How to bring the mojo of modulation, delay, distortion, and other effects to your recordings of … everything.
We guitarists have a long tradition of changing the electric guitar’s inherent tone by experimenting, inventing, and developing new tones and timbres through effects. More specifically, effect pedals. I believe our continued open-mindedness has kept our instrument relevant throughout the many decades and proven just how limitless a musical chameleon it truly is.
There is also a parallel tradition, almost as long, of using guitar pedals in unintended ways on other musical material. This time, in honor of our all-things-pedal issue, I’m going to show you how to set up and use your existing pedals on other audio sources besides your guitar. Before we get too far into the woods and try to connect our pedals to and from our audio interface, I want to briefly address two subjects—“levels” and “balanced/unbalanced signal cables”—that are important to understand, so you’ll get the best results.
Listed from weakest to strongest, there are four types of signal levels in the audio world: mic, instrument, line, and speaker level.
Mic level is the signal voltage generated by a microphone and is so weak, it requires using a preamplifier (preamp) to bring it up to line level.
Instrument level is the inherent signal output level (impedance varies) put out by an instrument, like the electric guitar or bass. It also requires a preamp to bring it up to line level.
Line level is the highest of the three levels but still needs a preamp and comes in two varieties: consumer (-10 dBV) and professional (+4 dBu). The latter is what your audio interface will boost everything up to before sending the signal to your monitor speakers.
Speaker level comes after all the signals (any of the previous three) are collectively boosted to line level and is then (post-amplification) output to your monitors. Because of the comparatively high voltage, this is why we use dedicated speaker cables and not instrument cables to connect the output of your interface to your monitors.
Now, let me quickly define the difference between balanced and unbalanced signal cables.
• Unbalanced signal cables: The two most common are our standard, high impedance 1/4" TS (tip, sleeve) instrument cables and RCA cables [Fig.1].
• Balanced cables: The two most common are XLR cables and TRS 1/4" cables [Fig. 2].
Using this knowledge, we can get started making some musical mayhem and connecting our pedals.
Step 1: Connect a balanced XLR or 1/4" TRS cable from a line output of your audio interface and to the input of your reamp box. I highly recommend the Radial EXTC Effects Reamper Class A Guitar Effects Router ($329 street), which further offers the possibility of combining two different effects loops. The reason why we need a reamp box (there are many on the market) is because it will convert the balanced, line level output of your audio interface to an unbalanced, instrument levelsignal that guitar pedals are designed to accept. A good reamp box can also match the impedance of your particular instrument for even better signal fidelity.
Step 2: Connect a standard 1/4" instrument cable from the output of the reamp box to your pedal(s).
Step 3: Connect another 1/4" instrument cable from the output of your last pedal to either your guitar amp and record your new tracks through your guitar amp, or plug into a regular DI box (which will convert the signal back to a balanced, line-level stage) and take that output to the input of your audio interface. If you have the Radial EXTC Effects reamper, you can do this all in one box [Fig. 3]!
Once this is set up, you can start sending any track you wish from your DAW/audio interface to all your pedals and go crazy! Soak your vocals in pitch-shifted, distorted reverb. Flange your synths and add delayed chorus. Or bit crush your drum tracks.
What I particularly love to do is play with various delay pedals’ feedback amounts and delay times as I record and get all of those quirky pitch-shifted pings and pongs from adjusting those values on the fly. You can also consider adding distortion and harmonies to a vocal on key words or phrases within your song. Your imagination is the only limit!
Finally, I encourage you to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions and requests for future topics to cover. Until next time, namaste!
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Looking for more great gear for the guitar player in your life (yourself included!)? Check out this year's Holiday Gear Finds!
D'Addario XPND Pedalboard
DR-05X Stereo Handheld Recorder
Wampler Pedals Ratsbane
Outlaw Effects introduces their next generation of NOMAD rechargeable battery-powered pedal boards.
Available in two sizes, NOMAD ISO is a compact, versatile tool that offers the convenience of a fully powered board plus the additional freedom of not having to plug into an outlet. NOMAD ISO is ideal for stages with limited outlet availability, quick changeovers, busking outdoors, temporary rehearsal locations, and more!
NOMAD ISO builds upon the legacy of the ultra-convenient and reliable NOMAD rechargeable pedalboard line originally launched in 2018. The brand new NOMAD ISO editions feature eight isolated outputs (1 x 9V DC, and 1 switchable 9V/12V DC) for even more versatility and clean, quiet power. With an integrated lithium-ion battery pack boasting 12800mAh capacity, NOMAD ISO can fuel a wide array of pedals, and will last over 10 hours* on a single charge.
Each NOMAD ISO pedal board includes adhesive hook & loop pedal-mounting tape, eight (8) standard DC connector cables, and one (1) reverse polarity DC cable, giving you everything you need to build your ultimate "off-the-grid" rig. A rugged, road-ready padded gig bag with shoulder strap is also included, to safely protect your gear while you're on the move.
NOMAD ISO S: MSRP $309 / MAP: $249
Dimensions: 19 ¼" x 5 ¼"
NOMAD ISO M: MSRP $349 / MAP $279
Dimensions: 19 ¼" x 11"
More info: https://www.outlawguitareffects.com.
Dunable announce new Minotaur model featuring Grover Rotomatic Keystone tuners.
The Minotaur's DNA is rooted in their classic Moonflower model, which Dunable discontinued in 2017. However, they have long since wanted to create a fresh take on a carved top guitar design, and various attempts to rework the Moonflower led them to a brand new concept with the Minotuar.
Dunable's goal is to give the player a guitar that plays fast and smooth, sounds amazing, and gives maximum physical ergonomic comfort. The Minotaur's soft and meticulous contours, simple and effective control layout, and 25.5" scale length are designed to easily meet this criteria.
- 25.5" scale length
- Dual Humbucker
- one volume, one tone, push pull for coil splitting
- Grover Rotomatic Keystone tuners
- Grover Tune O Matic bridge with brass Kluson top-mount tailpiece
- jumbo nickel frets
- 12" fretboard radius
This full-amp-stack-in-a-box pedal brings a new flavor to the Guitar Legend Tone Series of pedals, Missing Link Audio’s flagship product line.
Adding to the company’s line of premium-quality effects pedals, Missing Link Audio has unleashed the new AC/Overdrive pedal. This full-amp-stack-in-a-box pedal – the only Angus & Malcom all-in-one stompbox on the market – brings a new flavor to the Guitar Legend Tone Series of pedals, Missing Link Audio’s flagship product line.
The AC/OD layout has three knobs to control Volume, Gain and Tone. That user-friendly format is perfect for quickly getting your ideal tone, and it also offers a ton of versatility. MLA’s new AC/OD absolutely nails the Angus tone from the days of “High Voltage” to "Back in Black”. You can also easily dial inMalcom with the turn of a knob. The pedal covers a broad range of sonic terrain, from boost to hot overdrive to complete tube-like saturation. The pedal is designed to leave on all the time and is very touch responsive. You can get everything from fat rhythm tones to a perfect lead tone just by using your guitar’s volume knob and your right-hand attack.
- Three knobs to control Volume, Gain and Tone
- Die-cast aluminum cases for gig-worthy durability
- Limited lifetime warranty
- True bypass on/off switch
- 9-volt DC input
- Made in the USA