Jump to content
Please note: You can easily log in to MPN using your Facebook account!

Need tips for running stereo guitar rig


emailsack

Recommended Posts

Hi all, and please forgive if this question is redundant/already been discussed. I did a quick search but nothing readily appeared to answer my question -

 

I have 2 amps - Peavey 6505 and Engl Fireball. Each has its own 4x12 cab. I'd like to take my guitar signal and send it into one head & cab for the effected, or wet sounds, and into the other head for straight-ahead dry sound. Does anyone have any tips on how best to accomplish this? Is there a signal splitter or switcher that's best for this? What drawbacks might there be to doing something like this? Thanks very much to all in advance!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 19
  • Created
  • Last Reply

do you want to split it, or switch it, or both? The answer will disctate the complication and expense of what you need. There are some really cool splitters and switchers for big money, and there are also easy ways to do it cheap without suffering degredation, if all you need is to split or switch.

 

For what it is worth, I think that such setups are tweaky nonsense, but a lot of top players run two amps at once, in a similar fashion.

 

Bill

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To answer Bill - I essentially just want the signal to go to both amps in a pseudo-stereo fashion (if not actually stereo). The ability to switch to one or the other or both would be icing on the cake.

 

To answer miroslav - Thanks!! This looks like it might fit the bill perfectly so long as I can combine both in addition to switching from one to the other.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Signal degradation probably wouldn't be much of a problem if you set it up right. If you have an effects loop in one or both amps, put your time-based effects in it, that will make the signal cleaner, and you won't amplify the noise floor of the effects units.

Most distortion boxes and compressors won't work in a guitar amp's effects loop due to impedance and level issues. So if you're using them, noise floor amplification on them can't be helped, they have to go in front of the amps and possibly the switcher, if you want the signal from them to go to both amps.

Beyond that, the biggest issue with stereo guitar amplification on stage is that 5 or 10 foot in front of the stage, it's no longer stereo unless you have the amps set on opposite sides of the stage. And, it's hard to hear anything unless you're close to one of the amps, but then you can't hear the other. Guys like Stevie Ray Vaughn used multiple amps at the same time, but mostly for volume with clean headroom. The 4-6 amps he had going on stage were all amplifying the same singal at the same time. And of course, there is always the guys from the 70's, Hendrix, Gibbons, Beck, Nugent, etc, who played through 3 to 6 high-powered amps stacks at a time for volume, and to get feedback more easily. All of them were amping a mono signal through multiple amps.

Currently, Eric Johnson runs his effects outboard of his Marshalls and Fenders, keeping the signal out of them dry, splitting it out to the effects, and amping the effected signal back at himself through a powered JBL EON cabinet. His combined signal goes out to the house PA. But or course, he has always been known for having a pretty complicated set-up...

Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else.

 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by emailsack:

Thanks to all! You've been a big help. The only other question would be what are downsides to this approach if any? I'm specifically wondering about signal degradation. Thx again!

I was not aware of the Radial box, but, cool...

 

Anyway, there is going to be some downside in splitting a guitar signal. If you do it passively, it will change the tone somewhat, and if you do it actively, the same thing happens for different reasons. (It is very difficult to stick eletcronics in a signal path and not alter the sound.) Will the change be enough to bother you? You just have to try it and see.

 

Ahhh! I CAN think of one downside. I'm one of those 'keep it simple' guys, and I feel that I can hear the difference among a lot of different playing choices. But I'm also practicle about it, and rather than drag a bunch of big, heavy stuff around with me I'll compromise and take a single smaller amp and a multieffects pedal. So when you suggest dragging more amps out with you, my aching back says "Hey!!!!...." Also complicates load out and cuts into drinking time.

 

 

Bill

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are some great stereo effects for guitar that are relatively subtle (or not, if you so wish) and work just fine with different amps.

 

However, running two amps and getting the same drive level from both -- or even getting nearly the same drive level -- a nightmare.

