You Don't Like Your New Kemper? READ THIS

  • Welcome to the New Kemper User Tone Guide.


    This guide is meant for new and experienced guitar players alike. The purpose of this guide is NOT to discuss operational or functional issues but rather to provide a framework for understanding the way the Kemper Profiler “sounds” as well as provide insight regarding profile selection and an understanding of how selected profiles “sound”.


    Part 1: Perception of Sound Tone is subjective.


    Each individual has a particular ear shape, hearing range and EQ curve to their ears that may respond different tonally to each example given and may alter the results for some at the extreme end of the hearing spectrum. Tone is relative to the user. For the purposes of discussion we will refer to it as your “Tone Ear”. What may be pleasing to many may be unpleasant for some. Your Tone Ear may perceive sounds differently than most people and the person may not be aware of their own modified EQ in their Tone Ear. Age, exposure to high SPL and other factors may adjust your Tone Ear over time. The purpose of this guide is discuss and provide examples of sounds that are generally regarding as pleasing to most or respected in circles as “good guitar tone”.


    Part 2: The Error of Your Ways


    As a guitar player, you spend countless hours sitting in front of all sorts of amplifiers, playing all sorts of guitars and listening to, and playing, all sorts of music. As time goes on, a sound that was once appealing may fall out of favor with your Tone Ear and you move on to something new. Other times, you hear a sound of an artist you like and that alters your Tone Ear in that direction and the chase continues. You eventually end up like a lot of us in that you have never really settled in on a particular sound for an extended period. You have constantly been chasing your “tone”. The mistake here is that by constantly shifting from amp to amp or guitar to guitar you haven’t allowed enough time for a sound to “settle in” and you Tone Ear to adjust fully to the sound you started with. The reverse of this is just as bad because you’ve used the same amp for 20 years and your Tone Ear is so adjusted to its sound that nothing, short of an exact replication, will suffice.


    Part 3: Introducing the Kemper Profiler - uh oh


    Having read the above, you can probably discern there is a lot of gray area as to what constitutes good tone. The Kemper Profiler offers a vast array of options. In fact, maybe too many options. You may find yourself sitting for hours scrolling through profiles and downloading and auditioning them. As a new user this is great fun but, also as a new user, this often daunting or even off-putting to some. They immediately struggle just to get an acceptable tone out of this wonderful box they just purchased. What’s wrong? Why do all the patches sound fizzy? Why do they all sound too dark? Why can’t I find anything I like? The questions of the boards and social media are numerous. New purchasers struggling to get something that sounds appealing to their Tone Ear.


    Part 4: Relax and Pick a Number


    Start simple. Scroll through the factory profiles and find something, anything, that is “close” to a sound you like. Now start tweaking. Resist the urge to just scroll to the next profile. Stay with it. Adjust the gain, tweak the eq, add some effects. Stay with it. Adjust the definition, sag, add a parametric. Anything. But stay with it. Now, and this is the hardest part..... Stop. Turn off the Kemper. Walk away for a couple hours and come back. Reevaluate. Is the tone still pleasing? If so, why? If not, why? Adjust again. Rinse and repeat. Stay with it. Your Tone Ear will thank you and you’ll learn how to take most any profile and get something usable out of it.


    Part 5: If She says its Her, Its probably You.


    What if nothing goes right? What if EVERYTHING sounds like total garbage? Well, there may be some bad news coming..... your Tone Ear could be bad. Consider, even if for a second, that for all these years, your guitar tone sucked. That is a hard pill to swallow but, if you’re still with me, it IS possible. Possible that for all these years you trained your ears poorly, introducing bad habits and abuse and your Tone Ear has been altered to the point that it might not recognize a great guitar tone when its coming out of the speakers right in front of it. Now, to be fair, I’m not claiming any one sound is best or any Profile is “the profile” all I’m asking is for you to consider the possibility that the reason everything you pull up on your Kemper sounds so “bad” is because you may have forgotten what “good” sounds like. Possible? I think so.


    Part 6: Fixing the Problems


    So, what do we do? What if it’s me and not the Kemper? Well, luckily, there is help. Here’s where to start:


    Studio Monitors - Get a good set of studio monitors. No, your $200 pair isn’t gonna cut it. There are options. Ask around. There are a tone of options when you get above the $500 mark (See Focal Alpha Series).


