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Great Guitar Tone with IK Multimedia Amplitube: The Official Guide Paperback – March 15, 2011
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Introduction. 1. The Guitar. 2. Monitoring. 3. The Audio Interface. 4. Monitoring. 5. The Amp. 6. The Cabinet. 7. Miking. 8. Effects. 9. Routing. 10. Style Tips.
About the Author
Michael Ross is a musician/writer/producer living in New York City. He has toured the United States, as well as Cuba, Norway, Puerto Rico, and Iceland, playing everything from blues and country to avant-pop and electronica. Michael has authored two books: Getting Great Guitar Sounds and All About Effects. He contributes to Guitar Player magazine, Premier Guitar, Guitar Edge, EQ, Electronic Musician, In Tune, Sound On Sound, and Gearwire.com. As a producer, Michael has recorded artists in San Francisco and New York. He has also taught guitar and lectured at the Blue Bear School of Music in San Francisco.
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The author takes you step by step through the entire setup and then has a great section walking you through the different amp models and what actual gear they are based on. My only complaint has to do with how the book itself is bound. It's hard to get it to sit flat when opened. I took it to Kinko's where I had the spine cut off and had it spiral bound for about $8. I do this with all of my musical workbooks. I know it seem like a big extra expense but it makes them SO much easier to use as I can open it to any page, it will lay flat and I can leave it open to that page to come back to later. It also makes the book last longer as your not bending the spine all of the time to get it to stay open to a page. Well worth the added expense in my opinion.
It's obvious a lot of work went into putting this together. I had a ton of fun going through it and I went from just being able to scratch the surface of the capabilities of this amazing piece of software to really feeling like I have a good understanding of how to get the most out of it. What more can you ask from a software tutorial?
Would I buy this book again. Absolutely. IK Multimedia really ought to offer a bundle with it included.
It really is the missing manual!
Before becoming a strictly-digital tone-cowboy, I owned a lot of cool real world gear: a Gibson solid-state Lab combo amp (100 watt, 2 x 12"), a Marshall solid-state combo amp (100 watt, 2 x 12"), a Fender Bassman re-issue combo amp ("Blues Deville" 80 tube watt, 2 x 12"), a Peavey practice amp, and last, and in my mind least, a 50 tube watt, 2 x 12" Silvertone "stack." I also had the privilege of owning early versions of the Electro Harmonix Big Muff Fuzz, Little Muff Fuzz, and Small Stone Phaser, plus an MXR Phase 100, a Boss chorus and a Boss delay, all beside a Vox Cry-Baby wah wah. I have also had the pleasure of owning a 1968 Gibson Firebird, a 1971 Stratocaster, a 1977 Gibson L6-Deluxe, and a 1991 Kramer Pro-Axe, plus a Shure SM57 mike.
Despite having access to so much great gear, I have always considered tone to be the weakest link in my playing. Not anymore!!! I have been using both Amplitube and Guitar Rig since they came out (and a few eminently forgettable precursors). Having gotten used to the flexibility and breadth of tone that can now be achieved by amp and effects modeling (not to mention the now stunning realism), I will never go back to real world gear (which is good, because I sold it all). And, between Amplitube and Guitar Rig, I favor Amplitube for its intuitive interface and, mostly, its sound. It has always sounded more "real" to me than Guitar Rig, especially as I favor high-gain tones, something that Amplitube got right from the beginning, and that Guitar Rig had to catch up to later. I am now the proud owner Amplitube 2, Amplitube 3 free, Amplitube Metal, Amplitube Jimi Hendrix, and Amplitube Slash, due to IK Multimedia's recent insane summer promotions.
So, with this mind-numbing lineup of Amplitube gear, I figured it was time for a book. And man, is this a good one. I honestly believe that a totally real-world equipment oriented guitarist could learn heaps about amps and effects, not to mention miking and cabinets from this book. That's because the author goes through every amp head, cabinet, microphone, stomp box and rack effect and tells you what real world model it is based on and what it is best at. He even goes into details about what tubes are used and how they are wired, or what circuitry the different effects use to create their unique sound. Holy Crap! I have been playing for literally decades on real-world gear, even owned a number of the items he was describing, yet I had none of the knowledge that was so clearly and succinctly presented in this book.
The miking section was particularly eye-opening to me, as I have avoided that panel like the plague - LOL! I was recently playing one of my favorite presets (Heavy Northern), which uses the Eddie Van Halen Peavey 5150 amp - tons of bottom, too much really, not enough definition. I was up to 4 named tweaks before reading the book. After reading the book, it occurred to me that maybe the mike was the problem. So I went in and swapped out the Condenser 414 for a good old Shure SM57 (Dynamic 57 in Amplitube), and wham, the tone immediately cleaned up. I renamed this tweak #5 in the series and went back and looked at tweak #4 and found that I was using a pretty radically set EQ in the stomp section to try to clean the sludge. Exactly as the book states, if you are working on a patch and you have to radically EQ it, chances are you are using something "wrong" in the signal chain and should look for that. In this case, it was the mike. Goodbye EQ stomp!
I have since created Heavy Northern #6, where I re-inserted the Condenser 414 mike and moved it directly behind the 57, but further away from the cabinet. That tweak gave me back a little of the balls I lost when I cleaned out the sludge. Ecstatic, I went into Amplitube's Custom Shop and bought all the mikes I didn't currently own, again thanks to another of IK Multimedia's recent insane summer promotions (this one a buy 1 get 3 free gear credits group buy).
As you can tell, I could go on forever. But do yourself a favor, two actually: Buy this book and always sign up for email notices from your favorite software manufacturers. I RARELY buy software anywhere near retail due to the practically never-ending deals offered by my favorite software manufacturers through their email updates.