Guitar Amps As Layers of Abstraction - How To Improve MOD User Experience For Guitar Players

just a little correction, I think you didn’t get the profile section. When he said “profiles” he didn’t mean like presets or pedalboards but the capacity of creating a profile of certain amps so it replicates its sound (like the Kemper or the Mooer Preamp Live). In LV2 there is some plugins with this capacity (tubeAmp by Kapitonov, for example). It could be really good for the Dwarf to have something like that to mitigate some of this problems! :slight_smile:


I understand all of the ideas stated in this thread, but would like to offer counterpoint: I came from the Poly Effects Beebo, and as a bassist/guitarist it is MUCH easier to arrive at a usable sound on the Dwarf than it is on the Beebo—comparatively the Dwarf is absolutely for guitar players. At the same time, I’ve also owned an HX Stomp and was frustrated by the limited routing capabilities and limited number of simultaneous effects.

One of the strengths of the Dwarf is inherent in the name of the company—MOD Devices—it’s a modular system, which can either be run as a straightforward pedal chain (again, super easy to set up a simple pedalboard) or be set up like a Eurorack signal chain albeit with many distinctly non-Eurorack sounds. On the Beebo, if there’s an effect you want that isn’t there, you can build it yourself if you understand modular synth well enough. I suspect one can do the same thing on the Dwarf, but I realize that that’s the boundary at which many would rather spend their time playing music instead of knob-twiddling (including myself, which is why I gave up on the Beebo). But it also offers opportunities—jealous that Helix has that awesome polyphonic freeze effect? Build it from components in the MOD Constructor. Heck, exceed it while you’re at it. Curious about the Chase Bliss Dark World? Recreate its capabilities inside MOD.

Again, I get that not everybody wants to take that time and they just want to find the right distortion… there’s plenty on offer already, you just gotta try out ALL the plugins. Yes, that makes for a fairly long session at your computer playing the same riff through dozens of plugins and tweaking the parameters… but it’s still faster than buying a physical dirt pedal, playing with it for a few days or weeks, then buying a new one and selling the previous one on Reverb, etc etc ad infinitum. Of course if MOD does create a Kemper/NeuroDSP style profiler per popular request, you could profile your favorite physical dirt pedal and use it on the Dwarf.

As to the lack of good amp models, the IR loader is clearly the way around that. Even the major players are focusing less on modeling which is expensive and time-consuming on the development end and are focusing on IRs. Perfect example: on this forum and on the Line6 Ideascale, people have asked for years for models of amps/cabs specifically for acoustic instruments. Still nothing. But I can load up an IR of my own Acoustic Image Coda+ amp in an afternoon. There plenty of sites online that will tell you how to capture IRs of your favorite head, cab, mic, acoustic instrument or physical space so that you can take your amp etc with you; and even more that will sell you IRs so you don’t have to buy the cabs or spend the time recording them.

All of that is of course irrelevant for the people who either have a good physical preamp on their pedalboard, or are only using the Dwarf live and don’t need amp or cab modeling. These people do exist.

I won’t deny that the lack of good open-source plugins and the LV2 format is a limitation (which would be so awesome to see overcome), but a lot of the complaints about the Dwarf/MOD in general can be levied against ANY multi-effects unit. The format is inherently limited, but people choose it because the alternative is cycling through and carrying around lots of physical pedals. It’s a trade-off we accept. For me, the MOD system is the routing flexibility of a Eurorack-in-a-box with far more guitarist-friendly pedals. And I’m trying to sound like me, not emulate any famous players, so it contains more than enough “right” sounds.

One way to look at it is that it’s expensive if you wind up only using the same five effects all the time because all the others are useless. The other perspective is that those five physical effects would cost more and take up more space if they were physical pedals; and since new free effects that people enjoy are in fact being developed (hello @brummer), there’s still the opportunity to get new sounds without paying for more gear.

So, yeah, I would absolutely recommend it to other guitarists.


Sad to see you go, @Matt, especially since you’ve sparked so much joy.

I must say I understand your rationale and I too believe that, specifically for the guitar folks, proper IR handling is a must. Love it or hate it (I personally don’t care about IR at all), this is where the money is these days. Boss recently released the SY200, a glorified IR loader. Several lesser (and poorly built) similar units are now in the market and indeed they provide a good interface and decent sound results.

I also fully understand the personal workflow issue. Sometimes a piece of gear adds an unnecessary layer of complexity. It also brings to mind a 9-month struggle with a multi-effects unit I once owned. Instead of making music, I spent hours (and more money) trying to make it sound good, only to finally realise it would never deliver. Off it went then.

But there are two things we must consider:

a. Amp Models, no matter how good they might be, are never unanimous.

Even if MOD were to offer 10 super-duper models, chances are half users would scoff at them. Let’s face it, there are videos over videos of people whining about Neural (and a LOT of them lashing at their Quad Cortex, for reasons that are understandable), the Helix, HeadRush, and even the Kemper and Fractal. I myself own full versions of Guitar Rig and Amplitube and don’t like either in the least.

