Guitar amps are one of the most interesting and popular topics in the guitar world. Due to their importance, they have historically been produced by many manufacturers, the most popular being Fender, Marshall, Vox, Roland, and others.
With the constant development of technology in this field, the types of amplifiers are divided into three stages, depending on the way they work and the period in which they were invented.
Chronologically they are divided into tube, solid-state, and modeling amps.
What Is A Modeling Amp?
The modeling (or digital) amp is the latest type of amplifier. When they first appeared, the sound they produced compared to tube amps was considered too synthetic.
Therefore, the initial impression of these amplifiers, especially among fans of the tube amps and the analog sound, was negative.
But it has been nearly two decades since the modeling amplifiers came about, which is more than enough time for them to correct their first impression and come closer to the competition.
The term modeling refers to digital imitation. Modeling amps are good at emulating or recreating the sounds and effects of guitar amplifiers, speaker cabinets, and effects pedals.
This process is known as DSP (digital signal processing). While they can mimic the sound of different amplifiers, the most impressive part is that they can all be housed in one unit.
Are Modeling Amps Good?
With the incredibly rapid advances in digital technology, modeling amps are getting better constantly. And they have indeed come a long way since they were first introduced to the public.
Normally, cheaper amps are usually targeted at beginners, which is understandable. And with their help, every new guitarist can experience the sounds of different types of amplifiers and effects to finally know exactly what equipment he will need to build his own sound.
However, cheaper modeling amps do not offer high-quality sound and usually sound synthetic and predictable.
But despite this, they are often the first choice for more experienced guitarists when it comes to traveling on gigs constantly.
It comes as no surprise that the higher the price, the higher the quality. The higher price you go you can really see how much modeling amps are worth, and what they are capable of.
Although it is too early to match the sound of the already tested and established tube amps, some modeling amplifiers and processors are almost there. We are currently witnessing a strong and very tight battle between the tube amps and the modeling amps.
So if you are not a sound fanatic, very often you will find yourself unable to tell the difference.
What Are The Benefits Of A Modeling Amp?
Designed to overcome the problems of their predecessors, and with technology on their side, modeling amps have many advantages.
They are lighter because lighter materials are used to produce the sound. The size of these amps depends largely on the speaker but generally, the newer speakers tend to be smaller but still have great power. So a fairly loud modeling amplifier can be a lot more compact and quite light to carry around compared to a tube amp with the same power.
Modeling amplifiers are also much more durable and do not require constant maintenance.
What really makes the case for the modeling amp is the combo of different presets and effects. There are three main sections to modeling amps.
First and foremost – equalizer
This includes knobs for adjusting volume, gain, treble, middle, and bass.
The second and most interesting part – presets
When it comes to the biggest manufacturers of guitar amps they have placed all the iconic models in this section. For example, with the Fender modeling amp, you can choose from a variety of sounds, such as Twin Reverb, Supersonic, Blues Deluxe, British 60 ”, British 80”, American 90 ”and Metal 2000.
The third section – effects
Here you will find the most basic guitar effects like chorus, flanger, phaser, tremolo, delay, looper, and reverb.
In combination with the footswitch, these amplifiers do not need any extra equipment and you will find that a guitar and a cable are all you need. This is most useful when you have a live performance and do not want to carry any extra equipment if you can easily go without it.
Thanks to the technology they use, modeling amps have many possibilities when it comes to efficiency and practicality.
They have digital connectivity options with other devices so you can easily create the sound you want in a studio or a gig.
They support a USB connection to your PC for your home studio.
You can also download legendary setups created by artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana, Joe Satriani, and many more.
They can also be ideal for practicing at home thanks to the aux input and Bluetooth so you can add backing tracks or songs to play along with.
The headphones output makes practicing even easier because it can be played at any time without disturbing the roommates or neighbors.
Is A Modeling Amp Worth It?
Even though they do come close, when it comes to sound quality we will have to wait a bit more for modeling amplifiers to surpass the legendary tube amps.
But they have quite a few advantages to them, they are cheaper and have the advantage in size, weight, durability, and versatility. This makes modeling amplifiers a good choice for any musician. They are ideal for beginners because of the possibility of experiencing different amplifications and effects.
The same goes for guitarists who constantly travel and play a lot of gigs. Modeling amps are light and easy to carry around.
Plus there are also a lot of contemporary guitar players that use modeling amps, which proves they are suitable for professionals as well.
So whatever your level is, modeling amps are definitely worth it.