Knobs is a beautiful thing. But similar to progression of Fujifilm cameras, the aesthetic and the mindset is giving way increasingly to quicker internal OS controls. Shrug. I can imagine a mini Kemper with way less or close to none of the external physical controls that I love nonetheless still delivering an inspiring experience sonically and from a workflow perspective. Again again .. I’m hoping for a near future where the Kemper ecosystem fuses more completely with the Mac OS. Hardware is big business, and so much of the customer base is tethered to UAD and Pro Tools hardware. So I’m not suggesting a Kemper interface. But I’m confident that CK can dream-up a way to keep a Kemper physical object relevant in conjunction with that kind of paradigm.
I wish I attended more shows where all of these obsessive, nuanced chasing of granular gradations actually made a difference that resulted in great tone. CK and Co have been scratching their heads for years. They provided us the tools since day one. Sure there have been nice updates, but c’mon. With digital there’s that landscape of endless hypotheticals .. the ultimate soul-searching journey to completely avoid responsibility for hearing a sound in your head and then getting your rig to make that sound. And FOH …beyond big clubs there are very few scenarios where FOH delivers on the guitar dream and forget about drums .. always a compromise .. but nonetheless when the music is great, the disconnect between the record and the concert melt away in the heat and humanity of the moment.
Unfortunately a swath of insufferable jam bands (progeny of the actually amazing original Grateful Dead) are the most committed to truly great live sound. But that requires sold-out venues, owning Meyer gear and having a full-time front of house engineer who isn’t deaf. They prove it’s doable. Too bad about the music.
Anyway, historically when I read about tone frustrations on this forum, it rarely seems as if the problem is actually technical. They’ll take our money, but Kemper has already provided a professional tool to solve all kinds of logistical hurdles. I’ve always loved it, and have always found inspiration there, similar to my amps. But I don’t think they’ve ever claimed that for so many of the kind of gigs their customers do that the Kemper is the smarter solution versus traditional amps in every situation. But as time marches on, and more and more traditionally analog recording tools now live inside of the Mac, the convenience factor and the cost factor sort of rule the day. Maybe no going back (except for small bar gigs where being in the same room as a great amp is still a visceral joy).
I’m not quite there yet, but at some point soon guitars and keyboard controllers going through an interface into a Mac and out to some combination of cab and foh (or no cab)... will be the inarguably best way to bring music to the public.
I’m rooting for Kemper to release something that makes them central to that paradigm since they’re already essentially a software-based ecosystem. But I also won’t be surprised if CK moves on to some other inspirational musical technology pursuit, and leaves a skeleton Kemper team behind to maintain and support and incrementally evolve its current functionalities, if that hasn’t already happened. I doubt Kemper dev is as exciting for him now that the industry is littered with more and more “competitors” adopting his invention.
Apologies for this novel.
Whatever. I haven’t noticed any real Kemper shame among pros. Amps are still very much alive, especially in studios, and gaining new popularity among younger people, in a similar way to how analog film photography has had a resurgence.
Somehow that doesn’t neuter the ever-growing popularity of the Kemper and one can argue that it helps it in a symbiotic way, since the Kemper feeds on the traditional gear. By any measure it’s a [deservedly] hugely successful device. Nothing particularly deceitful about promoting a “vintage visual” in a stage show.
Also worth noting; pretty much every sentence in the music magazines is a paid or quid pro quo promotion. As ever, the only way to assess a piece of equipment’s relevance in terms of our own music is by firsthand experience. And sure, nothing wrong with starting by emulating the rig of a hero that you’ve heard in real life.
OP is right, it’s true that the Kemper has achieved “staple” status. At this point it’s ubiquitous, no longer a curiosity.
So a decade in, I can’t help wondering what they’re gonna do next. I’m hoping for both tiny—a truly mini head reminiscent of toaster design but more like the weight and surface-feel of a high-end dslr—and then way more importantly, seamless integration with Macs, meaning daw plugin and freestanding software that both read .kpr files.
I’m presuming a Kombo is in the works, which is cool. But if I can stick with the Kemper ecosystem inside of the Mac, then my hopes for future dev from Kemper is more about sound design and novel, or really ingenious, tools, like the amp parameters, ducking etc., and new sounds in general.
People rightly focus on the “main event” of the Kemper, but I’ve always appreciated how—once it was proven that the old tones are indeed achievable here—that the mindset of this company has not been beholden to the enduring blinders associated with mainstream guitar consumers.
The Kemper can almost be viewed as CK’s tribute to 20th century electric guitar.
Whether or not it replaces this device or is an entirely separate product, I’d be very curious to see and hear a device that embodies the opposite of this tribute, something that manifests all of CK’s secret ponderings about the current shortcomings and future potential for this instrument, versus all the “Look Mom, my guitar is a Minimoog” or “Look Mom, I’m playing a Tweed Deluxe” kinds of tricks.
Obviously that’s cool stuff, but there must be some kind of voice that hasn’t been realized yet, for the amplified guitar. If it’s like Virus, it may start with a novel technical approach that suggests and enables a new sound vocabulary.
