Fortin NTS and Nameless: Brutal Metal Tones (Neural DSP Amp Sims)

Is it possible to get a brutal metal tone with amp sims? Technology has indeed come a long way but most amp sims fall short when it comes to metal (what I really mean is most of them completely suck!)

There are only a small handful of amp sims that truly work for metal. And there's two particular sims that stand-out - Neural DSP's Fortin Nameless and NTS amp sims. 

In this post, I'm going to share my metal tone settings and give you a full review of both the Fortin NTS and Nameless amp sims.  I'll also include videos where you can hear these tones (with both 6 and 7 string guitars!). And you'll find several of my hidden recording tips within the post...

Fortin NTS and Nameless Amps and Features

Funny story (intimate background music playing) - I downloaded the demo versions of both NTS and Nameless, and played through each one for about a week. 

I was pretty impressed with both, but I didn't want to cough up the money right away for both sims. For my style of playing, NTS seemed to fit me best. 

I pulled the trigger and bought the NTS, only to find out I actually bought the Nameless plugin instead by accident! Ahhhh!!! Okay, okay - so it wasn't the end of world... 

Sticking to my decision (temporarily) to only buy one, I immediately started digging into Nameless. It took me a little time to really dial in a tone that suited my ears and I began to realize I was getting a particular sound that I've never gotten before. This is something I look for in tones - creating a tone that doesn't sound like everyone else

***I encourage this philosophy, big time. Too many guitarists waste time trying to dial in a Killswitch Engage tone or a Megadeth tone, or whatever. Why do you want to sound like someone else?? Why not create your own sound instead? - End of rant!

A couple of weeks later I purchased NTS, and here we are today jamming through two killer metal amp sims

But before we get into my personal settings using these sims, let's break down the differences between Fortin NTS and Fortin Nameless and go over some of the features.

Fortin Nameless

Neural DSP Fortin Nameless

The best way I can describe the Fortin Nameless amp sim is it has this particular bite to it. This gives it a unique tone, and I don't really know what to compare it to other than the actual Fortin amp, which I've never played through (I need to change that!)

Nameless has 2 gain stages, and I think this is where that 'bite' comes from. It also have a dominating presence that allows your guitar to really cut through the mix with clarity. 

It's built for metal, but you can also get some cool classic thrash metal and hard rock tones from it. And when you back off the gain, you open up even more possibilities in style. So on that note (no pun intended), Nameless is quite diverse for a metal amp sim.

You can learn more about Fortin Nameless at the Neural DSP website: https://neuraldsp.com/products/fortin-nameless-suite/

Fortin NTS

Neural DSP Fortin NTS

Fortin NTS is the most brutal metal amp sim I've ever recorded with. It has this awesome mid-range that gives you that powerful, chunky tone. And talk about gain...it's like going to the gym and 'making gains, bro' (sorry for the pun!)

Although the NTS isn't quite as diverse as Nameless in regards to style, you have more options to shape your tone. To compliment it's gain, you have these extra knobs called 'Girth' and 'Grind.' You can play around with those for days. 

The NTS sim also has a second channel. This is more for a cleaner, lighter tone. I haven't messed around with it too much, as it's hard to get away from channel 1.

It's like having craft beer for the first time (channel 1); you just can't go back to the lighter stuff (channel 2). That probably wasn't the best analogy, but you get it, hopefully

This amp sim is perfect for our extreme genres of metal such as death metal, melodic death metal, and metalcore. You can really pull off any modern metal tone with it. 

You can learn more about Fortin NTS at the Neural DSP website: https://neuraldsp.com/products/fortin-nts-suite/

Fortin Cabs and Mics

Neural DSP Fortin cabinet and mic - settings for Guitar 2

Now THIS is where most amp sims fail - cabinets and mics. You could flawlessly model the circuitry of a real tube amp but if you're off on the cab and mics, it's going to sound like crap.

It would be like having the most beautiful boyfriend or girlfriend, but they're a complete total jerk (or the 'C' word if you want to go there!) - yeah, it just ruins what could be awesome. 

In my opinion, this is one of Neural DSP's strong points. And realistically I think the creators knew that if they were going to model something like Fortin amps, they had to go all the way with the full package. 

At first glance you may be wondering why there aren't more cabinet choices. And I wonder if at some point they will add this as an upgrade.

However, I would personally rather have one amazing sounding metal cab than 10 mediocre cabs. You do have several mic choices, and you can get wide range of tonal changes with those.  

Jason's Recording Tip:

As I record two rhythm guitar tracks and hard pan each, I'll like to have a slightly different tone for that 2nd guitar. 

In this case, I'll just use a different mic set. Having that subtle difference in guitar tones adds so much depth and fullness to your mix. I'll get into the mic combinations more when we talk about my personal settings.

*If you want more tips on recording guitarist, I wrote a full guide for you on this post: Complete Home Recording Studio Guide for Metal Guitarists

Fortin Stomp Boxes

Neural DSP Fortin pedals

Both Nameless and NTS come equipped with three stomp boxes for more gain and tone shaping: ZUUL, Hexdrive, and Grind

After messing around with these, I've gotten the best (and tightest) tones using a combination of two. What you see above is the ZUUL and Grind being used together. And that's more than enough to clean up your tone (remember, these amp sims are created to act like real amps)

*I don't mess around with pedals too much. I like to keep things as simple as possible, so my review on these pedals isn't as detailed. 

VIDEO: Fortin NTS VS Nameless

Are you ready to hear both the Fortin NTS and Nameless amp sims in the same video? Of course you are...

I'm giving you three different metal tones in this video:

  1. Fortin Nameless
  2. Fortin NTS
  3. Both together in the same song!

*If you go to YouTube, click on the description and you'll see the times where each tone starts! And please make the world a better place by sharing my video (and this blog post too!). 

My Nameless Tone Settings

Now let's get down to the details of my Nameless amp and EQ settings. What I'm sharing is what you just heard in the video above. 

Remember, I record two rhythms tracks. My amps settings are the same. What changes from one track to the other is the mics. And I'll actually cover that below after going through my amp settings for both Nameless and NTS.

Amp and EQ Settings

  • Off/On Switch: ON!! (okay okay...bad joke)
  • Master Volume: 6.2
  • Presence: 3.8
  • Bass: 3.8
  • Middle: 6 
  • Treble: 6.5 
  • Gain II: 8
  • Gain I: 7.8 

*For some amp sims I cut the bass some to leave room for my bass guitar and drum tracks. Your bedroom tone is much different from the tone you'll use in the overall mix. 

My NTS Amp Settings

My NTS amp and EQ settings aren't much different from my Nameless settings. And that's kind of normal for me. There's just a few adjustments I made, and I'll go over those below. 

Amp and EQ Settings

  • Channel: 1
  • Girth: 7
  • Grind: 6.3
  • Gain: 6.5
  • Volume: 6 
  • Bass: 6 
  • Middle: 4
  •  Treble: 7
  •  Depth: 7.5 
  • Presence: 6.5
  • Master (of Puppets!...lol, another bad pun!): 4.5 

*The Fortin NTS (in my opinion) sounds better with the presence boosted, mids cut, and bass slightly boosted. These are the core differences between my NTS and Nameless metal tones.