 

If you run your amps clean and get all the distortion/drive/guts from your pedals, then you could run two pretty easily. If you tweak your amp settings carefully to get the ideal tone, it'll be a bigger hassle with two. And whenever you kick in that tube screamer, don't expect results to be equally ideal in both sides.

 

Another thing you can consider is using a much smaller amp as a satellite, not for tone but just for image. If you have any stereo effects, feed the opposite side to the satellite. It's an interesting result; some dig it and others don't.

 

I've always liked stereo image on guitar, but I do it using a smaller amp like a Hot Rod Deluxe (or smaller) and miking it. But talk about hassle & stuff! Not recommended for the weak hearted. I have the gear to do it since I play keyboards and have a mixer for that.

 

Anyway, no doubt it'll be fun fiddling around with two amps, and you'll get some very cool tones, but repeatability/predictability will probably suffer, and in the long run I bet you'll end up simplifying. But don't let that stop you, try it and learn! After all, it's not a permanent decision.

 

One warning: even one 4x12 is a seriously loud cabinet. With two, be careful about the sensibilities of your bandmates. Guitarists have a reputation for being volume hounds. Try not to feed that too much, unless the rest of the band is equally into it.

 

Finally: For stereo effect, it's not a good idea to separate the two cabinets very far. You want everyone to be able to hear both amps nearly equally well, with some degree of separation. It doesn't need to be a lot, and for folks who are a lot closer to one than the other, it ain't stereo -- all they'll hear is the close one.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well...in a live gig situation...how much of the "stereo" will even come across as "stereo" to the majority of the audience...?

Not much.

 

Unless you space the two amps at the extreme sides of the whole room...the "stereo" sweet spot is going to be very small...

...and quite possibly you will be the only one really hearing it.

Though you would not want the amps extreamly far appart, anyway.

And if you keep them close together...then there will not be much "stereo" width noticed by anyone.

You will just have two different sounds coming from generally the same point...and that's more mono than stereo.

It will be better/worse as you go from room to room...

 

But for recording/studio use...it will be much more realistic.

miroslav - miroslavmusic.com

 

"Just because it happened to you, it doesn't mean it's important."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by miroslav:

Well...in a live gig situation...how much of the "stereo" will even come across as "stereo" to the majority of the audience...?

Yeah, but nothing in this particular setup is actually stereo. It is just two different sounds at once. As I said, doesn't interest me personally, but others do it and like it.

 

Real stereo is almost never presented to an audience, and when it is, as you say, it pretty much blows. A signal washing back and forth or split between two widely seperated amps is not stereo, and achieves very little. 40 foot wide piano patches, 40 foot wide drum machine patches, and now 40 foot wide guitars.... heh, nothing to do with stereo at all.

 

Bill

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by emailsack:

Hi all, and please forgive if this question is redundant/already been discussed. I did a quick search but nothing readily appeared to answer my question -

 

I have 2 amps - Peavey 6505 and Engl Fireball. Each has its own 4x12 cab. I'd like to take my guitar signal and send it into one head & cab for the effected, or wet sounds, and into the other head for straight-ahead dry sound. Does anyone have any tips on how best to accomplish this? Is there a signal splitter or switcher that's best for this? What drawbacks might there be to doing something like this? Thanks very much to all in advance!

As one who has done pedals, series loops, parallel loops, and the wet/dry rig, I can definitively say that what you are suggesting, separate wet and dry setups, is the absolute best way to run effects. In terms of practical application to the keep it simple mantra, I've found simply do what sounds best to be most satisfying.

 

Getting a line out from a speaker output is fairly simple. One pot and a resistor. This is a circuit you can use...

http://www.lynx.bc.ca/~jc/pedalsAmpLineOut.html

 

Basically, you want to use your second speaker jack from your dry amp as an input to this circuit. Run the output into your effects, run the effects output into the power amp input (or effects return) of the second amplifier. You can stick a volume pedal between the effects and amp if you like. If you're using a midi effects processor, you can probably assign volume to an expression pedal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by miroslav:

Well...in a live gig situation...how much of the "stereo" will even come across as "stereo" to the majority of the audience...?