    Guitar Cabinets - NOTE: If you can play through the cabinet you’re most familiar with to start, START THERE! That will likely get you to Tone Nirvana faster than any other option.


    Headphones - Unless you are using in-ears on stage, this is the least favorable option. If you must, the Sony MDR range has been well reviewed.


    FRFR Speakers - Full Range - Flat Response. Another option, but I caution, if you’ve only ever played through an amp, avoid these at first. Most available FRFR (PA) speakers have compression drivers that are designed to be masked by the woofer sound waves at distances much farther than your bedroom or at your feet. They can also further damage your Tone Ear due to their response and output characteristics.


    Part 7: Wrapping Up


    So, you’ve made it this far and you’re either much happier or mad at me. What do we do? Well, for starters, talk to your fellow Kemper Profiler users. There is a wealth of resources and community to assist from all over the world to answer the most technical to the most newbie questions you may have. Still not happy? Take a break. Go back to your old gear if you can for a bit. Then come back. Better? No? Try profiling your amp. It’s a pretty straight forward process and may yield results that satisfy. Lastly, take some time and listen to some of your favorite recordings again and really tune in to the guitar sounds. Do some research and find out what gear was used and how. This may lead you to a path of tonal bliss.


    Thanks for taking the time to read this and hopefully it will help some of the people with frustrations using one of the most revolutionary products ever introduced for guitar players.


    Enjoy.

  • Love it.


    I totally agree that we get used to a sound, either good or bad.


    That then becomes our reference point.


    My philosophy is simple, the limiting factor with the KPA is me, not the KPA. Be that my inability to know what a good sound is or my playing ( a big factor) or simply my inability to tweak effectively....

  • Great Post.

    When I first got my Kemper I was changing rigs almost every week, looking for "that sound". I finally went back to the one of the first MB Marshall profiles I tweaked to my liking and realized I had a great tone for my setup.

    I also found it helpful to tweak my profiles to our PA. After practice I would stay with our sound guy and really dial in the sound. That made a world of difference hearing it that way VS my studio monitors ( i run direct to FOH with no cabinet and use IEM for stage)

  • Great post! Personally, I have to say that I quite like the sound I get out of my headphones (Audio Technica mh-something). I also have a nice pair of Yamaha HS8 monitors, and there is a difference. However, I'm often forced to use headphones due to baby and wife (mainly wife, because the baby really digs guitar). But as I said, really happy with my headphone sound...

  • #4 is gold. I'm still new to Kemper'ing(™), but having used several multi-effect/amp-modeling units I'm very familiar with ParameterParalysis. Hand me something like a Timeline and I'll see you in a month. With one sound figured out.

    Screw that.


    To learn the OS, I've chosen to build rigs the way I have previously. Pick an amp/cab for a clean-platform. Add compression/dirt with stomps, then time-based. Then.....Play the stupid thing in all relevant environments. What works, what doesn't and then tweak.

    “Without music, life would be a mistake.” - Friedrich Nietzsche

  • To me part of the appeal of the Kemper was in fact that I could start with MY sound preferences from MY amps adjusted and mic’ed the way I already liked them.

    Then those profiles are so close that I could fool myself as to which was the original and which the profile.


    I'd suggest that if the Kemper sounds “bad” to you it’s most likely because your taste differs from that of the people who made those profiles.

    Mine certainly does more often than not.


    So the short answer is: get the sound you like on your amps and PROFILE them.


    That’s the best way to get started into understanding and loving the thing.

  • I also found it helpful to tweak my profiles to our PA. After practice I would stay with our sound guy and really dial in the sound. That made a world of difference hearing it that way VS my studio monitors ( i run direct to FOH with no cabinet and use IEM for stage)

    This is the most important thing to do if you use the same PA at every gig (and even if you don't it will help on all systems)!! Tweak your tone through the PA!! This is what the audience hears and if it sounds bad through the FOH speakers then it's just not going to work. I tweak my Kemper profiles to sound great through our PA and try to keep the FOH mixer guitar channel EQ as flat as possible. In the end, I use the same profiles on my studio stuff and it sounds great on there as well.

