My Fellow Kemperites,
We occasionally hear from a customer that the tone they're getting from their new profile pack doesn't sound like our YouTube demo for the pack. Why is this? Let's discuss...
These folks can range from those legitimately wanting to discuss and fix whatever the problem may be to those who immediately flame us on social media and demand reparations.
Issue #1: Your guitar doesn't magically become a MIDI controller
Some people don't understand that the Kemper acts just like a traditional guitar amp. It has many advantages over tube amps, but we'll talk about those another time. For now, let's just concentrate on how it behaves like a traditional tube amp.
Some people are under the impression that the Kemper somehow turns your guitar into some kind of MIDI controller, like a keyboard triggering Hammond organ samples. In the keyboard world, all MIDI controllers give the exact same sound when triggering a sample. For the Kemper, this is entirely untrue. Your guitar's sound, good or bad, is just as important when plugged into the Kemper as it would be when plugged into a Dumble.
If you plug your Strat (loaded with single-coil pickups) into your Kemper and expect to sound like Eddie when playing the Brown Sound profiles, you'll likely be disappointed. You'll sound almost exactly like you would if you plugged your Strat into Eddie's rig back in 1978. You wouldn't expect your Strat, plugged into Eddie's rig, to sound like the tone on Van Halen I. Eddie didn't use single coils.
What makes the Kemper so great and sound so real is that it is a digital device that acts and sounds like an analog amplifier, with convincing accuracy. It's intended for guitar players who want the experience of playing a great sounding tube amp but with all the advantages of a digital device. If you want to turn your guitar from a traditional instrument into a MIDI controller, the Kemper isn't for you.
Issue #2: Your guitar is different from the guitar(s) used in the demo
See #1 above. Pickups are by far the most important. I've also had significant tonal variations from the bridge used, the wood the guitar is made of, and the +/- 25% variations in pot resistance. Not minor differences, but significant differences.
The reference guitar we now use for building most profiles is my 1954 Les Paul Goldtop which was modified (not by me -- my conscience is clean) with original 1950s PAF humbuckers. I bought this guitar because you really can't get more of a reference electric guitar tone than a 1950s Les Paul with original PAFs.
In general, to sound as close as possible to the demos, load your humbucker-equipped guitar with high quality PAF-type pickups with impedance in the 9K range. I typically recommend Lindy Fralin Pure PAFs with 8.4K winding to those who ask.
Issue #3: You're using a Merged profile with a traditional guitar cabinet
See my blog post on Merged profiles for more detail on this subject. In summary, traditional guitar speakers drastically alter the tone of an amplifier. Most people don't appreciate that speakers are at least as important as the amp in determining guitar tone. This is why I've invested a ton of money on vintage Celestions with original Pulsonic cones to use for profiling. If you use your own cab, don't expect to sound like our demos. You may (or may not) like the resulting tone, but it almost assuredly won't sound like the profile demo.
Using your own traditional guitar cab also eliminates the effect of microphone choice and recording technique, which are also extremely important in the final profiled tone.
Issue #4: Your listening environment
This really goes without saying, but if you listen to the demo on your computer speakers and listen to your Kemper through your band's PA, they're not going to sound the same.
I could continue on with other factors, but these are the most important.
Make some noise,
Randy’s tone can be a bit much for many folks. It’s VERY bright and harsh, which is what he was going for. To tame it down, I recommend reducing the Treble and Presence together until you get what you are looking for.
I recently just purchased kemper and can’t go without ozzy tons! So I picked up your ozzy profilers, thank you for the time to transfer these sounds. To be honest tho not too satisfied for doesn’t sound close to what I seen on you tube. Using a 2006 Les Paul Custom and my Charvel So-Cal with floyd Rose. Just playing straight thru headphones into kemper. At working now so trying to do more research for I’m sure the problem lies within me, but after spending so much for board + now having to pay extra for profilers not too happy with the few hours got to play around with. Hopefully I will be able to resolve the issue for looking to get more profilers if so!
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I create the profiles for a guitar with the volume all the way up. Of course, you can dial back the volume to clean up a profile with the Kemper like a tube amp if you like. I prefer to leave the volume at max and switch to a lower-gain profile, as I think the sound is better (less high-frequency rolloff).
Just bought a Kemper and love your DC AC profiles. Your tips are very helpful and I have a Les Paul. My question is in your demo videos, is your guitar’s volume dimed, half way or somewhere in between?