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March 12, 2021

Jacquire King reinforcing a guitar tone




Sometimes, one amp is not enough. Not for volume, but for tone. In this excerpt from “Start to Finish: Jacquire King - Episode 9 - Guitar And Keyboard Overdubs,” Jacquire adds a second amp to the signal chain as Chris Tuorto from the band “Oak and Ash,” overdubs an important guitar part on the song “Keep the Light On.”

Stacking the Deck

Jacquire says he’s adding the second amp to accentuate the midrange on the guitar during the bridge section and give it a more prominent tone. He says to think of the second amp almost like it’s an overdrive pedal; it provides an additional sonic boost.

Chris recording his guitar part for “Keep the Light On.”

Initially, Chris’s setup is comprised of his Fender Stratocaster going into his pedalboard and then to a Fender “The Twin” amp,” which Jacquire is mic’ing with an AKG-414 on one speaker and a Shure SM57 on the other. They split the signal after the pedalboard so that both amps are getting the identical audio out of Chris’s rig.

They audition a couple of small tube amps, including a classic Sears Silvertone and an ancient Gibson that doesn’t have a visible model name. The Silvertone produces a thick, “tubey’ tone, but Jacquire says it’s not bright enough for this application.

They tried this Sears Silvertone (top) as the second amp, but Jacquire didn’t like it’s tone for this application.

He ends up choosing the Gibson. He stacks it right on top of the Twin and puts a Shure SM57 close to its grille, pointed into the center of the speaker for maximum brightness (for more about Jacquire’s amp mic’ing techniques, check out this Puremix blog article.)

Jacquire ended up choosing this Gibson as the supplementary amp.

The Direct Approach

If you’re recording a guitarist by mic’ing an amp, and you have a way to split the signal, it’s always helpful to record a DI-version of the track simultaneously. One way to split the signal is with a dedicated A/B/Y box. Recording a DI track leaves your options open in case you decide later to change or augment the sound.

One of the advantages of a DI track is that you can reamp it. If you’re not familiar, reamping works like this: You take the DI track’s output, which is a low-impedance line-level signal coming out of your interface or console and send it to a reamping box. The box converts the signal level to high-impedance, allowing you to plug it into an amp, which you then mic and record to a separate DAW track.

The Radial ProRMP is an affordable reamping box.

One of the coolest things about reamping is that it gives you an exact double of the guitar performance, but the tone is completely up to you. You can try different amps, different amp settings, different mics or mic placement, different pedals or no pedals.

If the part to be recorded DI will end up having crunchy or saturated sound when you mix it, you might want to have the guitarist monitor through an amp sim plug-in. A guitarist who’s used to playing a particular part with distortion, which adds a lot of sustain and changes the way the guitar reacts to the fingers, may find it hard to play well with the ultra-clean sound of a guitar connected through a DI.

The only issue you’re likely to have when recording a DI is latency. Try to set the buffer to the lowest setting you can without impacting the audio quality. If you already have many tracks and plug-ins in the session, and turning the buffer down low is not practical, consider temporarily freezing the rest of the tracks. That will significantly lower the CPU load allowing you to reduce the buffer without causing audio issues.

Alternatively, you could bounce out a very rough mix (making sure the bounce starts at bar 1, beat 1–so that files you bounce and reimport will be in sync), open it in a new session to record the guitar part. You can use the lowest possible latency and the guitarist can monitor with a sound similar to what will eventually be on the track. When done, bounce the track (again, starting at the very beginning) and import it back into the original session.

Check it Out

The following examples will show different options for using both amp sims and reamping to create fuller sounding guitar tracks or significantly change the sounds.

First, here’s an excerpt from a DI electric rhythm guitar track. It has some reverb, EQ and compression applied, as well.

Now, here’s that same track with an amp sim on it—UAD’s Fuchs Overdrive Supreme.

The setting used on the Fuchs Overdrive Supreme

Next, we reamped the DI track (minus the amp sim) with a crunchy amp sound. Keep in mind that reamped tracks are subject to whatever latency is present in your DAW because they’re coming out of the DAW and then being mic’ed back in. Sometimes you might have to time correct them slightly before mixing.

We could stack the two parts, although panning them identically could cause phase issues (for this example only, the tracks were time aligned). On this example and the next, you’ll hear the bass and drums kick in for the second half, for context.

Here’s another option, which uses the latency delay on the reamp track (about a quarter of a second) as a feature, not a bug. Panning the two tracks wide creates what sounds like a very tight double of the rhythm part. The delay and the difference in tone between the two tracks make it sound like two guitars.

Double Jeopardy

Here’s another example. This time we’ll start with a lead guitar part, recorded through an amp and a DI simultaneously. First, here’s the amp track.

It’s not all that exciting sounding, so what to do? You can use saturation plug-ins or other effects to make it more interesting. One cool way to go is to use an amp sim with a multi-effect section, turn off the amp and cabinet modeling, and use the effects only. It basically gives you a virtual pedalboard.

Why turn off the amp and cab? The result will likely be a little weird if you try to put amp and cabinet modeling on a track already recorded through an amp and cabinet.

Here’s the same lead track as in the previous example, but this time Line 6 Helix Native was inserted (with amp and cab modeling turned off). Several of the effects were used, including a distortion pedal model, some EQ, reverb and compression. The distortion pedal, which Line 6 calls “Minotaur” in the plug-in, is a model of a Klon Centaur pedal model. It’s used here to add gain to the sound.

The “Minotaur” distortion effect is one of several added from Line 6 Helix Native to the track.


Next, we’ll fatten it even more with the DI track. Here is the DI track only, with the UAD Fuchs Overdrive Supreme amp sim.

If it sounds like it’s lacking highs, that only because of the setting. The idea is to blend it with the amp track to create some extra fatness.

Here they are blended.

This mix includes the parts from both the rhythm and lead examples.