Just like with analog gear, the tone you get from plugging your guitar into your computer depends greatly on the gear (in this case, software) that you use to model the amps. There are a variety of applications available for computer-using musicians, and here, in alphabetical order, are a few of the best.
IK Multimedia has made a franchise from its AmpliTube line of guitar amp modeling software. Currently the company has six productsAmpliTube 2, AmpliTube Jimi Hendrix, Ampeg SVX, AmpliTube 2 Live, AmpliTube Metal, and a new product AmpliTube X-Gear.
AmpliTube 2 is the flagship product in the line, allowing you to choose between seven amps, 16 cabinets, and six microphones. You can also add effects like Chorus and Flanger (and 19 others) to the effects chain to mold your tone just the way you want it.
The truly great part of AmpliTube is that it allows you to configure two separate guitar chains in one preset. This means that you can configure a dirty sound, a clean sound, and then play them separately or at the same time. Obviously, with a setup like this, the combination of tone changes is almost endless.
The amp modeling is pretty good with all of the AmpliTube products. They will do you particularly well if you're looking for a high gain tone.
Eleven is the newest product from Pro Tools-maker, Digidesign. The Advanced Instrument Research group at Digidesign made Eleven as an amp modeling-only plug-in for Pro Toolsthere are no effects included.
What this means is that Digidesign focused on the tone you get from the amp instead of trying to dress it up or hide defects in the modeling by dropping pedals over the tone. And they did an incredible job doing it.
That doesn't mean you can't add effects to the recording track itself. Most digital audio workstation software includes effects like Chorus that can be added to the track, so the option is there for you.
Eleven focuses on amps from Fender, VOX, Marshall, Mesa/Boogie, and Soldanoseriously, if you were going to buy an amp, one of these would most likely be on the list.
Line 6's Gearbox is a flexible piece of software that allows you to configure most aspects of your guitar tone. Using Gearbox you have access to 72 guitar amp models; 24 guitar cab models with four mike options each; 28 bass amp models; 22 bass cab models with four mike options each; over 90 stompbox and studio effects; and six mic preamp models.
If you can't build a quality tone with all of that gear at your disposal, then there is definitely a problem.
Guitar Rig is without a doubt one of the premiere pieces of software for amp modeling on the computer.
Guitar Rig 3 has a very nice user interface that is split vertically between your presets on the left and your rig components on the right. You have 44 classic and modern guitar effects, 12 tube amps, and 12 matched cabinets.
Matched cabinets is a new feature for users who want the standard sound of a company's amp. If you choose a JCM 800 amp, Guitar Rig will automatically insert the matching Marshall cabinet.
The brilliance of Guitar Rig is the ability to create so many different tones. This is in large part due to the variety of amps that are modeled in the software. You have a choice between Citrus, Ultrasonic, High White, Tweed Delight, Plexi, and Lead 800, among others. I'm sure you can guess what Native Instruments' clever amp names translate to in the real world.
Guitar Combos is a small package of amps from Native Instruments without any included effects.
This is perfect for the purist that is just looking for the amp sound. Amps included in the package are the AC Box, Plexi, and Twang. You adjust the Volume, Presence, Bass, and other knobs the same way you would with a real combo amp.
There are 100 included presets in the combo package, which give you a good starting off point, but you can easily build your own tone and save that too.
Features common to all combos is a Noise Gate, Amplifier, Cabinet, Mic, Limiter, and a Tuner.
Guitar Combos is a quality set of virtual amps that will give you the ease of configuring your tone quickly.
ReValver Mk II
ReValver is a valve modeling package with amps and stompboxes, but this piece of software goes a step further than the others.
In addition to changing amps and adding effects, ReValver allows you to dig into the power amp rectifiers and output transformers. There just isn't a piece of this software that you can't configure in one way or another.
If there is one place that ReValver doesn't match up with the competition it would have to be in the graphics. However, this is about guitar tone, not how pretty the application isReValver is a keeper.
Thanks for the info to Gibson.com.