Getting To Know The POD Farm Amp Models

As I mentioned in my previous post, I intend to learn and acquire an in-depth understanding of every piece of gear and software I have. On this post, I am going to learn about the 18 different amp models that come with Line 6’s POD Farm.

I have Version 1 of POD Farm which came with the POD Studio UX2 I got on Christmas of 2009. As of this writing, Version 2 has come out but I won’t go into that as I obviously don’t own it. I’m working with what I have.

Most amp models have knobs for drive, bass, middle, treble, presence and volume that can be tweaked allowing for hundreds if not thousands of possible tones.

To get familiar with the amp models, I decided to record clips to be able to compare each sound. Picking an amp model in POD Farm automatically pairs it with a pre-set cabinet, room position and one of three microphone types, all of which can also be tweaked so I’m not exaggerating when I mentioned the number of possible tones that can be had with this piece of software.




THE RECORDING PROCESS

In the mixer section of POD Farm standalone, I set the record send to "dry" so I can apply all the amp model VST plugins to the same exact guitar signal in my DAW.

After recording the dry guitar signal, I fired up the POD Farm VST plugin in my DAW to non-destructively apply each amp model. I decided to deactivate the cabinets, which in turn deactivated the room and mic. That way I could get the basic sound of the amp model. As for the knob settings, I left them as they were preset.

I observed that each amp preset had certain characteristics from clean tone to distorted so I grouped them into four categories: Clean, Mild Distortion, Medium Distortion and Heavy Distortion. The grouping is strictly subjective so you might disagree and that’s fine with me. The amps in the distorted category doesn’t mean they can’t be tweaked to crank out clean sounds but Line 6 may have had a good reason for their pre-defined settings that’s why I left them alone.

The descriptions for each amp are excerpts from the POD Farm User Manual.

Click on the picture to get a closer look.

CLEAN AMP MODELS


1987 Jazz Clean



Jazz Clean Audio Sample

The 1987 Jazz Clean Amp Model is modeled after the classic Roland® JC-120. This transistor amp was known for a strident clean sound and built-in stereo chorus. It’s perfect for that 80’s “new wave” sound (after all, it was Andy Summers’ favorite amp with The Police).


1958 Tweed B-Man



Tweed B-Man Audio Sample

The 1959 Tweed B-Man Model is based on the classic ‘58 Fender® Bassman® 4x10 combo, the amp that started it all — instant rock and roll tone. Originally a bass guitar amp, the Bassman® became a Blues staple for 6-string guitarists. It has the fat bottom end you’d expect from a bass amp, but also has the Fender® twang on the top. Incidentally, when Jim Marshall built his first amps with Ken Bran they were heavily influenced by the early Bassman®.

One of the interesting things about the Bassman® is just how interactive the Middle and Treble controls are. The Middle control isn’t a bandpass, as in most tone control setups. Instead, it’s almost like a second treble control. The two are additive, so if you’re running your Middle knob higher than halfway up with this model, you’ll find that the Treble control might give you more bright than you really want. On the other hand, when you turn the Middle knob down, you’ll probably want to boost the Treble.


Line 6 Piezacoustic 2



Line 6 Piezacoustic 2 Audio Sample

This one is designed to work with the piezo output of solid body electrics that have one of those newfangled bridges with the ‘acoustic’ pickup built in. Since you don’t have to worry about the body shaking itself to pieces with feedback on that type of guitar, we’ve cooked up this model with more low-mids and low frequencies.


Power Amp



Line 6 Power Amp Audio Sample

Just need some clean stereo power with lots of headroom? Well here it is, but no need to hurt yourself lifting this heavy-duty power source!


MILD DISTORTION MODELS

1964 Blackface ‘Lux



1964 Black Face Audio Sample

The Holy Grail for many blues, country, and “roots” players has been a blackface Fender® Deluxe Reverb®. After listening to quite a few candidates back when we were seeking the ultimate Deluxe Reverb® for our 1964 Blackface ‘Lux model to be based on, we stumbled upon an extremely cool ‘64 Deluxe Reverb®.


