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The Reamp Project: Direct/dry guitar samples and amp Tone reference library

THE REAMP PROJECT

Possible descriptive subtitles:

Direct/dry guitar samples and amp tone reference library
Creating and sharing libraries of direct/dry guitar input samples to adjust guitar processor settings
Library of direct/dry guitar tracks and album excerpts of great amp tone
Amp tone reference tracks and test input signals
Reference and test tone input library

 

 

January 13, 2001

 

There are many benefits of having a reference/test library.  Having isolated album excerpts of guitar-amp'd bass, harmonica, keyboards, or electric guitar provides challenging, good, goal sounds to try to reproduce.  If you are using an amp simulator that is physical gear such as Sans Amp or POD, or the ReValver or Amp Farm software, there is an especially strong need to hear how great the goal sound is on an existing popular album, and to hear how closely your amp settings are reproducing and emulating that goal sound.

 

If you've spent a lot of time trying out different settings in your equalizer and amp and you want better results in less time, having an input library of ready-to-use playing can save a lot of time and enable you to try out hundreds more settings per hour than if you are simultaneously burdened with operating your musical instrument.

 

Having the reference/test library enables you to adjust equipment settings and connections while the WAV plays continuously, in order to fully concentrate on dialing in the desired amp Tone without the cumbersome distraction of having to simultaneously provide a test input signal by playing the instrument.  The WAV provides a prefabricated ideal instrument performance as an input signal to a distortion pedal, guitar amp, or virtual-guitar-amp software such as ReValver or Amp Farm.

 

How should you picture this library physically -- where is it located?  Any media you want, anywhere you want. The WAV library can be stored and copied in multiple forms -- CD audio disc in a portable CD player, WAV files on hard drive, CD-ROM with WAV files, MiniDisc containing ATRAC-compressed copy of the WAV files, Rio portable MP3 player with MP3 copies of the WAV files. 

 

Bassists such as the alt.guitar.bass community can collaborate to form their own bass-oriented CDR and online library filled with good bass-amp excerpts from well-known albums, dry recordings of their own renditions of these album passages, and dry recordings of their own extended bass playing with various pickups.

 

Harpists such as the alt.music.harmonica community can collaborate to form their own harp-oriented CDR and online library filled with good amplified-harp excerpts from well-known albums such as Chicago blues harp, dry recordings of their own renditions of these album passages, and dry recordings of their own extended harp playing with various harp mics.

 

Amp simulator designers and guitar-gear designers can gather a library of various guitar, bass, and harmonica tracks -- album excerpts, dry solo renditions of these, and extended solo dry playing with the various instruments.  These designers might not play these instruments, but now they won't need to.  They can focus on designing the best equipment without the distraction of having to "pulse" the prototype by stopping to play an instrument, and without the barrier of not being able to play the instruments.  Having reference excerpts of great amp Tone from albums enables the designers to aim for specific, musically proven goals for the sound of their presets or center-settings.

 

I use an A/B pedal to select sources.  I plug an electric guitar into input A.  I plug my MiniDisc player into input B.  When setting up a sound with my effects, tube amp, miked cab, mixer, and reverb, I start by selecting input B - the portable MiniDisc player.  I select a track that has the desired playing style and pickup setting -- single-coil neck, or double-coil bridge.  I set the MiniDisc to Repeat Track.  If I am targeting an album sound, I use my MiniDisc deck to loop-playback the album excerpt, and play this through a home stereo system.  When the connections and settings of my equipment essentially matches the album, then I switch to input A, the electric guitar, and fine-tune the settings.

 

With the MiniDisc providing the input signal to the distortion pedal, EQ, and guitar amp, I am free to use both of my hands and my full attention to concentrate on connecting up equipment and dialing in the settings that produce the goal sound.  Both my hands are free to switch between the album excerpt playing on the stereo and my guitar-gear setup, in order to quickly explore settings and increasingly approach the sound of the album.  This is a cybernetic feedback loop: compare the goal album clip against my current guitar-gear output, identify the difference between the two, and then adjust the guitar-gear controls to reduce the difference. 

