This screen shot shows the Cubase 5 audio plug-ins that make up the virtual guitar rack.
We all know the coolness of rack
systems systems—you mix and match your fave
components, then patch them together
optimally. Taking a cue from hardware,
some amp sim programs (like Native Instruments
Guitar Rig 4 and Peavey ReValver)
use the rack paradigm for assembling virtual
effects, amps, and cabinets into a “virtual
But there’s another option. Many
DAWs (Cubase, Sonar, Live, etc.) also let
you create virtual racks that go under various
names (track preset, track template,
etc.), but the idea is the same: You create
a collection of plug-ins, insert them in a
particular order, and tweak the parameters
to create your favorite tone as a starting
point. Even if you use amp sims, track
presets can come in very handy—maybe
you’d rather use a different reverb, or a
vintage compressor plug-in before the sim.
What’s more, you may not even need
an amp sim. Here’s how to create a cool
guitar rack in Steinberg’s Cubase 5, using
only effects included in the program. You
can play through it in real time if your
system latency is low enough, or apply it
to a dry guitar track while mixing.
Click the Edit button (e) for an audio
track to open up the VST Audio Channel
Click in the 1st insert field, and navigate
to Other > Tuner. This places a chromatic
tuner as the first “effect” in the chain.
Click in the 2nd insert field, then go
Dynamics > Vintage Compressor. Try these
settings: Input 17, Output -14, Attack
8.9, Punch and Auto On.
In the 3rd insert field, go Distortion >
SoftClipper (start with Input 6, Mix 55,
Output = 0, Second = 100, Third = 57).
Go Distortion > AmpSimulator for the
5th insert (leave the 4th insert empty in
case you want to add other pre-amplifier effects, such as Modulation, Octaver,
StepFilter, WahWah, etc.). There are 14
amp algorithms (and No Amp) with 10
cab options, as well as No Cab. Try the
settings in the screen shot, but above all,
In the 6th insert, go Spatial + Panner
> MonoToStereo. Start with Width 200,
Delay 10.0, Color 10, Mono off.
If you’re a fan of delay, go Delay >StereoDelay
for the 7th insert; leave insert 8
open in case you want to add an overall
effect, like reverb.
Enable the channel EQ, and add a
slight upper midrange boost so the guitar
“speaks” a little more.
Your rack’s ready to go—but there’s
one final step. To save your “virtual rack”
as a track preset, right-click in the associated
track’s header in the main project
window, select “Save Track Preset,” and
when the Save Track Preset dialog box
appears, name it and save it. Now you
can call up your rack any time you want,
for any audio track.