Most amp sims load an amp and cabinet, and even let you choose different cabinets. But what if you have the ideal amp for your needs, but can’t find quite the right cabinet? Simple: Make your own.
For example, in Native Instruments’ Guitar Rig, I really like the Gratifier Amp’s “Modern” setting, but I’m not a big fan of the matched cabinet. Their “Citrus” amp cab often does what I need, but this particular song required a guitar sound with a beefy lower midrange to fill in the space between the bass and lead guitar/lead vocals, and a bit of an open-back cab effect to give more space to the bass. The Gratifier’s standard cab accented the upper mids, and sounded more brittle than I wanted. I tried EQ-ing the cab, but realized I needed a different cabinet entirely. Time for a virtual woodshop!
MAKING A CABINET
I loaded up the amp, and then used Cakewalk Sonar’s Quad- Curve EQ to create the cabinet (see screen shot). Of course, other EQs will work, but this one has built-in high- and low-pass filters capable of sharp cutoffs that are well suited to virtual cabinet making.
A physical cabinet takes off highs, so the first step was applying the lowpass filter with a steep, 48dB/octave slope to shave off the top end (and the amp sim harmonics). Cutting the mids around 1.3kHz (yellow curve in screen shot) reduced the upper mids, which made the lower mids in the 200Hz- 500Hz range more prominent. There was also a buzzy resonance at 2.9kHz, so I cut it with a steep, deep notch (green curve). Applying a mild bass rolloff with the highpass filter provided the open-back effect.
Due to rolling off the highs, adding the notch, and the residual effects of the midrange cut, the overall tone was a bit dull. Adding a high frequency boost with a shelving EQ (blue curve) took care of that, and my cabinet was complete. Fortunately, virtual glue dries immediately, so I was ready to record.
In this case, five stages of EQ did the job. Sometimes, I’ve needed to use more stages. However, it really is quite amazing how much you can tweak an amp sim using EQ and crafting your own cabinet. You can turn any amp into a scoopedmid metal machine, or restrict the frequency range for a more vintage sound. Sure, it’s convenient to load an included cab, but there’s much to be said for making your own.
Craig Anderton has played on or produced more than 20 major label releases, mastered hundreds of tracks, and written dozens of books. Check out some of his latest music at youtube.com/thecraiganderton.