In defense of Modelers - You're doing it wrong

Discussion in 'Digital & Modeling Gear' started by eriwebnerr, Apr 21, 2015.

  1. eriwebnerr

    eriwebnerr Member

    Messages:
    2,220
    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2008
    Location:
    New York
    Modelers have the impossible task of toeing the line between ideal and unreal. I've only recently realized what a good job some of the current batch of modelers do, not at just making great tones, but in mimicking reality. Meaning if you run the power amp at 10, if you don't post EQ for your speakers or compensate for the idiosyncrasies of that particular speaker or microphone in the model, you will indeed get an unpleasing tone.

    Compounding this is the fact that modelers often let you do things you couldn't do in real life or that would be cost / time prohibitive and you have the recipe for everything from tonal nirvana to "this thing sounds like crap".

    Is it the modelers fault? Mostly, I think it's not. More and more I'm beginning to understand there is A LOT that goes into a good guitar tone. You have the guitar, everything you might want to feed into the amp, the amp, the speaker(s), the mic, the mic preamp, post-EQ, post effects, etc.

    Boosting, attenuating, cutting - it can make you go mad. I thought I knew a lot about tone, but the more I learn from others that really know how to dial in a patch from end to end, the more fun and rewarding this stuff gets. And you know what, they are often applying experience from the real world to the digital realm and guess what? It works!

    So if you played or heard a modeler with some deep editing capabilities and you have dismissed it. The problem might not be the modeler, but maybe missed an opportunity to learn something. Judging a tone is easy, but understanding how and where to improve it is where the art lies.
     
  2. dazco

    dazco Member

    Messages:
    11,138
    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2003
    This is the exact same thing i keep saying. I was pretty impressed when i first got mine, but only because my expectations were very low. I never thought i'd replace tube amps with it. But over time i began to learn it better and better. And thats when i was floored by the thing. Not in the first week or 2. It took time. And thats where you nailed it.....people don't take the time because unless you hear the potential fairly soon you aren't going to waste time with a type of amp thats for years been considered a pathetic attempt at tube tone.

    So you're right on when u mention missed opportunities. But i will go further than most and say not only do i get tone and the far more important thing....touch sensitivity, and better than any tube amp i've owned, but it does several other things better. Besides the most important thin to me, touch sensitivity, it also is not directional to the degree of a tube amp. It sounds similar in front of the speaker or to the side. Not a minor benefit ! How about this one, also not small......i turn it on day after day and it always sounds the same !!!!!! Now theres my biggest gripe with tube amps. One day it's great, next day i just put the guitar down and go do something else because my high $ tube amp sounds like junk today to the point i don't even want to play. Better touch sensitivity, no directionality, consistant day to day, no warm up wait, not tubes to buy/go bad in the middle of a gig, light weight, initial cost is dirt cheap, tons of built in effects, more amp sounds than i could ever use, everything at the tap of a footswitch. great built in tuner. Is that enough?!

    But it all comes down to tone, abd like most i would give up that huge list of benefits i just cited in a nano second if the tone wasn't quite as good as my tube amps. Like you said they are so many possibilities in a modeler you can't just turn it on and go. Theres a learning curve you need to work at b4 u will get the best out of it. And as anyone knows, theres no huge difference between a amp thats just decent and your holy grail amp.One knob set wrong can be the difference between junk and killer amp. With a modeler there are tons of "knobs" and they're all interactive so it becomes exponentially far more complicated to nail great tones. But when you do, assuming the modeler IS a great one, the tone and feel are as good as a tube amp and better in some ways. I won't say i've never gotten a tone as good out of tube amps. Of course i have. But rarely any better, and even if i did the touch was never as good as my modeler and it would sound mediocre one day and great the next.

    I am so done with tube amps you have no idea. And if most people who feel the opposite were able to play thru the right one set just right for them and can let go of any biases and placebo effects, i know the majority of them would turn to the dark side. Today on average my tone at any given moment is better than the best tube amps i've owned, the dynamics are always better, and i have played a lot more in the year i've owned it then i have since i was a kid. It's for me at least a dream come true. A year later i'm still in honeymoon stage and i believe it'll never end. By the way, i was a die hard tube snob as there ever was before this, and i came to the mustang sheerly on a fluke. I would never have searched on out.
     
  3. JasonElGato

    JasonElGato Member

    Messages:
    1,262
    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2012
    Location:
    Madison, WI
    You're doing it wrong if you want it to sound like a tube amp in the room. It can only sound like a tube amp, mic'ed in another room, and heard by you through full range monitors. That can sound DAMN good, one just needs to be aware of what the modeler is actually trying to achieve.

    Having said that, it's amazing how close they can actually come to sounding like an amp in the room. A/B'ed with a mic'ed amp in a studio even studio pro's can be fooled.
     
  4. Ampp

    Ampp Member

    Messages:
    170
    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2008
    ^This times 1,000.

