Over the years, I have made a fair few recordings. Primarily at Voltage Studios, I have for many years made use of one of the resident guitar amps. This has always been a Marshall valve or valvestate. In most recent years a rather lovely JCM800. For my live rig, I have used a Boss GT series multi-fx board for about 20 years now, in the main through a solid-state Marshall. I started with the GT-5, which I had to upgrade to the GT-6 after it came to an untimely end at a rather lively gig around 2002/3. A few years ago, I bought myself a GT-8 as a friend was selling one and subsequently sold the GT-6. Throughout all this time, I have always used the COSM amp simulators and almost always modelled a Marshall JCM type amp. It’s a tone I love and am very happy with. Pre-1998, I had a little collection of Boss stomp boxes and used the distortion in my amp (a Laney solid state at the time) and so never really explored distortion, overdrive or tone in general to any greater extent than this.
Since getting into making my own recordings, I have used the COSM Marshall model to reasonably good effect, directly connected from the GT-8 into my Tascam DP32 and/or my audio interface into Logic. I have tried the software models in Logic but I was never totally happy with them, at least as a bread and butter sound. The GT-8 though is bulky and a bit of a pain to cart to and from the rehearsal studio every time I think I might want to record and it’s also overkill for just the amp sound. So, I started passively looking at what compact pedals were available.
I wanted basically a Marshall JCM800 in a box with an integrated cab simulator for direct recording. After doing some research and asking friends, I was introduced to a Russian company called AMT who do a whole series of amp model pedals. The Marshall model is the M1. The thing I liked about them is that they are all analogue. They have essentially copied the original ciruit from the JCM800 and substituted the valves for JFET transistors. JFETs have a very similar mode of operation to thermionic valves and so the saturation characteristics are very similar. I subsequently watched loads of YouTube videos and convinced myself that it was worth a punt for £70. Upon receiving it I started doing some test recording. It has excellent tone and is very reminiscent of the real thing. Layered up, I managed to get a really cool wall of sound.
This process had me thinking about different guitar tones more than ever before. I had seen friends with different amps, pedal boards and various overdrive/distortion pedals so I took to YouTube again and watched a load more videos, paying attention to the tone characteristics of a number of amps, pedals and configurations and it led me to thinking that I might like to put together a rig specifically for recording. It’s always best to add modulation and time-based effects at the mixing stage anyway so I wasn’t going to concentrate on those.
My next two purchases were the AMT F1, which is essentially a Fender Twin in a box. This would give me richer clean tones and the AMT
CN1, which is a cab simulator pedal. Although both the M1 and F1 have cab-sim outputs, the CN1 gives much more control over the tone characteristics such as cab size, speaker magnet cut-off response and microphone distance and rotation. It’s still all analogue too.
With the exception of the M1 obviously, I have yet to try the other pedals out. I have bought a multi-output power supply and ordered myself a pedal board on which to mount them so have decided to wait until they are all mounted and connected before playing further.
I have been told that this is the start of a very addictive journey. For playing live though, I can’t practically replace my Boss GT8 since I use a multitude of combinations of effects. I can however potentially improve the patches as I go by tweaking the models.
Creatively, I am feeling very inspired and am looking forward to more recording and playing in the studio. I have already planned my next phase of pedal purchases but they will have to wait until funds allow. In any case, I’d rather spend time with the ones I have and get used to them first.
More news on this and sample recordings as I go.