 

Having to operate a musical instrument drastically slows down this process because it's very hard to change cable connections while playing the instrument, and it's very slow to explore settings when you have to play, stop, adjust the controls without hearing the signals, play, stop... and so on.  Also, it's impossible to play the instrument well while you are actually concentrating on fiddling with controls.  You can't play an instrument well at the same time as playing with the settings effectively.

 

Please create album excerpts of great amp Tone, or your dry renditions of these passages, or dry extended solo playing.  Then exchange these tracks, in the form of mono WAV files or mono hi-fidelity MP3s, with other musicians and gearheads.  You can email WAVs to me or request a CDR copy of the library via http://www.amptone.com/contact.htm.

 

As one who has tried this approach, I can tell you it's amazingly powerful and it's surprising more people don't try it.  With digital recording of the dry instrument, this approach works great. 

 

Thanks for the clips people have sent to me already -- the collection is growing and I'm looking forward to mailing out free WAV CDRs and audio-format CD-Rs containing such a reference/test input library for re-amping. 

 

Please let me know if you would like a copy of the reference/test library, as a WAV CD-R, audio CD-R, or audio MiniDisc.  Instructions for creating the sample tracks, converting them to other media, and using the reference/test library are provided at this page, http://www.amptone.com/reamp.htm.

 

After I have this important reference/test library, I'll be ready to start exploring amp tone settings.

 

Thanks!

-- Michael Hoffman

Amptone.com

 

See also Amp tone MP3s.

 

 

http://www.tonefrenzy.com/whatsnew.htm -- "LINE6 just sent us their AX2 Amp, Dredgetone pedals is waiting in the wings too. Alan Elliot caught on also: He's designed the "Harmonica

Honker", for Blues Harp players. He'll do his own playing [to create a demo MP3 for the tonefrenzy site], since we can't. Ron Neely II, the EH Man sent us prototypes six months ago, so did Analog Mike, and Alfonso Hermida. Zachary Vex helped us get pedals to test also.

 

 


 

January 12, 2001

How this Project Idea Arose

The main obstacle now for my amp Tone research is lack of efficient A/B against reference samples of good Tone, together with the distracting burden of having to operate the guitar while changing gear connections and settings.  With reamping, I am much clearer on what the exact goal Tone is, and with looped A/B comparison setups, I am much faster at changing connections and adjusting control settings on guitar processing gear.  With album excerpting, A/B techniques, and exchanging reamp-input libraries, the guitar-gear community can be much better at comparing various amps and processors.

What I Want and Need, Motivation, what improvements we'll have with trading these WAVs

I want to master amp tone settings & miking techniques and be able to play through these sounds:

Artist sounds

·        AC/DC

·        Captain Beyond

·        Blue Cheer

·        Van Halen

·        Randy Roades

·        the Beatles

·        Hendrix

·        SRV

·        Young

·        Metallica

·        others

 

Amp brand sounds

·        Marshall

·        Fender

·        VOX sounds

·        Carvin sound I've heard

·        Boogie

·        Mesa.

 

 

To rapidly dial in these sounds, I need to gather samples of their albums, because memory is not tangible enough to check if I've reached their sound.  To reach the goals, I need to become more concrete in the goals, targeting actual clips from albums in a rapid a/b system.

 

I want to try out various gear and amp-sim software, but need a good input signal.  To help develop ampsim software and guitar preamp/processors, developers need far more specific targets, and pickups need to be indicated/matched, and developers need efficient prefab inputs to save them time and provide better feedback toward their goal; they need to have the goal in front of them effciently in terms of target clips, and they need an ideal input always and instantly on hand that matches the playing (incl PU) in the target clip.

 

Two versions: audio CD, and WAVs on CD.  (Investigate DAM CD format from MP3.com).

 

Solo instrument samples CDs are meant to be pitch-shifted, tempo-shifted, inserted into mix, reversed, compressed, eq'd, distorted, power-tube-saturated, speaker-smoothed, mic'd, post-compressed, reverbed.... so is this dry guitar WAV library meant to be processed.  Well... it's not really mainly designed to be incorporated into music; it's to explore and configure gear sounds.