My Nameless Cab and Mic Settings

I use the same cab and mic settings for both Fortin NTS and Nameless:

  • Rhythm guitar 1 (panned left)
  • Rhythm guitar 2 (panned right)

For the sake of simplicity, the screenshots below are using the NTS amp. 

Guitar 1: Cab and Mic

Neural DSP Fortin cabinet and mic - settings for Guitar 1
  • Mic 1: Dynamic 57
  • Mic 2: Ribbon 160

I almost always use the Shure SM57 mic sim of pretty everything (and every amp simulator). In fact, if I only have a choice of using just one mic, it's going to be that one, 90% of the time.

I don't know if that's because of my own cognitive bias, or if that mic sim truly sounds better to me! 

In this case, I used the 'Ribbon 160' mic sim, which is modeled after the Beyerdynamic M 160 mic (I hope I'm right on this!). 

I tested my tone using other combinations and this one was by far the most pleasing to my ears! 

Guitar 2: Cab and Mic

Neural DSP Fortin cabinet and mic - settings for Guitar 2
  • Mic 1: Dynamic 57
  • Mic 2: Dynamic 57

For my 2nd guitar track, I just made one slight change. I used the Dynamic 57 (SM57 mic sim) for both speakers!

This tone mixed in with the other guitar just came together beautifully in the mix. And that's what it's all about - what sounds best in the final mix, and for that specific song! 

My First Neural DSP Fortin Demos

Now I want to take you back to my original metal tone testing videos I did for NTS and Nameless! There's also some great info about each amp sim, and I share screenshots of my settings within each video (my settings are not much different from what you heard/saw above)

VIDEO: NTS 6 String Demo

This is my very first video demoing the Neural DSP Fortin NTS. I saw that most videos and tone demos were done with either 7 string guitars or downtuned guitars. So I wanted everyone to hear what this amp sounded like using a 6 string in standard tuning

VIDEO: NTS 7 String Demo

After doing the 6 string demo of the Fortin NTS, I knew I needed to put something out there using my 7 string guitar. So about a week later, I recorded this...

**Read about my tips on transitioning from a 6 string to a 7 string guitar in this post: How to Transition from 6 to 7 String Guitar: 3 Simple Tips

VIDEO: Nameless 6 and 7 String Demo

About a month after recording my first videos for Fortin NTS, I wanted to put something out there featuring the Nameless amp sim metal tones.

And I compiled both 6 and 7 string guitar tones in this video. 

**Forgive my voice in this video! I was recovering from a pretty bad cold at the time!

Best Metal Amp Sims?

Over my many years of being a metal guitarist, I've never really been a 'fanboy' of any particular guitar, amp, or gear in general. And making a statement that any product is 'the best' is extremely relative. 

But I will say this - Neural DSP filled in a tremendous gap we had in the world of amp simulators. There's never been a true amp sim that was created specifically for metal.

To me, metal is a genre that needs special attention. And this is why most amp sim companies fall short when it comes to metal tones. They try to please the masses by modeling a ton of amps for every genre. 

So I admire Neural DSP for focusing not only on creating a true metal amp simulator, but narrowing it down to modeling one of the most brutal sounding metal amp manufacturers around - Fortin.  ​

At this point in time, I've never played through an actual Fortin amp (believe I said this earlier...I need to change that!!). So I can't attest to whether these sims play and feel like the real thing.

But what I do know is that the Fortin NTS and Nameless amp sims are pro quality and perfect for any genre of metal. In fact, I wish I had stumbled upon the sims before I had recorded my most recent album. I would have more than likely have used the NTS for my rhythm tracks. 

Let me know what you think about NTS and Nameless by leaving a comment below!

Keep it Metal,

Jason

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How to Transition from 6 to 7 String Guitar: 3 Simple Tips

Are you just starting to transition from 6 to 7 string guitar? Or are you thinking about making the jump? (If you're thinking about, just do it...and read this now, and again after you get it).

There are some challenges that come with that extra string! And if you're a beginner 7 string guitarist, you've definitely experienced this. But that's ok...I'm here to help you! 

In this post, I'm going to show you exactly to get used to playing your 7 string, and how to become a better 7 string guitarist, faster! 

You Got a 7 String, Now What?

Transition from 6 to 7 string guitar jason stallworth

The majority of us guitar players start out on a 6 string. Hey, it makes sense, right? You've got to learn the basics.

But you wanted something heavier. Welcome to the world of 7 string metal! 

There are some challenges you may face with your new 7 string though. They are:

  • 7 strings just feel weird at first
  • You keep screwing up trying to play your usual 6 string metal riffs
  • It's difficult to play chords (you keep fretting the wrong strings)
  • That extra 'B' string keeps getting in the way!
  • You almost feel like you're a beginner guitar player again

I experienced all of these things the first time I played my 7 string. But it's going to be ok, I promise! In the most cheesy words of Bon Jovi, 'I'll be there for you,' and these tips you're about to learn are going to help!

7 String Guitarist Problems (This May Piss You Off a Little)

When you first start playing a 7 string guitar, you have the tendency to only play those heaviest notes possible.

I'm just going to say it - that will to lead to complete musical boredom! Yes, I realize we're playing metal here but you still want to have some diversity in your music and songs. 

The other problem I see with beginner 7 string guitarists is, because they're addicted to those heavy notes, they tend to overplay those notes. Soon, their sound becomes robotic and everything sounds the same (...yawn)

Some bands do this as well, albeit probably by design. And they kill their opportunities for riffing - they're just playing a few open notes or power chords for the sake of sounding heavy. 

That also leads to musical boredom! Don't just hang on those heavy notes. Throw in some other progressions, higher notes and power chords, and metal riffs

Never stop riffing

Preliminary Step - Put Your 6 String Away

This may be an obvious step, but I'm going to ask you to put your 6 string guitar(s) away for awhile. 

Why??

Because you need to dedicate every second of your practice time to your 7 string.

If you try to flop back and forth between your 6 string and 7 string, it's going to hold you back.  Just trust Jason on this (that was in third-person cause it just seemed like the right thing to do)

ESP LTD M-1000 Deluxe 6 string guitar

1 - Don't Touch that B String (Yet)

"What?? That's the reason I got a 7 string - to play the B string! Jason, in the words of Napoleon Dynamite, you're a friggin' idiot!"

One of the major challenges I had when I first got my 7 string was playing songs I would normally play on my 6 string. That 7th string kept getting in the way, and for a moment I went into a time lapse to where I picked up the guitar for the first time! It was weird.

I kept screwing up, even playing my own songs that I had written (on a 6 string). And my goal was to add that 7th string into some of my songs that I was writing for an album, but I didn't want to change the entire key of the song (although some of them I did, because it sounded cooler). 

What did I learn from this, and how did I overcome? I kept playing my 7 string but stopped playing that 7th string. I know...you're like 'Dude, what? This does not compute!'

But keep reading below to find out exactly what I did (an this worked!)...

Play This Instead

So here's my unorthodox 7 string practice advice

  • Don't play that 7th B string for about a week
  • Treat your 7 string like it's a 6 string guitar
  • Acknowledge that the 7th string is there, but send my thought away (this is sort of like 'Guitar Yoga-Meditation' - they, that could be a thing!)