Therefore, if the entire process of porting an existing model (free or paid) to the MOD were either highly streamlined – meaning also that MOD could potentially consider hosting formats other than LV2 – and made economic sense to developers, just bringing whatever plugin solution that already pleases a user to Mod would be a common thing.

(I have to concede that LV2 and a lot of Linux / Free software / Open source stuff carries a bad stigma in some ways. They are nice, mostly free, “community” built and so on, but at times they just have no owners or people actively maintaining them. Developers eventually get jobs elsewhere and no longer put time and effort on them. Worse yet, I don’t know how many whatever killer – like GIMP, which would be a Photoshop killer – never came close to the performance of their supposed victims. Over time a lot of people got worn out and moved on to proprietary solutions, where people and/or businesses are responsible and liable for the results. MOD is in a different league altogether, since they offer a hardware/platform that is complete, as opposed to DIY thingies that promise you a Synclavier and deliver a Casio VL-Tone. Still, the LV2 format constraint is something that may stand in the way of the platform’s success. Not blaming the format, but the culture around it.)

b. MOD is a platform, not a multi-effects or modelling unit, though it does that too.

As a platform – and better yet, a vision – it can succeed or not. We all hope it does. Some may remember the Receptor, an extremely expensive VST host from the 2000s that was essentially a PC running Linux where one could install Windows format VSTs. It was for music was Blackberries were for the mobile phone world, and similarly they did not anticipate a number of things – mainly 64-bit plugins for the former and touchscreens for the latter. It vanished from the market, and people who had paid 3000+ USD for their machines were left in the void. In my opinion the MOD offers more possibilities all things considered, and given it costs 1/6th of what a Receptor used to cost, it is highly likely that it can capture the minds of everyday users.

I don’t necessarily agree that MOD was designed and caters mostly to electronic music makers: it was pretty much a customisable stompbox in its earlier interactions. The fact that it also hosts synths, sequencers and CV tools is more a consequence of its nature – a platform and ecosystem – than a purpose, in my opinion (of course anyone is free to disagree.)

And one thing is just fabulous in the MOD-sphere: you can create a full plugin on Max and port it to MOD, therefore not requiring serious programming skills. Beat that, competition.

Therefore, I think MOD has a lot of work to do – UI, improve key plugins, build others, fix glitches, etc – and that it will take indeed some time until it scares off some big guys in the room. With the right managerial and market decisions, it has everything it needs to succeed. Maybe some of us can’t want until then, but I believe there’s a promising future ahead. MOD needs to clear the way, be delivering all Dwarf units and wrapping up the Expression pedal, then focus on solidifying its platform, user base, and add components to it that will appeal to more and more people.


Not at all. I think the MOD team is amazing. It’s just that the Dwarf, in its current state, and despite being an impressive product, doesn’t meet my specific guitar-related expectations. I’m just letting you know where it fell short, in my estimation, because I suspect there are many other guitar players sharing my sensibilities.

@RashDecisionAudio I’m glad you’re enjoying the product. I have no trouble admitting that it is, in some aspects, very impressive. Yes, other guitar multi-fx units have their quirks, but almost all of them have proper IR support, lower latency, and can produce great results a lot faster.

I could address a lot of points both you and @QuestionMarc (thanks for being a great forum member btw) have made here, but an hour ago I took the American Sound pedal I’ve mentioned before from my closet, along with a BB preamp copy made by a local builder. I’ve plugged my guitar through them into my interface, used a free IR loader VST along with TAL Reverb 4 (on my PC, that plugin is not in beta), and I’ve effortlessly dialed in a great tone, which instead of making my wonder if I’m missing out, or making me want to ‘compare the knobs’ with some amp sim, made me want to record a jam into Ableton, and I guess that’s the gist of it.


That says it all, @Matt. You have the gear you need right now, and duelling with new equipment hampers your music making process. I can absolutely understand and agree with that.

In fact, I have not given up my Yamaha Magicstomps and Yamaha UD Stomp – and the Axon, of course. My baby! With those I can pretty much do everything I need and then some. If hell breaks loose between computer, interface, software, synths, etc., I can just plug it all in and play ad libitum. Which I understand is what you’re shooting at right now. So, go for it!

We wish you well and hope you’ll rejoin the MOD-sphere at some point.


Luckily enough you found tools already to support you on your musical journey. I totally get that the MOD devices are not equally suited for every need and expectation and wish you well for your future endeavours. Safe travels!


So, this project will continue? I know we lost the person who proposed it but after all the comments in this thread seems appropiate to continue with this in some way


Thanks a bunch, @eggsperde though this isn’t strictly true. As I mentioned before I have some experience with a large chunk of all the free and paid guitar plugins available on the market (not to mention some fx-units, real amps, analog gear, etc. though here, the experience is much less comprehensive). I’m no stranger to more complex signal chains, etc. That’s what made me interested in Dwarf in the first place.