    (RACK): Kemper KPA, ISP Decimator Pro G; (back of rack) Rack Solutions Power Strip, Xotic SP Compressor, Xotic EP Booster


    (PEDALBOARD): Kemper Remote, X2 Wireless, Visual Sound Pure Tone Buffer, Mission Engineering EP-1 KP, Digitech Drop, Rocktron Banshee Talkbox, Digitech Freqout, Xotic BB Preamp

  • To me, the elephant in the room is that getting good tone consistently is a skill which is learned by trial (and error) while working in different environments. Can't assume you'll get great tone just by paying top bucks or getting a specific piece of gear.

  • To me, the elephant in the room is that getting good tone consistently is a skill which is learned by trial (and error) while working in different environments. Can't assume you'll get great tone just by paying top bucks or getting a specific piece of gear.

    Makes me think of Pete Thorn and his gear demos. It's not just that he's a tasteful player, or that he's got killer gear. He figures out how to get the most out of the gear he's using. Some of the stuff he's demoed sucks. It has to. But you'd never know it because he knows how to squeeze good stuff out.

    EVH is a prime example. Back in the day he had squat for gear. He created a life out of forcibly dragging good sounds out of near-junk gear. Today, many if not most people prefer his old (crap gear) sound verses today's top-shelf designs.

    “Without music, life would be a mistake.” - Friedrich Nietzsche

  • Makes me think of Pete Thorn and his gear demos. It's not just that he's a tasteful player, or that he's got killer gear. He figures out how to get the most out of the gear he's using. Some of the stuff he's demoed sucks. It has to. But you'd never know it because he knows how to squeeze good stuff out.

    EVH is a prime example. Back in the day he had squat for gear. He created a life out of forcibly dragging good sounds out of near-junk gear. Today, many if not most people prefer his old (crap gear) sound verses today's top-shelf designs.

    I think its more to do with what you play and how inspiring your sound is to you. It's a bit like clothes, it's not just how you look but how it makes you feel...


    I don't think EVH's sound in the early days was particularity good....but what he played...blimey!

  • Back in the days, I guess thousands of guitarists ideal tone was Eddies early records. Ideals change and a lot of things have happened since late 70*s. But anyway guitar tone is overrated. Well maybe not for us guitarists as we always search for the holy grail of tone. But for non-guitarists, non-musicians, it is overrated. Most non-musicians listens mostly to the vocals anyway.

  • As a result of an extensive study by me, I can confirm that:


    Non guitarists/general punters care:

    1% on a guitarist sound/tone

    9% on what he plays

    70% on what the singer sound like

    20% on what he/she looks like


    Guitarists in the audience care:

    100% on why the guitarist in the band isn't as good as them ( sound, technique, stage presence).

  • I have owned Kemps since 2 weeks that they became available...what a huge leap of faith that was!!


    I had lots of giving up moments...stopped taking it to practice...preferring my amps....until I dialled in a sound I thought was 'ok' (heavy dirt) after about 2 months...


    About 2 months after that I took some tracks I had recorded for a 'mix check' at a studio that had 30K monitoring system...and I was dreading my guitar tracks being 'found out' and being awful...


    They sounded even better than I had ever dreamt...


    Its just time and patience...and never Kemps fault!

    Suhr Custom Strats - PRS Custom 22's - Diezel VH4 - Bogner Goldfinger 45 - Badcat Blackcat 30R - Colin the Kemper - CLR Neo ii.

  • This is some good advice. I have found that my ear has really honed in on a particular MBritt profile and I think it is a few things. First I just know what to expect out of it. It sounds great as is and I know what will happen when I start turning knobs or change guitars or start turning on pedals. It just works as a great platform for all the other myriad of variables and I think that’s why I like it so much and keep coming back to it. I want to branch out a bit so I’m going to have to find another profile that is different enough to make the effort worthwhile to spend the time shaping it and learning what guitars, pedals, and settings I like to use with it. My setup is kemper, pedal paletttes, a&h qu32 mixer and I have some jbl 305 monitors and some jbl pa speakers. I’ve found I prefer the monitors for day to day practice. Anyway that setup provides a ton of shaping possibilities beyond the ton the kemper has built in. Spending time experimenting and learning about gain staging, eq, mix level in the chain, concepts like series and parallel, phase, compression, noise gates and effects goes a long way to being able to dial in tones that are great for you. So get experimenting and don’t forget to backup once you are happy with something.