4. VST Amp Models
I have tried a bunch of commercial packages as well as free separate amp and pedal models built by small companies and generous enthusiasts. Putting together a free rig from a few separate pieces is not hard at all and can just as good or better than some commercial packages, but it requires more experimenting. And I like that you get separate effects in the FX window of your DAW, rather than having one do-it-all effect, like Amplitube or Guitar Rig. Below are my favorite VST amp models that I use every day.
Positive Grid BIAS Amp (website)
It is not free, but can be bought for relatively little money when on sale. I got the standard version, as I don’t plan to use amp-matching. It sounds really good and is the most configurable amp model I’ve come across. You can load stock amp models, download other people’s models from the Tone Cloud and you can dive in and tweak dozens of aspects of each model to suit your needs. I tried hard to keep my digital rig free, but I loved the sounds that can be had from BIAS Amp, so I just had to buy it.
This is a two-in-one package that covers the most important Marshall amps – plexi (PLS mode) and JCM800 (MCJ mode). PLS mode has both normal and bright channel, but unlike the original amp, you are able to blend between the two channels and have both of them, but also everything in between. MCJ mode has a boost switch that takes you to the hot-rodded “boutique” Marshall territory. You can get every flavor of Marshall out of this – light crunch, raw drive, singing lead sound, you name it.
I disliked this model for a long time, but like with any other model, you need to spend some time tweaking it and matching with a right cabinet to get the sound you want. It’s not modeled after any particular amp, so it’s authors vision of a good high gain amp. And boy does it deliver! It’s got two separate channels – red and green. Both have rhythm and lead mode – rhythm is tighter and crunchier, and lead is more aggressive and compressed.
Modeled after Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier