R.E.M.’s Monster Tone

It’s no secret that R.E.M. were looking for something different during the recording of Monster. They had just come off of a run of very successful albums, but the band felt they were lacking in the rock department. Enter Monster. Peter Buck is not known as a guitarist that’s into lots of gear. Buck typically chooses to lay back on most tracks and serve the song. The best way to indulge in Buck’s playing is to focus on the chord voicing and rhythm, let the tone engulf your ears, and simply rock out. Monster is a perfect example of great vintage tone, with amps cranked and guitars strumming away, but still, there are a few key components that you’ll need to achieve this tone.

First and foremost, the amp. We think the amp used on this record was it’s centerpiece. It’s as if Buck decided to focus on one amp and explore all the sonic possibilities that this amp could provide, each track featuring a different facet of the amp–sometimes multiple. It’s been said that Buck played through Silvertones, Fender Twins, Vox AC30s, and Mesa Trem-o-verbs over the years1, all confirmed via live performances, but there’s not much information as to what went on in the studio. To our ears, we definitely hear an Alnico speaker which either indicates a Vox AC30 or potentially a Silvertone head into a Vox cabinet. For this, we’ve dialed in the VG302E Amplifier with the VG 2×12″ 30W ’67 Cabinet. But that’s not the full picture. There is a distinct mid-boost that is not present in most amplifier tone stacks. For now, we’re satisfied using the EQ106 Six-Band Equalizer. We’re running this into the Normal channel which is typically dull and bassy, but with the mid-boost, things brighten up and you can instantly hear Buck coming through your speakers as you strum those huge chords.

With the basic tone dialed in there are only two more elements, Tremolo, and lead tone. The Speed control for the Vibe-Trem channel on the VG302E Amplifier nearly perfectly matches some of the performances on Monster, in the Slow and Fast settings. It adds to the likelihood that Buck was using an AC30 all over this record. For lead tone, we know that Buck has been spotted with a ProCo RAT in his pedal board so we added the DS101A Distortion to cover all bases.

What Frequency?

This core tone is great for rocking out on massive chords, kicking in a lead tone for searing solos, and adding Tremolo when things need some movement.

  • VG302E Amplifier
  • EQ106 Six-Band Equalizer
  • DS101A Distortion
  • 2x12C 30W ’67 Cabinet

1 Peter Buck | Equipboard. https://equipboard.com/pros/peter-buck?gear=amplifiers. Accessed 25 March 2023.

Women and Children First Tone

Looking back, it’s surprising to think that anyone would want to stop Eddie Van Halen from making music in any way possible, but that was the case as we headed into a new decade in 1980. Eddie had established himself as the guitar player of a new era of hard rock, and no one in the group wanted to see him experiment with keyboards, especially their producer, Ted Templeman. Luckily for us, they let this first foray slip on the third album, and we were graced with an extremely gritty sound that to our ears could actually have been a guitar.

Taking a queue from the enormous guitar sound that he had crafted, Eddie ran a Wurlitzer keyboard into the same Marshall amps and effects that he used for guitar. The opening riff is played by banging both hands on a cluster of keys and engaging an MXR Flanger to produce an audible sweeping effect. We’ve recreated this setup with the VG402C Amplifier, 4x12B ’78 100W Cabinet, 4x12A ’67 100W Cabinet, and FL101 Flanger. To our ear, the open top end sounds like Eddie (or more likely Don Landee, the engineer responsible for capturing Eddie’s tone) was blending low-powered vintage speakers in the mix.1 Additionally, we hear more bass in this tone so we’re using Channel II. It really brings the chunk out in some of those power chords. We also added a separate preset for keyboard since gain and tone needed to be adjusted and tuned to work with keyboard input.

And the Cradle Will Rock… this is a true classic, and we think you’re going to love digging hard into this heavy metal masterpiece. With a plethora of pick scrapes, slides, trills, and a whole lot of whammy bar dives, there’s a lot of ground to cover!!


The core tone. Tuned for guitar and ready to rock. With a thick bass and bright, open top end, your palm mutes will thump, power chords will rip, and solos will come screaming out of the speakers.


Tuned for keyboards, specifically a Wurlitzer model. Slap on the flanger for that unmistakable sweep, and just grind out some triads for an amazing tone. It’ll sound like a guitar!!