This is going to allow you to become more comfortable with that extra string being there. And don't worry, you're going to play it. Just not quite yet.

2 - Practice Full Chords on Your 7

In that week of not touching that 7th string, I also want you to spend some time playing full chords on your 7 string (just on the 6 string, E through E). This is where it's going to really bite you! 

Take a step back and start playing those regular chords, like a full Em, C, G, D and so forth (that's actually a really cool melodic progression!)

I can almost guarantee you that you're going to accidentally hit that 7th sting while trying to do this. And when you don't, you're going to be playing the wrong strings and notes, and you're going to think something is wrong with you!

Yes, it's frustrating. But that's ok because that's exactly I'm having you to do this exercise. 

You're going to become super familiar with your 7 string without losing your ability to play everything else. And follow the below schedule will help you overcome this faster. 

7 String Practice Schedule

During this first week, I recommend setting a practice schedule. And I also recommend that you play your 7 string everyday, for a long time. I'm going to get into that later. 

Here's an example of a guitar practice schedule you can follow for that week:

  • Sunday: Practice simple 6 string metal rhythms
  • Monday: Practice simple 6 string leads
  • Tuesday: Practice playing full chords
  • Wednesday: Practice 6 string metal rhythms with a lot of riffs
  • Thursday: Practice more complex 6 string leads
  • Friday: Practice playing full chords
  • Saturday: Practice a mix of everything on just the 6 strings (make this session a little longer)

Repeat this for another week if you don't feel like you're getting used to your new 7. Then move on to step 3 below...

3 - Gradually Start Playing the 7th String

It's been a week and you're ready to start making your guitar growl with that 7th string! And if you've been playing everyday for a week with just those 6 strings, the time has come for the 7th.

What I recommend is that you don't go full on 7 string right away. I recommend that you make the transition from 6 to 7 strings a gradual one. And here's why...

You want this transition to truly be organic (not organic like organic oatmeal or bananas...well, okay, maybe it is like that). Anyway, my point is you want this to a natural transition from 6 to 7 strings, not forced. 

ESP E-II Horizon FR-7 7 string guitar

Now I'm going to give you some 7 string chords and riffs to practice below. So if you don't have it in your hands already, go grab your 7 string guitar! 

7 String Power Chord Progression

This first lesson is a simple way to easily and quickly get accustomed to that 7th B string. There's also guitar tabs below.


  • Start by playing a simple power chord progression: Em - D - C - Bm 
  • Play the Em on the E and A string.
  • Now play the D power chord on the B and E string (instead o the normal A and D). 
  • Play the C power chord on the B and E
  • Finally, play that heavy power Bm power chord on the B and E string that you've been dying to play! 

**You won't actually be playing a 'minor' for E and B since you're just playing power chords, but in theory, those are minors - hopefully that makes sense.

7 String Tabs

A --2--------------------

E --0----5----3----2--

B -------3----1----0--


Progression: Em - D - C - Bm

7 String Riff

Now I want you to practice some 7 string riffing. Here, I'm going to show you a few simple riffs. And I'll give you the guitar tabs as well as a video so you can see what I'm doing. 


The reason I'm putting this out there is because you don't want to be one of those that just play the heaviest notes possible all the time. You need to play riffs on your 7 string!


As I mentioned, this is the problem with many beginner 7 string players. They become obsessed with the B string and play nothing else.


As a result, they're ability to play actually riffs diminish. This is a sad, sad case. Do not let this happen to you! 

7 String Tabs

Riff 1

E --------------------------------------4-5-2-4-

B -2--5-4-5--7--5-4-5--2--5-4-5-----------


Riff 2

E --------------------------------------2-3-0-2-

B -0--3-2-3--5--3-2-3--0--3-2-3------------


You may notice that you're not starting this riff on the typical heaviest note (the open B string). I did that on purpose.


I'm forcing you to start somewhere on the fretboard that you wouldn't typically start with. This wasn't to throw you off - it was to make you more aware of your surroundings on the fretboard.


You see, starting on that 2nd fret triggers your brain to think differently and opens up new pathways in your mind, which you'll connect to the fretboard.


This will 'free you' from always reverting to that heaviest note, which will boost the creativity in your playing


Yeah, I know...that sounded like some new age hippie stuff (hippies are cool...I'm not making a jab), but seriously, it works.

Video Lesson: 7 String Melodic Death Metal Riff

Here's the video version of the riff you just learned...

Why Your Goal Should Not Be to Play the Heaviest Possible Notes

Your goal should not be just to play the heaviest notes with your 7 string. If that is your goal, then go sell your 7 string and start playing the tuba or something. 

Sure, the majority of what you write and play may be based on that 7th heavy B string. But this doesn't mean you should abandon the rest of the fretboard!

And this is a major temptation of playing a 7 string. Those heaviest notes sound cool! Hey, I get it. 

But here's the problem. If all you do is play those few heavy notes then all of your riffs and songs are going to sound exactly the same. There are many bands (with both 6 and 7 string guitars) that do this.

You're listening to track 4 and you're like 'This sounds a lot like track 1...and kinda sounds like track 2, too!'

Then you get to track 7 and you're like 'Wait a second, is this track 4 again?'

Yeah, you don't want to do that. I encourage you to venture out on the fretboard. If your first 2 songs start in the key of Bm, hitting that supe heavy B power chord, then make sure song 3 is in Em, or C#m, or even Am.

*They don't have to all be minor keys...actually, yes they do. We're not playing 'happy metal' here!

So here are your 7 string guitar rules...

  • Don't start every song on that 7th string
  • Don't just play the heaviest possible chords all the time
  • Do NOT commit the cardinal sin of riff abandonment!

Video: Transitioning from 6 to 7 Strings

Here's the full YouTube video that this post in based on:

My 7 String Story

Oddly enough, I never down-tuned or drop-tuned any of my guitars.

What I did to make my overall mix heavier was I recorded my music with a 5 string bass. 

It wasn't until the summer of 2018 when I bought my first 7 string guitar. Mind you, I've been playing guitar (primarily metal) since 1990. 

Transition from 6 to 7 string guitar

I was on the fence about getting a 7 string guitar for a long time, and finally made the jump. I expected to just pick it right up and start recording with it, but I quickly found out there was learning curve here!

Seriously, it was like that extra B string was like an extra weird body part that was growing on me...it was in the way! 

That's why I created this post. And I really hope these tips help you get through those challenges of transitioning from a 6 to 7 string guitar.

Now, another note is I did not buy a 7 string guitar just to play heavier notes. I wanted that extra string because it gives me more options on the fretboard. 

I personally don't see the point in just playing lower notes. In fact, you lose some of the tightness the lower you go. That doesn't work well for riffing. 

I hope this post and the videos I included helps you! Leave me a comment below if you have any questions.  

Keep it Metal,

Jason

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7 Ways Listening to Metal Can Help You Be More Productive at Work

Do you want to be more productive at work? Of course not, so let me rephrase – do you want to at least enjoy your time while you’re doing the crap you have to do at the office?

