Golden age of competition/innovation for guitarists

nickmsmith

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Competition in the industry is benefiting guitarist immensely.


Competition is a good thing for all us. It’s well know that the iPhone sent Google back to the drawing board to rework Android and since then Android has pushed Apple to continuously enhance iOS.

In the guitar industry Line 6 (Helix), Kemper, Fractal, Neural DSP, Strymon, UAFX, Origin have all spurred each other into pushing the envelope with modeling. It’s challenged Fender to up its game to produce the Tone Master line. (Marshall and Vox seem to be sitting on the sideline.)

Although I’m not ready to jump on the UAFX waiting list for a Dream 65, Ruby, Woodrow etc, the demos suggest that UAFX has raised the bar. How long can I resist. Personally I like this approach to have a device just model a single amp and then use it as you would a regular amp with your own pedalboard. Plus, I think it muddies the water when you try to model multiple stomp pedals and cram it into a single device.

Regardless, the companies are pushing each other forward. Helix and Kemper were considered major breakthrough products and Strymon seemed to rule the high end for delays, reverbs and modulation for a time. Now the buzz is for Origin and UAFX.

Are we at a point where innovation finally convinces folks to really give up tubes in large numbers? I know that I rarely use my lone tube amp, a PRRI SE with 12” speaker. I was thinking about a TM Deluxe Reverb but I’m not sure I would use it anymore than I do the PRRI. I’m happy with the Iridium right now but that may change.
Could we be past the “tip of the iceberg”?
People already have. But tube amps will always be the “big time” real thing.
I don’t really have any desire for big nice tube amps, but they will always be the original that the modelers are emulating. Tube amps will be made in some quantity in the foreseeable future, for that alone.

But the modelers have come close enough, to where not many can really tell a difference between that, and the real thing. There will always be a preference for the real, though. And either way is great.

I go back and forth for recording. But having the option for amp mic’d, amp direct out, and modeling is really nice. Never a better time for musicians. Easy to get a great sound on a low budget. And that was not always the case.

This 40 dollar amp sim pedal review really surprised me. And it sold me on the pedal. Zero way someone would tell the difference in the context of a band mix or a mixed recording.

 
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bottlenecker

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Ahhh digital keyboards. I have a close friend who is a professional blues piano/B3 player. He hates digital keyboards. Of course he uses his “plastic fantastic” performing but he says regardless Of how good the emulations are nothing beats the sound of his piano or B3.
I guess that’s somewhat analogous to the tube vs modeling amp discussion.
As for amps, the typical gigging guitarist isn’t using a $5,000 Bartel boutique amp on stage and the home guitarist can’t hear the difference.

It is a similar issue. I've spent some time playing on stage with, and listening to real hammond tonewheel organs into the old tube leslies. It is a magic combination. I get goosebumps. It's like being under a waterfall of flowery frequencies one second and then it's grit and power and girth the next second.
I've heard the same players gig the digital hammonds, and it is not even close. The playing is still great, and it sounds pretty good, I guess, but it never delivered anything close to the listening experience of the real thing.
 

fretbuzzard

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Conservative guitarists in 1900: “Sure steel strings are durable and can make for louder instruments, but they sound so harsh and shrill compared to our gut-strung, fan-braced instruments!”

Conservative guitarists in 1935: “Fine, electric guitars are loud and allow guitar to be a solo instrument in big, high-volume bands, but they lack the rich, complex tone of our carved archtops. It’s a poor imitation.”

Conservative guitarists in the 2020s: “THE ARTIFACTS!!!”
 

VonBonfire

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VonBonfire, laugh at my comment all you like. If you can’t hear it then perhaps my hearing is better than I thought and yours not as good as you think.
I was in agreement with your post. When you turn up a piece of modeling gear it's shortcomings are apparent.
 

Buzzgrowl

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People already have. But tube amps will always be the “big time” real thing.
I don’t really have any desire for big nice tube amps, but they will always be the original that the modelers are emulating. Tube amps will be made in some quantity in the foreseeable future, for that alone.

But the modelers have come close enough, to where not many can really tell a difference between that, and the real thing. There will always be a preference for the real, though. And either way is great.

I go back and forth for recording. But having the option for amp mic’d, amp direct out, and modeling is really nice. Never a better time for musicians. Easy to get a great sound on a low budget. And that was not always the case.

This 40 dollar amp sim pedal review really surprised me. And it sold me on the pedal. Zero way someone would tell the difference in the context of a band mix or a mixed recording.



First, that pedal is a godsend. I run a 40w Mustang ii with 12" as a backup and it sounds absolutely rubish on any setting. But with the joyo in front and the Mustang on a clean setting it is very playable. I know the Mustang is not a Kemper, but beyond the AD/DA they are all computers on the inside. So why does it's modeling sound horrid?

The idea that the audience can't tell is not a discussion. Why would they and is that even important? FoH can't be trusted anymore as well to be an audience proxy, as they do many EDM, hip hop and modern pop (playback) gigs and those genres mess with their hearing references.

A few years ago I sat in on a "no amps" gig where the FoH treated guitars as a problem to be eliminated. 😄 The FoH was dreadfully incompetent, would not ask them to mix kareoke night.