  • VG402C Amplifier
  • FL101 Flanger
  • 4x12B ’78 100W Cabinet
  • 4x12A ’67 100W Cabinet

1 zz666. Explaining Eddie Van Halen’s Rig – By Cristopher Michael. http://forum.metropoulos.net/viewtopic.php?t=21279. Accessed 10 December 2022.

GarageBand Issues on Mac

Having trouble loading AmpStamp in GarageBand on Mac? We’ve got the fix.

GarageBand, unlike Logic Pro, does not necessarily make audio routing as clear when instantiating new tracks. It makes sense since GarageBand is meant to be more of an introduction to digital recording, providing a quick, easy to use interface to get up and running and making some music. That being said, it can also lead to confusion if you want to dig deeper in knowledge, not in your wallet for Logic Pro, to get more out of GarageBand.

So we need to address an important issue with regards to AmpStamp. AmpStamp is meant for guitar, but can be used on other instruments, and expects mono input. AmpStamp supports stereo output, so in total you can run AmpStamp as either:

  • 1-in-1-out, or
  • 1-in-2-out

It sounds simple, but that’s not how audio tracks are created by default in GarageBand. In order to get GarageBand to expose plugins that require mono input, follow these steps:

  1. Create a new audio track in GarageBand
  2. Leave the Channel EQ engaged in slot two, do not modify/remove existing default plugins
  3. Toggle the input from mono to stereo and back to mono
  4. You can now replace the default Compressor plugin with any mono-compatible plugin that you have installed

And that’s it! We tested this with GarageBand version 10.4.6, let us know if this works for you too!

Kill ‘Em All Tone

It’s a controversial album for die hard fans. On one hand, it’s the beginning. The first taste of what would become one of the all time greatest metal bands, steeped in the thrash metal scene of San Francisco. On the other hand, the production suffered from a producer and engineer caught in the sound of the seventies. The mixes lack weight, the guitars are too thin, and the drums don’t push air like they should. But… you can hear the bass.

Still, it’s an album that deserves recognition. If not for being the first from Metallica, then for standing apart from the other thrash metal bands of the scene with tight, meticulously crafted songs. Vocals that rip right through your brain, searing leads, and some chunky rhythm guitar.

Let’s talk about the chunky rhythm guitar. It’s been said many times over that Hetfield used a Marshall and a RAT distortion pedal.1 Though we have been unable to find attribution of this information, we think this is spot on. But running a distortion pedal straight into a Marshall typically sounds terrible. At the time, it would most likely have been a master volume model, and one of the tricks for using distortion pedals with Marshalls–to be discovered time and again by several artists–is to plug into the Low Input. That’s right. Who ever uses the Low Input? Additionally, to our ear, Bass and Treble should be between 5-6, and Middle should be at 0. The first occasion of scooped mids?

Now for the pedal. The RAT distortion was capable of achieving massive levels of gain, but after some experimentation, we think this was dialed back, more like a boost on steroids. Just enough gain to create the chunk that you hear when playing palm muted power chords. And it sounds glorious.

We’ve queued up the VG402C Amplifier, 4x12B ’78 100W Cabinet, and the DS101 Distortion in three distinct flavors.


Tweak the Edge to blend in more bite and recreate the classic left-to-right pan effect heard at the beginning of Metal Militia.


Next up is a tight crunch meant to satisfy fast palm muting. Crank the distortion and let heads fly.


For this preset, we attempted to get more gunk. You can hear every nuance when muting, engulfing you in it’s fiery tone. Great for solos.

Don’t forget to push the distortion as hard as you want. We think this is the perfect launch pad for achieving the tone from one of the most revered thrash metal albums!

  • VG402C Amplifier
  • DS101A Distortion
  • 4x12B ’78 100W Cabinet

1 Let us know if you have a source for this information!

AmpStamp 1.8 Presets

Welcome to AmpStamp 1.8! Let’s take a moment to introduce the new effects with some presets that you can start experimenting with.


We start off with an effect so pure, so good, it’s on everyone’s pedal board, no question about it. And it doesn’t get more simple than one knob. The PH103A Phaser is tuned to perfection and pairs well with almost any amplifier, we’ve started with a classic Marshall to get you going. Check out More Controls to shift between single and dual stages, as well as crank the feedback for a more pronounced sweep.


