Note-This is actually two posts in one. The first section is about reamping guitars and the second section is “batsbrew” talking about how he gets some of his great guitar tones.I wanted to put as much helpful info as possible into this post,so I combined the two. Batsbrew is NOT reamping in what he does, which just goes to show how many ways there are to get great tone…and we haven’t scratched the surface yet.
Today I’ll be discussing reamping guitars. Reamping will require more effort than simply recording your guitar track with a mic placed at your amp in real time or using amp sim software, but the results can be far superior to either of those. Sometimes “rolling your own” guitar sound can get you sounds that are beyond anything amp sim software will get you.
I have to say that some of the very best recorded electric guitars I have ever heard were reamped.The guys who do it well have tones to die for. What’s makes reamping so much better in some cases? For one thing, it captures the airspace…all of the airspace, meaning even the space between your amp and the mic. You might think that this is a trivial thing, but it can add so much to the sound, between the cabinet you use and the placement of the mic it can add awesome things to your tone.Sometimes it’s that little something that you need to give your tone the edge it needs.
Reamping seems simple on the surface, but it can be complex depending on how you choose to utilize it. Reamping is simply recording a guitar track, usually recorded through a DI box.The track is not treated in any way. At this point, the guitarist can leave if you have a good take and you can still work on the track. Sometimes when recording a track this way, the guitar signal is sent through a splitter and part of it is sent to the guitarists amp with the other side of the splitter going to the mixing board.This way the player can play the track with their favorite amp sound but the engineer gets a dry track to work with.
One you have the guitar track you want in hand, you send it back out from your mixer or sound card into a guitar amp. Arm a second track and record it from the amp using a mic placed at the sweet spot on the amp.
Here are some of the tricks used by engineers to get killer tones. In one case I remember an engineer had a studio close to a stairwell so he put his amp in the stairwell and he mic’ed it there to get the personality of the stairwell as well as that of the amp. Now you might think that a stairwell would be a boring kind of acoustic place but it really wasn’t and it added a lot of space to the guitar sound.Hallways, bathrooms, entryways…these all have potential.The distance and the type of mics used can also make a huge difference here, and this is where you might need to put in some work to find what works best for your situation.A few minutes trying different mics, mic placements and locations are totally worth it and the payoff exceeds the effort many times over. You are really only limited by your imagination….for instance, you can run multiple mics in a space or multiple amps in different spaces. Say you have an Orange amp in one room and a Marshall stack in another room. You can route the guitar output to both amps, either at the same time or separately.
You don’t need huge or expensive amps to reamp, in fact, some of the smaller amps work better in a smaller space. Many rock guitarists use mainly the pre amp stage of their amp to get the amount of grit or distortion they want and the output stage can be small…even 5 watts. Some of the best electric guitar albums ever made were done on small amps mic’ed.
If you happen to be in a place where running amps into hallways and bathrooms is out of the question, there are workarounds that give similar results besides amp simm software. You can build an isolation box for your amp. You can find plans for these online. Basically though, you build a soundproof box for your amp, usually a wooden box lined with thick soundproofing foan, then you put a mic into the box and play away. You can use this setup either as direct recording or reamping. You loose the ambience you would get from the other methods because everything is enclosed. You can still get a good recording of your amp though and the neighbors won’t be after you with shotguns.
Another method that works quite well is to use an amp load box, which basically replaces the speaker with a load that dissipates the excess energy that would be sound in a high powered amp…the result? You get the tone of that super loud amp without the volume you usually require to get there (and might save your ears and the ears of those around you). In this case you can then record or reamp the tone of that amp without going deaf.
The Methods Of” Batsbrew”
In this section of the article we’ll see how Batsbrew gets his great tones.Not only is Bat an ace player but he knows how to record electric guitar tracks, what he does boils down to good chops and simple but very effective methods in recording.
Here are a few of his recommendations
Batsbrew- ” I’m a bit of a purist, I like to find a sound that I like, and capture it as a real time performance.
the palmer device http://www.palmergear.com/pdi09.shtml , simply allows me to capture the actual sound of the amp at full output, at a line level- does not load the amp at all… and puts that signal thru a proprietary ‘cabinet filter’, which is really just a hardware EQ.
that is the sound you hear on the current song I have posted in the songs forum, the “Walked Away” sound…https://app.box.com/s/of7um5xmgk3e8e1qpkhx
that’s all palmer, no mics.”
Bat recommends this if you’re going to reamp.
Here is Bats current setup-
Bat-“The boogie, runs into any of (4) cabs, including a Demeter iso cab.
the Weber mass lite, can be used to allow the boogie to be turned all the way up, and the volume thru the cabs is positioned by the weber.
before the weber, I have the palmer plugged into the output of the head, so it sees the full output of the amp BEFORE getting attenuated.
I can put mics on any of the cabs, and let the weber dictate the volume in the room, while capturing the line level with the Palmer, and typically that signal goes straight to a mic preamp, and into the soundcard.”
I think Bat has a very well thought out and interesting setup, and he has what he needs to happen down to a science.
Check out some of his latest music-
Be sure to catch up with me next week for the podcast with Danny Danzi on recording guitars! Thanks to Batsbrew for his contributions to this article!