Kemper Profiler Stage, Nueral DSP Quad Cortex & Line 6 HX Stomp (clockwise from top)

A deep dive into faux amps, futuristic setups, and how to use modern technology’s powers for good.

The jump between analog and digital gear has never been more manageable. It no longer takes a rack full of outboard gear with a six-figure price tag to help realize not only the tone you have in your head, but the expansive workflows that started to pop up in the early ’80s. We’re now about a decade into the modern era of digital modelers and profilers and it seems like the technology has finally come into its own. “This is really the first time in a while where you can have bar bands playing the exactsame gear as stadium acts,” says Cooper Carter, a Fractal Audio Systems production consultant who has done sound design and rig building for Neal Schon, James Valentine, John Petrucci, and others.

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A versatile fuzz inspired by the legendarily damaged tones of Link Wray, Ike Turner, and Grady Martin.

Wide range of tones. Unique fuzz tones. Easy to control. Very responsive to picking dynamics and other effects.

Bias and tone controls would benefit from detents.

$110

Electro-Harmonix Ripped Speaker
ehx.com

4.5
4.5
4.5
5

The idea of broken gear can be triggering to many folks, but many of us think that some amps sound best in the moments just before they kick the bucket. The EHX Ripped Speaker successfully captures that sound—without the panic and desperation that normally follow. And just as a malfunctioning amp can go unnoticed or totally change your vibe, the Ripped Speaker runs the gamut from subtle to blown out.

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While Monolord has no shortage of the dark and heavy, guitarist and vocalist Thomas V Jäger comes at it from a perspective more common to pop songsmiths.

Photo by Chad Kelco

Melodies, hooks, clean tones, and no guitar solos. Are we sure this Elliott Smith fan fronts a doom-metal band? (We’re sure!)

Legend has it the name Monolord refers to a friend of the band with the same moniker who lost hearing in his left ear, and later said it didn’t matter if the band recorded anything in stereo, because he could not hear it anyway. It’s a funny, though slightly tragic, bit of backstory, but that handle is befitting in yet another, perhaps even more profound, way. Doom and stoner metal are arguably the torch-bearing subgenres for hard rock guitar players, and if any band seems to hold the keys to the castle at this moment, it’s Monolord.

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