That being said, I strongly believe that before I can venture into more complicated or experimental, I need to be able to dial the 'meat and potatoes of the tone in a quick and user-friendly fashion. It so happens that most of the other plugins I have at my disposal, and certainly the analog pedals I have access to, do a much better job at this than MOD. And what I’m missing I can simply do inside my DAW. Here MOD could provide some advantages if, for some reason, I had to unplug from my PC, which is currently not necessary.

@jesusperezsv I very much hope so. The selfish need was certainly a part of the motivation behind this topic, but I was fairly sure that both my diagnosis and the proposed solution were in line with what a large percentage of guitar players would agree with. The more quality options there are available on the market, the better it is for the consumers, and MOD is really not that far from being able to provide a very good experience to people who are primarily guitar players.


Care to elaborate? I fail to see how anything in my statement could be disagreed with.

Whether something sounds good or not is highly subjective, isn’t it? You might not find the quality of effects on par and noone could not argue with that. Because that’s what you hear and feel. I personally like what my MOD Duo outputs and because I tried out many pedals and amps as well on my journey, I can confidently say that in sum it is the most enjoyable system I made music with.



Oh, I just haven’t found all the tools to support me on my musical journey yet :slight_smile: That was the part I was referencing.

Yes, the sound is indeed subjective, and it’s not like MOD sounds terrible. I’ve also mentioned that I’m not a cork sniffing tone monster, I’m just an n=1 guitar player who thinks Dwarf currently offers a sub-par experience for someone who’s primarily a guitar player. It’s as simple as that. However, given the fact that this topic seems to resonate with many other MOD users, I’m probably not alone in that assessment.


In some form yes for sure!

I think that’s the crux of it. In the studio, if you already have a Computer, DAW and interface, it makes a lot of sense just to plug straight in rather than going through 2 sets of ADC. The MOD device’s strength is in making plugins available without the computer and interface. Although I would like to better integrate with PC in the future for seamless transition between producing and performing.

And of course I hope that we can make the workflow of getting a good tone much faster and easier too


For those following this thread, please check the recent announcement by @falkTX at the Plugin Store Update List thread:


Please note we have other plugins coming for IR stuff.
The cabsim loader is something we made, but for more general purpose IR handling we are investigating a few possible solutions. Early tests are very promising.


Great stuff. This is actually huge.

With proper IR support, I can now actually recommend Dwarf to fellow guitar players. Not to all of them (those looking for a more streamlined experience and something modeling familiar gear would be better off going with a guitar-centric multi-fx), but certainly to those that would be fine with a somewhat random and a bit eclectic set of plugins, in exchange for more power and flexibility. Whereas before I wouldn’t recommend Dwarf to any guitar players I know.

There’s a lot of snake oil and “bro I swear I can hear the difference!” in the guitar world, but the difference in IR quality based on length is something that, to a certain extent, can be perceived by most folks with ears (which this video by Pete Thorn proved fairly well: GUITAR CABINET IR'S - How long should they be to SOUND GREAT? - YouTube).

The amp selection is still a major issue in my eyes but I’m glad you’ve made this crucial improvement. Good job!


What does this 42.7 milliseconds mean? real-time sound wise it is a lot, as one-time loading this is peanuts.

That is the maximum size of the impulse response file it accepts.
It is automatically truncated if bigger than 2048 sample points.


This refers to the supported length of the IR file which up until now was a subpar 2.6 milliseconds. So the Dwarf barely offered IR support (given that the degradation in IR quality is pretty obvious below around 10 milliseconds).

With this update, Dwarf finally has proper IR support.


Out of curiosity @brummer. Did this ever happen? Did anyone from the MOD team reach out to you? I’m asking because this topic seems to be dead, other than the info about proper IR support which was likely in the pipeline regardless of it.

I’m not a MOD user anymore but I’d still like to see it succeed and become a lot more popular. It would likely be very good for the market, from the consumer’s perspective, That’s largely up to the marketing of course, and it may be that MOD can’t really compete in that department with other companies, but word of mouth could go a long way and I feel like MOD - despite its potential - has a few too many big shortcomings (the most glaring ones being the general polish, eclectic, random and sometimes redundant set of effects and lacking amp sim department) for it to take effect.

Brummer has been pretty involved in a discussion over in another thread called Plugin Artwork?

Brummer, some of the community members and myself have been discussing concepts for his new plugin the Fat Frog, as well as ideas for GUIs in general

Well, I’m in a continuous contact with the MOD stuff, we’ve a slack channel were we talk about how to proceed. Still, I’m not part of the MOD team, but I’m participate since the first quadra was announced.
However, for me it is fun, not my job, so, it have to stay often behind things I’ve to do to generate my income for my life. (I’m a freelancer). So, to make it short, yes, there is progress, but, not as fast as it could be when the company will be bigger and have more income than it needs.