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Old 05-24-2009, 01:08 PM   #1
Dream Pin
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UG's Official Guide to VST Amp Simulation! Part 2 is up!

So, I've noticed a trend occuring on UG over my time spent here.

Many people have great musical ideas but are unable to record them in a high enough quality manner to enable people to judge them based purely on the MUSIC ALONE.
If bad production quality is stopping a listener from paying attention to the MUSIC, then demo-ing is a moot point.

I figured I'd try and help all the people who can't afford 5150's and Mesa Cabs, or even those that can and have trouble getting a good miced sound.

This topic will be based primarily on achieving high quality distorted guitar tones, although as more amp sims become available I will update this tutorial and add more.

POST 1:
**** YOU'RE GON' NEED FOOLS!

For this tutorial you will need:

A DAW capable of loading VST based plugins such as:
Cubase
Nuendo
Ableton Live
REAPER (a free/cheap independent DAW that is developing at an astonishing rate, HIGHLY recommended!)
Or any other DAW that will let you load VST's.

IDEALLY a USB/Firewire interface, but for learning purposes, a line in will suffice. However this will add noise into your DI signal, as well as add unpleasant colouration to the sound. If these terms mean nothing to you, they shall be explained in due time.

A guitar

BTE Audio's Tubescreamer Secret VST:
http://www.bteaudio.com/software/TSS/TSS.html

An amp sim of your choice:
Peavey Revalver mkIII demo - http://www.peavey.com/products/revalver/downloads.html
Nick Crow's 8505 - http://sites.google.com/site/nickcrowlab/
Nick Crow's 7170 - http://sites.google.com/site/nickcrowlab/7170-Lead
LePou's SoloC - http://lepouplugins.blogspot.com/2009/03/soloc-v11.html
Acme Bar Gig - http://www.acmebargig.com/

There are many other high quality amp sims out there that are either free, or cheap to buy, I'll update this post with more amp sims at some point soon.

A VST to load a speaker cab impulse:
Voxengo Boogex - http://www.voxengo.com/product/boogex/
keFIR - http://habib.webhost.pl/

And some cab impulses:
http://dl.getdropbox.com/u/631208/U...ime-fredman.zip
(Courtesy of Ryan Harvey, Catharsis Studios. Free to share. 2 SM57's on Mesa Oversized 4x12 with V30's.)

Once you have all of these things you are ready to start recording using VST amp simulations!
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Old 05-24-2009, 01:09 PM   #2
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Part 2:
Setting up a basic rhythm guitar sound.

For this topic, my friend Steven's very kindly recorded a little thrash metal clip for everyone to practice with. There are Guitar DI's included, which we will be using for this tutorial, plus bass and drums so you can see how your guitars sound in a mix.
Keep in mind that what sounds good on its own may well sound terrible in a mix, and what sounds terrible on its own, may sound excellent in a mix!

You can download the .rar containing the files here:
https://dl.getdropbox.com/u/371262/ThrashTest.rar

This .rar includes Steven's own quick mix for reference.
Ignore the lead guitar files for the minute, we are focusing on getting a basic rhythm guitar sound in this tutorial.

This tutorial assumes you have basic knowledge of your DAW of choice. This includes knowing how to install vst plugins, creating new audio and group tracks, duplicating audio tracks, routing audio tracks to group tracks and importing audio files into your DAW.
It is recommended you use the plugins I am using in this tutorial. I personally usually use Voxengo Boogex to load impulses, but keFIR is far simpler, making it much more suitable for a basic tutorial.

1. In your DAW of choice add a MONO audio track.


2. Load BTE Audio's Tubescreamer Secret as an insert.


3. Load your amp sim of choice as an insert after TSS. I am using Nick Crow's 7170 here.


4. Load the ONE CHANNEL version of keFIR in the next insert slot, after your amp sim of choice, and set the mix knob to 100%. Leave the rest.


5. Click the "load" button on keFIR, and navigate to the folder where you have exported the catharsis-awesometime-fredman folder from the .rar file I linked to in the first post and select "s-preshigh.wav" then hit open.


6. Duplicate the track and pan the first one 100% Left, and the second one 100% Right. Name them Rhythm Left and Rhythm Right. Add a new STEREO group track and call it "Rhythm Guitars." You will have to set keFIR's mix to 100% on the other channel.