Speaking of pronounced sweeps, with this preset we capture the awesome jet-like qualities of the FL101 Flanger into another favorite amp of ours from Vox. Here too, you can push Regen. into oscillation. This effect sounds amazing on muted power chords.


Woolly, throaty, toothy, chewy, we could keep going, but you just need to hear it for yourself. The VG204D Amplifier and VG 2×12 PB 100W ’63 Cabinet produce a complex tonal quality unlike any other we’ve heard. So kick out the jams, and enjoy!

New Day Rising

One of the first real distortion pedals, the DS101A Distortion is so good, it stands on it’s own. And that’s just what we have here. The pedal is running Direct, hopefully reminding you of this punk rock classic from one of our favorite bands out of Minnesota, don’t ya know.

AmpStamp 1.8 – Kick a$$ and Scream

With the release of AmpStamp 1.8, we venture deeper into the world of guitar tone, into uncharted territory, to bring you relics from eras past.

Woolly Mammoth

Let’s start with the VG204D Amplifier and VG 2×12 PB 100W ’63 Cabinet. This amplifier and cabinet exemplify an era of amplification that we haven’t heard from in a while. The tone is raw, chewy, and complex. Dial the cabinet Color darker and boost Presence for a unique bite.

Kick a$$ and Scream

Of course, you’ll need some modulation to add movement to your tone, enter the PH103A Phaser, and FL101 Flanger. At least one of these two effects is found in almost every pedal board today. They are instant classics, and we’ve added a twist. You can push the Feedback (PH103A) or Regeneration (FL101) into self-oscillation. Let the noise rock begin.

We’re also introducing the DS101A Distortion. Presented in it’s bud box form, this pedal brings a level of distortion that was unheard of in 1978. Here too, you can easily push the Feedback into self-oscillation. However, try dialing it back just before that point, then crank it for brink-of-destruction tone. Oh, and don’t forget to have fun tweaking Slew Rate.

Singing and Chirping

While you’re wailing away, don’t forget to add some Ambience. With the AMB 200 Spring Reverb you can now add the unmistakable chirp of spring reverb to any amplifier and cabinet. We’ve kept the same controls from our other ambience effects so you can even dial back the decay and create a springy room reverb.


As always, we think you’ll find that AmpStamp has endless variations of tone to satisfy guitarists in any genre of music. If you’re already a subscriber, thank you! If you haven’t subscribed yet, hurry up! You’re missing out! Check out the Gear Shop and stay tuned for new products.

Whole Lotta Love Tone

In case you missed it, back in 2020, Jimmy Page went on record and described his setup for recording one of the most classic riffs of all time, “Whole Lotta Love.”1 Page spoke of taking advantage of an abandoned Vox Super Beatle head, plugged into one of his Rickenbacker Transatlantic cabinets. He doesn’t mention the specifics of either model, but it narrows things down. There was also a recent illustrated book which corroborates this statement, where we do in fact see Page in the studio with a Vox head sitting on top of a Transatlantic cabinet.2 Additionally, there is also some footage of Page describing the Tone Bender fuzz effect as having a massive influence on this recording.3

Combining the VG 302E Amplifier with the VG 4x12B 100W ’73 Cabinet, and adding the FZ101B Fuzz for just a little flavor, we were able to unlock that unmistakable zipper-like fuzz that Page achieved. We voiced the cabinet to capture more of the room, and added an alternate option for those looking to blend in some studio reverb. We think you’re really going to dig the results. Here’s a quick demo!

But things wouldn’t be complete without talking a little about how that riff was played. There’s a real groove to how Page strums, almost to the point of imperfection, all to maintain a loose feel. Here’s what the main riff looks like on paper, with the additional variation during the intro (it’s really fun to play).

There are a few things to take note of:

We’ve highlighted the strumming pattern to help inform how we think this riff was played. Page’s hand was essentially constantly strumming back and forth in rhythm, never stopping. This back and forth rhythm helps accent down strokes, as well as provides a deep, infectious groove. The track really swings.