 

Need a reference and test tone input CD.  Filled with dry 7-string guitar, dry bass guitar, preamp-distorted but otherwise dry/solo electric guitar, album excerpts designed to loop, extended semi-monotonous improvisations with a particular pickup and playing style, dry harmonica solo passsages for looping,

 

For an example of reamping in action, listen to samples at tonefrenzy.com, where they often use the same dryguitar passages to feed various distortion pedals and effects.

 

Rock production schools also would benefit from this library.  "Here are some dry or preamp'd guitar tracks -- make them sound good.  Apply noise reduction and post-processing -- post-mic compression, reverb.  Run the same track through pitch shifter into a miked tube amp 3 times, adjusting the mic positions, and make it sound full."

 

Do you have any idea how impossible it is to crank an amp in the store while playing well?  This sure takes care of *that*!  Hook up your CD player, turn the amp quiet while having ideal playing (in tune, in time, no gaps, etc.), adjust all the controls, then very briefly turn up... instead saturation with perfect playing.  No feedback except that which you have deliberately included on the CD.

 

Amp and modelling designers need all of this:

·        Continuous input signal

·        Properly played input signal

·        Infinite looping/repetition on tap

·        Instant input signal always on tap

·        No time-wasting tuning, fixing broken strings, etc.

·        Fast/efficiently collected library of actual album clips of good, musically proven sounds

 

I could help gear designers by identifying and gathering excellent reference excerpts from albums.  Hell, I've been doing exactly that since 1988 -- extracting repeated reference tones from albums (onto cassette).  This is collection #3 I've put together.

 

Generally, each "album excerpt" goes in its own directory -- because each one is a whole project or more, leading to many files.  Tends to be several dirs deep.

 

Getting Other Guitarists to Contribute Drywaves

Tell them that they'll be doing a great service for the guitar community and gear designers.

 

What to Play in Improvisational/non-album Tracks

Repetition with variation is good.  Imagine that the player system can loop between any points.  Use metronome, repeat a passage 16 times, then play free-form, then play something else 16 times.  Often, the gear-tweaker needs to hear single notes and power chords, in each couple measures, balancing out the distortion qualities between thick and thin strings, and positions, and chords vs notes.

 

As a specialist of hookups and control-tweaking, and having built some gear, I have a sense of what kind of direct/dry passages are most useful.  I welcome everyone to conceive of their own version of direct/dry tracks, and share them.

 

The goal of this project is to produce a CD-ROM filled with direct/dry electric guitar and album samples that have good amp Tone.  This CD will contain WAV files intended for tone-tweaking and gear-testing.  The CD will guarantee that you always have on hand an ideal input signal, continuous, looping, with any pickup position, in tune, with no high-treble loss even when feeding non-guitar gear (the input buffer impedance problem).

Legal

The exchange of dry-guitar sample libraries is an informal, free, open-source community collaborative project framework.  This idea and framework are powerful and a little innovative, but this idea itself is not a product and is not patentable.  Reamping is a technique, not an invention that needs to be legally protected to encourage industrial innovation.  This idea is the standard, unoriginal pro-studio reamp idea, clearly expressed and applied in the present article.  This idea itself is not a commercial product any more than you can patent the general idea of offering an instrument-sample CD as a product.  Many people consider Amazon.com's patent for 1-click ordering invalid.  DOD trademarked "Grunge".  The patent office has entered postmodernity and fallen from its modern grace to become just another questionable institution of authority.  Every guitarist can sell their own library of WAVs in any medium, paying no royalty.  See also http://www.reamp.com, which has a patent.

 

Apply the copyleft, replace "software" by "audio clips".  This WAV lib may be freely distributed as long as you don't charge for it, and include this copyleft.

