[LAD] A small article about tools for electronic musicians

Tim E. Real termtech at rogers.com
Fri Apr 30 19:12:24 UTC 2010

On April 30, 2010 02:18:02 am you wrote:
> Tim E. Real wrote:
> > Just a follow-up about plugins:
> >
> > Wow, man! I just spent an hour playing with
> >    Guitarix Distortion (ladspa plugin) +
> >    caps C* Amp VTS  (ladspa amp sim plugin)
> >  in MusE's plugin rack.
> >
> > Gotta tell ya, by the end of the session I had the
> >  sweetest, most pleasant sounding, longest
> >  yet cleanest sustain, from just two ladspa plugins.
> >
> > Strumming, appegios, pick sweeps, chunka chunka power chords,
> >  long sustain, esp with hammer-ons...
> > I don't know what it was about the combination
> >  but I can't wait to try tomorrow (it's late).
> >
> > Am I correct in what I thought I heard?
> > 2nd order harmonic 'style' all the way through the chain?
> > I know C* amp is tube and I think Guitarix is as well, am I correct?
> > It seemed to help with the picking.
> >
> > I saw some other quite capable looking tube preamp ladspa plugins
> >  as well, can't wait to try them with the C* amp series, which I never
> >  realized was so good !
> >
> > I suppose I've always been looking for a monolithic solution.
> > Been disappointed by one single plugin. Sort of give up looking, you
> > know? But two really is better than one.
> > I learned that from studying pedal schematics, I had built simple
> >   two-diode fuzz boxes and began to wonder how they get that 'metal' or
> >  'crunch' sound. So I knew that more than one 'diode stage' was required,
> >  but never tried it with ladspa plugins till now. I had also learned a
> > key difference between fuzz and other types - asymmetrical clipping.
> > Rakarrack made it easy to experiment, with its two independent drive
> > stages. Once I tried Rakarrack, I was finally able to retire my analog FX
> > box (Boss SE70) from its send-and-return (insert) loop in MusE.
> >
> > Ramble ramble...
> > Cheers. Tim.
> Hi Tim :)
> so you do play guitars directly to the mixing console too?!
Yes, I have a real Marshall JCM800 but only use it for gigs.
When I'm at home I prefer my stereo.
Hence the generous use of plugins for simulation. 
I don't even use the Marshall for recording, which I know is 
 probably a bit strange, but with the vast array of plugins
 available it's more fun to play with them.
Let's face it, these days real 'single sound' amps are a bit old fashioned 
 and simulation is all the rage with, for example, Line6 etc...
As the decades progress, the sheer quantity of music styles 
 requires being able to simulate lots of genres, particularly when viewed 
 from a 'cover band' approach.

I record direct, and then I can fool around with the amp sounds later.
I use a Radial Engineering JDI direct box (made in Canada, eh!)
 into my MAudio Delta 1010 sound card. It's a passive non-powered
 box but it's one of the best.

Until now I have mostly been using SimulAnalog's famous JCM900 VST
 dll plugin under dssi-vst. (I do wish they would open-source those plugs!)

> I had the most satisfying result when I used a Hughes & Kettner 19"
> tube-device, borrowed from a friend.
> When I need sustain for clean sounds, e.g. for bottleneck, I still use a
> Boss CS-3 Compression Sustainer.
In my case, when I say long sustain, I mean maximally distorted
 long sustain for that metal/rock sound, great for soloing. 
It was very nice to hear it without any 'buzzy' 'raspy' sounds
 common when experimenting with plugins.
It occurred to me last night that many distortion/overdrive plugins
 are modelled on semiconductor diode based pedals, not tubes.
Maybe that's why C* Amp and Guitarix sounded good together.

> Did you get deep basses for the guitar's sound by using guitarix? I
> guess this is the biggest problem, so when playing directly to the
> mixing console I often use a drop D, unfortunately this leads to
> Badmotorfinger like compositions.
Mm, I think the bass response was mostly provided by the 
 C* Amp simulator, but yeah guitarix probably helped.
I did not go too crazy with either one's tone controls, I more or less
 left them in the middle.

> But I do agree that some Linux (to be fair and Windows) plugins do
> produce good sounds and even if playing without a real stack has some
> disadvantages, I like to have the option to listen to distortion and amp
> simulation, while I just record the clean guitar signal, so I'm able to
> change the kind of distortion and amp simulation later. 
Exactly. Record clean while listening with whatever amp sound suits you, 
 and then fool around with the recorded sound later on playback.
In the past, using a dedicated HW FX box and a crappy consumer sound card
 meant that my recorded guitar track was 'written in stone' and the sound
 could not be changed very much after the fact.
Thankfully we have Linux, Jack, and pro sound cards, eh?

> Btw. instead of
> an amp simulation I sometimes use early reflection reverb, for this I
> prefer hardware effects from the 80ies, because of their limited
> frequency response and OTOH better early reflection simulations they're
> a kind of amp simulation.
I don't know, seems to me that some of the IR or convolver based
 amp sim plugins sound an awful lot like just EQs with very annoying peaks.
I don't know how C* Amp does it, but it sounded pretty good.

> Rakarrack is very good, excepted of the deepness for the bass sound of
> the guitar. I guess playing Rakarrack to a stack would enable to abandon
> all other effect devices, as long as somebody e.g. won't simulate the
> original sound of Jimi Hendrix, e.g. like Randy Hansen does. Some
> effects can't be replaced.
Yeah, once you introduce a real guitar amplifier at the end, you really have to 
 turn off all amp sim plugins to avoid them fighting with the amp's natural 

Funny, I read the other day, some years ago Rush's Geddy Lee stopped
 using bass amps on stage and went direct into the sound system.
So without any bass amps on stage, for a touch of humour, 
 he put washing machines in their place ! LOL.


> Compiling Rakarrack for outdated distros sometimes doesn't work :(, but
> an outdated distro might be a stable recording system ;).
> Cheers!
> Ralf

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