Not much.

Maybe, maybe not. Good stereo effects should be subtle (usually), just imaging. A good image allows you to be heard more clearly with less volume. This is used a lot more in keyboards than guitars, but it's true regardless.

 

Unless you space the two amps at the extreme sides of the whole room...the "stereo" sweet spot is going to be very small...

...and quite possibly you will be the only one really hearing it.

This is a common misconcepion. The more you separate the two, the SMALLER is the sweet spot where the audience can hear both speakers nearly equally. Seriously, I've done lots of stereo and that's how it works.

 

The trick is the right amount of separation. In a big venue, it's nearly impossible. In a small venue it can work great.

 

One of the greatest images by a guitarist was Adrian Belew, whom I saw playing with King Crimson for the Discipline concert tour. He had 4 or 5 Roland JC120 amps all over the stage, and man did he make those babies come alive. Fabulous sound with a rich, lovely image, but clearly not for everyone -- most guitarists don't care at all for the kind of distortion you get from them (me included). In that case most of the guts has to come from the FX loop.

 

I agree with Bill that 40 foot wide stereo vibrato and stuff like that usually sounds stupid. But we shouldn't judge a technique by its misuse.

 

On the other hand, stereo is a real pain in the but to get right, and I'm not surprised that most guitarists ignore it.

 

Running one side clean and the other side with FX is the easiest way and is indeed effective, especially with chorus and pitch shift effects -- which IMHO are ideally used gently so you get the imaging effect and not the coloration, most of the time.

 

The ideal distance between stereo sides is probably 1/4 to 1/3 the width of the stage.

 

One nifty trick that I've only though about but never tried, is a small satellite nice and high on a pole and spaced 1/4 to 1/3 or even 1/2 of the stage width from the main. However, note that while this could sound great for the folks in the front (and the band too), it would be lost in the back.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by learjeff:

Maybe, maybe not.
This assumes that either:

1. you are playing louder than the PA or:

2: the PA is in stereo.

 

Jeff: As to your final idea about a center channel to support the stereo image, it has been experiemented with a lot, and the results are dramatically mediocre. The best device 10 years ago was the Miles (I think I have that name right) that was supposed to synthesize to the center a right for those on the left and a left for those on the right. It worked okay, but the real issue becomes the placement of the center speaker, the components (because if the components/cabinetry do not match, you get a radical shift in the tonal response,), and the bounce in the room. Most rooms are reverbrant, and a lot of rooms have hard walls, and as sooon as you introduce the (sometimes multiple) millisecond following sound images, the sound stage collapses anyway.

 

 

As you say, in a larger venue, this is even harder to achive. The important theaters in this country have been working on a solution for this problem at least since the 80s, (big ticket traveling Broadway shows drive a lot of experimentation, as the big money patrons in the various cities complain about the sound) and some theaters have managed to retrofit particular answers for their venue, but no one has it down for a traveling rig. Arena sized systems have the additional problem of trypically needing 270 degrees of coverage or more, plus multilevel coverage to hit balconies that end up being pretty darned far away. There is a lot of fudging going on out there, but no real concrete answers. But a lot of people are doing the best that they can.

 

 

Back to the original posters idea, this is indeed a way to create an interesting sound. It is not stereo, or anything to do with stereo. My answer, if I chose to use this technique, would be to put the two amps side by side and have the FOH guy blend them as needed, on a per song basis. (Yes, you need an FOH guy, and yes, he should know your show and he should be mixing your show, not setting and forgetting the rig.)

 

But I have to ask.... is there not a single amp out there that has the sound that you need? And have you experimented with the wet/dry mixture to see if you could get what you are after with a wet/dry blend, say by splitting the output of the guitar and running one split to a channel of the amp, and one split through the effects, ending in a volume pedal which would enable you to feed more or less of the effected signal to the second channel of the same amp? Just a thought.