How to Help

Please help out with this project, which takes guitar-gear hookups and control-adjustments to the next level.  To formally write up this project and define a framework anyone can use for this type of collaboration, see http://www.amptone.com/reamp.htm.  Other webmasters can create a similar page -- such as Tonefrenzy.com, Guitarwars.com, AGA site, or sites that are listed at http://www.amptone.com/amptonemp3s.htm.  Last I checked, Guitarwars.com is not yet aware of the reamp paradigm in which performance (operating the guitar itself) is separated from processing (adding amp Tone, effects, and production).  It's surprising how little we've listened to the output of the guitar when playing in a style that is intended for use with distortion and effects.  We haven't differentiated between exchanging files of playing the guitar, as opposed to files of the processed sound of the guitar.

Reamping in the guitar store

I had *great* results demoing the blue Sonny Boy multi-voiced distortion pedal and Sans Amp G2 amp simulator together in Guitar Center, and demoing the new BOSS PH-3 Phaser with continuous up/down, and in another store demoing EQ pedals followed by tube distortion pedals.  Everyone in the stores was blown away by this technique that provides a hands-free perfect, in-tune, well-played input signal while leaving both hands free to change gear connections and adjust knobs.

Problems solved by such dry-guitar libraries

o  Hard to change gear connections and settings while playing the guitar

o  Hard to concentrate on gear sound while demoing gear in the stores using a strange guitar

o  Time is wasted in the store tuning the guitar

o  If you try out 2 different distortion pedals in different stores with different guitars, you can't compare the two distortion pedals because the input response (the guitar/pickup innate EQ curve) is not the same.

o  It's hard to obtain an artist's Tone.  Need an optimized, efficient framework for A/B'ing

Who will use such WAV libraries

o  Amp designers

o  Effects modifiers

o  DIY'ers

o  Developers of signal-processing software

o  Webmasters providing comparative gear demos

o  Home studio producers and pro studio recording engineers

Scenarios for using these WAV collections

o  Transfer some tracks to portable audio CD player, MiniDisc, or MP3 player.  Take it to the music store to try out preamps, amps, and effects.  Take some totally dry tracks, and some preamp-distortion tracks, with various pickups.  Label the tracks clearly.

o  Use the dry WAV as an input signal for online or physical gear.

o  Loop the dry WAV and the album clip and A/B them while adjusting the distortion, levels, EQ, and fx parameters, to toneclone.

o  Use a long jamming WAV to drive a preamp and cranked tube amp while adjusting the controls.

Who could contribute the clips

o  all the guitar newsgroups (ag, age, aga, guitar.uk, rmmg)

o  alt.music.harmonica newsgroup, other instruments (violin, bass, keyboards)

o  recording newsgroups (alt.music.4-track, rec.audio.pro)

o  For the first version of the WAV collection, I can provide direct/dry playing that is fair and usable for gear-tweaking and tone-cloning.

What types of direct/dry passages

o  Electric guitar with various pickups

o  1-4 measure renditions of album passages

o  Long tracks, all with a certain playing style and pickup

o  16-measure improvisation with slight variations of a consistent passage

o  A specific playing style with the standard corresponding pickup selection (Blues style, using single-coil neck pickup)

o  Playing style with alternative pickup selection (Metal style, but with single-coil neck)

o  Super-fast playing, shred, is not very useful for Tone research.  Slow to medium is best, because you can hear the dynamic envelope and lifecycle/decay of each note.

o  Could possibly include some "test signal" WAVs such as middle C with various pickups -- for the engineers.  The audience for this is more limited than for jams and renditions of album excerpts.

o  7-string guitar

o  Bass guitar

o  Harmonica/ blues harp (indicate mic model) (I have one such WAV, provided to me by a harpist who responded to my request for dry samples at alt.music.harmonica)

o  Other instruments

WAVs that contain processed direct/dry tracks

o  Could have 5 or more versions of a track, each using the same direct/dry input, but processed with different gear or settings.

o  Set up contests with gear gift certificates, for who can provide the best processed version of a particular standard dry input track.  (Reference: guitarwars.com guitar-recording competition site)

