The Soldano SLO100 is an iconic amp and it’s been the flagship product for Soldano since it was released in 1987. It’s an amp with such a legacy that Mike Soldano built a company around it. It’s been used by everyone from legendary guitar heroes on stages all over the world to weekend warriors that just want to blow the doors off the house once in a while. Every legendary amp in the game got it’s status at least partially from the list of players that have called on it over the years.
The SLO100’s list is made of names that normally wouldn’t be in a list together but it’s probably one of the most awe-inspiring of any amp. Players like Stevie Ray Vaughan, John Fruciante, Theo Goutzinakis, John Mayer, Mark Knopfler, Eddie Van Halen, Gary Moore, Prince, Mick Mars, Matt Pike, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Eric Clapton, Warren Haynes, George Lynch, Dave Baksh, Warren Demartini, both Schenker brothers, Joel Stroetzel and oh my goodness… I think you get the point right? If that’s not enough, the SLO100 can also be found in the amp choices at just about any professional studio in business. Don’t believe me? The next time you watch a studio walkthrough or in studio footage, be on the look out.
Nembrini Audio created what was, in HASR’s opinion, the first really high quality and truly authentic plugin based on the Soldano SLO100 in their BST100 V1. We loved and still love that version of the plugin but since it’s release, Nembrini has refined and upgraded a few things in their process. V2 features better modeling, an all-new cabinet section and a sweet snakeskin tolex exterior that would make your uncle Randy rev up his iRoc. For a full review on V1, please head HERE. The MRH810 and BST100 were the only Nembrini amp sims to be released before the changes in their development process so they will likely be the only plugins to be given a V2.
Nembrini Audio has always and will always put a lot of thought into their GUIs. The details, aesthetics, authenticity and ease-of-use are always in check. It wouldn’t have put money on Nembrini using the classic snakeskin tolex version of the SLO100 but I was pleasantly surprised. The Snakeskin finish has made a comeback which suits me plenty fine so the choice to use it here for that extra bit of Mr.Scary goodness is appreciated. Everything is laid out perfectly for easy navigation so that anyone from new to experienced amp sim users can figure it out fairly quickly. The BST100 features clean, crunch and boost channels with the clean and crunch sharing an EQ and master.
The clean tones are bright, full of life and warm to the core. I switched the cabinet to the 212 option in the cabinet section which really brought the clean tones to life. I tried a selection of my own 212 open back impulses which, turned up even more really great tones. This shows why so many players that prefer clean, low-gain and edge-of-break up tones reach for the SLO100. There is simply no weak area of the analog amp and the plugin is no different. Nembrini Audio has also taken the care to properly develop every area of the amp rather than just the gainier side. The low end is effortlessly smooth when playing soft lead work on the clean channel. Add a little chorus and delay from the Nembrini Analog Rack bundle for something really special.
The boost channel is where the SLO100 and it’s plugin companion, the BST100 can get a little tougher and touchier to get right. The great tones are absolutely not hard to find but variables like pickups, guitar, pedals and such can affect how the amp responds. If using a boost of any kind on the boost channel of the plugin, you will want to turn down the tone knob on the pedal and then bring it up slowly until you get where you need. The boost channel is already pretty stacked in the mid frequencies so the modern 0-10-10 boost settings just create needless harshness. The boost channel will do any mid to high gain rhythm or lead application without an issue and a mid range that works perfectly for modern metal styles. That said, dialing these tones in can take some time so take your time and the amp will provide.
The cabinet section has been completely overhauled from V1 with more cabinets, cleaner operation and improved clarity. I find myself reaching for third-party IRs less than I did with V1 but when seeking something extra, the selection of IRs included in addition to the cab section have a lot of value. The ambient mic is on by default but I just find it’s counter productive with anything outside of cleans or perhaps smooth driven leads. With really any of the amps many distorted applications, the ambient mic kind of just makes things tubby. It’s easy enough to either mute the ambient section or turn the fader down.
The cabinet section includes Soldano, Marshall, Orange, Fender, Bogner, Mesa Boogie and other options. Users can blend use either one or two mics with each mic having it’s own distance and position controls. I really enjoy blending two 57s together with one close and the other a little further away. Blending the 57 with the 421 or 121 options also uncovered a lot of great tones inside the BST100 V2. Using the same or at least a very similar selection of cabs across multiple amp sims could be looked at as an up or down depending on how you look at it but as long as new cabs pop in here and there, I see the uniformity as a plus. I felt the Soldano, Marshall, Mesa and Orange were the best offerings in the bunch, it seemed like I got an infinite amount of tones from even just the four.
UPS / DOWNS
When the V2 versions came out, many asked why they were not simply given away as updates rather than being sold as a separate plugin. V2 is more than an update, it’s not just extra cabinets added with some extra presets, it’s an overhaul to give the plugin a longer lifespan. Nembrini also offered all V1 users the opportunity to get V2 for about $10 at time of release so there’s no reason for complaints. We absolutely recommend that all V1 users upgrade to V2 because both versions are more than worth owning.
Like V1, V2 represents an analog amp owned and highly coveted by many tone enthusiasts. Some, if not many Soldano SLO100 lovers may not be into plugins yet so having not one but two very high quality plugins based on the amp will only draw more players to amp sims. Nembrini Audio’s attention to fine details and authenticity makes their products a lock to convert even the most loyal analog purists in your life.
There aren’t many downsides to the plugin to speak of, it’s pretty well perfect. The price is in the higher bracket but it’s also priced accordingly alongside the companies competitors. Getting on Nembrini’s mailing list or following their social media will uncover the company’s many sales that enables even players on a budget the ability to own many fine products.
See more – Nembrini Audio launch video
Demo by Leon Todd:
If you already use the plugin – check our BST100 presets in the Preset Vault