1967 Class A-30 Top Boost




1967 Class A-30 Top Boost Audio Sample

The 1967 Class A-30 Top Boost model is based on a Vox® AC 30. Music was changing in the early ‘60s and guitarists were asking for more brilliance & twang. So the Jennings Company, makers of Vox® amps, decided to add Treble and Bass controls (and an extra 12AX7 gain stage, incidentally) in addition to the Treble Cut knob it already had (which in actuality was a sliding bandpass filter that always seemed like it was working backwards); this additional circuit became known as Top Boost.

The AC 30 with Top Boost was the amp made famous by many British invasion bands. Much of the unique character of the Vox® sound can be attributed to the fact that Class A amps overdrive in a very different way than Class AB. Brian May of Queen, Mike Campbell of Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers, and The Edge of U2 have all used classic AC 30s to make their music. Although usually played fairly clean, a cranked AC 30 has a great saturated lead tone, a la Brian May on the early Queen albums.


1968 Plexi Lead 100



1968 Plexi Lead 100 Audio Sample

The 1968 Plexi Lead 100 is modeled after the infamous ‘68 Marshall® ‘Plexi’ Super Lead — coveted by tone connoisseurs the world over. We literally scoured the world for this particular amp, finally finding a great example of a Super Lead languishing (we like to think fate preserved it for us) in Holland. By the time this amp was built (ca. 1968), Marshall® had completely changed the circuitry away from the Fender® 6L6 power tube heritage and moved to an EL34 tube. Another major tone difference was due to the necessary output & power supply transformer changes. All this mucking about added up to create a tone forever linked with Rock Guitar. Amps of this era didn’t have any sort of master volume control, so to get the sound you’d have to crank your Super Lead to max — just the thing to help you really make friends with the neighbors. Hendrix used Marshalls of this era; a decade later Van Halen’s first two records owed their “brown sound” to a 100-watt Plexi (Our Super Lead, in fact, has the ‘lay down’ transformer that was unique to ‘68 models, the same as Hendrix and Van Halen’s Marshalls).


1953 Small Tweed



1953 Small Tweed Audio Sample

Modeled after a 1953 “wide panel” Fender® Tweed Deluxe Reverb®, the 1953 Small Tweed Amp Model will snarl with the best of them. The original amp had only a single Tone control, essentially a treble roll off. We set up the Treble knob to give you this treble roll off when using this Amp Model, which left us with the Bass and Middle knobs just sitting there, so we set up the Bass and Middle as post-Amp Model controls, which essentially lets you EQ up your tone as you would do on a mixing console after recording your amp.


Tube Preamp



Line 6 Tube Preamp Audio Sample

Before we created the dedicated Preamp Models featured in POD Farm, we developed this simple tube preamp model for the Amp Model slot of our PODxt® and GuitarPort®. This model was created to give PODxt and GuitarPort users a solution for plugging the output from an acoustic guitar’s piezo pickup or a bass into GuitarPort or PODxt hardware. It can also deliver some tasty tones with a Line 6 Variax® guitar or bass, or standard electric guitar. With the tone controls at 12 o’clock, the EQ is “flat.”

Adventurous recordists will find that it can even be used to add some tube warmth or distorted grind to just about anything — warming up keyboards, crunching up drums, and fuzzing up vocals the way producers and engineers often do in the studio with vintage tube gear. When you do this stuff, you want to use the Drive control like a mix knob on a reverb to control how much processing you want to hear.



MEDIUM DISTORTION AMP MODELS

Brit Gain 18



Brit Gain 18 Audio Sample

Based on the Marshall® 1974X “authentic re-issue” of the famous 1974 18W Combo from the late ‘60’s. (Brief editorial aside: Marshall® has had a long tradition of coming up with model numbers that can easily be taken for years. The Model 1974 combo was manufacturer from 1965 to 1968, the Model 1961 and 1962 combos were first made in 1965. Is it any wonder we look confused sometimes?) The 1974 has a basic preamp, (gain and tone controls) and a cathode biased twin EL84 power amp. It is a great recording amplifier, with a wonderfully compressed and harmonically rich tone.


