Todd's Secret Sauce To Achieve The Best Tone
An article by Todd Simpson
I recently spent WADS of money buying a rack full of gear:
Digitech GSP1101 with foot controller
ROCKTRON Chameleon 2000
5 different overdrive boxes to try
Rocktron velocity power amp
Genz Benz 2x12 cab
And NONE OF IT can come even close to the tone I can get from overloud. IT's just shocking. I thought for sure I could build a live rig with my desired tone it with this gear. Nope. Now I'm thinking of running one of my ipad guitar sims on an effect loop with the gsp 1101.
This has been a serious wake up call as to how much I've come to adore the tone I can get out of software vs the tone I can get with gear I know really well and used to think sounded killer. OBVIOUSLY, none of this gear is a KEMPER or AXE FX. But I've used these pieces before and been very happy with results. But...I've been seriously spoiled by overloud/amplitude/guitar rig after finding the secret sauce (adding a 20db boost active direct box, reducing 100hz at the mixer to kill flubby bass, etc.) I'm finding I really miss the software tone when I go to "real" gear that I used to adore.
The direct box is a CHEAP behringer ULTRA DI PRO rack mount, active unit. It has a 20 DB boost on it (the secret sauce is that it's a full range clean boost, it doesn't have a mid range hump like a stomp box so it boosts all frequuencies evenly, from deep bass to high treble)
Link to their web site (These run about $100)
This is CRUCIAL imho for working with sims. You need to hit the front end of a software amp sim pretty hard to get the kind of high gain sound you would from a big amp. Not to say a tubescreamer won't do the trick. It will!!! But, overdrive pedals are very mid range focused and for 7 and 8 string/downtuned stuff, the mids can sometimes get in the way. So for ERG (extended range guitar) stuff, I prefer the DI BOX. For 6 string stuff, I have JOYO/NUX/PRO TONE overdrives (any of which work fine).
But that's not all!!!!!!
SUPER SECRET SAUCE (PRE EQ)
As many folks know, adding an eq before you go to your sim/amp is a game changer. Without cutting some of the lows at the front end, sims can easily sound flubby/boomy/crappy and not very tight. So after the 20db clean boost, I use the EQ on my Interface/Mixer to shave 25% off of 100HZ (the LOW knob is set to 100)
This creates a very TIGHT djenty sound. So thats the secret to getting your sims/plugin amps to sound spiff IMHO Works for me!! :)
Here are a couple of demos. Here is a DJENTY sort of high gain patch. Notice that it's not flubby/boomy.
This is a VAN HALEN type sound I built. The preset is in my preset thread in my personal board.
So yeah, Secret Sauce!
1.)Full Range Boost, 10-20 DB (for ERG)
2.)Cut 100 HZ on input before sim, about 25%.
GET THIS!!! YOU CAN SKIP THE RACK DI AND THE MIXER!!! IF...
You can do all of this with one piece of gear if you have one. It's called a SANSAMP PARADRIVER. I just ordered one! It has the full range boost and a parametric EQ built in!!! Used they are about $150 U.S.
DON'T FORGET DYNAMICS!!!!
As Gabe mentioned, "what do you do about dynamics? Playing high gain?". Good question!! The good news is, if you apply the secret sauce, you can use the volume knob on the guitar itself to starve the chain of just a smidge of gain and the amp sim will react like a tube amp would since it's getting plenty of signal, it just adds in some sag/bounce when you pull back. Here is a sample of a BRUNETTI tube amp setup with the volume knob pulled back a bit. Very dynamic :)
So you can use this thing live with an amp, or with your laptop/plugins. It takes the place o my rack mount di box and takes the place of my mixer doing the pre eq. And it's a handy small stomp box.