Also note that Page bends B-notes (E-string, 7th fret) up on down-strokes. He pulls into the D-note (A-string, 5th fret), which creates a much more interesting feel than if we just play a straight B-note. It has a stronger push-pull rhythm.

Lastly, there is a harmonic that accompanies the D-note by letting your index finger connect with the D-string on the 5th fret. It’s further accentuated by playing this with an up-stroke. Since the harmonic is hit first with the pick, it’s very present in the mix.

Lotta Love

This is the core tone. A slight fuzz, more ambience, and the combination of a Vox amp with Celestion speakers. It’s unmistakable. To our ears, it’s a zipper-effect. The way the fuzz makes the guitar sound like a zipper is being pulled up, or down. So pull away!

  • VG302E Amplifier
  • FZ101B Fuzz
  • VG 4x12B 100W ’73 Cabinet
Lotta Lead

Though potentially not accurate, we threw in an extra preset for lead that we used on the sample recording you hear. It’s a fun combination of an older fuzz with traditional Vox speakers. It certainly cuts through the mix. Enjoy!

  • FZ100A Fuzz
  • VG 2x12C 30W ’67 Cabinet

And there you have it. One of the heaviest riffs ever recorded, right underneath your fingertips. Add some fuzz for a zipper-effect, get your picking hand into a steady groove, and hit those bends and harmonics to help this riff swagger. This song is a testament to artists who look for new sounds both with the equipment they use, but also on the fret board as well. Despite having just twelve notes, phrasing and articulation can be infinitely variable. Along with AmpStamp, the power is yours. Go forth and rock!

1 Astley-Brown, Michael & Bird, Chris. “Jimmy Page reveals the amp he really used to record Whole Lotta Love” Guitar World, Future plc, 6th November 2020, https://www.guitarworld.com/news/jimmy-page-reveals-the-amp-he-really-used-to-record-whole-lotta-love/.

2 Page, Jimmy. Jimmy Page: The Anthology, Genesis Publications, 2020, p. 136.

3 Page, Jimmy, performer. It Might Get Loud. Sony Pictures Classics, 2008.

Siamese Dream Tone

Recording electric guitar on this record was so complicated, producer Butch Vig has been quoted saying they needed a visual guitar map to keep track of all the different parts Corgan was dreaming up.1 Despite the layering needed to get closest to this tone, one thing is true, a heavy fuzz is a must. And AmpStamp delivers this in spades with the FZ104A Fuzz.

Also, after doing extensive tone tests, our ears have selected the VG302E Amplifier. Although this goes against most interviews, Vig has briefly mentioned his affinity for AC30s in the past2, and it seems possible that these combos could have been run into typical 4x12s that would be used with traditional Marshall heads. We’re also blending old and new cabs to bring out the best of both worlds. Check it out!


Packed with a heavy fuzz, this tone is perfect for alternative rock à la 1991. Stack up separate left and right takes for an amazing stereo image. Ideally suited for a humbucker in the bridge position to help cut through the mud, anything will do really. And if you’re stuck with noisy single coils, engage the Squelch gate.

Cherub Lead

Changing Color for a darker tone and engaging the FL100 Flanger, new you can recreate blistering leads from this classic album. And when you reach post-production you can flip the Matrix switch and manually control the flange, just like the record. It doesn’t get much better than this!

  • VG302E Amplifier
  • FZ104A Fuzz
  • VG 4x12B 260W ’82 Cabinet
  • VG 4x12B 100W ’73 Cabinet

1 Harris, Sophie. “Smashing Pumpkins’ ‘Siamese Dream’: 10 Things You Didn’t Know.” Rolling Stone, Penske Business Media, LLC, 27th July 2018, https://www.rollingstone.com/feature/smashing-pumpkins-siamese-dream-10-things-you-didnt-know-699361/.

2 Robson, Paul. “Butch Vig shares the guitar recording secrets of Nirvana, The Smashing Pumpkins, Foo Fighters and more.” Guitar.com, BandLab Technologies, 20th December 2020, https://guitar.com/features/interviews/butch-vig-guitar-recording-secrets-nirvana-the-smashing-pumpkins-foo-fighters/.

