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I have a small practice amp, with no usb port. I was thinking of buying an audio interfere and connect to my PC.

Can I use digital pedals and amps, add reverb, distortion, overdrive?

How do I know how to get my guitar to sound like the music I like? Let's say I want to play Nirvana's Come As You Are. How do I know which pedals I should use?

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  • Go to a good local gear store where you can try out pedals, and hopefully there are employees to give you advice in the hopes that you buy stuff. Aug 22, 2023 at 15:51
  • Yes, you can get good results using amp & pedal modelling plugins on your PC just playing direct into your audio interface. Some DAW even come with them for free (e.g. if you have a Mac then it came with GarageBand and that comes with amp + pedal models built in). For pretty much any song you can google for details about what amp and pedals the artist used - all guitarists are obsessed with this kind of info and discuss it endlessly!
    – blueskiwi
    Aug 23, 2023 at 8:49

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This is really far too broad, but this is a long journey to be starting on, so let me throw you a bone - from where you can go off & do some more research of your own.

Kurt Cobain mainly used Fenders on Nevermind - Mustang, Jaguar & Strat. The Strat had humbuckers retrofitted. The Mustang & Jaguar are unspecified, so we don't know whether it used simple single coil or P90s. He owned both at the time.

He used a Mesa-Boogie Studio head, Crown amp & Marshall 4x12. Also on the album was a Vox AC 30 & a Fender Bassman. Other than the Bassman [Lithium], we don't know which amp was used on which tracks.

Pedals were a Boss DS-1 distortion & Electro-Harmonix Small Clone chorus - which is what you hear on Come as You Are.

So, what does that boil down to?
A lot of money.

I'm a big fan of modelling amps, which usually come with a slew of effects pedal sound-alikes too. The basic distortion & chorus in most of these tend to be based on those two pedals, so they come 'free' with another 10 or so amps… including MesaBoogie , Vox AC30 etc.

I use an old Line6 UX2 which is guitar/mic amp, FX pedals & computer interface all in one. It took me about 4 minutes to copy the Come as You Are sound. I used a Telecaster* with the tone rolled off [it sounds like his guitar strings are pretty old & I've just changed mine] The chorus is such a significant part of the sound that I found it didn't really matter what amp I put it through, I could get close enough on a Vox, Marshall & MesaBoogie (though I had to back the Boogie off a long way, it's too hot otherwise). I could get pretty close with a Strat too - again the chorus pedal does most of the heavy lifting.
He plays his guitar tuned down to D, which I didn't bother with for this test, I just transposed.

A friend of mine uses a more modern equivalent of my Line6, a Yamaha THR II. You can now edit these things from your phone. Mine needs the computer. Apart from that, they're the same kind of thing. Multiple amps & pedals, dial in what you need. USB to computer. Some even come with a free DAW to get you started on recording.

These days it's really easy to Google what gear someone used on a record. Once you figure it out, you just dial in the same amp & pedals on your modelling amp. All you need to be able to do then is figure out exactly how they played it.

Info predominantly sourced from GuitarWorld - The definitive Kurt Cobain gear guide

* I also use a modelling guitar, so I've got literally 50 guitars to choose from

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    A modelling guitar! How does that works? Is the embedded pre-amp doing all the job?
    – Tom
    Aug 22, 2023 at 17:40
  • @Tom - The 'pre-amp' is really a 'computer' doing all the modelling. Like an amp modeller, it takes a known input & shifts it to match a modelled output. The Variax uses piezos, one per string, to do the modelling. It can do anything from a Strat or Paul to a Martin acoustic, Rikki 12-string or banjo. It's really quite convincing. They don't make the 'pure' variax any more, now they have actual pickups too, but it's still the same idea - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Variax lists all the guitars modelled. Mine is the original 500 from the early 2ks.
    – Tetsujin
    Aug 22, 2023 at 18:07
  • Quite odd-looking things, until you get used to them… no pickups [& therefore absolutely no hum] - i.stack.imgur.com/45kZw.jpg The modern ones look more like guitars - line6.com/variax-modeling-guitars
    – Tetsujin
    Aug 22, 2023 at 18:09
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    @Shayne - interesting they're modelling guitars too - it makes me wonder, though, how you shape the output if you're not in control of the input. The Variax is a known quantity, the Bias could be literally anything.
    – Tetsujin
    Aug 23, 2023 at 7:58
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    @EricDuminil - yeah, my friend swears by it for recording these days. I'm still happy enough with my UX2 which does everything I need. I used to use Guitar Rig, & recorded the guitars 'clean' but seriously fell out with that when I found I couldn't get amps I'd used on old projects back with a newer plug-in, even though I had every version between then & now. I vowed never to touch it again. All my guitars now go 'to tape' with the amp/speaker sound already on it… so I can never lose it again.
    – Tetsujin
    Aug 23, 2023 at 15:54

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