Electric guitar

How to re-amp your electric guitar sound

[Originally published February 14, 2022]
Welcome to another Dojo! This time I’ll show you how to re-amp your guitar and explore creative ways to re-amp other tracks as well (soft synths, vocals, drums, etc.). In my previous column “Why Guitarists Shouldn’t Dissolve DIs”, I mentioned the benefits of using a DI for creative recording. If you have a DI box, dust it off! You’ll need it when I show you how to get the most out of your DI-recorded guitar and bass tracks by re-amping them through your pedals and amps to capture new perspectives and even add reverberant new spaces. Tighten your belt, the Dojo is now open.

To get started, you’ll need a reamp box such as the Radial JCR Studio Reamper ($229 street) and most likely an XLR TRS to male cable (like the Hosa HSX-003, $11 street). I like passive reamp boxes because they don’t require external power and are easy to move around. Some would say that passive models lose signal strength, which is true, but how many boost/overdrive pedals do we guitarists have? To less one, right? Put one after the reamp box and before your amp. Boom. Problem solved, and you can drive your amp even harder. Otherwise, you’ll be shelling out more dinero for the active reamp boxes, which isn’t really necessary, and I like the inherent lo-fi nature of this process.

Reamping is a two part business. The first part is to use a DI box to record the guitar directly into your DAW. If you don’t know how to do this, I recommend going online and reading my Dojo article mentioned above. It’s very simple and straightforward. The second part is to route the DI-recorded guitar track out of your DAW and into your reamp pedal. Depending on your interface, you may need the XLR TRS to male cable mentioned earlier.

Fig. 1

Watch Fig. 1 and proceed as follows: Plug the XLR end of the cable from the output of your audio interface into the input of your reamplification box. Now use your usual guitar cable and connect the output of your reamplification box to the input of your amp. Place a microphone in front of your guitar amp, plug it into your interface, and record-enable that track. When you press play, the DI track will play through your amp and you will record the amp. You reamp now! You can make new recordings whenever you change amp settings or mic positions.

Figure 2

For even more craziness, discover Figure 2. You can add any (and all) pedals (even entire pedalboards) into the signal chain. To show creativity. But wait, there’s more!

You can also route the output of any track from your DAW to your re-amplification box and really start going crazy. Try your lead vocal, background vocals, keys and drums (especially drum machines) and hear how it sounds. Reamping also gives you the ability to manually tweak the pedal knobs and create dynamic parts that really change as the track plays. Try to play around with the times and the return amount of your delays. Fun!

Finally, depending on how often you drive your amp, you can keep it clean, move the mic away from the speaker, and start capturing more of your room sound. I like to do that on drum machines. This puts them in real space. Specifically, your space. No reverb plug-in can achieve this! As always, I invite you to come to my website to hear and see these concepts in action. Until next time, namaste.

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