7. Route both your rhythm guitar AUDIO tracks to the rhythm guitar GROUP tracks. If you do not know how to do this. Check your DAW's manual and search "routing" and that should explain it.
What this achieves is that if you want to turn both guitar tracks up and down in volume in a mix, you can just move the Group Channel's fader, rather than moving the rhythm track faders seperately.
Also, if you want to apply EQ to your guitars in a mix, this will apply it to both at once, keeping everything sounding consistently the same on both the left and and the right.


8. Import the file "RhythmL.wav" into your Rhythm Left audio track. If you do not know how to do this, check your DAW's manual. Open up TSS and dial in some settings similar to the ones shown here. Keep the drive knob very low with TSS, because it doesn't model the overdrive of a real tubescreamer pedal very nicely, set the tone fairly high and the level fairly high. I use this preset on almost every project I ever do with amp sims, so I'd say it's pretty tried and tested.
Save your settings as a plugin preset.


9. Now close the TSS window and open the window for the amp sim of your choice. Hit play and mess around with the settings. You should find that the sound is pretty damn clear to begin with, due to a good amp sim and a well miced cab.
Once you've find some settings you're happy with, save them as a preset for 7170.
Keep in mind that when the other track is added, the entire sound will change, so be prepared to go back and tweak your tone in a minute.
Here's my settings. I saved it as a preset called "UG." I've tested it with both tracks playing and I found I achieved a fairly nice thrash metal guitar tone.
You will probably want to keep the output knob on any of Nick Crow's plugins fairly low so as not to clip the master fader, which will induce harsh digital distortion.


10. Import the "RhythmR.wav" file onto your audio track "Rhythm Right" and load your TSS and 7170 presets. Tweak your tone, and save over your old preset until you've found something youre happy with, then apply that to the instances of 7170 on both rhythm guitar tracks.
Then add 2 new audio tracks. One STEREO and one MONO. Import the file "Drums.wav" into the stereo audio track, and import "Bass.wav" into the mono audio track.
If your master fader shows a clip warning, then turn it down to about -5 or -6. This should provide enough headroom to stop the song from clipping.


11. Tweak your guitar tone if needs be, and balance the volume.
Experiment with turning the mids up and down. Notice how the snare becomes harder to hear. Turn the mids down until the snare is nice and spacious while maintaining clarity in the guitars. Nick Crow's plugins are interesting because they offer a sweep knob aswell, like that of a Krank's. It is perfectly possible to have a fairly scooped guitar sound without having the sort of squelchy tone you get when you generally scoop an amp.
I personally have both the sweep and mids knobs at 2, as I find that increases the rhythmic attack you get from scooped guitar sounds while maintaing the upper mid-range (which is where the clarity is.)
Turn the bass knob up and down and notice how the kick drum and bass guitar dissapear as the guitars become bassier. Keep the bass pretty low on the guitars, because the bass guitar is meant to fill in the bass frequencies, not the guitar. I have the bass on 4 personally. I will go deeper into how to maintain bass clarity without losing guitar thickness in the next tutorial.
Keep the treble fairly low otherwise the tone will become ice-picky and amateur sounding. I personally have that at 4 aswell.
I keep the power amp knob at 0 because impulses model the power amp as well as the sound of the cab. I will go deeper into an explanation of impulses and the technology's pros and cons in a later addition.
Here's how my clip sounds:
http://dl.getdropbox.com/u/631208/U...rial%20clip.mp3

Export your clips and let everyone hear what yours sound like!

Next post will deal with more advanced techniques. We will be using Voxengo Boogex to load impulses, we will go into loading multiple amp sims, how to eq rhythm guitars for greater efficiency in a mix, how to eq lead guitars. We will also be using the Peavey Revalver mkIII demo, so if you haven't got that, download it.
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Old 05-24-2009, 01:10 PM   #3
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Part 3: Peavey Revalver mkIII basic tweaking and basic post-processing!

In this section, we're gonna be delving more into some new techniques which can push your recordings ever closer to the fabled professional level.
We will be covering:
Setting up Peavey Revalver mkIII (with a basic tweak that will improve your sound), using Voxengo Boogex for impulse loading and cabinet simulation, and EQ-ing your guitar sound in the most economic, beneficial way possible.
This section will be less based on a typical tutorial structure, and be a fair bit more freeform, as it will assume you know how to set up and use a basic VST amp simulation chain and are interested more in experimenting with your sound, and how this experimentation will affect your guitar sound.


I will be once again using the raw files supplied by my friend Steven that I used in the first post.

Part 3a: Revalver and EQ.

