Amp simulator packages have always been supplied the same way: loads of amps, cabs and effects in one big package. The problem is that if, for example, all you want is a few high-gain sounds and a couple of stompboxes, the package is far less of a bargain.
IK Multimedia has sought to address this problem with its new Custom Shop setup. You can either purchase the full version of AmpliTube 3 or there's a very generous free package that offers 24 gear models.
Whichever starting point you choose, you can add to it by purchasing individual units that take your fancy, enabling you to piece together a custom setup that suits you.
The Custom Shop is easy to navigate and you can demo the models for two days once every two months. To purchase any units, you must first buy Gear Credits (20 or more at a time).
These are charged in Euros and the more you spend, the cheaper the credits get. At their most pricey, each credit is worth around 60p, and an amp and cab will set you back 25 credits, or about £15.
The most significant addition to the AmpliTube 3 models is the Orange range of amps and cabs, boasting seven new officially certified models, including the popular AD-30TC, Rockerverb 50 and the Tiny Terror. These are perfect if you're looking for plenty of gain without losing clarity. Purists may argue the hardware versions are superior, but if Orange are happy, you should be too.
Fender's presence has also been expanded with the '57 Champ and '65 Princeton Reverb emulations. Like the models found in the AmpliTube Fender package, these are top-quality units that come with the Fender seal of approval.
The Champ's simple, one-dial setup delivers an excellent, overdriven bluesy punch. The Princeton provides a warm, clean sound, which is great on its own or can serve as the perfect foundation for creating distorted tones by using stompboxes.
There's also a single Soldano unit in the shape of a virtual SLO-100. As with the original hardware amp, the model offers a versatile range of tonal options and IK's version ably reproduces the superb high-gain sounds that made the SLO a classic.
It's not all about amps, though, and the Custom Shop includes three impressive stompboxes from T-Rex. Of particular note are the Replica Delay and Mudhoney pedals, the latter of which handles smooth overdrives and beefy distortions equally well.
With teasers in the Custom Shop browser for upcoming products from Jet City and Seymour Duncan promising a range of models, it seems the selection will keep expanding. This means users will be able to avoid the traditional software curse of their product being out of date almost instantly.