Amp Emulators

I think amp emulators are the great invention of our time for guitarists. Not just for performance, but also for practise. I know a lot of guitarists will think I’m overstating things here but I’m going to explain what I think is so wonderful about them and hopefully change your minds.

Bad Rap:

Amp emulators have gotchn a bad rap and think this has happened for a number of reasons.

  1. In the past, they’ve sounded terrible and deserved the reputation that they gained.

I’ve owned various pieces of emulating equipment over the years that have claimed to sound just like a real valve-amp. A lot of these failed to sound like a decent solid state, never mind a nice tube rig. Pulling a tone from these beasts has been challenging and ultimately really good practise for being able to get a half-decent tone out of just about any piece of equipment. Until fairly recently though there’s been no point in using them in a professional context at all.

  1. People aren’t very skilled at using them and thus can’t get tone out of them.

Like anything, pulling a good tone requires practise. Just plugging in and hoping for the best is not going to cut it. You can tweak these devices endlessly and learn a hell of a lot about tone in the process.

  1. We enjoy the mystique of the vacuum tube.

I’ve got a beautiful valve amp as well as my PodXT. I still think that the valve amp sounds slightly better, but I’ve used my Pod much more often in recordings lately. Why? Well..

Multiple Amps:

I worked as a session guitarist for many years. By the end of my session days, I would arrive at the studio with only a guitar. Most of us can’t afford to have 20 classic vintage amps, so having the next best thing in one box save a lot of money and lugging.

Practise Your Tone:

Being able to practise your tone is a great boon to a guitarist. It doesn’t matter how well you play, if your sound sucks no one will appreciate anything that you have to ‘say’. I remember it being said of one of Australia’s top sessions players that “he practises his tones, like other guitarists practise their scales”.

Imitating the sound of your favourite guitarist can be painstaking at first, but its a beneficial exercise. Record yourself on a multi-track playing along with your favourite guitar sound. Then listen back. If the sound of your guitar doesn’t disappear into the recorded track, go back and try again.


There are so many variables in pulling a nice tone that it makes it hard to reproduce that great sound that you had yesterday, never mind the last time you recorded. So being able to recall a ‘patch’ and do another take a week or two later, or to improve your tone as your ears get better over time is a lifesaver.

As always, if you have any questions, email us on or head over to our contact page to organise a free, no obligation introductory lesson.