Nashville producer James Cody examines plugins from IK Multimedia, Native Instruments, Line 6, Waves, Neural DSP, STL Tones, Positive Grid, and Universal Audio that can help you take your guitar-recording to pro levels.
There are more audio plugins at our fingertips than ever before. Whenever new products or software hit the market, I always ask myself, “Will I actually use this and will it serve my needs?” On the topic of guitar amplifiers and simulation, I take a “best of both worlds” approach. When performing live, I use solid-state Quilter amplifiers because they sound great to me, and they’re lightweight and easy to transport to gigs. If something isn’t broken, why fix it?
However, when it comes to my recording workflow, I can honestly say that I use amplifier simulators in virtually every song and project I work on. Why? Because the amplifier simulation plugins available now sound incredible, provide enhanced features, and are convenient to use. It’s that simple. But, like any tool, some simulators may be better suited for certain recording projects than others. At the end of the day, it always comes down to serving the song and making decisions about the specific needs and preferences for your own recording projects. While not definitive, these essential virtual amp packages are sure to provide solid tones for creating high-quality guitar recordings. And remember: the plugins market is competitive, so manufacturers offer sale prices often. Watch for bargains.
IK Multimedia - AmpliTube 5 MAX v2 Software Suite
AmpliTube’s official Fender models give you all the cleans you’ll ever need.
If you know anything about amplifier plugins, chances are high that you have heard of the tone monster that is AmpliTube by IK Multimedia. AmpliTube 5 MAX v2 is a highly versatile plugin with a fun, easy-to-use interface that includes an extensive collection of cabinets, microphones, and virtual recording environments. The amplifiers I use most frequently that are included in AmpliTube 5 MAX v2 are from the Orange, Mesa/Boogie, and Fender collections. One of my favorite setups for achieving a strong all-around rock tone is using AmpliTube’s Tiny Terror with the in-app Fulltone OCD stomp. However, when I need heavier tones to quickly beef up my metal or grunge guitar stacks, the “James N’ Kirk” and “Jerry In Chains” are two of my favorite presets in the AmpliTube 5 MAX dropdown menu. Maybe you’re angling for a more vintage, surf-rock feeling? In the Fender collection, the ’65 Deluxe Reverb is my main go-to, with the Opto Tremolo and PRO drive stomp at the beginning of the chain. With this, I get a similar tone as heard on the song “Wayward Nile” by the Chantays. Classic and vibey!
The short take: AmpliTube 5 MAX v2 comes with a huge spectrum of amplifiers and artist collections including Carvin, ENGL, THD, Gallien-Krueger, Leslie, Dr. Z, Jet City, Joe Satriani, Brian May, Dimebag Darrell, Jimi Hendrix, and Slash.
$299 street, ikmultimedia.com
IK Multimedia - TONEX MAX
Profile a snapshot of your favorite rigs with TONEX Capture.
Also from IK Multimedia, TONEX MAX is another monster tone tool to check out. TONEX comes stocked with over 1,000 tone models based on tons of amps and stomps, but it also allows you to model your own amp. One of my old live rigs consisted of running a Visual Sound Jekyll & Hyde Overdrive into an Orange CR60 1x12” 60-watt combo. Using TONEX Capture, I modeled this duo, and now I’ve got it locked as a plugin insert in my DAW. Pretty cool, right?
Fans of classic gear like the Ibanez TS9 and the ’65 Princeton Reverb will find them in TONEX, as well. Having this breadth of tones, which now includes my own former rig, has been a useful addition to my virtual amplifier and effects library. Plus, you can use TONEX as both a plugin in your DAW or as a standalone application.
$399 street, ikmultimedia.com
Line 6 - Helix Native
Pull up a delicious preset and tweak it to your heart’s desire in Helix Native.
Helix Native is an “all-in-one” package with a wide variety of amplifier and effects processors. As mentioned, I use an expression pedal for controlling stomp effects via MIDI inside my DAW. If I want to create whammy sounds inspired by players like Tom Morello or Buckethead, for example, I might use the Pitch Wham (based on the DigiTech Whammy) and utilize the automation/controller assign section. You can click on any parameter, like the position or heel pitch, and choose “MIDI Learn” for controlling the effect via an expression pedal or other type of MIDI continuous controller.
