Tutorials / 21 November 2018

Learn about effects: Amp simulators

There’s nothing like the feeling of 100w amp on top of a 4×12 cabinet roaring in front of you. It’s the “dream studio setup”, but let’s face it: today, convenience is king. We don’t all have the luxury of having ten different amps and cabs sitting around the studio waiting to be recorded.

That’s where amp simulators come in. Being able to have access to a whole range of amp models at a click of a button means you don’t have to splash out thousands of dollars on space hogging equipment.

What do Amp Simulators do?

As its name suggests, amp simulators emulate the sound and feel of recording through an amp.

But it’s a lot more than just that. Amp sims are designed to emulate the entire recording setup of traditional amps – from the type of head used, the amp settings, the cabinet, and even the type of microphone used.

Using the Amp Simulators

Legendary guitarists are known for their iconic tones – largely thanks to their amps. Stevie Ray Vaughan with his Fender Blackface, Angus Young and his 100w Marshall Plexis, and so on.

One of the biggest advantages of using an amp sim is the multitude of amp models available to you. Want a roaring classic rock sound? Try picking a British-style amp. For the bayou-esque sounds of CCR, the Vintage Tweed-style amps might fit the bill.

On BandLab, almost all of the guitar effect presets include an amp sim – the Root Rock Crunch preset has a Classic Twin paired with a 4×12 cab, and the Metal Tone preset has a Dual Rectifier amp setting for a heavy, aggressive sound.


Just like recording an amp in a studio, there are many parameters you can tweak. On the web Mix Editor, you can further tweak these presets, or build your own effects chain with an amp sim from scratch.

Before we begin, make sure you’re recording a Guitar track (click Add Track, and select Guitar) as the presets and effects are only available on the Guitar tracks.

Select a preset, then click Effects at the bottom left corner of the screen. You’ll have access to the effects used on that preset and get to tweak the parameters there.

To start from scratch, click Effects, and then Add Effect. In the drop-down menu, select Guitar Amp. You’ll find a number of parameters:

  1. The Drive controls the amount of clipping that the signal goes through. Simply put it, it refers to the intensity of the distortion/overdrive
  2. The 3-band EQ lets you control the Bass, Mids, and Treble frequencies
  3. The Presence control boosts the high frequencies in a way the Treble control cannot. It gives a wild, raspy quality to you sound
  4. The Master volume controls the overall level of the output. Increase this for a volume boost.
  5. You can choose from four different amp models, from Classic Brit, Cali Cab, Classic American, Vintage Tweed.

For even higher levels of customisation, you can select Amp Pro, which has a more extensive selection of amp models to choose from. Pair this up with Cabinet which lets you pick the type of cab and speaker used, or Cabinet Pro, which goes even further by letting you choose the microphone and its placement.

Watch this space for more crash courses on the huge bundle of effects we pack into our Mix Editor.


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