Gigs with no stage volume, using modeling amps and IEM? 😆😅🤣 I would never refuse, but my expectations about sound quality would be low.

Maybe for musical theatre or musical, or modern pop with a lot of pre-produced content running on playback off a DAW.
 

cousinpaul

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ValveTrain has just come out with a line of all tube powered cabs intended for use with your favorite modeler. Prices are roughly in the same ballpark as a comparable boutique amp. I'm not sure if they represent a step forward or backward.
 

bottlenecker

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Conservative guitarists in 1900: “Sure steel strings are durable and can make for louder instruments, but they sound so harsh and shrill compared to our gut-strung, fan-braced instruments!”

Conservative guitarists in 1935: “Fine, electric guitars are loud and allow guitar to be a solo instrument in big, high-volume bands, but they lack the rich, complex tone of our carved archtops. It’s a poor imitation.”

Conservative guitarists in the 2020s: “THE ARTIFACTS!!!”

Classical/flamenco guitars and steel string acoustic guitars have not been replaced though. Nothing you listed replaced the earlier thing. They offered something completely different instead, and added to the sounds we have to choose from.
So what does digital modelling offer us today?
"It sounds just like what you already have, even though it isn't!"
At least offer me a realistic fan braced gut string model for my telecaster.
 

fretbuzzard

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Classical/flamenco guitars and steel string acoustic guitars have not been replaced though. Nothing you listed replaced the earlier thing. They offered something completely different instead, and added to the sounds we have to choose from.
So what does digital modelling offer us today?
"It sounds just like what you already have, even though it isn't!"
At least offer me a realistic fan braced gut string model for my telecaster.
My point is that early in their evolution both the steel string and the electric guitar seemed to be understood by both their boosters and their haters as replacements for older technologies. It took decades in some cases for players and manufacturers to adjust to the idea that the new tech does something altogether different - it’s not a replacement for an old instrument, but basically a different instrument entirely. Everett Hull and Leo Fender, for their parts, never quite made that leap - they continued to see tube distortion as a flaw to be fixed, for example.

That’s where we seem to be with modeling tech. It’s boosters are still insisting that it can replace older amp technology; the haters keep arguing that it can never replace tubes. Both need to come to terms with and embrace the fact that it’s basically a new instrument with new, and different capabilities.
 

Peegoo

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I remember someone had painted 'Clapton is God' on some wall ..... which is silly. Because we all knew that Jeff was better. LOL

Real True History! Right Here!

I think that may be Jeff Beck's dog Boomer.

Clapton-is-Good.jpg
 

Swirling Snow

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It seems that digital amps have to prove themselves by 'modeling' known tube amps.

What a waste.

Have you ever heard a quad of 6550s just before they redplate? That's what I want them to model.
There are knobs we don't have names for, yet. We need to invent them.

Meanwhile.... I'm shopping for a Marshall right now. I'm convinced this the last chance to get an English-built head with EL34 tubes. I had a stack and lost it. I woke up one day thinking, "I don't want to die without a Marshall!". So, I better hurry! :twisted:
 

11 Gauge

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I don't understand why it has to be one or the other. I've got my tube stuff and I've also got my DSP stuff. I like and use both, and there's never been an intention to get one piece of gear to replace the other.

IMO, there's also other more practical considerations than getting any one piece of gear to either create or replicate some specific tone with 100% accuracy. I think I will always prefer gear that is more portable and compact, provided that it makes sounds that are considerably better than just average. There's a lot of such gear right now that meets such criteria, and a lot of it is tubeless.

Also (IMO) such a 'only one but never the other' attitude tends to prevent a user from ever potentially evolving to a hybrid/mixed rig, which probably ends up being the most flexible and extensible setup that one might actually want. In my case, not only do I consider both tube and DSP-based amps, but also look for current analog SS stuff too, and my pedals are a combination of old school analog combined with some of the best DSP-based stuff for at least reverb. Regarding current offerings for reverb pedals - I very much prefer using those, with hall or plate settings, instead of the tube and spring stuff in my old BF/SF Fenders.
 

eddiewagner

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I am pro modeling. My next step: a dream 65 into the return of my aer Compact 60. that will be supercool for small jobs. For bigger jobs my Tonemaster Twin does it so well. I think I will sell my Silverface amps soon.
 

Alex_C

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I use both. I love my Laney tube amp and prefer it most of the time. My modeler is a great piece of kit. It sounds great and allows me to swap and rearrange effects in seconds vs the velcro/unplug/plug re-arrangement of a pedal board. Modelers do not sound like an amp in the room. They mimic a mic'd up amp. There is a tiny bit of latency, but that just takes a moment to get used to. Modelers are going to get better as processing power increases. Eventually they will be the go-to and tube amps will be the luxury items.
 

teletail

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If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. I have no problem with whatever amp someone wants to play, but there’s nothing wrong with my tube amp and no reason to replace it.

For the record, I tried the Fender Tonemaster amps and was very underwhelmed. I thought I was going to love them because someone I really admire raved about them.
 




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