If you are into ethereal tones and shimmery reverbs, the “X Ray” preset will launch your sound into the depths of outer space. Another top choice is the “Eat It” preset: a fiery rock tone with attitude. I can’t help but jam out to “Morning Glory” by Oasis with this one. This amp and effects plugin might just be what you need to take your guitar tracks to the next level—or universe!
$399 street, line6.com
Waves - GTR3
ToolRack could be your one-stop shop for not just studio work, but live gigs, too.
When it comes to audio plugins, you cannot go wrong with Waves. For guitarists, Waves GTR3 comes with a total of four plugins: Amps, Stomps, ToolRack, and Tuner. From a new-user standpoint, GTR3 Amps has a straightforward design with five different amp types: Bass, Clean, Drive, High Gain, and NeilCitron. Each type includes a variety of presets with knob controls for drive, bass, mid, treble, and presence. Being a hard-rocker at heart, I am most drawn to the High Gain amp type with the “Monster” preset. The default cabinet and microphone settings sound huge, and if you’re like me, you may find yourself playing the classic Tony Iommi riff from “Iron Man” with this one. While the tones can hold their own, I would also use GTR3 to add extra layers, or stacks, with other guitar tracks.
No pedalboard? No problem. GTR3 Stomps comes with three stomp plugins with a nice selection of effects including modulation, harmonic, time-based, and temporal processors for building your virtual pedalboard. As with Amps, I like the straight-forward design of Stomps, and it’s fun experimenting with different pedal chains. If you are looking for tone with screamin’ high gain, the “Autodafeh” preset is a good starting point for a more edgy rock sound with a fuzzy vibe.
Whether for live or studio applications, the GTR3 ToolRack is an all-in-one package that combines Amps and Stomps with GTR Tuner. A unique feature included with ToolRack is the preset grid, which could be used to organize and optimize your custom presets for live shows. There are also plenty of stock factory presets to serve as an extra dose of tonal inspiration when recording. Perhaps you want to create atmospheric music that could be heard in a video game soundtrack or nature documentary. The “PadOsphere” preset is where I might start to create an enveloping guitar pad for texture. In the same browser window, you could also jump to the “Enter Soundman” preset for a more metal/thrash heft. The best part? At less than 30 bucks, you don’t have to break the bank for Waves GTR3.
$29 street, waves.com
Waves - PRS SuperModels
Three esteemed PRS amps go digital with this plugin pack.
PRS makes some of the finest instruments on the market. One of my most prized guitars is a 2004 PRS Singlecut with a figured-maple top and East Indian rosewood fretboard. So, I may be biased! Regardless, the Waves PRS SuperModels plugin is unique and cutting-edge. The three amplifiers included in this collection are PRS’ Archon, Dallas, and Blue Sierra. I gravitate towards the Blue Sierra V9, but there is something special about the sonic character of all three that makes me want to keep playing through them.
Among other features, each model includes a power amp allowing you to really shape the tube amp’s character and tone color with bias, speed, and sag parameters. In the cabinet module, the timer feature is handy because you can cycle through different impulse responses, which is great for auditioning the sound of different amps without having to stop playing. As a player, I don’t want to be distracted by technical aspects, so having automatic features such as auto input, time fix, phase fix, and smart mix enabled allow me to better focus on doing what I really love most: creating catchy guitar riffs!
$35 street, waves.com
Waves - Voltage Amps
If you are into music spanning from the ’60s to the ’90s, Waves’ Voltage Amps is another package you may be interested in checking out. You will find that the Royal-X, Aggro, Blue Flame, Arena, and Silverado amplifiers each have a distinct character for getting classic and modern tones. The cabinet section allows you to choose between six cab pairs, adjust their tone (dark/bright), and shape the room’s influence on the speakers. The focus, depth, and presence parameters allow you to further sculpt and fine-chisel the EQ of your tone based on the specific guitar and amp you are using. The Aggro amp’s “Massive Lead” preset with the focus sitting around 2 o’clock is a personal sweet spot.
Don’t worry, bass players. Voltage Amps has a couple swell amp models for you, too: the Vintage Velvet and Dark Mass. These amps can bring it! The direct, drive, and voice settings make it a breeze to carve out spectral space for the low end. I like the Dark Mass model set to the “Drive and D.I.” preset—plenty of punch that’s not too boomy. Since Voltage’s amps are modeled after tube amplifiers, you might even try using some of the artist presets to add some color to your drums and vocals tracks.
$29 street, waves.com
Native Instruments - Guitar Rig 7
Build your tone piece by piece in Guitar Rig 7’s rack, pictured here.
