PSA: amp-in-a box to amp sim FTW!

So the latest amp sims are great but . . . there’s still something missing. Always some fizz and the noise levels are insane. Then I thought, why not use a good clean sim as a pedal platform and use a solid-state preamp simulator (commonly called “amp in a box”?

So I grabbed my Angry Charlie and the results were good; nice smooth lead sound but not enough gain for single coils. I never need much of an excuse to buy another pedal so I ordered a Friedman BE-OD, OMG it’s amazing. I can use the same setting for rhythm and lead: plenty of crunch and clarity for riffs, still silky smooth for leads.

And for single coil guys, there is plenty of gain.

Noise levels are a tiny fraction of what you’d get from any amp sim I’ve ever used, and I’ve used a ton.

I’m using Neural DSP Tone King MK2, I think it’s ideal for this sort of thing as it’s a Fender style sim with minimal EQ.

The Friedman is expensive but absolutely nothing can touch it IMO; amazing.

I rarely gravitate toward pedals for distortion, but even I have to admit, the BEOD was very tempting. I’d love to check out the latest SLO pedal from Soldano - again one of the few pedals I might consider!

The BE-OD is totally unlike any pedal I’ve used, it doesn’t work like a Tube Screamer or something that just adds drive. Also the sound totally depends on what you’re running it into; I tried it with other amp sims and the results are hit-and-miss, the Tone King is a Fender-style simulator which makes sense, the BE-OD is designed to replace the preamp in a Fender style amp and turn it into a fire-breathing metal machine. For what I want it just kills the JHS Angry Charlie which is really saying something.

Seriously I can’t go back to using amp sims for gain, the noise and fizz are beyond annoying.

Cool idea! I’ve been looking to get myself a basic home recording setup and use a Boss HM-2 with a power amp sim like Jason Frankhouser does here (I’d use my SD-1 as a boost,though): BOSS HM-2 HEAVY METAL PLUS FORTIN GRIND = SICK! - YouTube

Do you plug your Friedman straight into the audio interface?

Thanks for the link, that guy really knows how to do a demo; tons of info packed into five minutes and his playing is great. Yes I’m using the Friedman into a Scarlett 2i2 which I highly recommend; no need to spend tons of money on an interface.

It’s tough to say what the best way is, I’m going into a Neural Tone King plugin which simulates both pre- and power-amp, whereas the Two Notes doesn’t simulate the preamp at all. It may work even better though, tough to say.

When it comes to plugins, always wait for a sale. Half-price sales are common, that’s how I wound up with the Tone King; wasn’t really looking for a clean amp but now that’s my main setup. To be clear the Tone King is the only one that does what I want, even on clean the Fortin and Soldano sound like bees-in-tinfoil with the Friedman.

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The BEOD is a good pedal in all regards.

Here’s my experience with sims.

Ive probably tried everything out there by this time.

The thing that bothered me most was getting a realistic situation in the softamp world with out a reference.

What I mean is i was yet to play a real 100 watt plexi into 4x12, (inset your most desired target amp). So I had no frame of reference about how it really feels regarding compression, pick attack, transients etc.

Until I did manage to get/ own my dream rig.

So before the real rig when I had the Kemper etc, I was always guessing. This includes almost every plugin as well.

My power tubes died and my buddy who i get my amp work done with is out of town and will be for a while. I had to find an alternative. Tried a few of the latest sims, meh, lower strings sounded flabby.

Then I remember to try s-gear which I used to great effect way back. I have no affiliation but gwad damn, their new pedal is incredible with the stealer amp. I got Cesario Filos IR set he just released, I’m pretty shocked at how close it is to the real thing. I’m not missing my amp, and that’s saying something.

I posted a clip of s-gear a few days ago, it was before the third party IR and my fine tuning, it didn’t need much to be honest, the IR pack was the last nail. I will post an updated clip later today.

They have a trial, it’s worth a shot.

About using drive pedals into an interface, i tried it with. Revival drive etc, but after using s-gear’s new (v3.0) and it’s new soft drive pedal, it eliminates all need of using a physical drive pedal. The thing with goosing a plexi is hitting the pre amp hard, this cannot be done with any interface. It’ll just clip in a bad way.

The sim feels good, sounds good. Hope you guys give it a shot.

