I've tried using Guitar Rig with different inputs for a long time (PC in, M-Audio Jamlab and then interface on the Zoom G5) and am always really happy with the clean sounds, but every distortion I try always come out flat and fuzzy. Absolutely no punch at all.

Even the sample configurations (which should sound nice) they provide sound awful, no matter what I try (different amp simulations, mic placement, effect pedals, EQ).

I understand it's absolutely not a replacement for the real deal but I've heard recordings done with Guitar Rig (or other DSPs) that sounded very nice and I've never been able to reproduce that. If a multi-effects pedal can accomplish good distortion sounds, it should follow that a PC can do better.

So what am I missing? Is there a way to get good distortion from a software like Guitar Rig?

  • I used to use a Zoom Multi Effects Pedal, and I always found the overdrives to be very fuzzy as you have found. I've since switched to a dedicated Overdrive pedal (Hardwire CM-2) and I find it does the job alot better. I'm not sure if it's a Zoom thing, as I have heard others describe similuar things from Zoom, but as I haven't tried the interface in question, I can't be much more help I'm afraid.
    – Folau
    Commented Aug 15, 2013 at 8:12
  • @Folau Yeah, there's no way to get anything that analog sound from a multi-effects, but at least I can make it sound good enough. My issue with GuitarRig (or Amplitube) is that I can never make it sound anything close to reasonable.
    – Gabe
    Commented Aug 15, 2013 at 13:49
  • @Gabe - just to add a thought here that with recordings there is a lot of post-production and EQ'ing that takes place that might make it impossible to reproduce the sound manually. It might also be your knowledge of Guitar Rig. Perhaps try learning more about the program - only when you know how to use the entire program inside and out can you rule out a lack of knowledge on your part as the problem. Commented Aug 19, 2013 at 15:57
  • 1
    It is possible to produce sounds digitally that match a good analogue setup. But you can't do it in quite the same way, and that's where NI etc. get it completely wrong by packing their plugins with replicas of seperate analogue pedals / amps. The right way is to study the interplay of filtering (begins at the guitar pickups, dependent on the first FX – very important to consider but completely neglected by many!), distortion and convolution effects. Of all plugins I know, iZotope Trash gives the best control over all of this, but you really need to understand the physics to use it right. Commented Aug 20, 2013 at 0:25
  • Interestingly I've used a cheapo Zoom effects pedal and got quite decent distortion sounds from it (with a strat). Better than my BOSS one, in fact. Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 14:43

3 Answers 3


Things which sound good "in the mix" often sound bad outside it. Something to always consider when dialing in guitar sounds. Some things to think about.

  • The guitar is a midrange instrument, always make sure that you dont scoop your EQ settings.
  • Always EQ before distortion/gain. Distortion will naturally compress, and will effect the entire signal. You want to focus the breakup in the areas of the signal that make the biggest difference. You want to high/low pass before your gain stages.
  • Use compression
  • Use a noise gate, before the compressor.
  • Try to avoid running the simulation at "maximum" volume settings, or clipping the simulation. You'll get far better results when you can use the entire dynamic range of the simulation.
  • A touch of reverb after the amplifier simulation always helps.
  • Quite often, using a 3rd party Impulse Response tool and some decent cabinet models can make all the difference.
  • If you cant use 3rd party IR's, pay special attention to the Cabinet/Microphone you're using. especially if you're layering guitar parts. It's possible to get unwanted phase cancellation if using similar, but slightly different cabinet + microphone settings.
  • Layer. Lots of Layers. Its pretty rare that you hear a single guitar part on a record these days. usually there's 3-4 layered parts, with different amplifier settings.
  • You probably actually want to use less gain than you think you do :).
  • Check the internet for various downloadable presets!

I know its an old post.. with a selected answer.

But I felt that Gabe's problem has been also mine for very long time.

What I could add to the already selected answer is to try this software with monitor speakers. For my pc I have a logitech 2.1 speaker system (with sub-woofer) which is totally inappropriate for the situation.

A very weird suggestion is something I tried some days ago, its try using a clean amp and place your own real distortion pedals before the pc! I tried my Radial Tonebone - Plexitube, with the "Plex" amp with everything clean, and the result was awesome! Even with the lousy beta aivin - ds100 the result was nice. It might sound weird, but that sounds was a lot better than anything I could make with guitar rig's distortions and pedals. Dont try with digital multieffect pedal boards like zoom or boss gt, just plug a single dist pedal :)

The above suggestion does not work well with amplitube, but with guitar rig it had a nice effect.

Also try the suggested presets and download some user ones. From the suggested ones, I really like the "God's Love" for solos

Best Wishes and happy experimenting!

  • Interesting, I knew that most amp sim software (like the one in my Zoom G5) sounds better on a full range speaker, but never thought of putting analog effects pedals before the audio interface. But, from what I understand of your answer, that would be better for live playing, instead of recording, right?
    – Gabe
    Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 14:13
  • Oh, you mean having real pedals buttons on your feet? Yes would be nice for a live.. if you are using this software and dont have the controller it comes with... but I would not use this stuff on a live, no way.. I meant for home recording or practicing or experimenting
    – thahgr
    Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 14:21
  • 1
    Hum... I'll try it, then!
    – Gabe
    Commented Mar 24, 2015 at 14:31

I have a nifty fifty type amp, (danelectro solid state combo practice amp), and a digitech rp50 multi effects thing similar to a zoom. Been working with a scarlet solo interface. I run guitar to the digitech then to the amp then out the headphone jack, which actually is its own cabinet emulator, to the scarlet solo to pc.

Understanding your delima. Mostly if i want to actually move on to recording its best for me to bypass the stupid digitech (or zoom), and just go to the amp, dial in my eq and main and overdrive from the amp and then take it in to pc. Replacing my digitech, removing it completely, will be better for me, and from what i think the other guys here are saying, it seems best to get a few single effect pedals like boss or other stomp boxes and find the sound you want to record, rather than spending good recording time looking for software effects to apply to your clean recordings.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.