 

Again, a lot of players use multiple amps at once to create their signature tone. I'm just a lazy man.

 

Bill

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This assumes that either:

1. you are playing louder than the PA or:

2: the PA is in stereo.

Or 3: you are not being miked

 

Far too many venues run way too loud and mike the amps even in small joints where the guitarist is already too loud! But of course I'm falling into the trap I mentioned above: don't judge something by a misapplication.

 

Bill's dead right that in what I think of as the ideal situation, the guitarist is playing at the right level for the stage, and FOH is taking care of the venue in the mains. Meaning stereo requires stereo mains, which rarely work well in a big venue.

 

Bums me out: I pay to see a great band and all I get is one channel sound; no image at all (other than for the crowd noise). But that's another rant for another day!

 

Small venues. Dig 'em.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by learjeff:

The more you separate the two, the SMALLER is the sweet spot where the audience can hear both speakers nearly equally.

Depends on the room...depends on the distance of the L/R separation...depends on the level of the speakers...depends on the listening distances from the source.

 

So while I agree that setting some e basic home stereo speakers apart by 20-30 feet will kill their stereo image...

...that may not be the case with a serious PA rig that can kick out some level.

The reason you can lose the stereo image is not so much the distance between the speakers...but rather their level.

 

The opposite side of it is...if you place two guitar amps about 5-6 feet apart on a stage...the guy thats 30 feet out in the audience is NOT hearing anything that resembles stereo...as the source of the two amps becomes more of a single point to him.

 

So yeah...there is a lot of room to work with...but having a couple of amps a few feet apart on the stage is really not a "stereo" rig that anyone will notice at all (except the player)...

...though you can still use it to get different sounds/tones out of each cabinet.

 

If you can't perceive any real Left/Right imaging...it's not stereo.

miroslav - miroslavmusic.com

 

"Just because it happened to you, it doesn't mean it's important."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Right, it depends on a lot of things. The problem with a serious PA with speakers wide apart is that there's usually a good amount of the audience that's way too close to one or the other. Relative levels, as you pointed out.

 

Actually, at 30 feet, 5 feet of separation is plenty, even for an old geezer like me with somewhat compromised hearing. We're surprisingly good at phase discrimiation. But 30 feet is pretty close, even in a smaller venue, and 5 feet is pretty close.

 

Bottom line is that to use stereo, you need to use it in a way that getting one side only still sounds reasonable. So nobody suffers, but many get the benefit.

 

I play keyboards in a small blues club and set one speaker behind me (at one side of the stage, opposite the side where the door is). I put the other one on the opposite side and in front of the drums, about 7 feet away. About half the club gets pretty decent stereo, and it sounds fine in the rest of the space. On a bigger I play, I can set them on stools behind me and 6 or 8 feet apart and that works even better. Sure, folks way in the back don't get too much image (but more than you might think).

 

Best of all, it sounds good from where I sit. If I were a steady gigging pro doing this for a living rather than for the joy of it, I probably wouldn't bother with the extra hassle of running stereo. Ditto if I were playing guitar -- just too much trouble. But playing second on guitar I can use my rig for subtle stereo and in the past that's worked great. Haven't done that recently, though, and the FX built into my board aren't quite the ones I'd want for that purpose and I doubt I'd bother dragging external FX in addition to everything else. I'm getting lazy in my old age (OK, not really ancient). Used to gig with CP70 electric baby grand, Rhodes, synth-du-jour, tape loop chorus echo, small mixer, power, and speakers. Plus guitar, amp, one stomp box, and a mike, when I doubled on guitar.

 

Too dang much work, life is a lot easier now with one keyboard, powered mixer, laptop, and a pair of speakers. Plus amp modeler and guitar if doubling. Sure, the guitar sound suffers but at least I don't!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...