How much do you know about “re-amping?” If you’re like most guitarists, you’re familiar with the concept of recording a direct, dry guitar track (without going through an amp or any effects) into your recorder or computer, then feeding it from your recorder back through an amplifier later in the song production process to get the final tone you want for the song. But re-amping presents some challenges that make it impractical for many musicians. First, there’s the problem of getting the guitar out of your computer and into the amp. You’ll need specialized hardware, like the Radial X-Amp, in order to make this work.
But then there’s the logistical problem. Most of us have one or two amps – but what about those occasions where you want something different? Or what if you want to try out a dozen different amps before making up your mind about which one is ideal for the sound you want? Few of us have the luxury of having dozens of guitar amps at our disposal (as much as we might like to!).
Good news: thanks to Line 6, re-amping just got a lot easier.
Unless you’ve been living under a technological rock for the last eleven years, you’ve heard of Line 6. Chances are, even if you don’t own one yourself, you’ve played through one of the company’s Pod series of guitar processors, or have at least heard one live or on a recording. Line 6 wrote the book on what has become known as guitar amp emulation, or amp “modeling,” where software is used to re-create the sound of hardware. For the uninitiated, the Pod, along with other Line 6 products like the Spider and Vetta guitar amps, allow guitarists to emulate the sounds of dozens of classic guitar amps, cabinets, and stomp boxes using a single, seemingly magical little box. Love it or loath it, the Pod is undeniably an icon in the world of guitar effects.
For almost as long as there has been a Pod, enterprising musicians have wanted the same sounds in a software product compatible with popular computer audio platforms. Some of those guitarists got their wish with the release of Line 6’s Amp Farm, an amplifier emulation plug-in for Digidesign Pro Tools TDM systems. But relatively few musicians have TDM systems of their own, leaving most of us hoping for a solution that would work with our various other software DAWs (computer-based “Digital Audio Workstations,” such as Cakewalk SONAR, MOTU Digital Performer, Apple Logic, Steinberg Cubase, Ableton Live, Sony ACID, and others).
At long last, Line 6 has delivered a piece of software for us non-Pro Tools TDM users. It’s called Gear Box, and it does on your Mac or Windows XP computer what the Pod does in your guitar rig. It’s compatible with virtually every popular audio recording software system, or can be used completely stand-alone, with no additional software at all.
Built into Gear Box is an impressive array of vintage and modern amp and cabinet models and stomp boxes. All of them have familiar analog-style knobs and switches for control, so all of the controls feel very familiar, even if you’ve never used a software effects processor before. Not sure what settings to use? Gear Box comes with dozens of tweakable presets that serve as starting points to craft your tone. They cover every genre of music imaginable, from country to hard rock. There are even presets for vocals, drums, and other “outside the box” uses of guitar amps.
Even if you are a hardcore collector of amps, cabinets, and guitar processors, precious few collections rival the amazingly wide variety of gear models available in Gear Box. Best of all, all of those tones are at your fingertips. Changing your virtual signal chain is as easy as loading a new preset.
Jeff Barnett was drafted to run sound at church in junior high, and he hasn’t gotten out from behind the console since. He has 15 years of experience in professional audio, and has worked for churches, bands, recording studios, and theater companies as an engineer. Jeff is now a Senior Sales Engineer and product specialist at Sweetwater.
He can be reached at Sweetwater at 1-800-222-4700, ext. 1283, or via email at Jeff_Barnett@sweetwater.com