WAV files for various stages of distortion/processing

The reamp concept is useful for more than dry/direct input signals.  In some cases, distorted tracks are useful, for testing effects or amps.  This framework certainly can include different degrees of unprocessed tracks; for example, to test a compressor or reverb for use in final mixing, you could have tracks that have solo miked guitar amp with preamp distortion and power-tube saturation.  Today's typical amp tone MP3s as found on the Web don't work for this -- they are not solo, or they are not high-fidelity, or they are not short when short loops are needed, or they do not correspond with a specific album excerpt when that is needed.  This framework enables us to:

o  create a direct/dry guitar track

o  create a preamp-distorted track that uses the direct track as input

o  create a power-tube saturation track tapped between the tube power amp and load, using the distorted track as input -- or test a power-amp simulator such as SansAmp G2 by feeding it a preamp-distorted track.  Or test a guitar amp's tube power amp by feeding it a finished preamp signal that includes eq>pdist>eq.

o  create a guitar-speaker-sound track either from mics or a speaker simulator, using the power-tube saturation track as input

o  create a compressor or reverb demo track, using the guitar-speaker-sound track as input.

 

Usage

If you are an engineer designing a guitar speaker simulator, you want a selection of ideal standard input signals -- in your context, that would mean having a collection of power-tube saturation tracks, or amp simulation tracks, like the output of a POD with the POD speaker simulator turned off.

Recording standards

These are more like requirements than recommendations.

o  Use proper buffer, such as BOSS EQ possibly with level cut, to avoid treble loss, avoid clipping, and avoid hiss and hum/buzz.

o  Angle guitar for minimal humm/buzz.

o  Play with a metronome for accurate timing.

o  Have a tuner hooked up and frequently re-tune.

o  Must A/B against the album, when emulating an album clip.

o  Try turning off digital processors, computer monitor, lights, all types of RF sources.  Turn up light dimmers or turn off.

o  Take battery-powered equipment and record direct/dry tracks away from all electricity (beach, forest, desert, hills, fields).

o  Keep signal path short, almost plugging straight into sound card or recorder.

o  Listen for background digital noise or internal feedback and try to set all your settings to minimize it.

o  Try to provide a flat, unequalized signal.

 

o  Play the passage accurately.  As a tech who has switched from playing to gear tweaking, I found this to be a great and time-consuming challenge, even for what seemed to be trivial medium-speed passages, but it kicked my ass hard to tighten up my playing.  Guitarists will probably find that when listening super-critically and microscopically to their own, solo playing A/B'd against an album clip, it is very challenging to make a pro-studio quality performance.  This project helps appreciate each nuance of picking, fretting, and bending each individual note.

 

o  Extra feature: include feedback in the dry recording (applies to jamming WAVs, not to most album-rendition WAVs).  Can use various feedback loop devices such as ebow, Sustainiac stealth or Type B, Fernandez Sustainer, or an unrecorded amp, or a miniature amp fastened to the headstock.

o  Use whatever recording media and hookup as long as there is negligible lossy compression, clipping, processing/alteration, hiss, hum/buzz, and digital noise.

 

o  Do not use compression or limiting.  (Noise is preferable to a pre-processed signal.)  When hitting the strings very hard with a humbucker, the first input stage of the preamp or buffer might distort.  Try to avoid this, without sinking too far down into the noise floor.  Rise as close to the clipping-ceiling as you can (0 dB) without clipping. 

The effect of picking on preamp-input distortion

What's the quietest buffering input device for electric guitar?  The older BOSS EQ pedal preserves my treble, but it probably adds some unnecessary self-hiss even when flat or bypassed (it certainly adds a lot of hiss when boosting *or cutting* a band).  I spent several hours testing how to record the loudest possible unclipped signal onto hard disk, with the least background noise, through an analog input -- using a humbucker with heavy picking.  The heavy picking with humbucker caused significant distortion at the input of the older BOSS EQ pedal which has always been the buffer I plug the guitar into.  Since I never listened to that humbucker while picking aggressively, without using any distortion processing, I never realized I was routinely overloading the input stage of the EQ.  The other pedals that can be used as a buffer also are overloaded by this aggressive humbucker picking -- this reminded me of why excellent tube mic preamps are so heavily endorsed; it sort of implies that the first gear in the chain always distorts so it's a matter of getting the most musical distortion possible. 

