digital guitar tone part 1

Digital Guitar Tone – Part 1

By Erick Gerber
In May 5, 2017
152 Views

The music industry is one of the main industries that are taking full advantage of the latest advances in technology with digital guitar tone. There have been massive amounts of debates about digital amps and if they can compete with the top analogue amps out there. Even though these opinions on tone can differ, this article aims to point out the undeniable advantages that digital amplification has over analogue in other areas.  Be sure to also check out part 2 of this article where I talk about the downside of digital amps and how the sound quality compares to analogue. But first, here some pros to ‘going digital’.

Portability and Convenience

It’s getting easier and easier to take your guitar rig with you everywhere you go while packing 10 times lighter than you would have if you took your big, heavy valve head and cab, as well as your bulky analogue pedal board.

Going on vacation and want to take your practice rig with you? With the invention of the iRig by IK Multimedia, all you now need is your guitar, your smartphone or tablet, a short guitar jack, your pocket-size iRig and a set of headphones. Now you can practice guitar with high-quality amp sounds, wherever you go, without carrying your amp and pedals around with you and without needing a nearby plug point or extension chord.

More Bang for Your Buck

With multi-effects units by brands like Line6, Boss, Fractal Audio, TC Electronics, Zoom and more, you can now have hundreds of different pedals and amps built into one compact multi-effects unit. What’s more, many of these have lots of different amp models to choose from. You can build your ideal tone for different musical situations in a matter of minutes. This is especially handy for the session musician who needs an extreme amount of versatility in sound. Now you don’t need to lug your massive pedal board and 5 different amps to the gig. All you need is one of these digital units hooked up directly to the PA system, and you’re good to go! The best part of it all? In addition to the portability, it costs you a fraction of the price that multiple amps and pedals would.

More Possibilities and The Guitarist Community

With the newly developed guitar amplification apps and software, not only can you practice guitar wherever you are but you can play around with different amp models to get ideas of what they sound like, write and record your riff ideas, save it to the cloud, share it with friends and more. Practising also becomes more productive with backtrack features which are designed to help you practice improvisation. You can also load your own tracks onto these guitar amp apps if want to rehearse for tonight’s set while on the road.

Tone Clouds are also a big thing now. One company who has popularised this is Line6. People can now create their own custom rigs/tones on their amp modelling computer software, or Line6 multi-effects units, save it and share it to the Line6 tone cloud for the entire community to see. You can also download other people’s uploaded tones and use it on your own effects unit/pedal/computer.

But how good does digital guitar tone really sound?

Although the new digital guitar amplification units and software have made guitar players’ lives much easier, many guitarists and producers would argue that even the best digital brands don’t sound quite as good as the ‘real thing’ (meaning the traditional analogue amps and pedals).

Check out my continuation of this article, ‘Digital Guitar Tone – Part 2′, where I talk about top-of-the-line digital amps vs. top-of-the-line analogue amps, industry professional opinions, and whether some digital amps do actually sound as good as the ‘real thing’.

 

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Plays for “Red Helen” and “Truth and It’s Burden”. Can make his guitar sound like an accelerating car. Currently doing his BMus Honours degree with the University of Chichester. Sucks at Guitar Hero. Can solo behind his head. Has gigged extensively throughout South Africa.

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