Re-Amping – The Mix – And “Your” Tone!
Some of the questions I get all the time is “How do you record your guitars tracks?” “What amps do you use in the studio?”
So let’s start with my rig. Live I use a Mesa Boogie MKV and a 1982 Mesa Boogie Coliseum 300 MKIIB. My cabs are all Mesa Boogie Rectos, one 412 slant and two 212’s with Celestion Vintage 30’s speakers.
Effects vary from gig to gig but the Hub/control center is a VooDoo Labs Ground Control Pro and 2 GCX Switchers. I always have a wah (Clyde or Dime) a Dunlop RotoVibe and a volume pedal (Ernie Ball or Dunlop) and some sort of OD pedal. Most of the time it’s a VooDoo labs sparkle drive. Last but not least a floor tuner (Poly Tune or Boss). All of the above pedals are placed in front of the amp sans loops.
On the last two cds KIDD HAVOK – Dirty Money (Suncity Records) and my solo cd Technicolor/Monochrome (Malleable Records) we re-amped every guitar related.
Simple it lets me control the sound of my guitar tracks in mix better. Plus it makes it easier to have your “sound” on the track. The Studio I work out of has to make money first and foremost. I record mostly when there is dead time, which means at night. I can’t play wide open that late, not to mention the ear fatigue from playing at live volumes. The best part is you can tailor the tone to fit both the mix and the song. Yet still have it sound like you. Plus you could swap out amp on every track if you wanted to.
The re-amp signal path.
It starts with the guitar I want to use on the track. Then there are two ways we do this. The first way is plug the guitar straight into a Great River lunch box preamp(or any pre of your choice). From there I’ll use a modeling plug in (Line 6, Bias etc) and record the tracks, usually swapping out different guitars on every track or overdub.
The second way involves effects (stomp boxes). If I know I will be using a certain stomp box(s) I’ll run a Radial A/B box and split the guitar into two pre-amps, one having the stomp box chain and one just straight guitar. The reason for this my playing will vary with how I interact with the pedals react.
Now the fun part
The actual re amping, once all the guitar tracks are a done we have a re-amp day. We always do the rhythm guitars first. We run the signal into a Radial DI Re amp box in the Radial A/B box and split the signal into the two heads. I only use 212’s in the studio. They get mic’d with Shure SM57’s and or Sennheiser 421. It will depend on the overall tone we are shooting for. Then ya sit and wait. This part can be a little boring or in the case of the Song Tribal ReDux which I used 8-12 tracks of ebow to build a chord downright painful lol!
A big part of the process is moving “air”. To me that’s the one thing many of the amp sims are lacking. The amps are recorded at or about 100-110 db. This really gets the amp heated up (in a good way) and makes the speakers really push air.
We like to keep the heads in the control room so we can tweak them on the fly and we don’t have to stand in the room while the amps are wide open, it saves your ears big time! For some purist this may seem like overkill or an unnecessary step. For the home studio guy, the pro consumer or a flat out big studio this adds a level of flexibility to every recording. If nothing else I recommend recording a dry signal that can be re amped so if down the line you can’t get the guitar to sit right in the mix you will then have the option of fixing it!