I’m going to show you how listening to metal at work can make you more productive

The way I see it is you have 2 options:

  1. You can sit at work all day looking at screens and spreadsheets while spacing out every 5 minutes.
  2. Or you can conquer the day by listening to metal while doing those mundane (and most of the time meaningless) tasks.

 Oh, and a few of these tips I’m giving you are actually intended to help you escape your soul crushing office job! So pay attention!

1 - Metal Helps Motivate You at Work

listening to metal helps motivate you at work - Dale L Roberts self publisher

When you’re sitting there staring at your inbox with 61 unread emails, you become extremely unmotivated.

In fact, that alone along with the meeting you have in 2 minutes and coffee you haven’t had, you’re on the edge of just walking out. Yeah, screw this place!

But if you’re blasting 'Master of Puppets' while pulling up your inbox, those messages don’t seem to have the same effect. Yeah, you still hate it, you’re also on this energetic kick because listening to metal motivates you.

And that motivation doesn’t have to be geared towards any one particular thing. In other words, I get it, you’re at work. The crap you’re doing probably isn’t that motivating.

If anything, it's de-motivating, especially those meetings that go on for 20 minutes longer because someone wants to be heard and shine or whatever.  

**Dale helped me release my first book! If you're an author, or aspiring author, check him out here: https://selfpublishingwithdale.com/

Motivational Tip

DO NOT look at getting this motivation from listening to metal as motivation towards 'the company.' Take a step back and look at it as motivation for YOU!

Now you have the motivation to act and do what needs to be done for you (so the boss will stay off YOUR back, or you can get that promotion, or whatever the reason is...but it's for you!). 

Don't see it as giving that energy to something you don’t really care about, like your job. Having this mentality will actually help you get that task done, and you won’t even feel it! So it won't suck as much, and that's good for both you and the company. 

2 - Use Metal Aggression to Get Sh!t Done

aggressive metal music jason stallworth

Do you need to land that one major sale to that one major jerk...oops, I meant client that keeps blowing you off ?

Do you need to convince a room full of morons that the new project your team is assigned to needs more funding? By the way, they'll still say no.

Then give yourself a good dose of metal music to build up your aggression prior to that!

Sometimes when you want something so bad but the results just aren’t happening, you have to get aggressive. You have to get a little pissed off. And there’s nothing better throwing in some ‘anger management metal ‘ like Pantera or Hatebreed to get those emotions flowing.

Once you have that aggressive mindset, harness it and let that fuel your confidence. You’ll make be sure to land that deal or sweep those overpaid executives off their feet with your new initiatives.

Harness the Aggression

Don't juts harness the aggression from metal music for your boss. Use it for yourself when you need to kick it into high gear to get something done.

This could be a home project you've been dealing with, a business idea you've been dabbling in, or book that you've been putting off (that you know you should've started writing 2 years ago!). 

Get a little bent out of shape. Get aggressive. And go after it! 

3 - Listening to Metal Reduces Work Stress

Now this won’t make sense to people that don’t listen to metal (which people that don’t listen to metal don’t make sense to us!).

Sure, metal in it’s true nature is aggressive. You just learned that you can use metal to harness that emotion when it’s needed. It’s like having a secret weapon or ace up our sleeve that we can just whip out at any time. 

However, listening to metal does something else for us Metalheads. It also soothes us, calms us, and puts us in an awesome mood.

Want proof? Turn on some Amon Amarth, Iced Earth, or Death Angel. Now, how do you feel? I bet you feel revived! And guess what you don’t feel? Stress.

Yes, listening to metal music reduces stress. This is largely due to it being our preferred genre of music. It’s what makes us tick. It's in our blood, and it's our lifeforce. 

How does reducing stress impact you being productive? 

When you're stressed you tend to make decision based on or because of that stress. And stressed decision-making doesn't always produce the best outcome, as I'm sure you've experienced (just like I have). So why have it? 

By eliminating stress with metal music you're going to think clearer and make better decisions. And this will help you be more productive, even in your tiny little cubicle that continue to suck the life out of you. 

The Power of Metal

There’s an article ‘The Power of Music to Reduce Stress’ by Jane Collingwood that talks more about how listening to music in general reduces our stress levels in the below ways (this article can be found on psychcentral.com):

  • Reduces anxiety
  • Can relieve depression
  • Can increase self-esteem
  • Can reduce burnout
  • Improves overall mood

All of these benefits are related to stress! So yeah, listen to metal!

4 - Metal Music Improves Efficiency in the Office

When you hear that song you love come on, like Helloween's 'I Want Out' those wheels in your head start turning. Of course, you also probably really do 'want out.'

Metal music has a way of making us think differently. If you take a problem you've been trying to solve and turn on some metal, you're more apt to find a solution, quicker. Listening to metal can improve our efficiency

Or if there's a way your organization is doing things that's completely inefficient due to one of senior management's pets having a 'bright idea' (that ended up causing everyone more work), listening to metal can help you find an even better method that trumps theirs. 

*By the way, the above scenario may not work out so well for you. Especially if you work for a larger corporation. In those places, if you do something that makes sense, you will be sought out and fired. 

Aside from that, it's still good to be more efficient. And of course it's good to always listen to metal! 

Productivity Proven

Melissa Chu talks about research done at the University of Miami that has shown that people who listened to music during work completed their tasks faster, and come up with more ideas on how to do it more efficiently

This can be found in her article 'Research Shows Listening to Music Increases Productivity' on Inc.com.

But you and I don't need someone else's research to back this up. We know that we're far more efficient when listening to some Obituary and Morbid Angel

5 - Listening to Metal Relieves You From Boredom from Your Job

listening to metal makes you more productive at work

Alright, I'm just going to say it - your job is freaking boring as hell!

Although I’m sure you do a little more than just pressing one button like Homer Simpson, I'm sure your day in the office is still filled with mundane tasks and quite lifeless.

There's a few ways you can break up the monotony in the office so you don't die of boredom overdose:

  • Pretend to take a smoke break every hour
  • Go to the coffee machine every 30 minutes even if you don't need a refill
  • Tell your coworkers you have the runs and hide out in the bathroom for an hour (make sure you scroll through Instagram and FB, because that's what people do on the toilet)
  • Just remain seated and space out every 10 minutes

All of those things sound kind of cool, and we've all done them. But there's some potential repercussions that could creep up on you.

So why not just listen to metal instead?

The beauty of metal music is it takes you to another place, that realm where everything is ok in the world. And most metal songs tell a story you can get lost in. Albums like Operation Mindcrime from Queensryche, or Seventh Son of a Seventh Son from Iron Maiden or Endless Forms Most Beautiful from Nightwish - those are albums you can really escape with.  

Metal can absolutely help you escape boredom at at the office. So don't work without! 

6 - Metalize Your Brain in the Office

How does listening to metal music impact ability to think at work? You've probably performed this experiment on yourself without realizing it.

See if this scenario sounds familiar...

  • You have to update some information for a presentation that your boss has to present up the chain. 
  • It's due by 3PM today.
  • It's now 2PM but you're crashing from lunch and the last thing you want to do is work this report (by the way, your boss tasked you with this like a week ago!).

WTF do you do?? 

Try this...

  • Plug your earphones into your phone
  • Open whatever music platform you prefer (Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, etc)
  • Find the latest album from Cannibal Corpse, Arch Enemy, or Kreator
  • Feel the power of your brain kicking
  • Get it done!

