Get Killer Guitar Tones...FOR FREE

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Tips and tricks to getting a big, mean, rocking guitar sound...

I have been playing guitar for 15 years and own a number of guitars and amps including a Fender Strat, Epiphone Les Paul and a lovely Marshall Amplifier. I can honestly say I never considered things would come so far until I got into Home Recording and discovered Modellers and VST Plug-In Effects. In a short number of years things have advanced so far I can now plug any guitar I own into my pre-amp (or mixer if you have one), route this into my Sequencer (Cubase in my case) and just jam/record/whatever with killer tones and minimal effort, cost and crucially, minimal noise!!

Nowadays we can now replicate many Vintage Tube, Solid State and Hand Made Amplifiers in software and hardware with varying levels of success and realism. We can add vintage Stomp Box effects and we can even cut/paste our music to save playing em twice !! All this is available with just a PC, half decent sound card, sequencing software of hosting VST Plug Ins and a guitar (most any guitar). Notice I make no mention of an amp - this is because we can bypass the amp in this day and age and do it all on the PC - I am NOT saying you WONT ever need an amp - I own a Marshall and will NEVER sell it - that said, you can try the following ideas and techniques and see if you like the results. It's a helluva lot quieter for the average recording musician in a home studio, cheaper than buying a stack of amps and easier on the player with mouse clicks changing your entire rig!!

The aim of this wee article is to show you can get some real nice guitar tones without spending a penny. I own a VAMP and I use it for a lot of my recording efforts but I also use a number of FREE VST Plug-In's which also give me some very nice tones. I'll be showing you where to get these, how to use them and some techniques I use to get some sweet sounding guitars in my songs - the main basis of most of my compositions as I am an out and out ROCKER at heart!

OK, let's start with some Amplifiers and classic Stomp Boxes. Visit - here you can get classic Amp Sims including the fantastic JCM900 and Fender Twin. There are also a number of vintage "stomp box" effects including the classic "Tube Screamer" and a number of Boss effects which are all modelled on the real thing with the aim of creating a sonically perfect representation for the purposes of science - yes - this entire project was run by some audio gurus who wanted to prove it could be done more realistically than commercial counterparts. Enjoy the fruits of their labour and drop them a note of thanks if you use it to any great degree....a nice bunch of (Clever) folks!

Next, check out the Kjaerhus Audio site and download ALL their "Classic Series" plugs: - here you will get the best "work horse" plugs for free. They give you Flangers, Chorus, Delay, Reverb and many more with LOTS of presets you can run straight from the plug. I use these frequently, particularly the EQ, Chrous and Delay plugs on a clean acoustic and will be using these forever more due to simplicity of use and cost - namely - more excellent FREE plugs!

Finally, check out the following site and look under the free effects for guitar - - this site has ABSOLUTELY every plug in one could ever want. Here you will get everything and I mean everything. Any effects you can imagine - there are so many I wont list em but you will find this an invaluable resource when it comes to plug-ins. They also carry DirectX stuff for the non-VST enabled apps and they offer Virtual Instruments too. Plunder as you see fit - you'll soon be overwhelmed by the range on offer...enjoy!

Now you have all these plugs, what do you do with em?? Simple really. Load up your software of choice and insert these effects as you require. Activate your track monitoring feature so you can hear what you are playing and just experiment! I commonly run the JCM900 (Twin Reverb) with the Ibanez Tube Screamer replica and also the Boss effects (DS1 & SD1) for the crunchy/crazy overdrive only a Marshall can give. You'll find COMPLETELY accurate controls for the JCM900. There is no fancy graphics with this plug but the sound is excellent. Every control acts in the same manner as it does on the JCM900 head - even down to the EQ on each channel etc. I recorded some rhythm guitars as a bed then spent hours soloing over it - great fun!

Similarly, try the Fender Twin 1969 for the clean/bluesy tones you may need. Again it features a basic interface but has completely accurate controls including the tremelo feature which makes Fender amps and sound so unique. Combine this with the Kjaerhus Audio Chorus, Delay etc and you'll have sweet, clean tones normally reserved for expensive plugs. By experimenting and combining this selection of plugs, you can take almost any guitar and make it sound very good. With practice you'll find some cool combinations of effects and amps and in time, you'll be churning out top notch guitar tracks - without spending a bolt - ye canny whack it !!

There are endless possibilities with many other free effects available out there including Wah and Fuzz with pretty much everything you can buy in analogue format. Not all plug-ins offer stunning realism but many are free so the key to this game is experimentation - try as many as you can - then try some more and eventually you'll build up a nice collection of plug-ins which you can use for your recording needs or just jamming in your studio!

If you find any new resources like these, be sure to post em up in our Links Section (contact Noize2u who looks after this) and share with all....

Til next time - enjoy your new plugs and ROCK ON.

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User-submitted comments

May 25, 2005 06:04 pm
JCM 900
JCM 900=legend
JCM 900 plugin=its great!

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