Make a custom amp sim cabinet with equalization instead of impulse responses
If you have the right amp sim for your needs, but can’t find the right cabinet…then make your own! For example, I like the Gratifier Amp’s “Modern” setting in Guitar Rig, but the standard cab sounded more brittle than I wanted. Their “Citrus” amp cab often does what I need, but I needed a beefier lower midrange, and more of an open back sound to give the bass more space.
I used Cakewalk Sonar’s QuadCurve EQ to create the cabinet curve shown in the image above. Of course other EQs will work, but this one has built-in high- and lowpass filters with sharp cutoffs that are well-suited to virtual cabinet-making. The main modifications are a high-frequency rolloff to shave off the top end and amp sim harmonics, cutting the mids around 1.3 kHz to reduce the upper mids and make the 200-500 Hz range more prominent, and a steep, deep notch to minimize a buzzy resonance at 2.9 kHz. A mild bass rolloff with the highpass filter provided the open back effect, while adding a high frequency boost with a shelving EQ regained the perceived loss of highs from the notch. With my cabinet complete (fortunately virtual glue dries immediately!), I was ready to record.
So was my custom cabinet better than the stock one? You can judge for yourself from the audio example; the first four measures use the constructed cab, the second four measures are the stock Gratifier cab, and both guitar parts are normalized to the same peak levels. But “better” or “worse” isn’t the point: the real point is that you can create something that’s ideal for your needs, rather than settling on something that was ideal for someone else’s needs.