Rating: 3.0 / 5
(Version reviewed: 1.1.0)
The Tone Forge line of plugins from JST offers a compact and effective signal chain that goes from the gate to post FX. This one is designed for and by Jason Richardson of Chelsea Grin and Born of Osiris fame. I am not a fan of either band per se however, regardless of the genre, when I heard his playing, it stood out because he’s an incredible shredder with great tone. I have no idea what amps are modeled inside and nothing is listed in the specs but I read he has used Engl, Friedman and PRS amps. The sale bug led me on this one. And clearly I can’t say no to something on sale.
There’s no nice way to say this but I really don’t like the graphics or the layout. The design and graphics work are top notch but the usual Toneforge layout just felt a bit drawn out. This would be way better as a three channel amp but instead they split it into three different amps on three panels with different settings and I just prefer a more simple and fixed layout I guess. It’s still easy to navigate but I felt it could have been condensed a bit.
Starting with the clean, it’s nice and pretty useful. I had a nice reverb heavy clean tone happening within a min or two. The next amp/channel is a rhythm channel that’s not bad but I just found it sounded kind of bland. Last there’s a lead channel that I found pretty decent for both solos and higher gain usages. You could use it for really any high gain purpose but it was very much designed with djent and modern metal in mind.
Yes, it djents and if that’s your thing, buy it asap but it can do a few other things as well. The lead tones you can get with it are pretty nice. They seem to cut really well with no processing needed and cut even nicer with some subtle processing. Rhythm wise, I wasn’t really able to get anything really strong out of it. I know this sim was designed to djent-de-de-djent but it can capably do other things as well, I am not sure if I would reach for this sim too often but I can see its worth to a specific demographic.
Everything is very digital sounding and I had to process a lot to get where I needed to go which is something I didn’t have to do with any other TF amp sim. I found adding a tube power amp type plugin to the mix warmed things up, try the TPA-1 from Ignite Amps, it’s free. 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 but for me, the layout and controls were tough to get passed.
When I bypassed the onboard cab for my own impulses, I found some nice matched. It sounded great with oversized 212 and 412 options. Engl XXL, Krank, Mesa 412 OS, Orange and Genz-Benz were my favorite brands across multiple impulse providers. It just sounded better adding more depth to the tone.
I can’t really say I loved or hated anything about Toneforge Jason Richardson. I didn’t really feel it captured his signature tones that I’ve heard him use for a few years now. With everything coming out right now in the hi-gain market, TFJR doesn’t compare to the higher end plugins but it can provide some decent tones with a great ease of use.
See more – official JST demo