Seriously, you will magically pull a rabbit out of your rear and your boss will be happy. Well, he/she probably won't be happy because they hate their job just as much as you. But it's more bearable for them because they're getting paid a little more.

The point is, metal will literally trigger your brain so that you can produce results. 

Neuromusicology

What? Is 'neuromusicology' a real word? Yes, it is! 

Neuromusicology is the study of how our central nervous systems reacts to music, according to Chad Grills' article 'The Science Backed Ways Music Affects Your Brain and Productivity' on mission.org

Chad further explains how music enters several parts of our brain, which includes cognitive parts. I thought that was pretty cool. 

7 - Listening to Metal Gives You New Ideas

Listening to metal at work doesn’t just make the passing of the time more bearable. It takes your head to another place, another realm where ideas are flowing.

So even while you’re creating metrics for your boss so that they can give them to their boss, and they can then give this to their boss only to have their boss barely glance at it because they're late for their tee time, you can have that creative side of your brain conjuring new ideas. 

In fact, while you've got some SabatonDelain, or Primal Fear playing you may create a better way to produce those useless metrics! Or you may come up with a new process while listening to 'Reign in Blood' from Slayer.

Screw Working for 'The Man'

Now take it to a new level that's actually beneficial to you long-term. You may conjure up new business ideas for YOURSELF (while listening to Megadeth's 'The Conjuring' of course!). 

Take these ideas seriously! Even if it means you stop in mid-stream of writing that email that no one’s going to read, stop what you’re doing and write down your idea!

Or better yet since you’re probably in Outlook already, type it up and email it to your personal address so you can dig in deeper when you get home. 

This is one of those moments where you can start to escape the every grind of working for someone else and making their dreams come true instead of your own!

That idea you got while listening to Metallica's  ‘Trapped Under Ice’ (because that’s what work often feels like) could be the very thing that you launch to become self-sufficient!

What Metal Bands Do You Listen to at Work?

jason stallworth listening to metal at work

Does this post resonate with you?? Lol...well, I hope you got some laughs out of it. 

And maybe your office job really isn't that bad (uh, yeah...it's that bad!!). On that note, I encourage you to read that last part again, about becoming self sufficient! Why spend your efforts making someone else rich and making their dreams come true? 

Not to get too far off topic, but these jobs are quite draining and will suck the life out of you. Of course you need that income to survive. So this means you need to spend every waking moment you can outside of your normal job pursuing and pushing that one thing you really want to do with your life! 

Back to the music...

Do you have a list of favorite metal bands you listen to while you're grinding away at you soul-killing job? Are there certain songs that trigger your brain and motivate you more? 

Let me know by leaving a comment below.

And it would be extremely cool if you SHARE this post with your metalhead friends on your social media!

Keep it Metal,

Jason

Listen to Jason's Metal Music

Jason Stallworth metal music on Spotify
Jason Stallworth metal on iTunes and Apple Music
Jason Stallworth metal on Amazon Music
Jason Stallworth metal on Google Play music

Complete Home Recording Studio Guide for Metal Guitarists

One of the awesome things about being a modern day metal guitarist and musician is the ability to record your own music. But you may not know where to start or what gear you need.

In this post, I'm going to give you my complete home recording studio guide for metal guitarists (I guess this can work for country guitarists too...lol!). 

You'll learn about every component you need to build your recording studio for recording metal guitars, bass, vocals, and I'll show you what I use for drums.  

**I will update this post as I upgrade my gear, so save this post in your favorites!

**There are a ton of additional resources in this post, and you'll also see some links to purchase products from Amazon.

I am an Amazon affiliate and I do get a commission if you purchase through my link, so thank you for the support! 

I only promote the products I actually use!

Home Studio Recording Components for Metal

complete home recording studio guide for metal guitarists

There's 3 things you need to know about this home recording studio setup:

  1. It caters to metal guitar players
  2. It's simple - This isn't like a woman's shoe closet where there's like 10 pair of shoes for 50 different occasions...it's just a few basic high quality components to help you get started recording fast
  3. The gear in this post is my own studio, so you're seeing exactly what I use - pretty exciting, eh?

Why metal guitar players? Uh, because I'm a metal guitarist, and so are YOU! In all seriousness, I want to give you best hardware and software components for your studio that suits YOUR needs as a guitarist. You're not doing pop or country or whatever else. You're playing metal. So my studio is set up accordingly for that purpose. 

Simple, basic studio setup - I'm somewhat of a minimalist and I encourage you to be as well. Do you really need 4 compressors, 6 preamps, 10 mics, and 50 guitars in your studio? Well, maybe you DO need 50 guitars! But I'd rather see you have a small handful of quality studio components than 100 pieces of gear that you have no idea what to do with. 

Yes, what you're about to read is my own home recording studio! In fact, what you're seeing below (and there's also a video at the end of the post) is not too far off than what I started with when I first jumped into studio recording. I've just upgraded a few things since then, but the underlying components have no changed much. 

Video Version

Here's the video version of my Home Recording Guide for Metal Guitarists. But I also encourage you to read this entire post.

I've included some topics and gear in this post that I forgot to mention in the video. And I will also keep this post updated with my future gear! 

Alright, let's breakdown all of the studio components, both hardware and software! I'm going to show you that you can build a simple yet extremely awesome studio and start cranking out your own recordings! 

1 - The Ideal Computer for Your Studio

iMac for home recording studio

A question I'm often asked is:

'Jason, dude, do I really have to get super expensive jacked-up computer to record music with?'

The short answer is no. But there are some caveats to that. When you go to buy a computer, these are the 2 key things you're looking for:

  1. Is is powerful enough to run your recording software? This will revolve around the processing power and memory.
  2. Does it have enough storage? Studio files can take up a lot of space on your hard drive. But that's okay - if the computer doesn't have a lot of storage, just make sure you buy some type of cloud storage for your music files. 

If your computer is outdated (or if you don't have one yet), this will be one of your biggest purchases for your studio. So it's crucial to get something that's going to run your software smoothly.

My advice is to talk to a rep and tell them what you need (aka ask them the questions listed above!).  If you decide to go with Mac, your local Apple store is the best place for advice. Those folks have always been super helpful, and most of them like metal (at least that's what they tell me!). 

*Learn more about the iMac here at the Apple website: https://www.apple.com/

What Computer I Use

On that note, I personally run my studio with an iMac, which you can see in the pic above. And of course you've seen this in my YouTube guitar and recording tutorials. If I weren't so lazy I'd go look at the specs, but honestly if you get an iMac, it won't matter. They're lowest model will run your software just fine. 

But I didn't start with that. I actually started out with a Toshiba laptop. And I ran the same recording software program on that little laptop (actually it was kinda big) that I run today with my iMac. No issues, it worked just fine. And I recorded my very first album Apocalyptic Dreams with it.  

For Studio Use ONLY!

DO NOT and I mean absolutely DO NOT use your studio computer for other stuff. Dedicate it solely to recording music! You don't want to bog it down with other applications and crap. 

And don't go surfing all over the net with your studio computer! Don't look at...well, you know exactly where I'm going with that!! But yeah, music only! 

