Thanks to HZKGT, I became intrigued with JamUp Pro guitar effects/amp sim app for the iPad created by Positive Grid. The tone from the app was just superb, and I wasn’t expecting that from an iPad app. The amp/cab sim on GarageBand leaves much to be desired and that’s on a proper desktop[1].

JamUp is free to download but extra effects are available to download for a few quid. With JamUp, you could jam with a music track from iTunes, record material with its 8-track and use it as a sampler/looper[2]. Not only that, you can even download preset effects chain created by other users, and you can upload yours if you like. I was then told to check out BIAS FX, Positive Grid’s new app released earlier this year. The only snag is that it’s like twenty-odd quid, but after reading rave reviews about it, I was sold.

That was not it, though. There’s also BIAS (or BIAS AMP) which is the app where you pick and choose whatever amp you like, and with each classic set up you choose (anything from a Marshall JTM45 to a blazing Mesa Boogie Triple Rect), you can actually customise your choice. This was about fifteen quid and if you can customise any amp there is, this is peanuts.

I am still a right n00b at this, but have a look what I can do with these apps.

Starting off with the BIAS AMP app, I thought it’d be cool if I could customise an amp to be like HARUNA’s Shinos Luck 6V. I had noted that she used a Matchless as a spare at one of her live gigs (she’d otherwise use a Fender Twin or a VOX at her overseas gigs), so I chose a Matchless and see if I could customise it to Luck 6V. Now, all I have is the list of valves in her Luck 6V and that’s good enough for me. Everything else will be tweaked to my own taste, using her tone as a guide.

First off, this is the custom panel of the SHINOS[3] and luckily it’s white like the Luck 6V. Matchless amps are American, but I decided to add a little Brit flavour in my customisation.

The Luck 6V has 3x ECC83s (or 12AX7s). On BIAS, you may change them to 12AT7 or 12AU7. Actually you just use your ears to decide on the tone, but in this case, I chose the same valves but change the other parameters to my liking. On BIAS, the Matchless has four valves in the preamp – so I kept them as 12AX7s. I kept the tube stage at 3 as any more it distorts too much. To tell you the truth, I have no idea what the amp’s bias adjust or EQ parameters are. It’s all in the ear. Heh. And that’s just the preamp.

My first Brit customisation is the tone stack. Actually, to my ears the Brit tone sounded better than the American one for this. Also, the tone parameters here merely replicate those of the custom panel on the front of the amp.

Now, the power amp section. The Luck 6V uses 4x 6V6s at the power stage, and BIAS offers 6V6GTs. I chose those, as they were the closest to the 6V6. You can do further tweaks. Topology? Err… I kept it at push-pull. Again, I just used my ears and tweaked the available parameters to my heart’s content.

The output transformer is adjusted to American style because it sounded better to me. For the rectifier, I chose valve and opted for the GZ34. The Luck 6V uses 2x GZ34s, though, so this is as close as it gets. Again, there is room for further tweaks on the compression and the like.

HARU’s Luck 6V uses a 12″ Celestion Classic Lead 80. I can’t customise this bit as much, so I chose Celestion Greenbacks in a 2 x 12″ format. To mic it, I chose the Shure SM57 as I am used to it, and it sounded better for me. After placing the mic at a position to my liking, I saved the amp as a custom setting.

Now, here’s the best thing. This app ‘talks’ to its sister app, BIAS FX. This is what BIAS FX looks like:

This is the screen where you can choose whatever effects pedal and place it wherever you want. As you can see, time-based stomp boxes are placed ‘after’ the amp, in an effects loop kinda fashion. For a more solid sound, I used two of the SHINOS I customised. To further fine tune it, I added a noise gate, a treble boost, a Fulltone OCD (like HARU) and a BOSS FRV-1 reverb.

You can buy these guys individually or as an expansion pack. Like JamUp Pro, you can download other user’s effects chain or even upload yours. But unlike JamUp Pro, BIAS FX is a standalone effects sim app that you use for recording on a separate digital audio workstation (either on the iPad’s own GarageBand or one on a separate Mac), or use it live.

I really enjoyed creating this amp and I still think there’s room for further tweaks. It’s not perfect, but if you consider that you’re not paying through your nose for the individual valve amps and classic stompboxes, this is as good as it gets at the very least!

I did this rough cover of SCANDAL’s upcoming single, 「Stamp!」, using 青い春ちゃん. The iPad was connected to my M-Audio FW Solo interface which was connected to my MacBook Pro as per usual. I originally wanted to do the whole thing on my iPad but the monitoring is a bit wonky which makes me wonder if my old iPad isn’t up to the job. The recorded end product is ok though but it is a tad difficult to concentrate laying down a track when the monitoring is crap. Anyway, have a listen to the customised SHINOS Luck 6V on BIASFX in this cover. I am on the left – you can tell anyway as my amp’s gain remains cranked throughout the song, unlike HARU’s.

[1]Okay, it’s a free OSX app. Fair enough.
[2]So not that creative. All I wanna do is err… guitar covers.
[3]You can rename the amp to whatever, and that will be displayed.