Native Instruments’ Guitar Rig 7 is another compelling option for your virtual guitar and effects needs. For me, the preset and components browser makes the decision-making process for choosing tone and effect combos easy. While the presets are a fine starting point, you might find it helpful to begin with the factory default setting, or an empty rack, and audition different components individually by dragging and dropping them into the rack. Once you find something you like, you can save your own presets for later recall. The input source section also has processors and presets I might use for projects outside of my normal production workflow. For example, the “Mark My Words” preset includes some trippy sounding modulation and lo-fi effects, like Noise Machine, Formant Filter, and Freak Oscillator. This could work great for psychedelic or experimental rock. If you turn off the modulations, the base tone recalls John Paul Jones’ keys on Led Zeppelin’s “No Quarter.”
$199 street, native-instruments.com
Positive Grid - BIAS Amp 2
Design your own amp in BIAS Amp 2.
When I first loaded up BIAS Amp 2 in my DAW, I didn’t want to stop shredding to Iron Maiden riffs through the 6503 MkII amp. The design and functionality of the processors that power the tone stack, power amp, and transformer parameters are highly detailed and superb. These processor sections provide advanced controls to shape the EQ, dynamic, and solid-state/tube characteristics of your sound with surgical precision. There is also a unique feature included with BIAS Amp 2 called Amp Match. As the name implies, this feature allows you to model your own amplifier, or capture the sound of another audio file, and apply it to your tone. If you want to add more depth and spatial dimension to your sound, the built-in reverbs include studio room, hall, plate, and chamber.
$299 street, positivegrid.com
Positive Grid - BIAS FX 2
BIAS FX 2’s clever Guitar Match puts a world of instruments at your fingertips.
Another heavy-hitter from the Positive Grid family, the BIAS FX 2 is a powerful amp and effects processor with a plethora of beautiful tones and enhanced features such as Guitar Match, looper, auto-detection, and middle effect. Using Guitar Match, you can actually make an emulation of a guitar, choosing from a variety of popular guitar models and applying their characteristic sounds to your own. I performed both the quick and full match feature using my Gibson ’60s LP Standard and the process only took a few minutes. The looper feature is convenient for customizing your own presets by allowing you to play first, then tweak settings as your performance loops. The integrated backing track player is an extra bonus if you want to jam along to your favorite songs or if you have a gig coming up and need to quickly learn some covers. BIAS Amp 2 and BIAS FX 2 are like the dynamic duo: You can’t go wrong with having them both on your side.
$179 street, positivegrid.com
STL Tones - AmpHub and ToneHub
If you want flaming hot tones, look no further than STL AmpHub and ToneHub! There are 42 amplifiers, 27 pedals, and 24 speaker cabinets available (the Eddy 5153 amp is one of my favorites). In the header controls, there are tons of presets that are organized based on both artist settings and amplifier models, streamlining the process of finding a starter tone. In the stomp boxes, amplifier and cabinet views, the layout and search features also make it easy to find the processors you want. In the cab view, you can further customize the speaker configurations as well as the microphone type, angle, and distance to the cab’s grille.
In ToneHub, the preset information tab provides detailed descriptions and notes on the gear used for each tone model. So, if you are really wanting a specific tone chain, ToneHub has got you covered. The combination of ToneHub’s tracing amplifier, cabinet 3D mixer, and tone packs make this a tonal powerhouse, and a perfect companion to AmpHub.
$10 monthly (AmpHub), $15 monthly or $199 (ToneHub), stltones.com
Neural DSP - Soldano SLO-100
Neural’s Soldano plugin is a treat to look at, and its deep tweakability sweetens the deal.
The virtual Soldano SLO-100 from Neural DSP is smooth to operate and sounds like a high-gain dream. There are five main sections: stomp effects, amplifier simulation, EQ, cabinet simulation, and time effects. The stomp and time effect sections include the essentials—compressor, overdrive 1, overdrive 2, chorus, delay, and reverb. The cab simulation section includes six internal microphones based on the usual suspects used on guitar cabinets: dynamic, condenser, and ribbon. You can change their positions and distance to the cabinet speakers with fine adjustments and ultra-precision.