Oh, and you can buy an iMac through my Amazon link here below. I get a commission for this, so if you decide to buy from my link, thank you for the support: By iMac on Amazon

2 - Recording Software

Presonus Studio One Pro recording software

Here's where things can get a little overwhelming. What's the best recording software for metal guitarists and musicians? 

There's no 'right answer' and I don't even know that there's a true best. At this point in time, they all do the same thing...record high quality music. 

Let me simplify things. This is how recording software works for us guitar players...

  • Click your studio icon to open your software
  • Add new song (or open the one you're working on)
  • Add new track
  • Press the record button on track (and if you're using plugins for virtual amps and effects, make sure that's dragged over to your track...I'll get into plugins later)
  • Start recording your guitar track

Yes, there's MANY features and options. But in all reality, you may use 1/3 of them. If that. So don't get hung up on features.

More so, research the ease of use and workflow practicality. Your goal is to keep your focus on writing and recording those metal guitar tracks, and you really don't need a lot of extra stuff for that. 

Once you decide on software (and don't make this a 3-month long decision process), make sure you get 'plugged in' (ah, yes, the pun was intended) to the forums for your software. This is where I learned how to operate the recording software I use. That and YouTube, of course. 

**Learn more about Presonus Studio One from their website: https://www.presonus.com/products/studio-one/

Programs I Recommend

I'm going to show you the 2 software programs I've used (1 of which I'm currently using, and have been for many years).  I can't really speak for other programs because I haven't use them. But they're all pretty much relative, I would think. 

  • Reaper - This is the first program I used when I first got into recording software. A friend recommended it because of it's simplicity and ease of use. It's also way less expensive than most other programs. 
  • Presonus Studio Pro - I ended up using Studio One. My first interface was the Presonus AudioBox USB and it came with the S1 Artist version. I soon upgraded to Pro and haven't looked back. I've recorded 4 albums, 1 single, several music projects, and countless YouTube music clips with it. 

Here's one of my 'how to' videos using Presonus Studio One Pro...

3 - Studio Interface

presonus interfaces quantum 2 and audibox usb

I remember getting hung up on this in the beginning and I just sat there for hours (or maybe just minutes) with a blank stare, mumbling...

"I've got my computer, and I just purchased recording software, but now what???"

I needed an interface (back then I had no clue what an interface was!). For newbies, the interface is what links your instrument, or whatever sound source you're recording, to your computer so that you can record that signal using your software. That was a mouthful! 

Type of Interface You Need

If you're just getting started, it really doesn't matter what interface you use. The basic ones are all about the same price, and they all work the same. 

If you're looking to step up to a more expensive interface, then you'll want to do your research to make sure it suits your needs as a metal guitarist. 

The 2 key factors for choosing an interface are:

  1. Quality of preamps
  2. How many inputs

Even with the basic interfaces, the quality of their preamps are pretty good. You can record a professional album that you can be proud of with a simple interface.

Inputs will only matter if you're recording multiple instruments simultaneously (drums could be a challenge with only 2 channels, which is what these basic interfaces typically come with).  

How to Connect Your Interface

Here's the basic steps to connecting your interface (and connecting stuff to it):

  1. Connect interface to computer
  2. Connect your studio monitors to the interface outputs (usually on the back of your interface)
  3. Plug your guitar or mic cable into the interface input (usually on the front of your interface)

There, you're all set! 

Interface I Use

As I mentioned earlier, I started out with the Presonus AudioBox USB. This is a simple 2-input interface. Is was super cheap, and it also came with Studio One Artist recording software.

After 3 albums, I upgraded to the Presonus Quantum 2. There was 2 reasons for this:

  1. I wanted better preamps (the Quantum 2 XMAX sound really good)
  2. I wanted a digital interface

There's some other reasons, but I can't remember what they are and I'm obviously not using those features...lol! 

**You can read more about all Presonus interfaces here: https://www.presonus.com/products/Audio-Interfaces

**And you can use my Amazon link to purchase this simple starter kit which includes a high quality Presonus interface plus software and more (this is a perfect starter kit, and similar to what I started out with): Studio One Bundle on Amazon

4 - Output Source: Studio Monitors

Here's where I see a lot of guitar players skimp - monitors! In fact, I've seen some use their computer speakers as monitors!

If you're serious about recording and producing the best mixes, you really need quality studio monitors. 

Yes, it's another pricy component for your home studio, but you'll thank me later. 

I've had the same KRK Rokit 5" monitors since 2010.  

krk rokits g5 studio monitors

I guess I was attracted to that yellow cone...it looks cool and stands out! But I had also done my own research prior to buying these.  And they weren't outrageously priced (I was building my studio on an extreme budget back in those days!). 

I mention the above because if you start out with good monitors, chances are you'll keep them for a long time.  So you don't have to spend your entire paycheck on studio monitors, but DO get quality monitors!

**Learn more about KKR monitors here: http://www.krksys.com/

What About Headphones? 

I totally forgot to mention studio headphones in my video (you can watch that at the bottom of this post). 

Headphones are super important as for:

  • Tracking live guitars
  • Recording vocals
  • Mixing
  • Recording drums
krk studio headphones 6400

You don't want any sound from your monitors bleeding into the tracks you're recording. And I often use headphones even when I'm recording with plugins (no live mic). Sometimes it's just easier to hear better and my guitar tracks will come out a little tighter when I'm using headphones to record. 

I actually have the KRK 6400 headphones. They're not my favorite, but for the price, they're more than decent and work well when tracking guitars: KRK 6400 Headphones on Amazon

5 - Input Source: Recording Your Metal Guitars

Now let's get to the good stuff...recording your metal guitars at home! I'm still amazed by this ability we have today.

Many years ago bands had to go spend their life savings or donate plasma to record an album.

Now, you can just walk into your bedroom (preferably close the door to your riffs don't feed into whoever is in the living room watching Netflix), plug your guitar in and start recording!

It's just a cool thing! 

metal guitars in home recording studio

I'm going to now go over our main input source, and that's our guitars! Well, actually the true input source will be 1 of 2 things:

  1. Mic to capture your guitar amp sound or vocals (or drums)
  2. Plugins (virtual amps/effects)

Miking Your Guitar Amp

mic amp for metal guitar tone

One way to record guitar is the old school way of miking your amp. And for metal music, this is remains the preferred method by many guitarists and studio engineers. 

How do you capture your amp sound into your studio software? In 2 easy steps:

  1. Mic your amp
  2. Connect the other end of your mic cable to your interface input

Now you're ready to open your guitar track and start recording (remember you want headphones for recording miked guitar amps - you don't want your mic picking up the sound from your monitors). 

Some will connect a DI (direct) box between the interface and their amp. But I do not use a DI box for recording metal guitars, and don't feel you need one. A good interface will be more than enough to capture a great sound. Even the less expensive interfaces will work just fine. 

Best Mic for Recording Metal Amps? 

There's a ton of different mics you can use for recording guitar amps. But the most common for metal is the Shure SM57. Fortunately it's one of the cheaper mics.

