To clarify my previous point. There is no recording that fully reproduces the event as if you were really there. I don't care how good your equipment is. The state of the art today still renders a pale imitation of having been there. Go to an orchestra. Now play the finest recording of one through the finest sound system. Are you really fooled? No. Watch the best imaging system you can find. Are you really fooled into thinking you are looking at something for real? No. This is just where we are today. Nothing wrong with that, and I agree that better gear and techniques get us closer. That was the context in which I made the point.
In that case DAS I agree. The "Perfect" reproduction method is yet to be invented.
I love how, in sweetwater forums, a simple question usually escalates into some serious philosophies.
I'm not being sarcastic, folks. Don't get offended! It's good stuff.
I know. I think it's kind of cool. Fun to have a discourse with smart and like minded people.
Back to the point - I think this is something a lot of guitarists struggle with; really capturing the sound of an amp in the room on a recording. What's even harder is capturing the playing experience. A good software program for guitar tone can do a great job of sounding like a guitar once it's been recorded, but the experience of playing through one of those apps is often not the same as a real guitar amp. I really think this is a big part of why so many guitar purists hate all the modelers and fake stuff. They just have a hard time providing the same satisfaction when playing through them live. But once everything is down on "tape" the differences are much harder to perceive.
I've got my own idea as to why and how tube amps sound so differently. I call it "chassis feedback". Long ago I noticed that my amp sounded best with the brain sitting on top of the 4X12 cabinet (a 1970 Marshall SL100). After a bit of head scratchin' I guesstimated that as the cabinet vibrated to the notes I was playing...so were the filaments in the Telefunkens.
I'm not a guitar player, but I hang out and gig with a bunch, and I record others.
The biggest difference I've noticed between a good tube amp and any solid-state guitar amp is not tone, but dynamic response. And this is clean, saturated, or overdrive.
A good tube amp has a "bloom" and "chime" to it as you begin to dig into it a bit, even when still running clean. Solid-state amps just get louder or quieter. This is a huge dimension to guitar tone, probably unless you're playing balls-to-the-wall distortion all the time, or completely burying your sound in effects like chorus all the time. I didn't realize until shopping a bunch of amps with a guitar player how big a deal this was.
This is why modeling amps like the Line 6 can nail a specific tone or sound, but still not play and sound quite right or completely real. I noticed this when they first came out when I had to mix a record done completely on Line 6 amps and modelers- the sounds were fine, but just somehow "dead." And I've had it confirmed by a bunch of great guitar players over the years as well with other amps.
Nonetheless, if it sounds and plays right to you, it is right. Whatever it is.
Of all the guitarists I've run sound for, the guy with the best sound by far had a Strat, two Boss pedals, and a Vox modeling amp. It ain't the amp, it's your hands and your ability to make the amp work for you. (The second best sound was from a Les Paul, a TC processor, and - IIRC - a dual rectifier. I expect that most of his tone - other than his hands - was from the TC, not the Mesa.)
I have all of the above- Marshall JCM 800 , Fender Hot Rod Deluxe, Line 6 Spider, Marshall VS 100 half stack, and Mackie SRM 450's with a Vox Tonelab SE set up. The best sound depends on the venue to me. I like the punchy feel of the JCM when it's really cranked up, but most of the time, I mike the Fender, run the Tonelab through it and it sounds great. The Mackies are areally cool too and when we play small venues, I run everything through the mackies and monitor my guitar with in-ear phones. It's all preference man- my son is a VERY VERY good Metal head ( Childrem of Bodem/Symphony X stuff) and he swears by the line 6 with his ESP guitar for metal tone. The VS 100 is actually his amp and he hates it... it sounds great on clean tones with effects, but the distortion is VERY harsh.
Try a few with your playing style and have fun!!