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After quite a lot of experimentation, I’ve come down pretty strongly on the side of real amps, rather than sims.
I know that there are some great sims out there (I use Positive Grid Bias FX when I am coaching online) but from what I can see, the sims do clean tones very well and heavily overdriven tones very well. However they just can’t seem to replicate that lightly overdriven tone that you hear so often in the blues (and which you hear in early ZZ Top records). And crucially, you don’t get that same dynamic interplay between your playing and the amp. That for me is problematic, because you lose a lot of the nuance and texture in the tone.
The big problem for most players who are doing a lot of their practice and playing at home, is volume. To get those vintage tones, you typically have to drive your amp a little and crank the volume, and that can be a challenge if you have neighbours etc.
Is that a problem for you @Coffee Rocker? If so, let me know and I’ll add in some suggestions of smaller amps that would break up at lower volumes. Or as @Johnny said – a Marshall style amp with a master volume. Personally I am a big fan of Friedman amps for vintage style Marshall tones;I think their tones are just awesome 🔥
As a final point for now, when talking about his early tone, Gibbons once stated:
“I would say that it was the ’59 Gibson Les Paul, better known as ‘Pearly Gates’, plugged into a hundred-watt Marshall. (It) designed a sound that still resonates today’
If you’re interested, I added a bit more detail on Gibbons’ rig in this article here:
Let me know how you get on man! 😁