Otherwise, it’s just pages and pages of good suggestions primarily about convenience.
It seems like a bit of a waste to charge the talent behind this innovative company with a perpetual housecleaning assignment.
But yes, a tiny Kemper almost fully-controlled by iOS or Mac, that also uses Bluetooth to control its corresponding audio unit plug-in, obviously that would be a cool future. And I never thought twice about it, but finding myself in more collaborative production environments where all participants are using independent laptops, if that tiny Kemper also functioned as the audio interface, it would save me a box.
But yeah man, then we’re still just talking about the same guitar tones. We can hem and haw about it, but I really don’t see myself getting “better“ traditional guitar tones then I’m already achieving.
Third-size toaster that simultaneously functions as a plugin via thunderbolt 3, standalone and in the daw—implications and functionalities debatable.
CK-approved synth/filter/sequence palette .. new, original sounds and presets meant as extensions of guitar vocabulary, not “pretend” keyboard patches.
Not sure it’s a winning pursuit from a business standpoint, but a tiny, featherweight Kombo, like a 1x10, not much bigger than vintage 5-watt Vibro Champs Supros Gretsch’s but with Kemper power, that would take over small stages.
I love the Kemper. When I think about it “advancing“ it’s always with the caveat that I sort of don’t want the overall experience of plugging-in and playing to change. At all.
Obviously a challenge.
Haha the whole point of the thread or at least this part of it is how an individual snapshot can be ever so slightly tinkered with—or not—in order to get it to wherever one wants to go. That makes it eerily reminiscent … of plugging into a good amp. ymmv
Since this thread, this afternoon I revisited my original copy of the rmpacheco profile. (I have several versions with all kinds of various mods.) Today I set up a light compressor stomp at a 50% mix, then a pure boost of 1.5db. That’s it. Nothing post stack. Reverb was the beautiful UAD Capitol Rooms Al Schmitt setting monitored through Console, so maybe not totally “fair”. Long story short; ten+ years later it’s ridiculous how great that tiny little file sounds in relation to everything else out there. Truly.
I’m always surprised by folks who are surprised by the longevity and versatility of a single amp, or a single profile. Most of our heroes built entire careers on relatively unchanging rigs, across decades. I haven’t been as faithful to the legendary ac20 profile as Ingolf has been, but it’s always nearby, because it’s .. just there, good. And whatever I am using, I can go years circling around a tiny handful of variations.
I believe it’s in a Rig Rundown, where Lionel Loueke (amazing musician!) smiling, shouts out the rmpacheco. Epic!
Chicago is an affluent town with some very deep social issues largely relegated to typically problematic underserved neighborhoods.
Meanwhile touring acts headed in every direction make their way through, which is why so many artists own instruments from Chicago Music Exchange.
If a physical hub is even really what’s happening, and servicing pros is what it’s about, then sure, Chicago. Selfishly, I’d prefer NYC.
And even more selfishly I’d prefer the announcement be about mini powered toasters and 8 and 15” Kones. And other stuff I’m too narrow-minded to imagine but would love.
Lots of novel and ingenious (and relatively simple) luxuries inside of this device for refining tones, things that weren't available before the Kemper. No one correct way to approach all of it.
Low output pickups are about how they push the amp. So it’ll be different, even if the rig volume is increased. Experimenting with Clean/Distortion Sense and saving that setting for this guitar could be an effective catchall. Of course .. the whole point of low output pickups is what they do. Best thing would be to be open to approaching building rigs based on the strengths of the Tele. That would mean revisiting boost/comp settings and levels, as well as the deeper amp parameters.
Still hoping for, not necessarily expecting, a deeper compressor stomp along the lines of the Fuzz and Drive … that can approximate not necessarily copy comps with personality .. Dan Armstrong Dyna Ego Keeley etc .. I’m a fan of novel Kemper approaches on most things ..but yeah that response was oddly evasive. Anyway plenty of the classics use the same words to mean different things. Best to experiment and listen for how each control impacts the sound.
The only unit that does everything is the one that’s being used to make music in the present moment. That’s why you never hear our heroes complaining about equipment.
C Kemper did his best to create a platform that mirrored the basic essentials, and a bit more, for most guitarists. Plus he incorporated some novel ways of thinking about getting at our tones.
I’m sure he was warned, but I’m guessing he still couldn’t have imagined just how petty, obsessive and ultimately tribal so much of the audience for guitar gear can be. Like mom said, If your friend told you to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge would you!? Umm if he had the latest clone of a Tube Screamer? Yes mom, I would. Etc. etc
Here’s to hoping that there are still inspirational CK concepts ahead that involve sounds not just routing and convenience and the ever misunderstood dsp .. things that may actually impact the music .. As is, it can only get so much easier before these companies are changing our diapers.
Lots of people play well, and many absolutely kill it with gear that would never pass muster on the internet. Amps, digital, whatever. I felt that I dissed enough consumers in my post that I didn't have to slay them directly or dismiss their hobbies (which do keep these companies solvent). But yes, long relationships with gear—decades—is what my musical life has been like. I don't see why the Kemper would be excluded from that.
