Neural DSP offers a digital solution for vintage black panel and tweed sounds with the Tone King Imperial MKII plugin

Neural DSP Tone King Imperial MKII plugin
(Image credit: Neural DSP)

Neural DSP has launched the Tone King Imperial MKII Suite, a plugin that emulates all of the vintage Fender-esque mojo of the original tube amp combo in digital form – and for a fraction of the price.

Just like the Imperial MKII, the plugin offers players a two-channel setup, with spring reverb and bias-modulated tremolo, and an onboard Ironman II Reactive Attenuator to change the feel of the amplifier.

And thanks to the magic of digital, you get some effects to play with pre effects including a compressor pedal and two different overdrive pedals, with BBD-style chorus and delay joining reverb in the post effects section. There is also a wah pedal, plus Neural DSP’s nine-band graphic equaliser. 

Neural DSP Tone King Imperial MKII plugin

(Image credit: Neural DSP)

The Tone King Imperial MKII is much sought-after for its super capable rendering of classic Fender guitar amp sounds, with a voice ranging from spanky black panel to gritty tweed, with plenty of sweet spots to be found between benchmark tones. Its 20-watt, 1x12 format is replicated here. 

The original is fitted with a custom-voiced Eminence driver, but here there is a cabsim module that offers 100s of IRs designed by 5by5 studios and the capability to upload your own.

It also features two speakers and a selection of eight virtual microphones for recording – including AKG C414 B ULS and the Sennheiser MD409-U3, vintage models that would cost close to two grand in the physical space, so to speak. All this, however, is priced €99, with a free 14-day trial on offer.

The Tone King Imperial MKII Suite is available as a standalone package or 64-bit VST/AU/AAX, with a free iLok License Manager and iLok account required. See Neural DSP for more details.

Creating digital versions of classic amplifiers is all in a day’s work for for Neural DSP, but the Tone King combo makes is something of a change of pace, perhaps recognition that the boutique amp demographic is more amendable to using plugins, or that the tech-savvy are seeking out more classic tone options.

Neural DSP has also designed plugins that similarly translate physical amplifiers to digital, with the likes of Fortin, Soldano and Omega Ampworks available online. It’s most recent blockbuster release saw John Petrucci join its Archetype artist roster, offering Dream Theater fans the chance to house all of his tones in one convenient format. Mastering his formidable playing style, however, is all on you.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.