Aerosmith Tone

The greatest American band? Possibly. Their albums from the early to mid seventies defined a new kind of rock n’ roll. Sprung from the demise of huge acts like Led Zeppelin and Cream, armed with only a few guitars and a couple of Marshalls, Aerosmith took on the rock elite.

Not to mention Joe Perry, one of the few guitarists who took the time to tame single coil pickups into a noiseless power house of bite and snarl.1 It’s one of the key aspects of Aerosmith’s sound during this period. But don’t fret, we’ve got you covered if you’re using a humbucker, just engage the EQ100 Treble Booster and that should put you closer to single coil territory.

Ma Kin

Pure tone. Prior to the band’s introduction to other amplification, we believe Joe Perry’s core sound on the first record relied solely on the 402C Amplifier and a blend of the 4x12B 100W ’73 Cabinet and 4x12A 100W ’67 Cabinet, both available at the time of recording, providing a solid combination of old and new.

  • VG402C Amplifier
  • 4x12A 100W ’67 Cabinet
  • 4x12B 100W ’73 Cabinet

You’re not going to believe your ears, but check it out. Put on the record too and compare, you can’t miss this sleazy tone. We stumbled on this while dialing in the FZ101B Fuzz–a favorite of Perry’s due to his appreciation of Jeff Beck–and noticed that we were still missing some really deep EQ cuts. Despite the PH102B Phaser not coming out until 1973, the notches line up and the sound is unmistakable. Whether it was the console at Intermedia Sound Studios2 or an early release of this now legendary dual phaser, you can still rock out like the boys from Boston did on their first record!

  • FZ102B Fuzz
  • PH102B Phaser

1 Rosen, Steven. “The Joe Perry Interview.” Guitar Player, 1979

2 Turner, Mark. Intermedia Sound Studios. Music Museum of New England, 2017, https://www.mmone.org/intermedia-sound-studios/. Accessed 1 May 2021.

AmpStamp 1.7 – Drag, Drop, and Rock

With the release of AmpStamp 1.7, we’re excited to announce that we now support macOS! Starting with macOS Catalina and Big Sur, you can now rock out with AmpStamp on your Macbook or Mac, as well as record with AmpStamp as an Audio Unit (AU) in your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) of choice, where AUs are supported.


If you already subscribed or purchased gear, then you’re all set. Your purchases and subscriptions will transfer automatically, as always they can be restored if needed. With the ability to run as an Audio Unit (AU), you now have even more flexibility. By running multiple instances of AmpStamp in your DAW, you can experience:

  • Parallel Processing – blending different amplifier and cabinet combinations
  • Chaining – running the pre-amp of one amplifier into the power-amp of another (for amps with an FX Loop, set to Return)
  • Post-FX – placing stompboxes after cabinet and ambience effects
  • Post-EQ – taking advantage of your DAW’s channel strip for additional tone sculpting

We’ve also added support for high-resolution audio with sampling rates up to 192kHz. When you’re creating your masterpiece, audio quality is of the most importance. Extending sampling rates beyond what is required for human hearing can avoid aliasing when distorting your input signal. This becomes especially important when running high gain amplifiers and recording more modern guitar tones, but the entire signal chain will benefit from this decision. We’ll be going into more detail on how to get the most out of your signal chain since running at a higher sampling rate also uses more processing power.


When you’re ready to save your sound, you can still do so with the internal bank provided by the Floor Controller. This bank of presets is synchronized between our standalone application and all Audio Unit (AU) instances, available on all platforms (iOS, iPadOS, macOS). Additionally, we have added support for AUPresets which can be saved externally on macOS and shared with anyone. On iOS and iPadOS, AUPresets are saved to an application directory and can be recalled at any point within your DAW. To get started, we have also converted our Factory Presets into AUPresets as well, making preset navigation easier when running as an AU. AUPresets are seamlessly bridged with the internal bank of presets, giving additional flexibility if you need to save an update for recall with MIDI and/or live operation.


Stay tuned for our evolving Explore tab where we feature Classic Sounds, Field Guides, new System Presets, and much more. We’ve added a new Ambience effect, the AMB300 Echo Chamber. Now you can get the rich sound of a chamber behind your guitar which has powered classic hits for decades. And the ’80s are by no means over. With the introduction of High Gain amplifiers, there is still a lot of ground to cover!