Re-amping for dummies – by sebas honing

To answer the many questions on the whole re-amping case I’ve decided to write this note on several ways to re-amp your guitar signal.

Basically there are two ways to get a dry signal recorded:

1) Split the signal coming from your guitar and send one of the splitted signals into your setup and the other into your interface/recording unit/mixing desk, etc….

2) Run your dry singal straight into your interface and use a modelling plug-in (Amplitube, Revalver, Eleven, Guitar Rig, Amp Farm) to record your guitars with. This way the sound recorded will remain dry, but you will still be able to hear and play with distortion.

Which way you choose doesn’t really matter, but I firmly believe that a guitarist’s playing is determined by the sound he’s using at that moment, so make sure you get a sound that’s as close as you can get to the actual sound you would like to achieve.

There are 2 ways to send the dry-signal to your favourite amp, FX, modeller or whatever:

1) If you’re using an interface or recorder with only two outputs you need to make sure that the only thing on one of the channels (either Left or Right) plays nothing except for your dry signal. You can do this by panning all the tracks to Right and only the dry signal to the Left. Then use the Left output to go into your amp, FX unit, etc.

2) If you’re using an interface with more than 2 outputs you can assign the dry signal to a 3rd or 4th ouput. Be aware that in this case you sometimes have to plough through the settings of your DAW or Interface to make sure it only plays back the dry-signal. Then use that output to feed the input of your desired amp or modeller.There are 3 ways of recording the re-amped signal:1) Run the signal through your amp and put some mics in front of the cab. Return the mic-signal(s) into your interface’s input(s).

2) Run the signal through your (pre)amp and connect the line-out or effectsloop-send to the input of your interface. Then you can use a plug-in modeller to simulate a cab and mic’s. Make sure that when you’re using a tube-amp you set it to only use the preamp section, or run it into a cab simultaniously to prevent the power tubes from dying.

3) Run the signal through your modeller or effects-unit and run it’s output (with or without speaker simulator) into de input of the interface. If it doesn’t have a speaker simulator build in yet you can again use a modeller plug-in to do it.

If all your favourite sound come out of plug-ins you don’t need all the hassle above. Just duplicate dry-signal track and equip every single track with a different setting or plug-in. Then use the fades or mute buttons to experiment with your favourite sounds.

Furthermore there is this thing called phasing: Every sound has different peaks and dips in the frequency spectrum and sometimes (especially when using mics) some frequency’s or the whole sound comes later than on a different sound. Some waves of the sound get cancelled out that way and make it sound very different than just one sound + the other. You can use this to your advantage or try to get rid off it.

When using microphones you can move one of them closer or further away than the other. When they are exactly alligned the signal is in phase. If it’s not and you’d like to get in in phase I usually use a delay plug-in (set to 100% wet) and adjust the delay time by tiny milliseconds. You’ll notice when doing this the sound changes dramatically when you’re only setting the delay one millisecond further! You could also try to zoom into the wavefile until you can literaly see the waves going up and down and compare it the the other tracks which should be moving slightly similair. If the waves go up and down at the same time they’re in phase. If one goes up and the other goes down they’re out of phase.There’s no right or wring with phasing, but generally people like to use or hear in phase.

Here’s what I did for Equisa’s upcoming debut album:

It started out with a borrowed Axe-FX standard. This machine sounds killer and I’ve made a patch on it which I used for all the rhythm tracks. The sound was really massive, big and thick, with plenty of gain and quite a tight response due to the overdrive pedal (Fat Rat) I’ve put in front of the amp (Energyball). This simulates an Proco Rat pedal in front of an ENGL Powerball.

Fractal Audio Axe-FX
Fractal Audio Axe-FX

It was the first time I ever used this piece of gear so I wasn’t fully sure yet wether it would fit in the mix decently when I got there. Therefore I plugged my guitar lead into a pedal first which has 1 input and 2 outputs. One of the outputs went to the Axe-FX and then into my interface to record the sound of that preset I made. The other output went straight into my interface to record a completely dry, non-distorted sound.

Now it’s been a couple of months since I recorded all rhythm tracks that way and whilst mixing I noticed that the guitars became fuzzy and muddy and not clear and airy enough. I decided to run the dry signal into my R&R Sound Solo, then rout the line-output into the Axe-FX and use that only for a 4×12 V30 cab with an SM58 simulator, then straight into my interface again. That way I could turn and twist knobs on the amp and Axe-FX to see what settings suited best in the mix of each and everything song, without having to play and record it all over again. Very time-efficient!

written by Sebas Honing . check his videos here.

other source: Example of re-amping at wikipedia