From warm, pristine cleans to crunchy and heavy, the SLO-100 can also be used as a standalone application or inside of your DAW. The Far Far Away preset, included in the factory menu, is bang-on for spacey atmospherics and ethereal layers. The tone here reminds me of the opening guitar of “Voices” by Alice In Chains. The clean chorus setting is another favorite in the SLO-100, especially for getting that iconic lush, watery tone you hear on tracks like Def Leppard’s “Hysteria.” While I have never owned a hand-wired Soldano, the virtual version of the SLO-100 is an impressive workhorse with authentic tones.
$105 street, neuraldsp.com
Neural DSP - Morgan Amps Suite
Don’t let the citrus-fruit Tolex confuse you—pictured here is Morgan Amplification’s take on a Dumble-style clean amp, digitized for Neural’s plugin suite.
Neural’s Morgan Amp Suite is a new collection of prestigious virtual amplifiers based on amp builder Joe Morgan’s eponymous brand. The models included in this package are emulations of Morgan Amplification’s AC20, PR12, and SW50R, which are inspired by a vintage Vox AC30, Fender Princeton Reverb, and clean Dumble amp, respectively. Several cool features, including transpose, doubler, and spread, are included on each. The transpose knob makes it so easy to experiment with guitar tunings, especially if you are into the down-tuned menace of heavier music genres.
Universal Audio - Softube Amp Room Bundle
You can’t crank your amp up in your apartment, but you sure can in Softube’s Metal Amp Room.
The Softube Amp Room Bundle from Universal Audio is a plugin package made for both the classic and modern player. It includes three “rooms,” each outfitted with amps that correspond to the room name—Vintage, Metal, and Bass. Included in the Vintage Amp Room, you have three pristine ’60s-style amps dubbed White, Brown, and Green. I really dig the White Amp with the White Power Amp Overdrive preset with a bit of gain roll off on my guitar. I get that sweet blend of clean and distorted break-up that provides a tone similar to “House of the Rising Sun” by the Animals, or even Kurt Cobain’s intro strumming on “About a Girl” by Nirvana.
On the other side of the virtual house, the Metal Amp Room is loaded with fierce gain and brutal tones. This one definitely brings out the punk rocker in me. I shred and head bang to “Blitzkrieg Bop” by the Ramones with just the default preset, and it sounds killer. Along with standard amp controls, you can adjust the mix of the microphone balance and their positions relative to the speaker cabinets. If recording in stereo, the stereo width knob is great for enhancing, or widening, the microphone mix in the stereo field.
All about that bass and no treble? With the Bass Amp Room, the vintage-’70s-modeled amp tones instantly enhance your low-end rumble. You can really dig into your tone with the direct inject knobs and D.I./amp balance slider as well.
$199 street, uaudio.com
The Last Word
I view all these virtual amplifier packages through a subjective and objective lens. Are there similarities? Yes. Do I have my own preferences? Of course. Will these change over time as audio technology evolves? Absolutely.
Always keep in mind that “serving the song” is the number one priority, and this will never change. Never let software or hardware hinder your creativity, inspiration, or project goals. The tools you use to get there are up to you, and every audio professional has their own methods—what some would refer to as “magic” or “wizardry.”
My advice? Try out the free versions and demo trials of these amp software packages. Determine which ones are most suited for your own recording needs and go from there. The bottom line: keep cool and rock on!
UA enters the entry-level interface fray with a stylish unit that includes a track-transforming compressor and preamp.
Beautiful design. Fun to use. The 76 compressor is a true tone sweetener. Elevates quality of raw tracks without burdening host computer processor or involving extra effects.
More expensive than roughly equivalent competition.
Universal Audio Volt 276
Generally speaking, audio interfaces are tools we prefer not to think about too much. Even powerful interfaces like Universal Audio’s Apollo Twin are made as streamlined as possible, so you can focus on the tracking, editing, and mixing that goes on inside your DAW.
To date, Universal Audio has largely steered clear of the lower-priced side of the interface spectrum, focusing instead on the more professional-grade end of the production equation and leaving the entry-level business to companies like Focusrite, PreSonus and others. UA’s Volt series of interfaces, which range from the $139 1-in/2-out Volt 1 to the $369 4-in/4-out Volt 476 mark a change in that strategy
Entry level interfaces can be pretty similar, but UA’s Volt series are not just lookalike/soundalike equivalents of entry-level rivals. And three of the models in the Volt range, including the Volt 276, reviewed here, are distinguished by the inclusion of a UA 1176-inspired compressor emulation. The compressor on the Volt is not one of the superb 1176 emulations available as UAD plugins. Volt does not have the DSP processing chip required to run them (nor is there a direct path from Volt to upgrade to the company’s superb Apollo and Luna operating environments). But Volt’s onboard 1176-inspired comp is nonetheless an effective tone sweetener that, along with the onboard UA 610-inspired preamp, make the Volt an extra-appealing entry-level interface option.