    People asking if an Axe, Kemper, VST or otherwise sounds like an amp "in the room" are completely misunderstanding what a modeler does.

    I've noticed that musicians that do more recording tend to understand and really like modelers, while those that generally only play in the room or live shows are often more disappointed.

    For me, what modelers do is allow me to make professional sounding recordings with relative ease. They also allow me to play live and have a huge variety of consistent sounds available to me in a ridiculously small package.
     
  5. mattball826

    mattball826 Member

    Messages:
    20,179
    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2009
    the mistake is assuming its an amp or even amp like. its not. its very different.

    once you get past that part then modeling can be an acceptable solution.

    even when we lay down some tracks i still prefer the sound of any amp mic'd up in a room vs what is on a modeler. many of the musicians coming to the studio see and work the axe or kpa we have, and they almost always go back to real amps, 412 cabs and real mics as their preference.

    when i ask them why they say "those are cool and there are lot of sounds, but i'm more used to the actual amps."
     
  6. dazco

    dazco Member

    Messages:
    11,138
    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2003
    Maybe you guys need to consider the possibility a cheap modeler may do what those high $ ones can't. You're all playing those kemepers and such and ignoring anything cheap by writing them off as too cheap to be good. The old saying you get what you pay for isn't even remotely valid anymore and i can assure you after 43 years of playing and about 30 of constant gigs i know what an amp in the room sounds like. Mine does. Some models don't, i agree. But the ones i use absolutely do. I know what you;re saying, it's like listening to a record where the tone is picked up by a mic and processed to fit the track and "perfected", and thats what you;re saying it sounds like and why you say it can sound damn good. But good in a different way. Not so with mine and the models i use. It sounds and more importantly feels like and amp in the room. I've playe thru things that don't and i know what thats like. This ain't.
     
  7. Souper

    Souper Member

    Messages:
    628
    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2012
    Location:
    Nottingham
    There are serious problems with modellers. But not with modelling.

    For example, the very popular Line 6 HD series is just not transparent to guitar tone. Even bypassed it sounds very processed. My zoom g5, on the other hand, is completely transparent. How have line 6 got away with this, because its really poor.

    There are other problems and they are not related to making getting good tone. The problems are the restriction of digital to modelling in such a direct way. Deep editing of amp parameters makes these things a nightmare. The parameter space is massive, and traversing all of it is simply not an option. Furthermore, the parameters are not independent; adjust one and ruin your work on the others. Digital can do so much better in this regard. We can have all the tones we currently get, and more, by doing digital correctly. Unfortunately, for some strange reason, guitarists like valves and like playing with different types; look at bias. I really dont want to be a virtual amp technician via a small LCD (or laptop). Id rather just a few independent parameters that relate directly to tone. That is what could be done, and why modellers now can annoy some and satisfy others (those that like the ongoing tone search).
     
  8. Mrmeatball

    Mrmeatball Member

    Messages:
    245
    Joined:
    May 3, 2013
    I get amp in the room sound a plenty with a cheap as chips zoom g5, admittedly I'm running into the fx return of an amp and I've dialled it in using the amp at gig volume with cab sims off, and it sounds amazing, the downside is that we're currently trying to record my guitar direct and it sounds awful, I thought it would just be a case of finding a suitable cab sim and switching it on but no, it's like somebody forgot to add the secret sauce. So currently going through my patches trying to recreate that "live" sound that I get
     
  9. rsm

    rsm Member

    Messages:
    14,165
    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2008
    Location:
    On an island in the Atlantic Ocean
    Unless you have time and money to burn, going into a studio and trying an AxeFX, Kemper or any modeler for the first time while you are paying to record does not sound like a good idea. IMO you should be going into the studio with your tones unless you want to do something different.

    That's likely why most stick with amps in a commercial studio rather than spending time trying to get a modeler working for them. Unless they know how to use one prior.

    Few seem to have the patience to learn how to get what they want from a modeler if it takes longer than turning on a tube amp and setting the volume and eq LOL. Look at all the comments regarding Mesa amps' controls.

    It's a learning process, I go as far as saying I had to adjust/relearn some areas of my playing technique using modelers. I see people blame the tools frequently while others are successfully using those very same tools. So, is it the tool or the person unable to use the tool that is the single point of failure?
     
  10. Pietro

    Pietro 2-Voice Guitar Junkie and All-Around Awesome Guy

    Messages:
    16,410
    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2007
    Location:
    Maineville, OH
    Somebody make this a sticky please.

    I've been saying this for about a gazillion years...

    and some of us DO NOT want the "amp in the room". We'd rather have music in the room of our audience...
     
