Sweet Leaf

Who would have thought that what started out as an above average blues band would become the prototype for heavy metal as we know it. From the opening sounds of a rainstorm to a bell that’s tolled for a thousand lives to the perfect use of the Devil’s Interval, Black Sabbath had, perhaps inadvertently, created something coherent and unique that immediately registered and resonated with listeners upon first exposure.

So rare is that occurrence that when critics started complaining but fans started following, the band knew to continue in the direction they had started. And we are all glad they did. As album after album of instant classics continued to fill the shelves, many guitar players started to wonder how Tony Iommi was getting such a heavy sound. And so our journey begins…

What we do know is that Iommi had a modified Rangemaster, one of the first treble boosters. Based on dropping the needle and some experimentation, it’s unlikely that Iommi got that kind of distortion from an amplifier and a treble booster. Our latest theory is that his Rangemaster was modified to include a fuzz unit. Most likely a two or three transistor model since the Rangemaster itself was a single transistor circuit.

What we have here is the classic VG402B Amplifier with the VG 4x12B 100W ’73 Cabinet and the EQ100 Treble Boost followed by the FZ101B Fuzz. This deep and heavy tone is amazing and we think you’re going to instantly hear those Black Sabbath classics when playing. Paired with an SG, you can’t get any closer. Enjoy!

SWEETLEAF

Crank it up, this tone is heavy. Designed to imitate modifications done to Tony Iommi’s treble booster, we think we’ve found something special. But you be the judge. Use the fuzz to capture the dark sounds of Master of Reality or disengage and crank the amp for something brighter, similar to their self-titled debut.

  •  VG402B Amplifier
  • EQ100 Treble Boost
  • FZ101B Fuzz
  • VG 4x12B 100W ’73 Cabinet

Nevermind

Depending on your punk rock ethics, you may or may not have a lot to thank Mike Wallace for. Without question, his application of slick dance music production techniques to a new generation of punk willing to admit that they liked the Beatles helped define the sound of an era. Call it what you will, the music was infectious. Like songs you learned when you were a kid—they were easy to remember, enjoyable to sing along with, and aggressive and catchy as hell.

But Wallace was typically employed only as a mix engineer. He would get involved with projects after most of the material had already been recorded. In order to have such great material to work with, the raw energy in the studio still needed to be there. With Nirvana’s second album—their first on a major label—Wallace would create a blueprint for many bands to follow but first, the band needed to record an album. Enter Butch Vig. Having previously worked with Nirvana on some demos, he would become the vehicle through which the band would successfully get onto tape their pop infused ideas. Famously using John Lennon to coerce more takes, Vig knew exactly how to interact with underground artists.

Listening to the unmixed stems, it’s clear this album was meant to be raucous, heavy, and in your face. With AmpStamp, let’s take look at capturing that raw energy and giving it some slick studio production (or not, if you prefer). Here’s what we know:

  • Kurdt Cobain’s amp had broken at an earlier gig and the band used the money they had to purchase a Mesa Boogie Studio .22 preamp and a power amp
  • When the band checked in to Sound City studios, Kurt brought the Mesa Boogie with him. During recording he would also employ a Fender Bassman and some pedals but as Vig states, “Kurt Cobain, for the most part, used a Mesa Boogie amp”<sup>1</sup>
  • Based on live appearances, a modern Marshall 4×12 was used

NEVERMIND

Careful! This one is hot! You may want to engage the Squelch control (noise gate). Though we know Kurdt used a distortion pedal to switch between clean and distorted tones, we think you’ll hear similarities using the high gain channel on this amplifier, it definitely packs a punch better than any pedal. Change the Color to get different left and right channel takes, and voilà—never mind.

  • VG802C Amplifier, toggle between lead and clean + CH102 Chorus
  • CH102 Chorus
  • VG 4x12B 260W ’82 Cabinet
LITHIUM

Though not a Bassman, we think you’ll agree this sound is instant Grunge. With a thick quality unlike any modern amp, this was the secret ingredient to some of the moodier tracks on Nevermind. The tone is much darker so we’ve adjusted the Color for more brightness, but let your ears adjust to it, it’ll sit perfectly in a final mix.

  • VG207A Amplifier
  • FZ104A Fuzz
  • VG 1x12C 15W ’68 Cabinet

Woman Tone

Let’s take another quick look at one of the ultimate classic guitar tones, a sound Eric Clapton once described as “Woman Tone.” We’ll spare you the history of the band, but if you’re not aware, do yourself of favor and look them up. Better yet, get yourself acquainted with their music.

As part of their farewell concert, Clapton gave an interview where he described exactly how to get this sound. In his own words, either “by using the bass pickup, or the lead pickup but with all the bass off…on the tone control. Turn it down to one or ‘oh.'” Watch and learn from the man himself.

If you’re lucky enough to have an SG, Epiphone or otherwise, that will help. But a Strat can certainly come close when using the same pickup strategy. The elements are simple enough, we’ve lined up the perfect combination in AmpStamp.