QC curiosity is valid. And for those enjoying it, cool. I've read enough about it, about objective issues, to take a hard pass.
Guitarists are supposed to be obsessed with gear, but it’s more nuanced than that. The real obsession is with tone, and not all or every tone, only the tone that connects for each one of us. It’s true that a market, especially in America, blew up around an endless smorgasbord of tone toys for baby boomers. So it’s good to remember how so many of our heroes spend entire careers using relatively unchanging rigs.
After decades with a tiny handful of holy grail amps (five-watt Valco, Gretsch, Fender, and club-size silver face Fenders and a D-Clone) I found quick success with the Kemper. Almost a decade ago. If you’re focused on the frustrations, all gear presents its versions of that. But I don’t know, I just haven’t focused on that in my long relationship with the Kemper. I get my tones, it works, here and there it gets refined and its features expand.
Just based on history, I can’t help hoping that if some “next” iteration of this thing is released, that it’s born out of a similarly singular, surprising Kemper mindset that may even require that guitarists think about things differently. That’s preferable to you know, a product that only attempts to answer any and every complaint from the P&W or Metal or home-user or whatever factions. Sure I’d like a 1/3rd size Kemper mini in the toaster form, but with a dSLR kind of coated exterior. And a UAD compatible Kemper plug-in or Kemper player.
But no, I don’t lay awake thinking about other digital guitar solutions. Some of them come out looking pretty cool, but so far there hasn’t been any compelling impetus to buy another top tier (or simply top-priced) unit. A Stomp XL or MX5 even more so is compelling for its price and form factor, but those still aren’t necessities for me. Again, I’m happy with my tones, and I’m able to move around just fine even with the larger Kemper.
I will say that it seems like there’s a bit of a renaissance of hand-wired amplifier building at the moment, and I’ve heard in person several of those modern day Magnatone combos sounding absolutely beautiful. A Twilighter or even Varsity, similar to those first gen Tone King Imperials, would be all most anyone would ever need. They’re expensive, but amazing. I want.
Of course I’ve grown accustomed to so many of the luxuries of working with the Kemper, that until I’m using (and hauling) one of those— they’re heavier than they look—it’s probably impossible to calculate how much about it is just fantasy. They don’t have loops either, so other than putting stuff in front of them, it’s a commitment.
///Please show me the guitarist who sounds better because of these supposedly better effects; I mean on a record or stage, not a youtube video isolating and comparing these tools in ways that we’d never use in the wild.
///Internal synth sounds would be amazing. So many great tones are achieved by doubling lines with synth tones. If the tools were cool, it would contribute to creative ways of making the guitar relevant in lots of musical contexts where it has been losing favor. Rhythmic filters and other supposedly “silly” colors would further that idea. Silly is only ever on the musician not the tools. Kemper’s synth tools wouldn’t be silly.
///I am not looking for Kemper to start modeling specific amps. That would be silly. It’s one thing to create a way to automate the cloning of iconic and/or personal tones for use in perpetuity. But in 2021 or 22 sitting around all day and night writing code that pretends to be some other thing .. I just don’t see this company feeling proud about or even interested in that dated endeavor. Obviously there’s a financial incentive but even so.
///However, since there is a vague assumption that Kemper’s profiles exploit a small group of internal building-block amplifier models, or however they would characterize it if pressed, it might be cool for them to make one master kAmp model, a signature Kemper amp if you will, with parameters that allow users to turn it in to whatever they want. Sort of like their approach to master drives and delays that achieve wildly different goals with different presets. A Kemper amplifier that isn’t intending for it to be a one to one copy of anything. We live in this pretend to be that other thing era of guitar history, but I don’t think that’s truly the nature of this company.
///Dual amps. Whatever. The internet chatter if that isn’t included in an update would be so frenzied that it might actually please CK to not do it just for sh*ts and giggles. I’m not saying it’s a bad option to have, only that it’s one of those things that historically has been done with analog amps professionally so rarely, yet if you read the internet, reads like a key deficit in any high end modeler. I’d say it probably needs to be done just to shut these people up, but that’s not the type of motivation that has historically driven this company.
///I would love for a surprise, futuristic new unexpected inspiring move from Kemper that none of us can predict. That said, there are all kinds of minor utility moves—modern USB jacks, minimum four exp jacks on all for factors, etc etc .. that might be helpful.
///But for g*d’s sake please no touchscreen. If it must be, I would hope it retains the sort of retro computer text vibe of the current model., or even more so. Hire a Massimo Vignelli disciple to design it, or Experimental Jetset in the Netherlands. Type in rows and columns versus icons allows for more clearly delineated specific information about exactly what’s going on in the device at any particular time. The QC’s touchscreen, from a design standpoint, is an incredible waste of real estate. Just because everybody has Adobe creative suite on his computer doesn’t mean that everyone can create information graphics that sing.