Pretty and Potent
A significant part of the mid-century design ethos was making beautiful, functional things available to consumers on a budget. It would be hard to find a piece of audio hardware that better embodies that thinking than the Volt 276. The wood and metal enclosure looks handsome and timeless on a desk and avoids the anonymous-to-ugly tech-minimalist look that is the prevailing design vernacular for this product category.
Controls are a streamlined affair: two TRS/XLR inputs, a phantom power button, buttons for each input to toggle between mic line and Hi-Z impedance, input gain knobs for each input, and monitor- and headphone-level knobs. UA also thoughtfully included MIDI-in and out jacks on the back. The important Volt-specific additions are the two buttons that activate the “vintage” preamp setting and the unit’s “76” compressor. The preamp is set and has no EQ capabilities, while the compressor lacks controls for altering attack, release, or gain, but has three presets for voice, guitar, and a fast attack setting. Their preset voices are very nice and very adaptive, all the same.
Lending a Hand in Garage Land
In its most basic application, the Volt is built to translate your input signal cleanly and with a minimum of latency to your DAW. And if you leave the vintage preamp and 76 comp out of the equation, the Volt performs that function well. There is little-to-no discernible extra noise and the basic preamp in the Volt massages the input from an electric guitar effectively. But the vintage preamp and 76 comp can change the sound of your input signal significantly. And it’s interesting to hear how they alter a signal in situations where an entry-level user/guitarist is most likely to use them.
One such application is recording an electric guitar to a simple DAW, like GarageBand or Ableton Live (the latter is included for free, along with Marshall and Ampeg amp emulation software). While DAW amp models have come a long way, they can still sound pretty thin, antiseptic, one-dimensional, and plagued by digital artifacts in spare mixes. But the 76 compressor and vintage pre both discernibly flatter GarageBand’s native guitar simulations, including some of the toughest to tame, like Fender tweed-inspired virtual amps.
The vintage pre and 76 are especially effective and go a long way toward making DAW-native models a lot more convincing in a mix.
The differences are often subtle, as you can hear in Clip 1. Switching on the vintage pre voice provides a very nice fattening agent—adding a darkish, warm, low-end coloration that’s not glaringly obvious, but makes models sound much more cohesive. The 76, meanwhile, makes treble notes more present, warmer, and rounder, which blunts the edge of many digital artifacts and adds a lot of the glued-together tonalities you hear from its more sophisticated cousins in the Apollo sphere. Together, though, the vintage pre and 76 are especially effective and go a long way toward making DAW-native models much more convincing in a mix. In fact, I would consider many of the sounds I created with this combination totally satisfactory for final mixes in certain song contexts and dense mixes.
There are some limits to this formula. High-gain fuzz on the front end, for instance, can still induce digital harshness if you’re not careful with the input gain. And there are no compressor adjustments or EQ functionality in the vintage pre to alter the signal as you might with analog gear or a more flexible plug-in. That said, the Volt’s ability to add body and soften the harsh elements in these models without a pedal or plug-in—just a guitar line into the interface—is a lovely thing, particularly if you’re creating with a bare-bones rig in a compact space or on the road.
Not surprisingly, the Volt shines more brightly when used with a miked electric guitar signal. As you hear in Clip 2, the effect of the vintage preamp setting is subtle—adding a touch more low- and low-mid resonance and a toasty glow compared to the segment using the Volt’s standard onboard preamp. But, here again, it’s the vintage preamp and 76 together that really shine. The Volt’s preamp and compressor may lack the flexibility, fidelity, and sculpting power of the UAD plug-ins and the original hardware that inspired them, but when used together they add a perceptible serving of the warm old-school effects you would hear from those more expensive solutions. And the inspiration and confidence those sounds can lend in the process of creation and tracking is no small thing.
We don’t often review interfaces. But given how impressed we’ve been with UA’s Apollo and UAD plug-ins in our own recording projects—and the company’s tendency to consistently bring something new to the table—it was hard to resist investigating how the Volt’s tools could empower recording guitarists in the entry-level sphere.
