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 caused a major stir when it hit the market. We hadn’t even officially launched yet and people were emailing us fairly regularly about this plugin.
The Fender Tweed Deluxe is an amp that has really been everywhere and done everything and yet it’s such a simplistic amp. Funny how sometimes we forget that you don’t always need lots of knobs and switches for tone shaping. The Deluxe 1 follows suit, there’s very little you can’t do with it, especially with a few pedals.
The GUI is really nice and exactly what I want to see in a plugin inspired by a vintage amp. You get an aged looking Tweed Deluxe amp on a nice carpet. The setting is comfortable and relaxed like a jam room or studio setting. Below that is a Deluxe style control panel and you can find some other options around the page for presets etc.
Sknote plugins for me have mostly had me from the first note. You can hear the difference in quality between the Deluxe1 and other vintage inspired amp sims right away in the note response. It reminded me of when I upgraded my monitors a ways back because it was like I was hearing frequencies and little things I wasn’t hearing before on account of not having the right level of quality. I was hearing inflections and feeling things while I was playing that normally don’t translate to the digital realm. Things are brighter, more detailed and carry a lot more depth than many of the other Fender and vintage inspired amp sims I have used over the years.
Some of the greatest country musicians of all time have used the Fender Tweed Deluxe for rhythm and lead but also for steel guitar, pedal steel and more so country was my first stop. I had a Waylon Jennings style 70s country with a slight turn of two knobs and zero processing. Add a touch of Sknote’s pedal arsenal and you can go from modern compressed to vintage phase or Univibe style twang in seconds. I absolutely love this amp for any style of country playing.
Next stop is the blues and the Deluxe1 didn’t need more than a change to a strat style pickup to be a blues machine! A little touch of the blues driver plugin from Audified’s Multi-Drive Pedal Pro and the tone was pure bliss. For me, the feel is everything for blues playing and I don’t like to compressed my blues tones too much because I want the dynamics to be just that… dynamic. The Deluxe1 provides all the honk and chug needed in a blues rhythm but also all the squeal and sustain needed for blues leads. For the leads, dial up the dirt, toss in your favorite delay and reverb for a bit more space and you have it made.
The Deluxe1 can get angry and the gain is great for punk, classic rock and other gain oriented applications but I preferred to find the point of break up in the gain and then use a distortion, OD or TS out in front to provide the dirt instead because that’s how I prefer to use the real thing but if you are after that loose, gritty honk that the Fender Tweed Deluxe is known for, the plugin version from Sknote will give you goosebumps.
The impulse is built in and at this time cannot be bypassed but there’s a good reason for it that is explained fully by Sknote on the product page but in short, the speaker is wired into the whole process of the plugin and it’s tied right into the amp’s incredible note response. While I totally understand the developer’s reasoning for not having a bypass, it has to take from the score slightly.
UPS / DOWNS:
There’s nothing bad about this plugin and along with the Sknote TwinR, it’s come onto the market with a flourish, sending a lot of other Fender inspired plugins over to the bench for a back-up role. The Deluxe1 and TwinR also 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.
If you are a fan of Fender tones, this plugin as well as the TwinR should not only be on your watch list, they should already be in your cart at www.sknoteaudio.com
NOTE: a thing worth noting is that the real amp has two input channels. A design flaw in the real amp makes the input gain knob setting on channel 2 (disconnected) affect the gain staging on channel 1 (connected). The net result is something like an intermediate gain control by an “In 2” knob. It looks like Neil Young for example has this second knob connected to a custom control, like a pedal.
With the Deluxe1 this can be replicated by adding a MIDI expression pedal. Doing this greatly increases the ability to control the gain staging of the amp.