1. First we will load up TSS, Peavey Revalver mkIII (you can download the demo free of charge, the link is supplied in the first post,) and your impulse loader of choice (I will be using keFIR for conveniency's sake,) in that exact order, and load the impulse "s-preshigh.wav" into your impulse loader plugin of choice and finally set up your TSS settings. The same settings I supplied in the last post will suffice for now.
Open Peavey Revalver and click the button that says "Click for a new module here.."
Select the Peavey 6505. You will be greated with the 6505 sim and Revalver's own impulse loader.
Press the red button on Revalver's impulse loader to turn it off so we don't have to impulses being used at once.

2. Right click on the 6505 sim and scroll your mouse over "This Module" and click "Tweak this module..."

You will be greeted by a row of tubes. Click the one furthest on the left and you'll be greeted with a complex screen with a whole lot of settings.
The only thing we will be touching is the input voltage.

Raise that value to about 420. This will saturate the sound and add thickness, which I find helps a lot with creating a realistic sound with Revalver.
Here is a comparison of what this sounds like before and after:

Before:
http://files.getdropbox.com/u/63120...t%20Voltage.mp3

After:
http://files.getdropbox.com/u/63120...t%20Voltage.mp3

It's a subtle difference, but I find it helps a lot.


If you're feeling particularly adventurous, you could change the tubes in the output stage too.
Click the tube furthest on the right, and the same box as before will open up.
At the top of the box, you can select the type of tube. It loads 6L6GC's stock, but for this I'm going to select EL34's.

Here's a comparison between the 6L6GC and the EL34. (This includes the input voltage tweak.)
6L6GC:
http://files.getdropbox.com/u/63120...t%20Voltage.mp3

EL34:
http://files.getdropbox.com/u/63120...torial/EL34.mp3

The tubes you select can make a huge difference to the sound, and it's worth experimenting
For this tutorial, I'll stick with the EL34's.

Let's start dialling a tone in.
I'd highly recommend the green channel of the 6505 sim as it sounds much more 3 Dimensional. The red channel has a nice character to it but it sounds fairly small, sort of confined to a tiny space, whereas the green channel sounds much less compressed and open.
Hit the channel, crunch, bright and high buttons.
But before we dial in a tone, we're going to some simple EQ to help make Revalver sound much less honky (an attribute of tone associated with the midrange of sound. Say "ah" with your mouth slightly open, then form your lips into the shape of an "O" as you make the ah sound. That sort of cocked-wah aspect of the sound is prevalent in revalver, even with scooped settings, so we're going to fix that before continuing.
I'm going to assume you've set the output of both of your Rhythm Guitar tracks to a group.
Open an EQ plugin on the rhythm guitar group track and make a fairly cut of -2db at 900hz. (I'd supply a picture but my print screen key has decided to fail on my half way through writing this. I'll take pictures for this as soon as it decides to work.)
The combination of the stock settings on revalver, the input gain tweak,the EL34 tubes and the mid cut will make the guitars sound fairly muddy, flubby and muffled, but that will change when we start dialling a sound in.

What can also help with dealing with the 2 dimensional quality of Revalver is turning the volume of the channel up to 10. This adds gain, and saturates the entire tone, makes it thicker and fuller and bigger sounding. This also means the tone stack is harder to work with, so be prepared to use seemingly ridiculous settings.

The tone I dialled in ended up being:

Green Channel
High Gain Input
Bright and Crunch turned on
Gain: 7
Low: 2
Mid: 2
High: 10
Rhythm Post: 10
Resonance: 0
Presence: 10

Even at this point I'm not entirely happy with the tone, so we're going to use some EQ on the rhythm guitar group channel.
On your EQ plugin of choice, add another instance of EQ, and set it to "High Pass Filter." Cut by the maximum value given to you by the plugin and set it to 50hz.
This will get rid of some sub-bass frequencies that are completely useless to guitar tracks.
Bass guitars were invented to deal with the bass frequencies, so let them do their job. Rhythm Guitar tracks in my mixes are a fair bit thinner sounding than the tones I dial in when playing on my own.
Add another instance of EQ and set it to "Low Pass FIlter" and cut by the maximum value at 10khz.
Open a new EQ in the insert slot below that and set up a Shelving Filter and boost by about 3db above 10khz. This will add back the shimmer that 10khz holds, without the harshness that it had before. Resulting in a smoother sounding tone while retaining brightness.
Now considering the raw guitar tracks are fairly muffled sounding due to the way we have Revalver dialled in, I'm going to brighten them up with the EQ.
Add another instance of EQ and make it fairly wide, scan around the treble range (4khz up to 10khz) and find the area that brightens the guitar tone without adding harshness in the upper mids.
I boosted at 5.5db at 8khz. (Once again, I will supply pictures for this section when my Print Screen key learns to behave itself.)

