The free version of Amplitube has is pretty generous with three guitar amps as well as a bass amp. The guitar amps are:

American Tube 1 (or, if you prefer,  Fender Super Reverb

Amplitube have been using a version of this model for years but have really nailed it in this incarnation. it is impossibly fruity and full sounding, it really loves a strat neck pickup, but then, so do we all. Every clean Hendrix tone is right there but switch to the bridge and you have a lovely compressed, snappy sound, ideal for funk. But for country, I think I prefer….

American Tube 2 (Fender Deluxe Reverb 65)

This is a crystal-clean amp with a harder edge than the Tube 1. Where the Tube 1 is all shimmer and warm glow, this has a sparklier, spikier tonality. Totally clean, there is a much more aggressive tone that I think works better for a cutting country solo.

Both these amps have a ton of clean headroom (you’ll need a OD model for any real dirt), but think of the Tube 1 as the sweet girl next door, Tube 2 as her reform school cousin.

British Tube Lead 1 (Marshall JCM800)

If you’ve ever played an ampsim, you’ve played a million versions of this. And it has always been a tough one to pull off. Jamup can do it, Tonestack can do it, and finally after a decade, Amplitube have nailed it. Its brilliant. The clean tone is tougher, more focused than the Fender models. It lacks the glassy shimmer but there is a gruffer, blusier note that is very effective (the free version of Tonestack has a model that is – to these ears- even better)

Ramped up, there is a warm, full tone that has a lot of weight and a real sense of depth. It’s the overdriven sounds that so often tax ampsims. Glassy cleanness or insane metal rage, no problems,  but the warm, organic tones of a mild-to- moderate distortion seems to be much tougher. This model is pretty good at this, and certainly is a big step forward for Amplitube. It is not the best I’ve heard (Bias and Tonestack are better on IOS, Swaffham is better on the PC) but it is a competent , usable tone.

Amplitube does offer limited swapping of valve models, preamps and EQs. It add a little variety to the tone but does not change the essential character of the amps. It is not Bias but it is a nice touch.

Effects

With the free package, you get a Delay. What my research (eg, looking it up on Google) suggests is that this is not modeled on any particular delay. What it is, is a very warm, analog model, the Tube 2 and this set on a slap-back setting is particularly good for your Brian Setzer licks. But it’s also a very good pedal for that soupy mid-70’s Gilmour sound. It’s a cracking, unpretentious little model.

The free distortion pedal is a little unusual, described as a Diode Overdrive, it’s a snappy, sharp little thing with a lot of volume boost and a biting overdrive rather than a full on distortion. I felt it was a little too bright and harsh with the Fender models but it got on with the Marshall very well indeed, giving it a very well defined grunt with clear trebles and mids. A very traditional ’70’s rock sound – and there is nothing wrong with that.

More? You get a compressor which was a little too subtle  and a little too bass-heavy for me and a 7 Band Equalizer which…..equalized. Actually, it is a pretty good EQ even if the graphics were a little too small.

In the filter section IK give you a very. very good wah pedal. In terms of tone, I’d say it was much nearer Isaac Hayes than Hendrix and I felt it favoured a clean single-coil rather more than a driven humbucker. But then, that funk wah has always been something I’ve loved. Don’t worry if that is not your wah bag as IK will sell you many other flavours of the mighty wah.

The Chorus provided is a very warm, fluid sounding one (in fact there is a retro, analog feel to pretty much everything here – the designers seem to be channeling 1976 in a big way)) it is intensely musical with a lovely long sustain to the effect. Clean through the  Tube 1 is simply gorgeous. The Flanger seems to have been voiced in the same way and has the same mature sensitivity about it – it is pretty difficult to get that notorious helicopter tone out of this, everything it does is tasteful, restrained and effective.

IK have been pretty generous with the modulation effects as you also get an Opto Tremelo. This is a very soft warm sounding unit that goes with the general vibe of this collection but may be too soft for some – you cannot get that How Soon is Now? tone out of this one.

IK are also handing out a load of rack style effects as well. The Digital Delay is a totally different beast to the delay foot pedal. It’s firmly in the digital camp and is very simple to operate and yet can create a range of soundscapes with a huge degree of character. You can select stereo, mono, left or right channel. There is also a brilliant filter knob that can alter the tone of the delayed signal, it works brilliantly. I loved playing single lines with a long delay with the top filtered out  -sounded brilliant. There is also a simple and transparent Parametric Eq.

IK have presented us with an awful lot of free stuff here and it is also a package packed with quality. There are simply no weak models here (that is not something I could say about Revalver 4). Perhaps one could argue that the whole package had too much of a 70’s analog character, but then it is a joy just to get something that does have that rare thing – character. It’s by far the best sounding version of Amplitube I’ve ever played and I’ve not come across a desktop ampsim that sounds as good for no money. Download it, try it and unless you play djent and nothing else, I’m pretty sure you’ll love it.

You can find it here….

Of course the free stuff is just a cunning ploy to get you hooked. Once they have you, then they’ll want you to get the expensive stuff, all that lovely Orange, Hendrix and Slash gear. But is that any good?

Check in for the next thrilling installment…..

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