound has all the percussive bite of a Strat, but it’s embedded in this warm distortion. It’s perfect for the Strat, and it’s already triggered enough guitar licks for five or six songs.
The amp model I’m using is a Marshall JCM800 through a 1970’s Marshall 4×12″ closed speaker cabinet. This is virtual gear, of course. I could never afford the real deal. But when you add a little room ambience to the cabinet, it sounds just like you’re sitting there cranking away on a Marshall guitar rig. So why spend the big bucks, unless your main intent is to impress your friends?
Anyway, after the amp I inserted a BBE Sonic Maximizer plug-in and a Kjaerhus Audio Classic Chorus, and I finished the whole thing off with a little reverb. All I can say when I heard the finished product was … “egads!”. I’ve never heard my Strat sound that sassy. It’s all sweetness and light and shit. Hearing it crank out that kind of attitude was an eye-popping experience, and I immediately thought of dozens of applications for the sound.
Hopefully I’ll get around to using some of these killer sounds eventually. I’m still working on some basic ideas surrounding my vampire, which are starting to coalesce into an album (sorry,  you youngins should think “CD”). I figure most of the album will be ambient and based on a lot of the sounds that I have in my GigaStudio sampler. But there’s gotta be guitars, right?
One day … one day …

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