Here's a before and after clip to demonstrate the difference in sound.

Before:
http://files.getdropbox.com/u/63120...Treble%20EQ.mp3

After:
http://files.getdropbox.com/u/63120...Treble%20EQ.mp3

This may not sound good on its own, but what sounds good on its own may sound terrible in a mix, and what sounds horrible on its own may sound like a million dollars in the context of a mix.
So always adjust EQ with the rest of the mix playing, and maybe make minor adjustments with tracks solo'd.

This tone may not sound the greatest, but the purpose of this section was to introduce you to a small amount of possibilities Revalver mkIII offers you for tweaking and how that can affect your guitar sound.
There are near limitless possibilities.
A better place to go to find out more about in depth Revalver Tweaking is the guitarampmodelling forum.

Tweak guide for Revalver mkIII:
http://www.guitarampmodeling.com/vi...php?f=26&t=2939

And here is my result:
http://files.getdropbox.com/u/63120...III%20final.mp3



Part 3b: Voxengo Boogex

Voxengo Boogex is very commonly used for loading impulse response files, mainly because it gives you the options to tweak the sound of the impulse, whether you use them or not. It's also frequently chosen over keFIR because keFIR has some strange anomlies to do with squealing and high frequencies which Boogex does not have. However, keFIR remains the common choice for TRACKING guitars due to its lack of latency (latency is the delay between sending the information to the computer, and you recieving it out of your speakers. Usually measured in milliseconds. 5ms seems to be the maximum latency people will put up with before they begin to get thrown off by the delay.) But then keFIR is usually switched to Voxengo Boogex for mixdown.

There are 3 ways you can tweak the sound of the impulse with Boogex, the filter provided in the top wndow (it's fairly unresponsive but it can change the sound heavily with massive cuts or boosts,) the amp style EQ below that and to the left, and the tone stack/amplification below and to the right.
The amp style EQ is usually left all at 12 o'clock, the tone stack is usually all at 0 and the filter in the window above is usually left fairly well alone.
Using settings akin to that will net you the most transparent representation of the impulse you can get with Boogex.
I persnally adjust the filter slightly in the top window, though.
I move the purple to "50" and the green one to "12.0k"
This is very similar to the high pass and low pass EQ demonstrated in the previous section.

You can load your impulse of choice (once again, I highly recommend s-preshigh.wav out of CatharsisStudio's fredman impulse pack, included in the first post)

What is most important though, is that you set the "Dry Pre-Cab" and "Dry Post-Cab" knobs both to 0. If you don't, that will let some of the pure distorted signal pass through without the cab simulation, which sounds extremely harsh.

I will post a screenshot of how I have Boogex set up once my print screen key begins working again haha.
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Old 05-24-2009, 01:11 PM   #4
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Part 4 coming soon!

Crunch and Clean tones!
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Old 05-24-2009, 01:12 PM   #5
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Old 05-24-2009, 01:14 PM   #6
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Cheers for this



Edit: might wanna include some stuff about Guitar Rig 3 as that gets asked about a lot.
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Old 05-24-2009, 01:21 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChucklesMginty
Cheers for this



Edit: might wanna include some stuff about Guitar Rig 3 as that gets asked about a lot.


I purposefully didn't include Guitar Rig 3, because quite frankly, it isn't up to the high standard set by all the FREE amp sims that have been coming out recently.

My 5150 hasn't seen any use in months because I've been using free amp simulations on every mix I've done recently. My personal weapon of choice is Peavey Revalver MKIII's 6505 sim, but Nick Crow's 8505 is an excellent choice as well.
Guitar Rig 3 doesn't hold a candle to either of those, and considering it's expensive, anyone who buys it is getting ripped off, plain and simple.
I also didn't include Amplitube for the same reason. I will add that in to the first post come to think of it.
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Old 05-24-2009, 02:21 PM   #8
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Guitar rig 3 is the only worth while amp sim I have found. Only any good for crunch tones though.

