The main quality you want to look for in an amp modeler is its realism. Though purists will argue you can never truly replicate the feel and sound of a tube amp through a digital signal, sound technology is ever-improving, and the top amp modeling boxes today could fool even a well-trained ear. If you’re in the market for an amp modeler, take a gander at the products below.
These carry our recommendation for the 4 best amp modelers on the market:
Line 6 POD HD500X Guitar Amp Modeling Pedal
There are two competing schools of thought when it comes to how modern guitarists build up their effects options: those who buy many single-effects pedals and array them on a rack, and those who’d rather buy one larger pedal that gives them all the options they’re looking for in a single package. If you’re of the latter school of thought, the Pod HD500X is likely to be your new favorite toy.
Looking at its amp modelling capabilities, the Pod gives you some of the most authentic-sounding modeling you’re likely to find. It gives you 512 preset locations, all of which can be modified by the user. The on-board amp library is extremely comprehensive, with an emulation for pretty much any amp you’re likely to be looking for.
On top of this, you’ll also get over 100 different effects, with two different modes for configuring the 12 footswitches. The first mode lets you instantly switch between pre-sets, with four pedals set aside for effects; the other gives you access to eight effects with four pre-set models. While the initial cost of the Pod HD500X is high compared to other options, you would spend far more to acquire the quality of effects it offers one pedal at a time. Its impressive versatility alone makes it a worthwhile investment.
VOX STOMPLAB2G Modeling Guitar Amp Multi-Effects Pedal
The Stomplab is another great choice if you’re looking to consolidate your pedal rack into one modelling unit. It is both conveniently compact and an excellent value, giving you powerful and sophisticated modelling technology for less than $100.
The Stomplab’s onboard library contains over 104 different effects, which are conveniently arranged by both the type of effect and the style to make them easier to navigate. You’ll find models for specific amps and for specific cabinets. As you might expect, many of these are from the Vox catalogue, though there is also a good amount of variety, and you can save up to 20 custom settings, as well, if it doesn’t offer quite the sound you’re looking for. Up to eight effects can be used simultaneously, giving you even more options for customizing your tone. This is one of the best amp modelers for the money period.
DigiTech RP500 Integrated-Effects Switching Modeler
If you want the modeler with the largest on-board library of vintage amps and pedals, the RP500 from Digitech is one you should check out. All of the most popular names are included, with models of vintage British tube amps from Marshall and Vox as well as an array of Fender-styled American tones. Whichever one you go with, the sound will be authentic and realistic, and easy to tweak thanks to the included effects and tone-shaping options.
If you’re a fan of Digitech effects, as well, the RP500 comes with models of all their most popular effects, including their Fuzz, Crunch, and Spank effects, and more complex combinations like Tweedface (a Blackface power amp with a tweed pre-amp) an Brownsound (based on the stacked amps of ‘80s rock). This should be on anyone’s list of the best amp modeling pedals.
Behringer Tube Amp Modeler TM300
One of the advantages of using an amp modeler is that it saves you money over buying each amp separately. If you’re super budget-conscious, though, even some of the options above might be out of your price range. If that’s the case, consider the TM300 from Behringer, which can give you excellent tube amp emulation for right around $25.
This modeler gives you three tube amp options, three gain modes, and three different mic positions. By using these three settings in tandem, you’ll get 27 different combinations, including all the most sought-after tube amp tones. If you’re only interested in amp modelling, the simplicity of the interface can be a major benefit over the more complicated pedals above, letting you find that perfect tone more quickly and efficiently.
Choosing the Best Amp Modeler
All of the options above will give you a high-quality and realistic sound, letting you access the most sought-after sounds in guitar history without the effort and cost of tracking down vintage amps. The main difference you’ll find at the various price points will be the breadth of the on-board library and the degree of control you get over the sound.
If you prefer to use single-effects pedals on a rack over an all-in-one effects unit, a simpler modeler like the Behringer might be just your speed. After all, there’s no reason to pay for effects that you’ll likely never use, and you’ll be able to model many of the same classic amp sounds that you would on costlier models.
For gigging musicians—especially ones who spend a lot of time on the road—the convenience factor is also something to consider. Even if you’re happy with your current array of effects pedals, the Line 6 (see full specs) or Vox (see full specs) units above could give you the same range of effects in a single convenient box—and this is on top of giving you access to nearly any amp configuration you can think of. It may mean a larger initial investment but can often be more cost effective in the long run, as well.
Whichever pedal you choose, any of the above can qualify as the best amp modeler that money can buy. It really comes down to what your personal needs are—or how thick your wallet is. Best of luck to you!