This well-established, simple technique opens up a new world of sonic possibilities.
[Originally published February 14, 2022]
Welcome to another Dojo! This time I’m going to show you how to reamp your guitar and explore some creative ways you can re-amps other tracks as well (soft synths, vocals, drums, etc.). In my earlier column “Why Guitarists Shouldn’t Diss DIs,” I mentioned the benefits of using a DI for creative recording. If you have a DI box, dust it off! You’ll need it when I show you how to get more out of your DI-recorded guitar and bass tracks by reamping them into your pedals and amps to capture new perspectives and even add some new reverberant spaces. Tighten up your belts, the Dojo is now open.
To begin, you’re going to need a reamp box such as the Radial JCR Studio Reamper ($229 street) and most likely a TRS-to-male XLR cable (like the Asterope Pro Studio Series TRS to XLRs, $55 street). I like passive re-amp boxes because they don’t require external power and are easy to move around. Some would argue that passive models loose signal strength, which is true, but how many boost/overdrive pedals do we guitarists have? At least one, right? Put one after the reamp box and before your amp. Boom. Problem solved, and you can drive your amp even harder. Otherwise, you’re going to shell out more dinero for active reamp boxes, which isn’t really necessary, and I like the inherent lo-fi nature of this process.
Reamping is a two-part endeavor. The first part involves using a DI box to record the guitar directly into your DAW. If you’re unsure how to do this, I recommend going online and reading my Dojo article mentioned above. It’s very easy and straightforward. The second part involves routing the DI-recorded guitar track out of your DAW and into your reamp pedal. Depending on your interface, you might need the TRS-to-male XLR cable previously mentioned.
Look at Fig. 1 and do the following: Plug the XLR end of the cable from your audio interface’s out into the input of your reamp box. Now use your regular guitar cable and connect the output of your reamp box to the input of your amp. Place a microphone in front of your guitar amp, plug that into your interface, and record-enable that track. When you hit playback, the DI track will play back through your amp, and you will be recording the amp. You’re now re-amping! You can make new recordings each time you change amp settings or mic positions.
For even more craziness, check out Fig. 2. You can add any (and all) pedals (even entire pedalboards) into the signal chain. Get creative. But wait, there’s more!
You can also route any track’s output in your DAW to your reamp box and really start going berserk. Try your lead vocal, the background vocals, keys, and drums (especially drum machines) and listen to how it sounds. Reamping also gives you the ability to manually tweak pedal knobs and make dynamic parts that are really changing as the track plays. Try playing with the times and feedback amount of your delays. Fun!
Finally, depending on how much you are driving your amp, you could keep it clean, move the mic further away from the speaker, and start capturing more of the sound of your room. I like to do this on drum machines. It puts them in a real space. Specifically, your space. No reverb plug-in can get that! As always, I invite you to come by my website to hear and see these concepts in action. Until next time, namaste.
What the company calls a “Swiss Army knife” for bassists, the Basswitch IQ DI is a preamp/ dual-effects loop/A-B switcher/DI pedal that provides a multitude of options for live and studio situations, with Lehle switching technology to boot.
Sensing a void in the market for bassists that use multiple instruments in their set-up or those needing a beefy control unit for their pedalboards, Ruppert Musical Instruments set out to create the Basswitch IQ DI. What the company calls a “Swiss Army knife” for bassists, the Basswitch IQ DI is a preamp/ dual-effects loop/A-B switcher/DI pedal that provides a multitude of options for live and studio situations, with Lehle switching technology to boot. Whether you’re a virtuoso soloist or a multitasking bassist-for-all-seasons, life may have gotten less stressful for you.
Two is More Than One
For starters, you’re no longer at the mercy of abused DI boxes supplied by the venue—often beer-soaked and of questionable integrity— because the Basswitch has an XLR out that can go straight to the board. The unit also has two input channels, so you’re able to have two basses with separate settings dialed-in simultaneously. But with just one instrument plugged into channel A, you can get a quick boost or a different EQ and effect(s) setting for another playing style, simply by switching to channel B. And there’s not just one effects loop, but two. One passive serial loop for effects like compressors that you may want engaged all the time, and a second, switchable loop equipped with a Mix control that allows you to blend in an effect with the clean tone.
With a 4-string StingRay in hand, I ran the Basswitch into my Yamaha 01v mixing board and found the sound to be clean and surprisingly warm for it’s solid-state components. And if you want that signal to be recorded clean so you can add effects later, there’s a Pre/Post button allowing you to print the clean tone while you listen to the effected tone through your amp or headphones.
Running an Alesis NanoCompressor through the serial loop and a Maxon overdrive pedal through the mixing loop, I was able to dial-up just the right combination of warmth and grit I was craving using the Mix control. If you’re like me and prefer vintage pedals, you won’t have to worry about the clean signal and the effect return signal cancelling each other out. If they do, simply flip the Phase switch to invert the phase, and you’re good to go. The Basswitch also has a separate tuner out, keeping your tuner out of the signal path, and a large mute button front and center. You can’t miss it.
