Recording Metal Guitar Without a Guitar Amp and Mic: Guitar Amp Plugins

This is a method that I have been using a lot lately because I’m looking to get rid of my practice amp head that I use at home and also I’m lazy and don’t feel like miking the cabinet for my amp. But, I do actually prefer this way as opposed to using my amp because I have a greater amount of options and access to amp models that I wouldn’t necessarily have access to. Plus, I think it sounds better than the amp I have now. Currently my favorite is IK Multimedia’s Amplitube Metal but there are also a couple other great paid and free options out there. Two other great options that I use (Both are paid versions) are Native’s Instrument’s Guitar Rig 5 and Softube’s Metal Amp Room. I have also heard that LePou Plugin’s Guitar Amp Plugins sound really good too and they’re free. I will post a video below demoing some of the heavy guitar sounds you can’t get with some of the plugins. It’s a short sample of all the sounds you can get but it is a starting point and it will give you a reference.

So what will you need to get started?

  1. A Guitar (obviously)
  2. An Instrument Cable (again pretty obvious)
  3. An Audio Interface. I use the Steinberg Ci1 Audio Interface and I recommend it. It’s pretty easy to setup, I get good sound with it, and it has held up great.
  4. DI Box and XLR Cable (optional). I find that I get a slightly better sound when going through a DI box into the Audio Interface.
  5. Guitar Amp Plugin (Many different options available)
  6. You’re favorite DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) software. The DAWs that I use are Mixcraft, Pro Tools, and Ableton. Mixcraft is great for beginners (and intermediates alike) that use PC. There’s more of a learning curve with Pro Tools and Ableton and they take longer to get the feel of. But both are great if you’re looking to get into recording.

Plug your guitar instrument cable into your guitar and then into the audio interface instrument input (if you’re using a DI box in combination with your audio interface then plug your guitar cable into the instrument cable input on the DI box. Then from there plug one side of the XLR cable into the DI box and the other into your audio interface. Fire up your DAW, activate the plugin on the channel you’re intending to record on, enable record, and you’re good to go. Many of these plugins offer standalone versions as well. So you can use the amp plugin without using it in your DAW. Great for practicing and jamming.

Make sure you check out the video below to get an idea of the some of the sounds.

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