@Twangsta Could you go a bit more on details about your S-GEAR 3.0 setup? I’ve been playing for a while and looking for an upgrade to BIAS FX 2 and the USB speakers I got when I first started playing. What speakers and/or headphones do you use? Is S-GEAR versatile when it comes to different playing styles, i.e. clean, rock and metal? And for the IR set you are talking about, where did you obtain it? I tried looking around for it and I didn’t find anything. Thanks in advance.

This what I can post atm, I’ll add more later. I can attest to what you are hearing here is legit.


To be clear I’m not talking about using a regular overdrive into an overdriven amp, I’m using a preamp simulator into a clean amp-sim. The Tone King is the only one that works at all for what I want, sounds like an Angry Charlie (or whatever) into a Fender-style amp. You’re correct that overdriving the sound card is a bad idea but you can push a Plexi Simulator; the JHS AT comes with a built-in boost just for that.

The S-gear demo does sound good, sadly my ancient Mac doesn’t use the M1 chip so S-gear won’t run on it. Looking forward to seeing what others make of it, I did try S-gear but that was a long time ago.

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I’ve been there too, that’s one of the reasons I’d got a simplifier DLX to get past all this computer dependency. My computer situation was iffy for a few years. It’s a very good unit by itself, I had mostly given up on amp sims for the most part.

Was pleasantly surprised by the low latencies the M1 mac has been giving me with my old RME interface.

Amidst all the darkness that lurches around in broad daylight these days, guitar players sure have a lot excellent options at most price points these days. Though prices are off the charts, there is that.

edit: I would recommend Cesario Fhilo’s IR set though, a bit pricey but damn good tones.

Here are two clips, clean and dirty.

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Hi Twangsta, I’m also using S-Gear 3.0 with the similar settings and was thinking about buying the IR from Cesario so I’m glad to read your post!

Would you mind sharing your presets and explain how to use those IRs?

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Sure thing bro, you can PM me. Do download all the free presets that they have for 3.0 as well, they’re great starting points.

@Twangsta you speak the truth, the new S-gear is awesome. Finally replaced my old Mac (goodbye, annoying beach-ball!) and I’m just cycling through presets but two things really struck me:

-The edge-of-breakup just kills, never in my life have I heard that glassy Fender sound from a sim.

-Every setting will accept pedals. Clean or slightly distorted, I can use my botique amp-in-a-box without it turning to sludge or bees-in-tinfoil.

BTW for anyone using it on Mac, it defaults to try using two inputs and won’t work. Why they don’t say I’ll never know, every Mac user has to do a search and find out the hard way, turn off the right mic in S-Gear Preferences.

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They have a free trial. I have been playing around with it, lots of cool tones!

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Prepping my travel rig, played with the eq a bit, it’s less shouty in my headphones. The challenge was to balance the bridge and neck pickup, it’s ok for now, just got to play over the neck pickup with brighten it up a bit when you need it.

Added a bit of drive on the drive thru pedal to compensate for the dulling with the eq, addes a bit of compression for a better feel while playing.

I’m routing my cabs to three outs L, C & R. Not sure if this is necessary.

What do you guys think?

added some delay and cleaned up a bit with eq.


Sounds great! My favourite amp from S-gear is the Wayfarer for rhythm but I like the Stealer for lead; nice and snarly with a very convincing loud-amp-in-the-room vibe.

The Wayfarer has a little more pick noise, I bet I can use a parametric EQ to dial that out though.

This is the only amp sim I’ve used that passes the headphone-acid-test; lots of sims can sound OK in a mix but just guitar into headphones always sounds either shrill or muddy to me.

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Sounds good. Don’t underestimate how much of an effect your headphones can have on eq. Idk how SGear works, but you can prob look up your headphones EQ correction curve online somwhere and then apply that correction to the sim for a flatter response

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@Twangsta I think your tracks sound great.

I’m in love with s-gear so far. I paid for the license, messed around a little bit with some cleanish-almost-breaking-up chords, going into a lead. There is lots of potential here once I get more used to the controls.


Sounds great, I notice with your and Twnagsta’s clips you can really hear the guitar and the playing; personality comes through, which is really what we want from sims. Do you mind sharing your settings for that demo?

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If you DM me your email address I can send you the exported settings files.

Or here are screenshots to get you in the ballpark. Both of them were based on stuff I downloaded (free) from the s-gear site.



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