by Bruce Adolph, courtesy of %%Christian Musician%%

Memorex tape used to poise the question with a well known singer: "Is it me or Memorex?" after you heard a few seconds of music played. The gist of the commercial was that you couldn't tell the two apart, the real thing from the recorded. Yamaha has applied their physical modeling technology to the guitar pre-amp world and has asked the same question. Is it tube amp I hear or physical modeling?

Yamaha was the first to introduce the concept of advanced physical modeling into the instrument world with their VL-1 synthesizer. They have now brought it into their guitar line and given guitarist the ability to have a tube amp simulator combined with the power of digital programmability/MIDI applications. But before you get nervous about all of the high tech jargon and the thoughts of desperately scrolling through LCD screen after screen trying to find your missing trademark sound in a sea of digital abyss, listen to me. It all boils down to this: you get eight different pre-amps in one three-rack space with nine rotary knobs that say very familiar things under them (like gain, master, treble, high mid, low mid, bass, presence, trim and output). There, are you calming down yet? Now you choose from the eight very familiar amp selections: Lead 1 & 2, Drive 1 & 2, Crunch 1 & 2 and Clean 1 & 2. After you've made your selection then you can tweak any of those nine aforementioned knobs directly. Yes, just grab those suckers and crank 'em up - there are no LCD screens to use (except for a two digit numerical readout for your patch numbers) - it is instant access. Now that's not all that scary is it?

Do you want to know how technology can help you even in your "I want to only see amp knobs" world? Once you've dialed in that signature tone of yours, you can store it to a memory position (128 of them to be exact) and when you switch from setting to setting, motor drives in the knobs will automatically set them to the proper position. What? The knobs will move by themselves to the same settings you had them at for that great sound! So the bass knob will go down, the high mids will turn up a few notches and the master and gain knobs will take their rightful position. This is so automated (some might add dummy-proof) and cool that it is fun to watch. I can see the pranks being unleashed on unsuspecting guitarists in music stores across America. Can you just see the look on Nigel's face if they had this in the movie Spinal Tap?

For those of you who aren't that squeamish about technology, you will find the MIDI applications a snap and the usual Yamaha store/recall button configuration you are already familiar with. The front panel is a good-looking rust color and has your input jack and a huge on/off switch. The back panel is simple as well: output jack and MIDI in and out ports.

Okay, all this is good and well - you can talk about tube amp simulation all day long - but does it really sound good? =Christian Musician= called up a few of our guitar sessions playing buddies and asked the question, "What do you think about the DG-1000?"

"What's not to love about the Yamaha DG-1000? It's got all of the tones you would associate with the great tube amps of the past coupled with innovations from the present. From Fender-esque tones that are clean and spanky to Marshall crunch, and top end shimmer reminiscent of the Vox AC-15 & 30 amps...the DG-1000 delivers with authority. It's cool late 50's look and old fashioned vintage style control knobs may lead you to believe it's just another 'new kid on the vintage bandwagon' machine. But within the DG-1000 is a fully MIDI capable and thoroughly in the 90's tone generator. The automated rotary knobs that move to their pre-programmed settings when you switch presets (on a MIDI foot controller) are the coolest. I'd bet there's an army of tubes inside but Yamaha says it ain't so. Well, kudos galore to all the ears at Yamaha for making me a believer."
- Chris Rodriguez (Nashville session player, Christian record producer and guitarist for {Amy Grant} and Shania Twain)

Okay, there's one guy who should know, anybody else?

"The DG-1000 rocks! I look at it like this... I can get a really twisted marhally tone out of the lead amps, a "retro for days" matchless tone out of the drive amps, a singing boogie out of the crunch amps, and that sparkly jangly funky fendery stuff out of the clean amps. I can relate to the retro knobs too. I'm currently using the DG-1000 on tour and on my recording projects. Lately I've been layering the amp tones with the new G50 midi converter which tracks incredible and allows me to mix in samples and go places I've never been before. I love this stuff!"
- Michael Hodges

The DG-1000 lists for $995.00 You can visit the Yamaha website at www.yamahaguitars.com.