Are you frustrated trying to dial in a decent metal guitar tone with the ‘upgraded’ BIAS FX 2? Yeah, I feel your pain.
In fact, I didn’t touch this plugin again for several months after I purchased the upgrade.
But one day, I decided to revisit BIAS FX 2. I spent a few hours going through all of the high gain amps again and pairing them with different cabinets, mics, and such.
I finally came across what I feel to be a pretty awesome metal tone with BIAS FX 2. And I’m going to share my settings with you, as well as some other little tricks I’ve learned to make BIAS FX 2 sound great for metal.
Initial Frustration with BIAS FX 2
I’ll get straight to the point. But first, let me share a little backstory with you before we get into the meat and potatoes…
Having been a long-time user of their original BIAS FX, I was pretty excited about this second release. There were some particular updates I was hoping for, one of them being more (and better) options for metal amps.
But instead, here’s what happened when I upgraded to BIAS FX 2…
- Immediately replicated my best metal tone that I created from the original BIAS FX plugin – Treadplate + Celestion V20 and Greenback speakers
- Suffered great disappointment that this same tone sucked so bad with BIAS FX 2
- Went through all of the high gain amps – I even made a video and have another post on the stock settings here
- Dialed in some good metal tones, but not great; nothing really stood out to me
- Continued to mess around with BIAS FX 2 for a few weeks and then…
- Went back to playing the original BIAS FX for my metal tones
**To be fair, I had created some pretty cool non-metal tones with FX 2 for another project I’m working on. These sounds are a mix of clean and some lower-gain rock.
I must admit, those tones sound awesome and the quality of the effects is definitely a highlight.
Alright, let’s get to how to dial in a good metal tone with BIAS FX 2…
VIDEO: Jason’s BIAS FX 2 Metal Tone
You can watch the video version below. But I’m giving you more details in this post below than what I covered in the video.
So definitely keep reading my ‘rules for BIAS FX 2 metal tones’ after the video…
Rules for BIAS FX 2 Metal Tones
Let me start by saying these ‘rules’ are just my opinion, and nothing else. You may agree or disagree, and that’s okay. Well, really it’s not. But whatever.
My rules for dialing in a good metal tone with BIAS FX 2 will:
- Save you time
- Help you simplify things and dial in a good tone, fast – you can thank me by listening/buying my music here
You can dial in a great metal tone using BIAS FX 2. And I’m going to take you through every component of my personal favorite metal tone that I created.
Rule 1: Choosing the Right Amp for Metal
Naturally, I started out with the Treadplate V2. That’s been my go-to amp in the original BIAS FX plugin. And I’ve dialed in some killer tones with that amp.
But the FX 2 version just wasn’t giving me the tones I wanted or expected. And you know how hard it is to part with something that you really like. I had to move on.
**If you own the original BIAS FX, do not expect the tones you created in that plugin to sound the same in BIAS FX 2.
The best metal amp in BIAS FX 2 is the 04 Insane 5153 V2. I have tested this amp relentlessly against all of the other high gain amps, and nothing matches it’s tight, punchy, and distinct saturation. So I recommend starting with the Insane 5153 V2.
Now, a huge part of the tone is going to be determined by what cabinet you pair this amp with. The default cab is decent, but I’m going to show you a better way after I go through my settings blow.
There are a couple of other decent amps for metal.
But for the sake of keeping things simple, just start with the 04 Insane 5153 V2 amp, and follow the rest of my rules below.
This will make you happy. Trust me.
Amp Settings and EQ for Metal
So you’ve got the amp, now let’s dig into the settings and EQ. This is where I keep things extremely simple, and I recommend that you do the same with BIAS FX 2.
Here are my 04 Insane 5153 V2 settings:
- Gain: 6.5
- Bass: 4.7
- Mids: 4
- Treble: 7
- Presence: 6
- Master: 5.5
For clarity, you don’t need your gain cranked up with the 04 Insane 5153 V2 amp. In the real (hardware/tube) world, a true metal amp should give you an awesome saturated tone without the gain being cranked up to ’10.’
I do cut the bass a little. This helps my tone sit better in the mix.
You have to remember that the tone you play by itself may require different settings when recording for a full mix. You need to leave room for the bass guitar and kick drum to carry the bottom end, not your guitar.
I also cut mids. That’s just my personal preference with metal tones in general, but not too much.
And I gave the treble and presence a boost. This also helps the guitar cut through the mix.
*For my guitar solos, I boost my mids to around 6, gain around 8, and I’ll also add a little more bass to those tracks.
Volume Difference Between BIAS FX and FX 2
One thing I noticed about BIAS FX 2 is that the overall volume of this plugin is lower than the original BIAS FX. So I have my master volume up a little to compensate for that.
You may also need to turn up your interface volume a little due to this. Just make sure your signal isn’t clipping (not hanging around in the red zone).
Another ‘rule’ I have is that if I have to spend too much time tweaking the amp to get a good tone, I move on to another amp.
If you have to fight that much to dial in a decent tone, ditch it now.
Because whatever perfect tone you think you finally dialed in after the fight, you’re probably not going to be happy with it tomorrow. And you’ll be there again, in that same spot endlessly trying to make it work.
Look, it was a bad relationship from the beginning…just accept it, and let it go!
Rule 2: Pairing Your Amp with the Right Cabinet
In BIAS FX 2, there are only a few cabinets that will pair well with each amp. Especially for metal.
Choosing the right cabinet is just as important as the amp itself. The most awesome metal amp is going to sound like total crap if it’s paired with the wrong cabinet in BIAS FX 2.