Citrus D-30



Citrus D-30 Audio Sample

In 1968, in a little music store on Old Compton St. in London, Clifford Cooper was having trouble getting amplifier manufacturers to take him seriously as a dealer, as they thought he was too young, and his shop too small. So he did what seemed only logical to an enthusiastic young man with a background in electrical engineering – he designed and built his own amplifiers. Since he had come into a large quantity of bright orange vinyl that was what he used to cover his cabinets. It wasn’t long before high-profile musicians like Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Wonder, and Frank Zappa were beating a path to his door. This model is based on an Orange®AD30TC head, a 30 watt, Class A number with a great personality that gracefully marries vintage British mid-gain breakup with modern shimmer and presence.


1968 Plexi Jump Lead



1968 Plexi Jump Lead Audio Sample

Guitar playing is all about experimentation, isn’t it? That, and finding all the possible ways to get more distortion out of whatever gear you have at hand. One of the fun things you can do with a Plexi is take a short guitar cable and jumper channel I and channel II (as they’re frequently numbered) together for a little extra saturation. Some guys loved this sound so much that they pulled the chassis and permanently wired a jumper into the amp. Being the obsessive/compulsive tone freaks we are, we just had to give you the 1968 Plexi Jump Lead model to give you a sound based on of this setup.


1993 Solo 100 Head



1993 Solo 100 Head Audio Sample

The 1993 Solo 100 Head Amp Model is based on a Soldano® SLO-100 head. Mike Soldano first came to fame as the guy who could do all the really cool mods to your Marshall®. It wasn’t long before he started building his own ‘hot-rod’ amps — sporting chromed transformers and chassis, no less. Mike’s amps are also famous for their bullet-proof construction and military spec wiring and components.


HEAVY DISTORTION AMP MODELS

1990 Brit J-800



1990 Brit J-800 Audio Sample

The 1990 Brit J-800 Amp Model is based on a Marshall® JCM 800. Turn to this Amp Model to conjure up tones of the coveted JCM 800, one of Marshall’s most universally acclaimed modern amps. This updated version of the Plexi continued Marshall’s heritage with added gain and edge for a new generation of rock guitarists. One of the biggest differences here is that the tone controls are located after the preamp tubes.

Incidentally, some versions of JCM 800’s get their distortion by clipping a diode. The amp we modeled uses a tube for distortion.


Line 6 Chemical X




Line 6 Chemical X Audio Sample

Just like those secret ingredients that detergent companies used to crow about (Now! Contains Ingredient X-27!) The Line 6 Sound Design guys wouldn’t tell us anything about what the inspiration for this one was or who it might have belonged to (no matter what type of bribery we attempted). Suffice to say that it’s a very punchy hi-gain sound that also cleans up quite nicely when you roll your volume back.


Line 6 Treadplate



Line 6 Treadplate Audio Sample

Looking for tight, high gain tone? The kind of sound that powers classic Metallica or Dream Theater tracks? Then you’ve come to the right place, my friend. This model lets you dial in plenty of distortion perfect for chunk-chunk-chunking, and also ready to power some mosh pit punking. Its tone controls have plenty of range to let you scoop out your mids, or beef up the bottom for just the tone you need.


Line 6 Spinal Puppet



Line 6 Spinal Puppet Audio Sample

You know how, when you’re playing head-bangin’ music, you look out into the audience and see all those heads bobbing up and down? Those are Spinal Puppets. Need we say more?


Line 6 Insane



Line 6 Insane Audio Sample

Our goal here was to provide you with as much input gain distortion as possible short of complete meltdown. You get ridiculous, rich tube drive to shame the distortion of pretty much any amp on the planet while still retaining tonal definition and character. As a result, you get way lots of bottom end and cabinet character with tons of wide-ranging tone shaping. Crank up the Drive control and take no prisoners!


Of course it's kind of difficult to compare each amp sound by listening to them one at a time so I whipped up this video so you can hear the sound transition from one amp to the next within each category. Enjoy!