SUNSHINE

For the rhythm tone, set the amp to direct output, bypassing the cabinet altogether. It’s likely this was done with the amp or a pedal, but you’ll instantly hear the clarity and top end that Clapton gets from his guitar. For the lead tone, use the neck pickup, or the bridge pickup with the tone down to zero, or to taste. You can’t miss this epic sound. Enjoy!

  • VG402B Amplifier set to use the Normal channel
  • VG 4x12A 100W ’67 Cabinet
  •  WH100 Wah
  •  AMB400 Plate Reverb

Killer Queen

Import Preset: Killer QueenImport Preset: Killer Queen

Let’s take a quick look at one of the ultimate classic guitar tones, the one and only Brian May of Queen. We’ll spare you the history of the band, but if you’re not aware, do yourself of favor and look them up. Better yet, get yourself acquainted with their music.

In a rare moment for this business, Brian actually cut a near 30 minute video back in 1983 detailing how he achieved his now legendary sound. If you have the time, we highly recommend watching it.

Here are a few key points that we gleaned from watching the master at work:

  • uses AC30’s without Top Boost, can achieve a similar tone by playing through the Normal channel
  • starts with a really woolly tone and refines it using a Dallas Rangemaster Treble Booster
  • plays with a metal pick
  • adds a chorus pedal using two or more amplifiers for true stereo operation
  • also adds a delay pedal panning repeats to opposite amplifiers

Oh right, and Brian’s guitar is obviously a one-of-a-kind! But that’s OK. We’ve lined up a few of the required elements in AmpStamp:

  • VG302E Amplifier set to use the Normal channel
  • EQ100 Treble Boost
  • VG 4x12B 100W ’73 Cabinet for rhythm tones
  • VG 2x12C 30W ’67 Cabinet for lead tones
Killer Queen

Disable the boost for mellow cleans, tap into solo mode for blistering leads, and enable echo to bring in other-worldly harmonies while soloing. This preset has you covered for all occasions. We’ve also added room ambience to capture the studio sound found on recordings of rock bands during the mid-’70’s. But enough talking for now, check out how it sounds!

Import Preset: Killer QueenImport Preset: Killer Queen

AmpStamp 1.5 Presets

Welcome to AmpStamp 1.5! From proto punk and college rock, to rockabilly and psychedelia, we think you’re going to find endless inspiration from playing and tinkering. Here are some new and revised presets, with better accuracy, and more control over your tone.

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Import All 2 Revised PresetsImport All 2 Revised Presets


Raw Power

Proto punks. The godfathers of punk. The Stooges. We stumbled upon James Williamson’s lacerating tone from Raw Power, and we think you’ll agree, this tone cuts like a knife. Harnessing the unique sound of mixing elements of Vox and Marshall gear, Williamson found the perfect match to Iggy’s intense delivery. The only requirement is that you play it loud.

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Monster

By the time R.E.M. recorded their album Monster, they were looking for a new sound. Something harder, rockier, and faster paced. Guitarist Peter Buck found that in a small 2×12 combo known for its grit and particular voicing for guitar. Armed with only that amplifier, Buck would record instant classics, making use of the raw tone of the amplifier at full volume, as well as the novel vibrato channel.

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Slapback

Take a second to play this slapback tape delay and relive some of the finest moments recorded at Sun Studio. From Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis, to Johnny Cash, there’s a reason why musicians were clamoring for this new sound. Take what you can from it, and reinvent rock n’ roll once again.

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Sunshine

While recording their album Disraeli Gears, Cream, and specifically Eric Clapton, would truly push what a guitar could do in pop music. Taking cues from seasoned blues players, Clapton effortlessly weaved inspired lead lines into simple song structures that served as platforms for improvisation during their live shows. But what was even more interesting was that sound he was putting to tape. A guitar had never quite sounded like that, and hasn’t since, until now.

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Nellcôte II

Locked away from the rest of the world, living in hiding, living in excess. This was life for one of the most popular rock bands in history. Though the days may have blended into nights, interrupted by breakfast boats on the Italian Riviera, music happened. It needed to happen. It had to happen. And with a simple amplifier, a modest 2×12 combo, good times were rolling. Updated with speaker Color controls, for a darker, rounder tone, and Early Reflections to capture the sound of the studio.

Import Nellcôte IIImport Nellcôte II


Woodstock IV

Updated with a different amplifier and cabinet, and an improved, more accurate PH100 Phaser algorithm. As soon as you strike the first three notes of the Anthem, we think you’ll find that it can’t get any closer unless you happen to have the exact guitar that Hendrix used during performance. For the moment, this is one of rock’s all time greatest tones now available anywhere, anytime. Enjoy!

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AmpStamp 1.4 Presets

With the release of AmpStamp V1.4 we’d like to highlight a few sounds that combine some of the latest gear now available in the shop. We’ve added a classic tweed combo, another legendary 4×12 cabinet, one of the baddest fuzz effects, and the ultimate phaser. Let’s dig in!

