Show me a Marshall sim and I will show you my enthusiasm immediately. I am a Marshall fanatic. I have owned 10+ Marshall amps in hardware form and it’s sort of an amp that I grew up appreciating because my Dad always had Marshall amps around the house when I was kid.
From Jimi Hendrix, Yngwie Malmsteen, Slash, Angus Young, Dave Mustaine, Lemmy and all the other guys that I grew up idolizing were always standing in front of the black and gold. It was like a mythical thing to me until I got to play on one. I think every guitarist remembers his first rip on a stack and mine just happened to be a 2×412 JCM 800 stack at age 12.
I am not one of those rich amp collectors, I just ran into a couple good trades and deals that led to me owning a JCM 800, JMP and Jubilee. I actually found the Jubilee at the landfill in need of repairs but that’s a story for another day.
I am a little confused by the name Caliburn for a British amp plugin but it still sounds cool anyways. The plugin provides three 2-channel amps, a cabinet section with impulse loader and a few handy onboard features.
The Caliburn GUI is a big step above anything GUI on a Kuassa product prior to it. You can really tell that the company took things up a notch with this plugin by just looking at it. The layout is easy going and everything needed is on one nicely designed panel. Kuassa makes experimenting with the Caliburn a lot of fun because they give you piles and piles of tone possibilities across the three amps.
I really like when a developer has a really solid starting point when I first load up a plugin. It always makes the very first impression a lot better. The initial tone you get when you open Caliburn is well rounded.
You get a JTM45, JCM 800 and a JCM 900. Two of these are high on my all time list and the other is…. Not as much but still cool. I have a hate/hate relationship with the original JCM 900 but the plugin version is pretty enjoyable.
Ah, the 900. I wanted to get the negatives out of the way first but when I laid into a few chords and notes, I had to sit and appreciate that Kuassa has somehow shaved off a lot of the things I never liked about the 900. The 900 clean is a bit clunky but if you dial back the mids a bit, it can work.
There’s not much in the world of tone that I like better than a JCM800 with a tube screamer in front of it and a 412 cab to seal the deal. This 800 sounds like it’s been to the amp doctor for a few modifications but the characteristics of the 800 are there. It’s loud, ripping, shredding and cutting pleasure. Caliburn has so many rhythm and lead capabilities. It can do 80s rock, 80s thrash, stoner rock, metal and a bunch of other things just like the real JCM800. Kuassa did a great job to make sure the version of the 800 they included had the tone of the real thing while giving the user a lot more ways to change the tone than you would have with a stock JCM800.
After the 800, I took a break and actually let the review sit for a few days. I feel if things are sounding too similar, you need to give your ears a break. When I came back to it I hit the JTM and I was right back in the pocket in a snap. The JTM45 2245 is in my top 5 amps and always will be so when I switched the amp, I turned up my monitors so I could test the warmth and sustain while also rocking the f**k out.
The 45 is warm, aggressive and just a little obnoxious in the right places as a good 45 should be. I am in classic rock town and there’s a chance I could end up with a mullet when this is done. The rhythm and lead tones are just as they should be as well which rounds out the realism a little more.
You can get the Caliburn to do high gain and it’s pretty decent but I did have to process it a little more than I usually would to harness a few of the unwanted frequencies created by pushing it a little passed it’s comfort zone. Still, it will do it well.
I often toss in fuzz plugins to engage the doomier side to the Caliburn. The answer is yes it can do stoner/doom. The Efektor Fuzz from Kuassa is an awesome mix of fuzz effects and a great mix with the Caliburn. The added strength in this department put the plugin into our list of the best Marshall sims and it will likely make a few more lists in the future.
I love boosting Marshall amps, it just works out so well. The Kuassa Efektor OD for a range of overdrive and tubescreamer components. No secret here, it sounds awesome boosted. Whether you are looking for an aggressive thrashy tone with the 800 or just to push the amps a bit harder, it’s not an issue. Distortion pedal plugins also work out pretty well when needed!
The sim gives all of the amps clean tones even though two of them don’t have clean channels in their traditional hardware form. It’s just an added bonus really. The cleans are a little bland at times, you can liven them up with some brighter impulses, reverb and single coil pickups.
The impulses included fit the amp sim really nicely. You can alter the mics, cabs and go with one or two impulses onboard. I also had great luck with my own impulses. I used a huge variety of 212 and 412 impulses and it seemed that a lot of Orange cab impulses were sounding really great so I focused on Orange 412 and Marshall open and closed back cabs.
UPS / DOWNS:
Superb release from Kuassa here, it’s very obvious that they have taken a step forward in all areas. I couldn’t be happier with this amp sim. Kuassa took classic Marshall amps, put their stamp on them and put together a really nice package here. I love this plugin and I will be using it a lot in the future.
See more – Meet&Greet with the Kuassa Caliburn