Good guitar distortion (ladpsa)

I know this question has little to do with ardour functionality, however I didn’t want to join yet another forum/mailing list. Besides half the users of linux audio mailing lists probably scan these forums quite often!

Okay on to the question. Has anyone successfully put together ladspa effects on guitar to produce nice natural sounding phat distortion? I have had some success with CAPS for a nice bluesish distortion, which is great for that application, but when it comes down to power chords and the masking of individual picked notes, no combos have worked for me. I did download and try Creox, which is pretty good, but it doesn’t even begin to compare with amplitube. If I have to I’ll reformat my system to 32 bit and build ardour with VST support I guess…just hoping that I could achieve everything I wanted to in the open source arena!


Try various combinations of plugins like, valve saturation, TAP tubewarmth and fast overdrive in combination with the CAPS plugins.

If you want really really heavy distortion, you can add in something like Barry’s Satan Maximiser or pointer cast distortion.

Add EQ plugins before and/or after distortion plugins to better control tone.

In the end though, you will always be better off just getting a nice tube amp. (I recommend Mesa Boogie’s Blue Angle with the Crispy Cream “G” version treble booster.)

I tried all those combos and none comes close to the VST plugins.
I had to compile Ardour with VST to get that phat rock/metal guitar crunch using VST plugins like juicy77 and the SimuAnalog guitar suite.
Both plugins are free.
I’ve emailed the maker of Juicy77 about making an ladspa plugin and he said that was in the works.

Like Ruben said, the best way is to get an amp. Search the net for some free homemade guitarpreamp schematics.
My friend is building me tha LXH2 Marshall sounding preamp with cab sim.

Thanks guys, the guitarist I record has an amp, but sometimes you can achieve a better/different sound with a straight clean recording put through a plugin. I will take a look at those VST plugins though…I’ve got no idea when it comes to VST, as it has been years since i used them, and they were all at the computer at my SAE college, so they cost an arm and a leg!

I’ll be keen on juicy77…


IANAGP I Am Not A Guitar Player

but the even vs odd order harmonic battle of “the perfect tone” will rage on forever. Lacking a good tube amp, there are many ways to get good distortion/warmth using zero CPU cycles.

I am a huge fan of technology, but sometimes I don’t want to use a computer to render an animation of a pebble thrown into a pond, when it’s easier to find a pebble and a pond. Even if I can control every ripple, I would spend a hundred more minutes tweaking every nuance, when it may sometime be better to be throwing pebbles a few more times.

It is hard to beat a hot/clean guitar track to tweak later in many different directions. If you know you want distortion, it could be easier to use that as your source material.

Translation: sometimes analog is better.

Usually the preamp section of an amp will provide 80% of the tone. Overdriving the final output section or saturating the transformer can result in more ‘maximum tone’ but requires turning it up to 11. This is usually a fragile area on feedback and speaker performance. Without a good dead room and nice mics, it could be difficult to record, also.

There are many inexpensive tube preamps or stompboxes that use one (or several) 12AX7 tubes. These are the basic preamp sections of many guitar amplifiers. One of these with a good line out, along with modest speakers close mic’d will provide excellent results.

Hope this helps!

I generally use a small marshall combo (8080) mic’d on in 1 and also direct (line out) to In 2. Then I adjust the volume levels until I get the right balance of sound. (tbh, I usually have the direct level just a hair above silent, but it adds some spice just the same)

IAAGP and after trying some different setups and settings I discovered that I can get really great sound using my old H&K preamp together with caps amp and cabinet ladspa effects. The preamp is not much more than a distortion pedal, it has its own cabinet simulator but it sounds a lot better through caps. If you can get your hands on a dist/overdrive pedal (generally a lot less expensive than a tube amp), try it out.

If you’re on MacOS X, you can use Garageband as an effects box. Just use Jack to route its tracks into Ardour. At least, until we get AudioUnit support.

Re-Amping is also a useful tool. It works great with pedals, amps, and plugs.

If you don’t have a dedicated re-amp converter just use a cheap DI in reverse to unbalance and drop the signal.

The routing and automation capability of Ardour will allow you to send the “dry” signal back out to an analogue output where you can insert your various amps, pre’s, mics, etc and automate the send to the “live-room” (with/without plugs), then re-record to an available input(s).

