Monday, July 1, 2013

Reamping Guitars: An Introduction

In response to a question I was asked about re-amping on Twitter, I have decided to cover a short introduction to this recording technique here. Honestly, the whole concept is relatively simple in design but highly effective in a recording situation especially when you are unsure of which guitar amp tone you will end up using. Re-amping is a way to help alleviate some of the stress of possibly needing to re-record an entire track due to sound issues. By definition, re-amping is the process of running a recorded track through an external amp (outside your DAW) and recording the result.

Your first step will be to open your DAW (Pro Tools, Logic, Ardour, etc), and create two tracks. You will assign 2 inputs from your interface to those two tracks. One track will be used for your actual guitar amp tone which should already be mic'd up. The second track will be used for your completely dry, unadulterated signal.

The next step will be the outboard portion to actually get your guitar into the computer. You will need a reamping box such as the Little Labs Redeye, pictured in Fig. 1:

Fig. 1

I recently used one of these for a track and the results are awesome. When used for re-amping, these re-amping boxes are designed to reverse the impedance of the signal so the amp will respond as though a guitar were actually plugged in. 

Before recording you will want to plug your guitar directly into your re-amping device. At this point you have a couple of options: A. you can send your signal out of the 'mic level' output on the rear of the unit, or B. you can send it out both the 'mic level' output and the 'instrument thru' output input. The 'mic level' output will go into your interface for recording, and the 'instrument thru' output will go into your guitar rig. Just as a quick note, the input/output labeling may vary from unit to unit so be sure to check your documentation for clarification. Once you have chosen which inputs and outputs to use, you are ready to route the signal into your computer. 

Remember the two tracks we set up at the beginning of this post? You will need to plug your 'mic level' output on your re-amp device into your interface and route it within your DAW to one of those tracks if you haven't already done so. The other track will be used for a guitar amp (if you are recording both dry and effected in the same take). Once you have everything set up and you have checked for signal, you are ready to record your tracks. 

Once you have a dry track recorded, you will need to route the output of your dry track (within your DAW) to an output on your interface. You should then route the signal to the 'mic line input' on the re-amping device and then out to your amp. Once your amp sounds as you wish, you are ready to mic it up and re-amp to your heart's content! 

In addition to the RedEye (the model I mentioned in this post has been replaced by a newer one and you can check it out HERE), you can also check out these other re-amping devices: 

NOTE: If you need a diagram illustrating the signal chain for re-amping, message me with your email address. 

What do you use to re-amp? Do you have a different process? Post your comments below! 

Stay posted for next time when we discuss guitar modeling with plugins!