Rating: 8.5 / 10
(Version reviewed: 1.1.2)
This would be JST’s low to mid gain offering. It was designed in collaboration with Ben Bruce of British band Asking Alexandria. Not a fan of the band but in the research I did, I liked their guitar tone a lot. I read these guys use Peavey 6534, which is an amp I really enjoy. I really like what EL34s bring to the Peavey high gain sound.
The British flag graphic is pretty cool, it makes the am sim look kind of punk rock. The graphics are simple, effective and easy going but still crisp. There’s a few panels; pedals, the amp, the loader and more to play with. You have a lot of potential ways to alter and shape the tone right onboard but you can also choose to easily bypass any part of the plugin. The Toneforge series all use a similar layout which makes the plugins easy to use for really anyone across the board.
The clean tone is nice, usable and you can make it gritty as well. With the grit up a little or a boost engaged, it’s an instant blues or classic rock machine. I didn’t see that one coming to be honest. I put in an hour or so of just trying different boosts on the clean. It responded well to a lot of boosts and a few distortion plugins as well.
Switch the channel and the gain is right there in your face. It’s got warmth, life and the gain is awesome. Kick on a boost and BAM!, the tone comes alive. The boost tightens things up really well but it’s really great without it as well. Without it you can get some nice punk rock or skate punk tones, with the gain up you can do hard rock pretty nicely. It can do metal but there are better TF offerings for high gain. Keep this one in it’s comfort zone and it won’t let you down.
I heard things in the tone that motivated me to open up some fuzz and muff pedal plugins. This move opened up a whole new use for the sim. The Audiority Big Goat turned TFBB into a ballsy doom fortress. Kind of a hidden gem in the stoner rock friendly sims. I gave it at least an hour with fuzz and muff pedals alone. Some work with fuzz plugins also yielded some really nice stoner/doom tones
The impulses included with Toneforge plugins are normally pretty top shelf considering JST also offer some really great impulse collections. The Toneforge Ben Bruce has a really nicely matched cab with mic options for altering the tone but you can bypass it to use your own loader and impulses. When I took a couple hours with the impulse selection, I was really happy with how many cabs matched nicely with the amp.
Onboard you have two channels, pedals, impulse, and more to play with that are all high quality. I especially liked the rotary chorus and delay effects for the clean channel.
UPS / DOWNS:
Tone forge Ben Bruce is a really decent sim and easily one of my favorite from the Toneforge series. I feel like it would do better if the price was a wee bit lower but JST also have sales quite frequently so watch for them. I have had a couple people scoff at my enjoyment of this amp because of it’s association with a “screamo guitarist” but if you are one of those people, we suggest you get over it and give this sim a shot because you might be surprised.
See more – official JST demo