The SM57 is great at capturing loud sounds, and also brings out the clarity of your guitar riffs and licks. You just have to play around a little with the mic placement. The basics are:

  • Closer to the cone for a brighter tone
  • Further from the cone for a darker tone

And you can mess around with how close the mic is to the screen (for the most part, the closer the better). 

I personally like to record 1 rhythm guitar track one way, and have a slightly different tone for my 2nd rhythm guitar track.

So the guitar I pan left may be just off to the ide of the cone and the guitar panned right may be a little further away from the cone. This gives you a nice, full sounding metal mix

You can pick up a SHure SM57 here: Shure SM57 mic on Amazon

**You can read more about Shure mics on their website here: https://www.shure.com/en-US/products/microphones

Guitar Recording Tutorial

Glen Fricker has a pretty awesome tutorial of recording guitar amps and how to mic them. This method is specific to metal! 

Using Virtual Amp Sims/Plugins

BIAS FX amp and effects
Fortin NTS plugin virtual metal amp sim

Technology has brought us far into the future with virtual amps, and this has 'virtually' changed everything!

Recording awesome metal music no longer requires an amp or mic. So what exactly are virtual amps?

Virtual amps and effects (also called amp sims and plugins) are software that creates the sounds you would expect from playing through an amp (and/or effects). But without all the hardware. 

Not only does this save space in your studio, but it's also super convenient in the fact that you can record your guitars at low volumes and not blast the neighbors or disturb everyone in your house. 

Of course some still prefer to mic their amps, as I mentioned earlier. And there still seems to that notion that amps sims will never truly sound like a live amp. 

Here's the thing...at the end of the day, your fans just want to hear good, quality metal music, and they want to know that you're actually playing your instrument, unlike most other modern genres. I don't think they care so much that you used a live amp or amp sim. 

What Amp Sims are Best for Metal?

Now we get to one of the more debatable questions. Is there a best virtual amp for recording metal guitars?

Well, there are some amp sims that suck for metal guitars (they may be ok for country, blues, or whatever...but not metal). I won't mention those. 

Rather, I'll mention just a few that work quite well for metal:

As you may already know, I've been using Positive Grid for a while now, and have actually recorded many albums with their plugins.

They have 2 plugins, and if you want to learn more about how to use those, check out my post (there's a video in the post as well): How to Use BIAS Amp 2 and BIAS FX Together

The Fortin NTS is a beast for metal tones, and I've been using that one quite a bit as well. Here's some Fortin NTS tones...

You can also check out my full post with more videos here: Fortin NTS and Nameless for Brutal Metal Tones

6 - Recording Metal Vocals

shure sm7b death metal vocal mic with se reflexion filter

We're going to venture a little further out from the world of metal guitar and talk about recording metal vocals.

I'm throwing this in because many of us guitarists also sing. And if not lead, we may at least sing backup.

If nothing else, it's not a bad idea to have your studio setup for recording vocals for your band's singer. It's just one less hassle if you can do most everything in your home studio. 

4 Things You Need to Record Metal Vocals

Not counting the mic stand and cable (of course those are pretty important), there are 4 components I highly recommend for recording vocals in a small home studio:

  • Shure SM7B mic (perfect for death and thrash metal vocals!)
  • Pop filter
  • DI Box (Cloudlifter)
  • Reflection screen like the sE Electronics Reflexion screen

You don't have to get the SM7B mic, but just know it's the go-to for countless metal singers. And it's also relatively inexpensive compared to other studio mics (these things can get up there in price!). 

If you had to skimp on anything, it would be the additional screen. However, I deem this as a necessity for recording vocals in small home studios. It's the closest thing to being in a n actual pro studio vocal booth and does a great job at keeping sounds from bouncing all other the place.

It also helps add more clarity and depth to your vocal tracks. So...don't skimp on this if you unless you have a true vocal booth in your studio. 

You can get this cool vocal package on Amazon: Shure SM7B with Cloudlifter

And here's the link for the Amazon link for the reflections screen (this is the cheaper, and the one I have which does wonders for recording vocals): sE Reflexion Screen

7 - What About Recording Drums?

I'll go ahead and admit I am NOT an expert at drums, and no nothing about recording live drums. So in this section, I'm going to share 2 things regarding drums:

  1. What I use to for drums to get my ideas and initial tracks down
  2. What (or who) I actually use for my album drum tracks

I find the recording process much smoother I record my guitar to drum patterns instead of a click track. For that I use Toontrack EZDrummer.  I have their Metal Machine and Death Metal packs, and those provide enough drum loops for me to work with to get my initial guitars, bass, and vocals recorded. 

For my recent album and projects going forward, I will always hire a REAL DRUMMER! I'll talk more about that below, and will also give you a valuable resource. 

How to Use EZDrummer

Here's a short video I made on how to use EZDrummer for recording your initial tracks. I'm actually using their Metal Machine pack here (and I believe Andy Sneaps set). 

I also own Superior Drummer from Toontrack, but I find for my purposes EZDrummer is easier to work with, so I just stick with that.

**You can read more about Toontrack's drum software here:  https://www.toontrack.com/

Hire a Real Drummer (Best Decision I Ever Made)

If you're planning to release a professional album, I strongly urge you to record a real drummer.

If you're in a band and want to record your drummer, either expand your studio to support that, or fork out the cash to buy sessions in a pro studio to record him/her.

Or if you're like me, a solo artist who doesn't quite have the talent to play metal drums, I suggest hiring a real drummer. In fact, hiring a drummer for my latest album is the single best decision I've made for my music

Here's the steps I took:

  1. Sent the drummer 2 tracks for each song - 1 with the EZDrummer drums so he could get an idea of what I wanted, and the other was the file without the drums so he could play along with and record his drums
  2. He recorded his drums and sent me 2 types of tracks - 1 mix with his drums, and then he sent me his stem files (he actually also sent me 1 file with the drums already mixed, and I ended up using that for my album
  3. Dumped the 'real' drum track into my studio and finished the process! 


I regret not doing this for my first few albums, though they're guitar-based instrumentals. From here on, I will always produce albums with real drums. 

Contact this Awesome Metal Drummer

Cameron Fleury recorded the drum tracks for my album Masterpeace, and I will definitely reach out to him for future projects. He brought so much life to this album it's unbelievable! 

He's the best metal drummer I've ever collaborated with. And if you're a drummer, you has a ton of lessons on his YouTube channel (the below video is a double bass tutorial for beginners). You can also contact him here: Contact Cameron on FB

Start Recording Your Metal Music NOW

Jason Stallworth morning recording studio session

You're now ready to start writing and recording your own metal music! This post is probably worth reading through a few times. And make sure you save it in your favorites to refer back to, because I will update it as I make changes to my own home recording studio. 

I hope you enjoyed this, and hope that it was helpful to you!

Leave me a comment below if you have any questions about the gear I use or the recording process.

Keep it Metal,

Jason

Buy/Listen to My Albums Below

Jason Stallworth metal music on Spotify
Jason Stallworth metal on iTunes and Apple Music
Jason Stallworth metal on Amazon Music
Jason Stallworth metal on Google Play music

BIAS Amp vs BIAS FX, and How To Use Them Together

Welcome to my BIAS Amp vs. BIAS FX comparison! These are two guitar amp simulator plugins from Positive Grid.

