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The Amptone Reamp Project: Collective Dry and Amp-Processed Guitar Files

This 2006 page replaces the 2001 page Reamp.htm.

Usefulness of Reamping

Creating and sharing files in this shared Reamp approach has the following benefits:

         Input jack of VOX Valvetronix AD120VT combo amp (digital preamp>12AX7 as power tube>dummy load>ss amp)

         Return jack of VOX Valvetronix AD120VT combo amp (between digital preamp and 12AX7 power amp)

         Input jack of Fender Blues. Jr. (all-tube single-channel combo amp w/ multi gain stages always present)

         Reverb tank return plug of Fender Blues. Jr. (between preamp gain stages and tube power amp)

The outcome will be better gear, when integrated with my various advice and approaches. Both better digital modelling and better power-tube-based "modelling" and better feature packaging.

Dry files should target specific popular tracks to A/B against -- there should be a particular sonic goal that people can a/b, reproducible/provably a "success". The Amptone Reamp Contest would award the prize gear to those who, as in a tiathalon, excell at the various skills: distortion voicing, miking, and production.

Compare the sound of traditional gear set up in an iso-room to the sound of attenuators (eg power scaling, hotplate), sim/modelling (eg flextone, Ampulator, analog-based modelling amps), dummy load rigs (eg Valvetronix, Hot Plate/Power Block).

The goal is to be able to easily get good specific tones, and to master getting the best amp sounds possible from any gear, and get faster at obtaining and exploring sounds. For example, even if you have a London Power and Emery Sound Superbaby, and a huge amp collection, how are you going to figure out *quickly* which pickup and tube type and biasing-setting and speaker and overdrive pedal to use?

The ideal way is have well-played dry-guitar playing of the song tone you're emulating, on an mp3 player, to continuously play while you run through many many configs quickly. There's way better playing this way (more accurate, optimized, low hum/buzz, the playing is unbroken while you reach out to change settings), a greater range of pickup sounds immediately available this way, no string breakage halts, no stopping to retune. You can't do gear hookups while a guitar strapped on, and if you try, you'll be ultra-slow. Reamp approach supplements live g approach we're all too familiar with.

Optimal A/B'ing is only possible w/ reamp. A helpful additional way to determine whether you've nailed the sound, even including the whole chain to the monitors (not just at the g spk) -- apples to apples, from the recording/pa/producer's/mixing-engineer's point of view. Other advantages: no plucking is picked up in the mics.

Note: you can turn down the guitar's volume when playing quiet parts of dry file to record.

 

Email me mp3 files of your dry, direct, unprocessed guitar playing from guitar to hard disc. Other instruments are useful, too: harmonica, violin, bass unprocessed. I'll upload the files here. Please specify which pickup selection and type is used.

Download files from here of dry guitar, or use the dry guitar file you made, and put it on your portable MP3 player. Feed the signal from there (with no bass boost or eq) at the same level as a guitar, into your miked tube amp or other processing equipment, to get a polished recording studio track on your hard drive. Email me the processed file, with a description of the processing. I'll upload the files here.

To contribute to this project, you can create new dry guitar files, or process an existing dry file, use it to dial-in good sounds on your equipment, and then email me a good processed file to upload.

How to Create a Dry-Guitar File for Reamping

  1. Play guitar directly into the sound card, using an EQ pedal (on Bypass) as a buffer, without adding any processing.
  2. Use a utility such as the Windows Sound Recorder or Roxio AudioCentral Sound Editor or ProTools to record.
  3. Use the sound recording utility to save the result as an .mp3 file at 256 kbps (2 channels; mono is better). Name the file to indicate which pickup selection and type was used.
  4. Transfer the dry mp3 file to a portable mp3 player.
  5. Played the dry file into the EQ pedal and then into the guitar amp (or guitar preamp/processor).
  6. Drive a guitar speaker inside an isolation box (a cab inside a box or two) in the basement, connected by a 50' speaker cable (the recording studio isolation booth approach). Or, use a power attenuator to drive the guitar speaker in the control room.
  7. Put two mics near the speaker's center. Run both mic cables back upstairs to the control room, into a small mixer that has 3 tone controls for each mic channel, or into a software mixer with tone controls for each mic channel.
  8. Put both mics at the same level, without nearing clipping. Freely swing the channel tone controls so that the comb filtering sounds best. Connect the mixer to the soundcard Line In jack.
  9. Turn down the guitar amp's master volume. Use a pre-distortion EQ pedal and the amp's preamp Gain control to dial-in a good preamp distortion sound, where the bass, mid, and treble are each distorted to the amount you want (clean, compressed, or distorted). Then use the amp's tone stack (assuming it's between the preamp distortion and the power tubes) along with the amp's Master Volume control to dial-in a good power-tube distortion sound, where the bass, mid, and treble are each distorted to the amount you want (clean, compressed, or distorted).
  10. A/B compare the resulting sound to a particular song on an album that you are trying to match for tone.
  11. Check the dialed-in sound by playing your own guitar into the amp, using the settings you dialed-in.
  12. Play the dry guitar file into the amp again. Use the recording software to record the processed result. Save the result as an .mp3 file with a generous bit rate to avoid audible lossy compression.
  13. Email the file to me for uploading; send the dry guitar file if its not here yet, and the processed file, with some description.

Example of the layout of dry and processed files in the resulting online library:

Dry File 1. Blues Harp (harmonica).

Harp played by ___. __ MB.

Processed file: ...

Processed file: ...

Processed file: ...

Dry File 2. Single-coil neck pickup.

Guitar played by Michael Hoffman. __ MB.

Processed file: ...

Processed file: ...

Processed file: ...

Dry File 3. Riff from Van Halen's song Running with the Devil.

Guitar played by Michael Hoffman. __ MB.

Processed file: Dry file 3 through Line 6 DM4 on Tube Works Real Tube distortion pedal setting, into Fender Blues Jr., mostly using preamp dist, with slight power tube dist; Hot Plate as dummy load, solid state amp driving Blues Jr's speaker, probably mic'd with SM57 and CAD large-d condenser. Processed by Michael Hoffman.

Processed file: ...

Processed file: ...

Misc Unrelated Notes

Crank all the Fender Blues Junior's controls with a bridge humbucker, then imagine controlling the eq -- instead of before ptubes (& mixer) -- between the power valves and speaker (& mixer).

Suppose eq'ing the mics just isn't getting the right sound. Can use dummy load/ eq/ ss amp / g spk chain to instead adjust the eq just before the g spk.

EVH doesn't like cranked head directly into cab, because he then has no way to tune the eq at all, after preamp dist. Probly too much sludgy dark lower mids and upper bass, and he doesn't like that, and it can't really be fixed at the mixer ch tone ctrls.

Don't just Crank all BJ ctrls w/ bridge hum, directly into iso cab; instead: bridge hum, BJ all ctrls max, hot plate as dummy load, mxr 10-band eq, vtronix ss power amp with flattest amp model selected, iso cab w/ speaker compression/distortion. Do A/B alb comparison.

 

"tone quest" - define the idea. show how reamp helps that goal.

statistic -- how well can people guess diff between (good) conventional miked tube amp sound vs. the many alternatives? The good conventional miked tube amp sound is the std by which all sims are measured, for musicality.

 

spk breakin: push spk playing reamp loop all day.

 

-- Michael Hoffman, Amptone.com


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