Instead of typical slider controls, there’s a knob for each of the frequency ranges in the Basswitch’s 4-band EQ, which boasts double parametric mids. While it’s easy to sweep the spectrum with the EQ controls, it did take a little getting used to the knobs being in the reverse order of what I’m accustomed to, which is the highs on the right and the lows on the left. It’s the exact opposite on the Basswitch. And while not a huge issue, marking the knobs with the same glow-in-the-dark paint used for the Basswitch logo would be helpful in low-light situations.
The footswitches felt very solid and ready to take a healthy dose of not-so-delicate switching. The bottom of the Basswitch is completely flat and includes four, sturdy rubber feet that can easily be popped in or out. It’s relatively thin—about an inch and a half at its thickest height—and about as wide as three Boss pedals placed side by side. Weighing just a hair over three pounds, this DI will not overload or overcrowd your pedalboard.
Whether using the Basswitch as a standalone DI or the master of a pedalboard, the Basswitch is a cool option for bassists who want to take control of their sound in a variety of situations. Though the inverted EQ controls do take some getting used to, it’s a small price to pay for the peace of mind the Basswitch delivers. Now that this pedal exists, I expect a number of bassists won’t want to be caught at a gig or recording session without it.
you record and play out often, use effects, and want to be ready for anything.
you trust the house DI, or you have one tone for your bass and that’s all you need.
Street $599 - Ruppert Musical Instruments - basswitch.com
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The L.R. Baggs Venue DI is a user-friendly way to go direct without losing your tone
Take a Tour of the Venue
The Venue is a sleek-looking piece of gear that will be immediately familiar to users of the ParAcoustic DI or the Baggs Core 1 Reference Monitor. The 5-band EQ section is responsive and powerful, with Bass, Lowmid, Hi-mid, Presence and Treble controls, with the mids controls being particularly robust, allowing you to choose the specific frequencies to cut or boost—from 100Hz– 500Hz in the lows and 500Hz–2.8kHz in the highs. The Bass, Presence and Treble controls are 12dB boost/cut at 90Hz, 3kHz and 10kHz respectively. There is the customary 1/4" instrument input, an XLR out and a line out. The unit requires a 9V battery or a standard DC power supply, and cannot be phantom powered.
The proprietary Garrett Null anti-feedback control is easy and quite effective. The knob allows you to sweep through all the usual suspects (that pesky 60Hz–320Hz range) and eliminate just the offending frequency while doing virtually no damage to your tone. The knob clicks off when you turn it all the way counter-clockwise. When you hear feedback starting to blow up, simply sweep the knob slowly from left to right; when the knob reaches the problem frequency, the feedback just ... stops. That’s it. I’d call that an idiotproof solution that’s tone-friendly, too.
The Venue has Gain and Volume controls, which gives you yet more control over your tone. The Gain should be set so that the LED clip indicator is flashing up to orangeconsistently, and only occasionally into the red. This is important—not enough gain and your tone is wimpy and there’s a danger of generating the dreaded “self-noise.” Too much gain and you may overdrive whatever system you are plugging into. Once the Gain is set appropriately you can bring up the Volume accordingly. According to the manual, “The XLR output is not affected by the volume control, but is affected by all other controls.” Good to know.
Another Gain control, located on the back, works with the Boost, and this is my favorite part. You can set the Boost to make you from 0dB to 9dB louder when you stomp on the switch. I tested it with my bass player and drummer at a recent gig and it just about made me giddy. When it was my turn to solo, stomp, “Wow!” We could all hear every note I played (fortunately, I was having a good night). You can boost a little or a lot, and a little is a lot more than you might think. Frankly, it’s darned impressive.
The pedal also includes effects send and return and a ground/lift. According to the user manual, “The transformer-coupled DI provides full isolation through the DI output when the switch is in the “lift” position to help defeat ground loops that can occur when more than one connection is made to the DI.” Handy.
My only quibble with the tuner is that it’s a little slow to respond and seems to lock up once in a while. This just isn’t okay when you’re trying to keep momentum going during a set. The tuner is really cool looking and brightly lit with big letters (which is a huge plus), and when you activate it the signal to the board is muted, which is a very smart feature. I wish it were quicker to respond, though, because the ease of use makes it a highly desirable function.
The Final Mojo
If you frequently plug into PA systems, this can be a tone-saving device that can give you the option to control your sound completely. The clean boost and feedback control are simply fantastic, and combined with the EQ, Gain and Volume controls, this could become essential gear for acoustic players everywhere. Those crafty elves at Baggs have done it again!
you like the ease of going direct to a PA system, but want more immediate and user-friendly control.
you use a high-end guitar amp as a DI/monitor, or you only want one of the things this pedal can do.
Street $299 - L.R. Baggs Co - lrbaggs.com