Like you, I was confused as crap between two at first! But I'm going explain the differences so that you can make a decision on which one's best for you.

You'll hear my amp tones from both plugins, side-by-side. And I'll share which one I prefer, and why.

Oh, and I'm also going to show you how to use BIAS Amp with BIAS FX (it's actually pretty simple!)

Difference Between BIAS Amp and BIAS FX

Let's get right into the meat and potatoes (now I'm hungry). Both BIAS Amp 2 and FX plugins are similar, and just at a glance, they look the same.

The main difference between BIAS Amp and FX is:

  • (Amp) has more amp features but no effects.
  • (FX) has limited amp features with a hefty array of stomp box and rack mount effects.

It's not necessary to have both plugins, but you can indeed use them together. And I'll show you exactly how to do that. But first, let's get deeper into BIAS Amp and FX as you may find you're ok with just one of them. 

What is BIAS Amp (and BIAS Amp 2)?

bias amp 2 triple treadplate metal tone

BIAS Amp 2 focuses solely on the amps by replicating all of the capabilities of an amp rig. This goes beyond jut messing around with the amp and cab/mic settings. You can edit tubes, transformers, preamp, power amp, and all the settings that comes with those. 

This plugin comes with a good amount of amp simulators from most popular amps (Fender, Marshall, Orange, Peavey, Mesa, ENGL, Bogner...to name a few). And the interface has them split up into categories:

  • Clean
  • Crunch
  • High Gain
  • Insane

The game changing feature of Positive Grid BIAS Amp is the ability to capture and match your tone from your real amp. You can mic your guitar amp, feed it into the BIAS Amp plugin, and save that tone within the plugin (and edit from there). 

There's also a deep editing capabilities with the cabinets, speakers, and mics. 

*BIAS Amp 2 is an upgraded version of BIAS Amp. There's a Celestion impulse package available with this. You can read (and hear) more about that on this post: BIAS Amp 2 with Celestion Impulses.

What is BIAS FX?

BIAS FX amp and effects

BIAS FX is similar to BIAS Amp in the fact that you have the same list of amps (give or take a little) to choose from. But it does not give you the amp matching feature or the deep editing capabilities, although you can still modify the amp and cab settings.

The highlight of BIAS FX is it contains several stomp boxes and rack mount effects (hence 'FX' - hey, I wonder if Positive Grid realizes this is a pun?). The effects categories include:

  • Gates:
  • Compressors:
  • Boosters:
  • Drives:
  • EQ:
  • Modulators (chorus, flanger, phaser, etc.)
  • Delays
  • Reverbs

And many of the effects you'll see are modeled after popular brands, such as the Screamer 808OD modeled after the Ibanez Tube Screamer. In fact, this is my go-to BIAS FX stompbox for my metal tones. 

*You can hear more BIAS FX tones in my post: BIAS FX Metal Tones.

BIAS Amp vs. BIAS FX

Alright, now let's a metal tones test to compare BIAS Amp vs FX!  You're about to see (and hear) a side-by-side comparison in the video below.

A few notes about the video...

  • Amp settings are identical in both plugins
  • I did not do any deep editing in BIAS Amp
  • I did not add any major effects in BIAS FX

I needed to make sure this was a fair comparison. 

Video Comparison: Metal Tones

So which tone did you like best? The BIAS Amp or BIAS FX? An even better question is could you tell the difference between the two! 

As I mentioned in the video, I used the same method of recording for both tones. I'll share some more details...

  • 2 rhythm tracks for each tone
  • each track was hard panned (track 1 = left, track 2 = right)
  • BIAS Amp amp used = Triple Treadplate
  • BIAS FX amp used = '92 Treadplate
  • Cabinets used = standard 4x12 Treadplate cab
  • Mics used = C414 sim on left panned track, SM57 sim on right
  • No effects used for the amps (reverb, delay, additional EQ, etc)

This was indeed the raw tones for the Triple Treadplate (Amp) and '92 Treadplate (FX). 

I had to go back and listen really close to tell the difference. And if I didn't know that this was a comparison, I probably wouldn't notice any differences.

What this tells me is that either plugin will work great. The decision comes down to what you want out of the plugin. 

Are you satisfied with the amps and FX and want the effects? Or do you want to get into the deep editing and have the amp matching capabilities of BIAS Amp?

**You can read more about both plugins on Positive Grid's website here: https://www.positivegrid.com/

My Personal Favorite and Story

I started out with BIAS FX and was very happy with that. But I wanted to see if I could get different tones from BIAS Amp.


I'll be honest...I was a bit frustrated that I had to buy 2 separate plugins. That's been my gripe with Positive Grid. It's like 'Dudes, just make ONE freakin' plugin that does it all!!'


Anyway, at that point if I could've gone back in time, I would not have purchased BIAS Amp. I found that the deep editing was overwhelming (I'm more of a plug-in-and-play dude). BIAS FX did everything I needed. 


However, everything changed when Positive Grid released BIAS Amp 2. And it had nothing to do with the amps. It had everything to do with the CELESTION Classic pack that came with the elite package. 


Since, I've been using the BIAS FX effects with the BIAS Amp 2 amps and Celestion speaker impulses. Those Celestions were a serious game changer, at least for me. 


**UPDATE: The new version of BIAS FX 2 now allows you to the Celestion speakers! Here's more features: https://www.positivegrid.com/bias-fx/

How to Use BIAS Amp 2 with BIAS FX

One of my pain points with Positive Grid was that I wanted to be able to use the BIAS Amp amps with the BIAS FX effects. I was stumped on this at first but finally figured it out.

So I want to show you step-by-step how to use BIAS Amp 2 with BIAS FX!

  • Make sure you have installed both BIAS FX and BIAS Amp (2)
  • Open a new track in your DAW/studio (I use Presonus Studio One Pro)
  • Insert the BIAS FX plugin in that track
  • Open BIAS FX
  • On the lower left you'll see the option BIAS Amp 2
  • Click on that option and it will bring up those amps
  • Select the amp you want and it will be pulled into your BIAS FX interface
  • Start playing some metal! 

Here's a video I made that will help you as well...

BIAS AMP with FX Video

BIAS Amp 2 vs a Real Amp?

I'm sure at first most will jump to saying things like:

  • 'Nothing beats a real amp, bro!' (the 'bro' is optional)
  • 'A plugin can't possibly give you the same feel as an amp!'
  • 'Amp sims sound too processed!'

And much of this may be true. But before you jump to that conclusion, I have a way for you to put those tones to the test.

The Tone Challenge

Alright, so here's a challenge for you. And the ultimate goal here is to get an un'BIAS'ed opinion (couldn't resist that pun!)...

  • Record a short song with multiple guitars using BIAS Amp 2 (or BIAS FX)
  • Now record that same song miking a real amp
  • Dump the files down to mp3s, but do not name them 'BIAS Amp tone' or BIAS FX tone' - name them something unrelated (of course write down which one is which)
  • Don't listen to these files for a week
  • After that week goes by, listen to both songs

Which tone did you truly like the best? What did your ears gravitate more towards? Which one sounded more captivating? 

Then go back and look where you wrote down which is the plugin and which is the amp. You may be surprised on what you chose! 

Keep it Metal,

Jason