For the most part, the default cabinets that each amp is paired with will be decent. But ‘decent tone’ isn’t what we’re looking for. We want a kick-ass metal tone!
So I recommend that you get the ‘BIAS FX 2 Elite’ so that you have access to the Classic Celestion speakers. This used to only be available with BIAS Amp 2 but you can now use them with FX2 – this was an awesome move by Positive Grid!
*You can learn more about BIAS FX 2 packages on thier website here.
So, what cabinet pairs best with the 04 Insane 5153 V2 amp?
There are actually two:
- Classic Celestion Vintage 30
- Classic Celestion G12 Greenback
Here’s how I use both of these cabinets…
I record two rhythm guitar tracks and hard-pan each track.
- Left-panned track = Celestion Vintage 30
- Right-panned track = Celestion G12 Greenback
For leads, I mainly find myself using the Vintage 30 with the mic placed closer to the cone, which we’re about to talk more about below.
You can use the default cabinet with this amp and still get a good tone. But these Classic Celestions blow everything else away. I actually have another post just on these speakers here.
However, I need to reiterate that the tones you created, even with the Celestions, in the original BIAS FX are not going to sound the same in FX 2.
For example, the Treadplate tones I created with the Celestion speakers with the original BIAS FX sound amazing. But they sound like poop in FX 2.
Mics and Mic Placements
We can’t talk about cabinets without talking about mics and mic placements. This is where Positive Grid really shines. All of the BIAS FX 2 mic options are solid.
That said, it almost doesn’t matter which mic you use; you can get a great metal tone with any of those mics as long as you have the right amp and cabinet paired together.
So, I’ll share my personal preferences for mic setup below:
- My go-to BIAS FX 2 mic is the Shure SM57 sim
- For the Celestion Vintage 30 speaker, I place the mic off to the side of the cone, and close to the grill
- For the Celestion G12 Greenback speaker, I place the mic a little closer to the cone but not directly in the center, and close to the grill
- For my lead tracks, as I mentioned earlier, I typically use the Vintage 30 with the mic closer to the cone
- Occasionally, I’ll record a guitar track with one of the other mics (I’ll just randomly pick one of the others; again, they’re all great mic sims)
*Try using the 421 with the Celestion Greenback for one track (panned left), and the 57 with the Celestion Vintage 30 for the other (panned right). That’s a great sounding mix.
3 – BIAS FX 2 Effects for Metal
I recommend that you use minimal effects for your BIAS FX 2 metal tones. Using too many effects will just take away from your tone and will complicate everything.
I’m going to show you how to get a better tone while keeping things simple. Here’s what I use…
- Noise Gate
- Green Overdrive
- Delay – only for lead guitar tracks
Noise Gate Settings
There’s nothing special about my noise gate settings. And this may be different for everyone based on the type of guitar pickups you’re using.
I’ve found that the Positive Grid noise gate works best for metal. It does exactly what you expect it to do – cuts the excess noise while not taking away from your tone.
Green ‘Screamer’ Overdrive Settings
I do not use the typical overdrive metal settings that a lot of metal guitarists use. Many will crank the level all the way up, and of course, keep the gain/drive all the way down.
Try backing that level off a little to about 7. You may find that you get more clarity and also more of the natural sound from the amp.
What you see in the image above is the only overdrive I use in BIAS FX 2. In fact, I use that on other non-metal tones as well over the other drives and distortions. It’s simple and it sounds awesome.
Reverb is not something I use all the time. But just a little touch of reverb can give you a nice-sounding tone.
Just be careful because if you use too much reverb, you’ll lose clarity on your guitar notes, especially if you’re like me and do a lot of riffing.
For that slight touch of reverb, I like this digital reverb pedal. But I also really like the ambient reverb for some of my clean tones when I want that spacy sound.
I only use a delay for my leads, as I mentioned earlier. And this particular digital delay sim sounds amazing, giving you just enough to make your guitar solos shine.
You can also expand your settings with this pedal for those spacy, far-out sounds. I’ll use this with the ambient reverb on clean tones sometimes to get that true ambient feel. Those types of sounds are great for intros, outros, or when you want a break in the song.
What About a Rackmount EQ?
I’ve played around with this specific rackmount post-amp EQ. You can really dig more into shaping your tone, but I personally don’t use these that often.
The one piece of advice I’ll give regarding these types of EQs in plugins is this:
- Don’t overdo it
- It’s best to only cut certain frequencies, like the low end to tighten up your tone
Just take a look at my settings above. They’re subtle, simple, and mainly consists of cutting certain frequencies, not boosting.
Again, I rarely use any type of additional EQ. I prefer the natural tone of the amp without it. I feel like adding too many things to your amp gives you that ‘over-processed’ sound, which is why a lot of modern metal bands sound the same.
What’s Your Favorite BIAS FX 2 Metal Amp?
Do you have a favorite amp and tone for BIAS FX 2? If so, leave that in a comment on the YouTube video I created for this post (and make sure you subscribe to my channel), here.
I’ll admit, BIAS FX 2 is not my absolute favorite plugin for metal tones. But that doesn’t mean it’s a ‘bad’ plugin for metal. For most of my metal tones, I prefer the Fortin NTS.
And I’m more than content with this one particular tone using the 04 Insane 5153 V2 amp pairs with Celestion speakers. That tone is something I would consider using for a metal album or project.
I hope my rules of getting a good metal tone with BIAS FX 2 helped you! Please feel free to share this on your social media pages.
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Thank you for supporting independent metal music!
Keep it Metal,