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Immodium

What’s left to say about such a classic fuzz? We provided three of the most desired variations and in this preset are running the pedal through a hybrid combo for best tone. But the whole point is to find your own sound and I think it won’t be hard with this effect. Make sure to tweak the Miller capacitance setting under the More Control section.

Import this preset – ImmodiumImport this preset – Immodium


Two Speed

This phaser has turned up on more recordings than you would expect. From classic recordings in the 70’s considered cutting edge at the time to grunge rock artists in the 90’s probably looking to revisit the sounds they grew up hearing, it’s an endlessly fun pedal due mostly to its complexity of control. Stacking two phasers seems like a simple task but once you start experimenting you’ll see it’s easy to get lost in the details. Best advice is to forget about the signal path and focus on what sounds good to your ear.

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Larryland

When Mr. 335 came to this particular session it was just like any other. He grabbed his guitar, grabbed his amp, and headed over. What was not clear was that the combination of his signature “sweet” tone would explode when collided with the songwriting capabilities of the members of Steely Dan. Not to mention his ability to craft amazing lead lines over some of rock’s most complex progressions, it’s safe to say this classic studio tone is still in demand.

Import this preset – LarrylandImport this preset – Larryland


Lady

The mid-70’s… disco, electronic art music, “middle of the road,” acoustic jazz, it was an interesting decade. The “Me” decade. If musicians learned one thing from this time period it was that the fuzz goes after the phaser, but that wouldn’t be so for Ernie Isley. Wanting to take advantage of some of the latest effects technology for guitarists he would have to learn this lesson for himself. And with a top ten single we all got to experience this amalgamation. Considered a classic today, it’s now yours to avoid at all cost and secretly cherish at the same time.

Import this preset – LadyImport this preset – Lady

AmpStamp 1.3 Presets

With the release of AmpStamp V1.3 we’d like to highlight two sounds that combine some of the latest gear now available in the shop. We’ve added an earlier version of our classic non-master volume amplifier accompanied by its legendary cabinet, another classic 2×12 cabinet featured in several piggy back models of its era, a most recognizable tape echo, and our first foray into EQ effects. There is a lot to explore!

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Sol

Summer, 1967. AKA the Summer of Love. San Francisco, Golden Gate Park, Haight-Ashbury, and the Monterey Pop Festival. The 100W amplifier had just been perfected and many were eager to get them on the stages of performing musicians. What took place was the union of music and technology, sealed in a moment in time as music and technology would forever change after that. Call it by any name, the holy grail, woody tone, legendary, this is the sound at the birth of an extremely creative period of rock n’ roll.

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Nellcôte

Locked away from the rest of the world, living in hiding, living in excess. This was life for one of the most popular rock bands in history. Though the days may have blended into night, interrupted by breakfast boats on the Italian Riviera, music happened. It needed to happen. It had to happen. And with a simple amplifier, a modest 2×12 combo, and a little slapback echo, good times were rolling.

Import this preset – NellcôteImport this preset – Nellcôte

TapTone 1.2 Presets

In this post we will be looking at the next batch of presets available for TapTone Vintage Guitar. This collection of sounds showcases new amplifiers and cabinets available in Version 1.2 including one of the most famous non-master volume amplifiers and a controversial update to a vintage combo.

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Classic

This is rock and roll in one of its most purest forms. The amplifier: a late 1968-69 100W head. The cabinet: a 4×12 bottom loaded with blackbacks circa 1978. The sound: classic rock, hard rock, proto metal, early punk rock. Together this amplifier and cabinet combination became known as the half-stack, providing fuel for thousands of records featuring the electric guitar. Make sure to turn it up loud.

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Woodstock III

Our third iteration of Hendrix at Woodstock. As soon as you strike the first three notes of the Anthem, we think you’ll find that it can’t get any closer unless you happen to have the exact guitar that Hendrix used during performance. On one hand the cabinet dates from a period more than ten years later, but the speakers in question did not change significantly during that passage of time. For the moment, this is one of rock’s all time greatest tones now available anywhere, anytime. Enjoy!

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Magnolia

An excellent example of a pure amplifier with minimal effects. The ability to dial the Vibrato (which is really Tremolo) back to create a subtle shift in amplitude gives even the most simple passages an interesting sonic quality. As with any clean amplifier, pickup choice really shines through, giving more bite for lead work in the bridge position or getting a classic blues tone in the neck position.

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Surfing

Keeping the Treble control near its maximum value and dialing up some Reverb definitely brings to life the surf  rock sound that became popular in the early 1960’s. It’s an unmistakable sound once you hear the reverb coils shake with intensity from a single string run or a chord bent out of tune from the Tremolo bar (which is really a Vibrato bar). Throw a fuzz or crank the gain in front of the Reverb for even more strange sounds from a bygone era.

Import this preset – SurfingImport this preset – Surfing