Thursday, November 23, 2006

Guitar Amp Modelling

Ok, so apart from actual musical instruments, there's some other stuff in the armoury. Electric guitar players use a whole battery of electronics to make the diverse range of offensive noises that we love so much. Here's what I use...

Amp Modellers:

The ingredient that makes playing the electric guitar so much fun is often also it's greatest weakness - yes, I'm talking about volume. Most players will say that they need to turn the amp up loud to get the right tone out of it, and for the most part, that's true. Particularly with tube amplifiers, a decent volume level really lets the vacuum tubes work at their best, and that particularly sweet singing sustain is often only available when the amp is really cranked and the valves are beginning to distort.

This doesn't often go down well in church.

So amp modellers are the church guitarist's best friend. Some engineers have spent far too much time in studios and labs analysing the frequency responses of various classic guitar amps at different settings, have simulated this in software, burned it on a chip and then built a little box to reproduce it when you plug in your guitar. The really good think for us church guitarists is that the manufacturers claim that all of those fantastic tube amp harmonics and that lovely warm tone is available with the volume turned right down, or even with your headphones on. And to a degree they are right; manufacturers such as Line6, Behringer, Boss and SansAmp. They can all be plugged directly into a PA system mixing desk, and routed through the monitors thus eliminating those big, expensive, loud and heavy guitar amps from the platform.

In the real world though, there is always going to be a significant difference between spending thousands of dollars on a Mesa Boogie, and spending $100 on eBay for a little blue box that "faithfully" reproduces the tonal range, not just of the Boogie, but thirty-one other similarly desirable amplifiers too. But you know what? For $100 it sounds amazing. And it's incredibly flexible, and does not break my back when I'm moving it around as it only weighs a kilo or so.

Confession time. I have a Behringer V-Amp, firmware upgraded to V-Amp2. Bought about five years ago on eBay. Yes yes, I know some of you think Behringer has bad business ethics... but I didn't buy it from them. Anyway, it's great, models 32 different amplifiers and 16 different speaker cabinets, and has a selection of effects available too. It's the anchor for everything else in my rig. I control it with a Rolls midi foot pedal that I once again found on eBay about five years ago for something like $40.

1 comment:

marcel said...

i have the Behringer X V-amp... and it's cheap. But it works, and it works fine for the jamming i do every now and then on my electric... on top of that the whawha is great :P