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One Amp To Rule Them All?

Since the rise in popularity of digital amp modelling and profiling the game has really changed. This post isn't about which is better. You can decide that for yourself. This post is about something that comes up very often, the problem of where to start.

I love my valve amplifiers. I'll always have one. Read my previous blog post about all of that. However I love the convenience of the digital side of things. Between work and home I have three main go-to devices; my Roland Cube 30, Peavey Revalver software on my work computer and Amplitube for my iOS devices. I've been using these things for years and I have my own ways of working with them and know how to use them quite well for the job I need to do. One of the huge advantages of them is having a whole range of sounds from digitally recreated amplifiers and effects at your fingertips. However this is also one of the biggest disadvantages if you are not careful as it can cause option paralysis because of the sheer range of things that you can do.

Years ago a guitar playing friend of mine was telling me about his FX unit that he had that had a lot of amp modelling included in it. He said it was like, walking into a room full of amps, effects pedals, speaker cabinets and microphones and being able to use any that you liked in any combination. This is an enticing thought and especially with the affordability of some of the options (especially iOS/android apps) it's very easy to quickly rack up those options. However the problem is that the sheer volume of virtual gear means that people can get lost as they don't get to spend enough time with any one piece of gear as they try everything out.

At the risk of sounding old (I'm 38), back in the day when I started playing I had a cheap Horner solid state amp and that was it. No FX, just the amp. However I learned to appreciate what it was, then as I gradually upgraded my gear I learned to find out more about what I liked. If I had started now with all the options available then I would be completely lost as I love tinkering and finding new sounds. I certainly wouldn't be getting as much practice as I should be doing.

So with options like these available where do you start? Here are a few pointers to get you going.

1. Keep things simple: Presets are a great way to get started but many of them are there to showcase what the product can do and may not be totally usable. If you are starting from scratch use the simplest preset that you can find with as few things going on (FX, microphone position options etc) as you can. You just need the sound of the amplifier.