If I plan to go that route I will typically use a DI to record the initial tracks plus the original amp on a seperate track via a particular microphone/mic-amp chain. Any edits should be made to the DI track as well as the Amp track(s) so that you can re-amp if desired. It increases the complexity of the project but can also be helpful if you decide to use it.

If you are going for trashing (or otherwise enhancing) a particular source for an effect then the re-amping approach can be used on any instrument and you have practically unlimited options for adding ambiance and character. Drum loops are great for re-amping as well. In most cases you can use reflective surfaces and speakers in your booth, or other room to re-record a certain ambient natural sound. If you set up a send or two in Ardour to be fed to external speakers/amps you can automate the audio going out for various parts of the song as a natural reverb or something. try adding a slow moving fan into the acoustics for a natural chorusing or leslie type of effect (depending on the fan speed, size, and placement of course).

Hope that adds to the pool of useful information.


I have managed to get a pretty meaty,fuzzy sound on an accoustic bass using Diode Processor with a bit of delay.

On top of that you could try pointer cast distortion, the Caps plugins to change the tonal qualities or purhaps eq, or pitch shifting (with lots of dry)

Hmmm… let’s see…

I’m using JackRack to do pre-processing with the following (in order)

CAPS Tube Preamp IV (gain at 10, natch…)
Valve Saturation (both controls about middle-ish)
CAPS Cabinet II Emulator (set at 2,3 or 5 which numbers correspond to a Matchless with mic on-axis, a Fender SuperChamp, or Marshall ‘Plexi’)

As I am recording downstairs with the lovely wife sleeping upstairs, my '53 Fender Pro on ‘11’ don’t make the cut most days, so I make do with a few plugins. Meaty indeed.

Hope it helps…

They can help…

I use the line out of my amp into my sound card, then use the caps cab sims. One trick I like is to use one amp sound and do two different cabs panned hard left and right - it really fills up the sound stage.

My comment on this is…You want to record direct without an amp? get a POD.

the old pod 2.0 that ive been using for 9 years now has never let me down…

you dont need an expensive new model if its just a good distorion you want. old 2.0s can go for as few as 50 bucks on ebay now…and they are tanks! Sonically and physically…Mine is still running, and I abused it a lot!

Oh, and for recording tips… for any recording tools you use. Always double track your distortion parts, and do it wit 2 completely different sounds…(i.e one “mids friendly” sound sound, and one “sucked mids”)pan them left right, and dont forget to but the bass guitar LOUD and in front… compress the shit out of the final mix with jamin, and presto! you have a brickwall guitar sound…

I wanted to update here as I’ve found the “TAP Sigmoid Booster” plugin recently. I had to normalize the track and put one of the simple amplifier plugins in front with about 11db gain, but the sound is quite similar a guitar amp. As mentioned above, some eq tweaking both before and after the “amp” would give a wide variety of sounds.

What about making a preset of the found combinations and make it avaible?

What about making a preset of the found combinations and make it avaible?

I did - with CAPS and Alsa Modular Synth…

and here it is available:

this version comes with a delay added by Sebastian Tschoepel. To use it do like this:

1.) start jackd with qjackctl
2.) start ams
3.) load the patch ams-guitrack_RC1_edtited.ams and open View/Parameter View
4.) connect alsa_pcm_in with ams_in and ams_out with alsa_pcm_out and with the input of your guitar tracks in Ardour.
5.) connect your guitar and adjust the gainsettings in the parameter-view

for me this gives the results I would expect from a middleclass- Marshall-Stack with a 19"-MultiFX involved.
That is:

or, with Sebastians delay extra:

If everything is set just right, you should be able to control distortion from nice clean to ultra-fat by turning the volume-knob on the guitar.
If unbearable hiss/noise spoils the party try to fiddle with the gain/threshold/ratio-faders of the compressor-section in tab CAPS-AMP of the Parameter-View.
You can also store your own presets here - since I strongly abhor from such vices as factory-presets, I got only 2 very basic ones in the patch itself…

nostrum fungitur

This might be helpful:

Ardour + LADSPA

using jack-rack + LADSPA

using ams + LADSPA

Have you tried out rakarrack?



I know this is not a LADSPA plugin, but Aradaz Amp has some good distortion sounds. It’s free and it’s more lightweight than some of the commercial amp plugins.