There’s no doubt that UA’s keen knack for design, both in the practical and purely aesthetic sense, pays big dividends. The Volt looks handsome, and the layout is smart and intuitive. In most basic, functional respects, it is every bit as good or better than rival interfaces. It’s super quiet and easy to set up. The big difference, apart from that very pretty deign, is the 76 compressor, but more crucially how the 76 and the vintage preamp voice work together. You may not want to use them on everything you track: The coloration can be strong when used in tandem. But for budget-constrained, entry-level users, the way it can spruce up a very basic guitar track without having to bog down a DAW and its host computer’s processor—as well as the pleasure and ease with which you can use them—make the 276 worth the extra money you’ll pay compared to the competition.
Your DAW and a simple plug-in can match your guitar lines in weird and colorful ways. Blast off, space cadets!
Hello everyone and welcome back to another Dojo. This time I'm going to do something a little unusual and give you some ideas on how to use a vocoder for creative harmonies on your guitar within the DAW of your choosing. Get your belts tightened; the Dojo is now open.
Think about this for a moment: The vocoder was developed in 1938 at Bell Labs by Homer Dudley as a way of synthesizing the human voice for conserving bandwidth in telephone communications. That's almost a century ago! Aside from synth pioneer Bob Moog's early versions, the vocoder didn't hit the musical mainstream until 1970 when Moog and Wendy Carlos Williams built a solid-state, 10-band version based on Dudley's designs. Put simply, the carrier signal came from one of Moog's modular synthesizers and the modulator came from the input of a microphone presumably with someone on the other end speaking profound words.
Soon afterwards, the vocoder was featured on early groundbreaking recordings: Isao Tomita's Electric Samurai (1972), the Alan Parsons Project's "The Raven" from Tales of Mystery and Imagination (1976), and ELO "Mr. Blue Sky" from Out of the Blue (1977), to name a few. Since then, it has been used in TV (my favorite was the voice of the Cylons in Battlestar Galactica), and on more records by diverse artists including Stevie Wonder, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Michael Jackson, Daft Punk, and Coldplay.
It's a way to add another voice to the solo that might be so left-of-center that it's exactly the kind of crazy texture that you've been searching for.
Most of the time, a vocoder is used to synthesize vocal parts and create everything from monophonic (single voice) to polyphonic (many voices) textures. A typical way to do this would be to speak (or sing) into a microphone and hold some keys down on a vocoder and, voilà, you have a chord of your words.
Now, here is where things get a bit more interesting. Obviously, the guitar is a chordal instrument. However, when we play a melody, or shred some single-note solos, we can essentially think of it as a "voice," but without formants: consonants, vowels, diphthongs, and other articulations that basically shape the way we speak and help create everything from languages to dialects.
For our purposes, we're going to use a pre-recorded guitar melody (or solo) and route the output of that track into a vocoder and then use a MIDI keyboard to add a note-for-note harmonized piano recreation. It's a way to add another voice to the solo that might be so left-of-center that it's exactly the kind of crazy texture that you've been searching for.
I did this most recently on a record I produced where, during my pedal-steel solo, I wanted to double my single notes using a vocoder plug-in (Arturia's Vocoder V, $199 street). This vocoder combines both carrier and modulator, and greatly expands what a traditional vocoder can do. For example, you can load in your own samples, or take the output of one of your tracks in your session and use it as a keyed input to add some vocoder magic. That's what I'm going to show you how to do.
The astute might ask this question: "Why don't you just use any synth (analog or plug-in) and play along with your guitar parts?" Two good reasons. One, using this technique, the rhythm will be exact, so every start and stop of the track will be preserved no matter what key(s) you're playing on the keyboard. Two, it will sound like a vocoder trying to double your part and not another synth. Vocoders have a specific sound especially perfect for multi-part designs.
Try this: Find a guitar track in your session that has some tasty single-note licks. Next, route the output of the track to an aux bus. Name the bus GTR Vocoder (or something you'll remember). Create a new stereo instrument track and instantiate the vocoder you want to use. For this example, I'm using the Vocoder V by Arturia. On the vocoder, change the key input to GTR Vocoder (or whatever you named your aux bus [Fig. 1] and make sure the input is set to Voice [Fig.2]. Now, you've essentially tricked your vocoder into thinking that there is a microphone input, but it's really your guitar track! Have fun and be sure to play with the parameters of the vocoder to really mangle your sound and get into uncharted territories. As usual, I recommend coming by my website to see and hear this technique in action. Namaste.