I have been working with “guitar amp emulation” software for almost 10 years now.
Bottom line: I’m of course a tubes amp “lover”, so I still think there’s nothing that can substitute a tubes combo or stack.
So why am I using very often amp emulation softwares?
I have to say that in first place my curiosity drove me there, it looked like a very “fascinating” world to me, the thing that you can actually use (almost) the same presets as the one used by Steve Vai, Acdc, Metallica, Slipknot and many more is awesome.
Then we have to say that you actually have the chance to use emulations of all the vintage and Modern hi gain amps in the history, from fender twin to the legendary jcm800 or even peavey 5150 or mesa rectifiers..
But there is still one more important thing to consider..
You are actually allowed to drastically change your guitar (or bass) sound even the last minute of your mixing process, and that happens so fast and smooth; all this years before the spreading of the word “reamp”..
But let’s go in details..
The most known “amp” emulation software is probably the Native Instruments Guitar Rig. These days the latest version is GR5.
The software improved a lot from the beginning, I have been using this last 5th version and honestly it was pretty impressive, being a lover of 5150 that was the first “virtual rig” that I used.
The sound is very “similar” to the original.
As I said before there is a “but”..Compared to a tubes 5150 amp (in this specific example) there’s a lack of power and low end dued to the absence of the speaker first and the “air” between the cab and the microphones.
According to my experience this lackness is still something that no software/firm has been able to fix, however I used the Peavey “revalver”.
I honestly think that at Peavey they did great, their emulations are way better than any other company has done before..
For those who are not that expert in using some of those softwares I’m gonna explain how to use it..
I suppose that you have a pc/mac/laptop/desktop, an audio interface and of course a “recording software” (cubase, pro tools, Logic, etc..)
Install the software as a VST instrument and open the “plug in” directly on the track..
Connect your guitar (or bass) directly to the input of you audio interface.(Even better if using a DI box in between).
At this point you’re ready to rock..