Amplitube is good for cleaner/old school sounds. Great reverb algorithms. Worth a mention.
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Old 05-24-2009, 02:27 PM   #9
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http://catharsis.supremepixels.com/beyond.mp3


this is an example of my impulses and 2 tracks soloc and 2 tracks of the 7170 each with the bte TSS there is 0 post eq on the guitars.
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Old 05-24-2009, 02:28 PM   #10
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and tbh amplitube is a load of **** for what you are paying for, people have made much better amp sims for cleans and delays and chorus and all that other ****, or you could just use your daws effects and such. guitar rig and amplitube get a great fail, the pod farm and revalver kill it. easy
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Old 05-24-2009, 02:33 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willieturnip
Guitar rig 3 is the only worth while amp sim I have found. Only any good for crunch tones though.

Amplitube is good for cleaner/old school sounds. Great reverb algorithms. Worth a mention.


I'm going to be a fascist dick and say this:

No.

Anyway, like the first post states, the tutorial is going to be based around distorted guitar tones for now. I am planning on keeping this tutorial constantly updated and everchanging, so it WILL one day include more advice for clean and crunch tones as more free and cheap amp sims become available for that purpose.

Even then, Guitar Rig is an overly digital and harsh sounding piece of crap that no self respecting guitarist would even consider using or buying when there's free amp sims out there that, when tweaked properly, are nigh-on identical sounding to the real thing.

There's been multiple shootouts and comparisons done on Andy Sneap's forum between a real 5150 and Revalver's 6505. Same goes for a real 5150 and Nick Crow's 8505 sim.
I'd happily use 8505 and Revalver on a full album mix, and I'm mixing an album currently that has a real amp blended with Revalver, and I have to say, it's sounding pretty ****ing sexy. I've never heard Guitar Rig even approach the quality of any of the sims I linked to, and as I stated previously, that is why I haven't included it in the tutorial.

That, and I'm trying to keep this based around primarily FREE software. That and extremely cheap software. This entire topic is dedicated to providing great tones for people with a limited budget and less time to dedicated to recording so they can focus on being as creative as possible. Including Guitar Rig 3 into the equation just defeats the purpose this topic entirely.
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Old 05-24-2009, 02:34 PM   #12
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Nice to see you've shown your face too Ryan
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Old 05-24-2009, 02:42 PM   #13
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sneap invasssion
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Old 05-24-2009, 03:13 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by CatharsisStudio
and tbh amplitube is a load of **** for what you are paying for, people have made much better amp sims for cleans and delays and chorus and all that other ****, or you could just use your daws effects and such. guitar rig and amplitube get a great fail, the pod farm and revalver kill it. easy


Never used revalver, need to check that out.

I don't trust anything line 6 after I bought a Pod. Beyond a pile of ****.
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Old 05-24-2009, 03:15 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CatharsisStudio
http://catharsis.supremepixels.com/beyond.mp3


this is an example of my impulses and 2 tracks soloc and 2 tracks of the 7170 each with the bte TSS there is 0 post eq on the guitars.


Not impressed with that tone at all.

It's all preference at the end of the day, so an argument over it would be pointless.
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Old 05-24-2009, 03:17 PM   #16
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pods get great tone, what type of sound are you looking for? like a more 80's tone or what?
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Old 05-24-2009, 03:20 PM   #17
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Pod Farm does indeed sound pretty excellent. I had a Pod XT and didn't like it but I've heard a lot of pod farm clips that were pretty damn good I have to admit.
Joey Sturgis, producer of A Day To Remember, The Devil Wears Prada, a bunch of other bands, has been known to use it a lot.
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Old 05-24-2009, 03:25 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CatharsisStudio
pods get great tone, what type of sound are you looking for? like a more 80's tone or what?


I tried various tones, with various guitars.

A tweed type tone, a blackface, higher gain marshall, AC15 and the rectified.

They all had the same underlying, but very obvious sound underneath them. They sound great until you start to notice that, then you can't stop hearing it.
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Old 05-24-2009, 03:30 PM   #19
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uh you can make various guitars and various tones, with diffrent impulses and diffrent amp sims, haha
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Old 05-24-2009, 04:22 PM   #20
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Also look for the ACMEBARGIG website - they're releasing FREE amp sims and effects like mad (1 every week) and they're actually GREAT! I actually started using my Vista Laptop (even though I'm a Mac FANBOI) so I could play with their stuff and LePou's, and Nick Crow's sims too. Another great place to get goodies and IR's too is the GUITARAMPMODELING website. Also I bought Overloud's TH1.1 - it's gotta be one of the most realistic sims I ever heard - try their demo and you'll see what I mean. Since I got my Boss GS-10 I hardly use any software amps anymore but I still love TH1.1.
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