  11. Akeron

    Akeron Member

    Messages:
    250
    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2012
    What's so strange about liking tubes sound? If you don't like changing many parameters you could try a Kemper I think
     
  12. Jay Mitchell

    Jay Mitchell Member

    Messages:
    4,828
    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2007
    Absolute, general pronouncements about the capabillities or lack of same of any class of equipment are, without exception, wrong. Examples:

    1. You can't get "amp in the room" sound from a modeler.

    2. You can get good "tone," but not good "feel," from a modeler.

    3. There is a common "tone" or "feel" to all, or even most, tube amps that makes them "better" than digital simulations.

    Those who have bought into any of the above have predetermined the outcome of every experience they will ever have with modelers.

    If you have very specific sonic goals and know something about the elements that go into making the sounds you want, you will be accustomed to spending substantial amounts of time pursuing those goals. When the weapon of choice is a tube amp, the time required to produce the desired sounds is often much greater than it is with a modeler, since modifying "advanced parameters" in a tube amp requires design analysis, disassembly, replacement of components, reassembly, audition, repeat as necessary.....

    Something as simple as changing the order of stompboxes in the signal chain can have a major impact on sound and feel. Just this one simple task - experimenting with different orders of effects - can potentially consume huge amounts of time if you have four or more pedals. The number of permutations (orders in which the elements can be placed) is N! (N factorial), where N is the number of effects. N! = N * (N-1) * (N-2) *.... down to 1. For three pedals, N! = 6. For four pedals, N! = 24. That's a lot of time spent just plugging/unplugging patch cords and relocating pedals just so you can audition all the possibilities. With a sufficiently sophisticated modeler, you can make the same changes in a small fraction of the time.

    If you're one of the folks who complains about how much time it takes to "tweak" modelers, and you haven't spent as much or more time tweaking your tube-based rig, then you are either extremely fortunate or extremely complacent. If you had to replace your present rig with another, tube-based one and try to perfectly duplicate "your" sounds, you'd find that doing so is at least as time-consuming as accomplishing the same thing with a modeler.

    Lest I be misunderstood, the above is focused entirely on equipment for purposes of this discussion. It goes without saying that, by far, most of the time required to produce good sonic results is time spent practicing. It's amazing how much your tone will improve when you improve your technique.
     
  13. ClassicLP

    ClassicLP Member

    Messages:
    1,204
    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2014

    How many of these piss, counterpiss threads are we going to have? Different strokes for different folks. End of story.
     
  14. Souper

    Souper Member

    Messages:
    628
    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2012
    Location:
    Nottingham
    Nothing wrong with it. But digital does offer the possibility of getting tones without considering parameters that really are not directly related to tone. We could just have a much simpler set of independent parameters that take us straight to tone, not via some deep editing parameter. I think it might be a difficult transition, no more obvious relationship to valves, but it would be very practical and efficient.
     
  15. jds22

    jds22 Member

    Messages:
    1,970
    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2006
    Please excuse my ignorance, but what is meant by "amp in the room"?
     
  16. 2HBStrat

    2HBStrat Member

    Messages:
    35,459
    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2009
    Location:
    East of the Rockies...
    I thought this was about yodelers!
    [​IMG]
     
  17. Oldman

    Oldman Member

    Messages:
    166
    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2010
    Location:
    Murder Mitten
    Amp in the room sound would be the sound coming out of your amp as you are standing next to it, in the same room...as opposed to a mic'd up amp in a control room...heard through studio monitors..
     
  18. C-4

    C-4 Member

    Messages:
    9,249
    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2009
    Location:
    Here for now, Europe when I die. Am I dead yet?
    My understanding of "amp in the room" relates to the experience of using a tube/ss amp with the speaker in a regular gig environment where most players are used to hearing the amp behind them in the regular understanding of how it has been done for decades. The player gets used to how the amp sounds directly behind him or her while playing and "moving air" which is the normal excursion of the speaker responding to the amp while playing, as opposed to hearing the guitar coming from the front of house system (mains) and/or through a monitor placed in front of the player instead of hearing it from the amp/speaker behind them.

    Also, in a studio context, it is listening to the guitar coming through a set of studio monitors for playback.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2015
  19. C-4

    C-4 Member

    Messages:
    9,249
    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2009
    Location:
    Here for now, Europe when I die. Am I dead yet?

    This is already being done by Marshall's JMD amp, which I have been using for over 3 years. It works exactly as a regular all-valve amp does. Dial in the sound you want and lock it in. It is a modelling preamp frontend with a tube power section, and it is every bit as tactile as any all valve amp I have ever played in over 5 decades of playing.

    I would only hope that a Kemper is as tactile as the JMD amp is. If it is, I surely will have no regrets.
     
  20. jds22

    jds22 Member

    Messages:
    1,970
    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2006
    Ah, that makes sense.
    A few years ago I tried a Pod thru studio monitors and had a hard time adjusting to it.
    I imagine it was a combination of unrealistic expectations, lack of tweaking knowledge, and years of being used to 12" speakers pushing lots of air.
     

Share This Page