Fender amps have been around a very long time and since their inception, some of the biggest names in music history have turned to them for a variety of uses. These amps have fueled country and blues music for generations and they have also been at the heart of many a rock band’s signature sound.
Fender has so many well known and well used models from generations in the business so that makes for a ton of options for amp sim developers. Plenty of ground to cover here.
PLUGINS (in alphabetical order)
It’s not every day you see a plugin inspired by a fairly inexpensive combo amp but that doesn’t mean it isn’t welcome. It’s a two channel amp that has a switch to go from stock to AXP-modded, an onboard impulse and a surprisingly good reverb. It’s free and it’s also very high quality. It provides very nice cleans and solid gritty cleans for $0.
Brainworx = quality and that goes for every plugin in their product line. The Bassdude is a detailed and authentic sounding Bassman plugin that absolutely rocks. It’s a very convincing sounding plugin and it also comes with a great cab section as well as some high quality post effects to round out the suite. This one wins for our favorite Fender inspired product because it really is that good. It gives you everything you’d want in a Bassman amp sim.
The F-59 is based on the 1959 Tweed (5F6-A) Bassman circuit, which is a very popular amp from throughout music history. For 50 years, various Bassman models have been used by some of the best guitarists and bass players in music as well as tone enthusiasts worldwide. Don’t be fooled by the simple GUI, this is a versatile plugin that offers great tones from clean to mid-gain and proves the vintage capabilities of amp sim software.
Kuassas latest effort gives users some really good Fender-inspired tones for an affordable price. Inside, users get access to three amps with two channels a piece that deliver clean, driven clean and low-gain sounds as well as a nice cabinet section.
S–Gear has some truly awesome vintage sounding amps. The Wayfarer amp available inside S-Gear is based on a classic Fender but has two extra gain stages. The Custom’57 amp is based on Tweed style amp. S-Gear is a multi-amp suite that focuses on vintage and classic tones. You can go from country, jazz and blues to classic rock and mayyyybe metal-ish tones if you force it. The Fender sounding cleans made S-Gear my first click plugin for cleans and gritty driven cleans.
Sknote has been around for a little while but their amp sim products have only recently started to pop up on the market. The Deluxe 1 was the first amp sim Sknote released and it’s a really versatile simulation of a Deluxe. The TwinR is based on a Twin Reverb and it has some of the best Fender-y clean tones you can get from an amp sim. The response, resonance and warmth isn’t just first rate, it sets the the new rate for Fender inspired plugins.
The Deluxe1 and TwinR strike a huge blow for amp sim technology in my opinion because these plugins are impressing even the vintage tone enthusiasts that up until now have scoffed at the idea of playing or recording with software.
Tonality is the brainchild of two very experienced producers that was designed by some very talented people. Two of the amps that make up the core of Tonality are Fender inspired. Amps 4 and 5 represent a Fender Bassman and Deluxe. This plugin is awesome from top to bottom. The Fender amps are terrific and the accompanying Marshall, Wizard and Bogner amps are equally terrific. It’s got a pedal section and an impulse section to accompany the core amps. Tonality won HASR’s Editor’s pick for best amp sim of 2018. It’s hard not to love.
Kazrog’s Thermionik is a legendary collection of amp sims that I believe has high value to any guitarist or plugin enthusiast. Inside Thermionik you will find a few really nice Fender inspired amp sims. The Bassman, Blackface Deluxe and Champ are represented by the Bassmensch, Blackverb and Chimp. I really like all three and I use the Blackverb frequently for a number of clean applications. All three require an impulse loader.
FULL AMP SUITES
Fender amps are almost always used in mult or full amp suites as the cleaner amp offerings. This provides versatility inside the features so often Fender or Roland amps are tossed in to add options. The result is literally a sea of Fender amp sims across tons of suites. I have tried most if not all of those “Fender” options and for me they often lack the warmth really needed to represent a Fender amp. Clean tones can sometimes seem like afterthoughts when it comes to full suites so only a few really sounded like Fender amps to me.
Amplitube 4 has a large selection of officially licensed Fender products. Some of them are decent, some are passable and some are forgettable. I thought it was pretty funny that they modelled the Fender Metalhead though, well played IK Multimedia. The Fender pack is definitely worth grabbing if you like Fender amps but it’s more of a recreational playing solution than a studio quality product.
Overloud TH3 and Line 6 Helix Native both have a lot of nice Fender inspired options with really high quality. They might not have the licensed Fender graphics but they provide warm and realistic tones that have the signature Fender traits. The latest version of Helix (3.0) has a great-sounding Fender Princeton. I guess it depends on what you want out of your playing experience. Remember, tone first, graphics second.