 

S/N is especially an issue when trying to provide the clearest input signal, intended for a distortion chain.  You need perfectly clean, unclipped dry recording, yet it must be as far above the noise floor as possible.  Running the preamp input into slight clipping could buy a lot of elevation above the noise floor -- this is good because the noise floor is multiplied after the whole signal squeezes through the later, intentional distortion stages.

 

If I engage the EQ (flat) and turn it down far enough to completely eliminate clipping, the signal falls down into the noise floor, reminding me why cassette 4-tracks are often run hot, into slight clipping, to stay above the noise floor.  I'm going to do more tests with MiniDisc recording to see why I never noticed this preamp-input clipping before, when creating my previous direct/dry tracks -- I think I was so obsessed on the single-coil neck pickup at the time, I never listened very critically for clipping with the humbucker.  I always thought the humbucker sounded so awful when perfectly clean, I never really listened critically for inadvertent input-stage distortion.  I was alienated from the guitar itself, and its own output signal; now I enjoy listening to the unprocessed guitar in headphones.

 

Also, when making my first direct/dry tracks, I didn't notice preamp-input distortion because I was focusing on the treble-preserving behavior of using a pedal as input buffer as opposed to making the #1 newbie recording mistake everyone does, of plugging straight into the consumer audio gear or sound card (losing high treble).  But now I think in terms of the S/N battle between the noise floor and distortion ceiling, including the difference in output level of single- and double-coil.  I'm also picking much harder than I used to, and using a heavy pick -- having read about Tone and SRV's heavy strings and picking style.  I used to pick like a shredder, dancing over the strings lightly and quickly; now I am more like Thrash and Blues -- *push* the guitar output.  The average picking strength of guitarists has increased since the 80s.  (I'm also breaking strings more often.)

File naming, directory structure, file format, clip documentation

o  Create a clearly named txt or htm file in a directory with your WAV rendition to document how the rendition was recorded.

o  Always indicate which pickup type is used.

o  Indicate tuning (e.g. flat, alternative, special tempering to optimize tuning for that particular passage)

o  If guitar's volume or tone knob is not at 10, indicate this.  Some volume knobs introduce bright or dark EQ when reduced.

o  Indicate guitar model and characteristics (some Strat-type guitars are dark, midrangey, or bright, or V-shaped response) (some are 7-string)

o  For each album sample, rip as WAV.  Excerpts from hi-fi mp3s (192 Kbps+ preferable) could be ok

o  Usually, use mono album samples - pick the channel which highlights the desired guitar track.  This also doubles the duration of WAVs fitting onto a CDR.  If 80-minute CDR, this means 160 minutes = 2.67 hours = 2 hours 40 minutes.

o  For practically all direct/dry tracks, use mono.

List of album samples

o  The Beatles: The End, from Abbey Road -- the riff-trading passage.  One clip will have all the riffs.  Other clips will have individual riffs.

o  Main rhythm riff in Running with the Devil (I have created this dry rendering and album sample on MiniDisc with 5x lossy compression)

o  Wah part of solo in "Come On (Let the Good Times Roll)" by SRV

o  Solo from Queen classic songs

o  Chicago Blues power-tube saturation - riffs from Sleeping on the Sidewalk by Queen from News of the World

o  Santana solo or riff

o  Rhythm in song Ride the Lightning

o  heavy riff from For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Metallica (heavy metal TS-9?!) (I have created this dry rendering and album sample on MiniDisc with 5x lossy compression)

Standards for album samples

o  Trim the WAV at the end of the measure, enabling continuous looping (or jam-along).

o  Generally these will be 1-4 measures long.

o  Ideally, find solo guitar passages, such as the song intro.  This enables hearing the artist's amp Tone most clearly.

Distribution methods

o  download from ftp -- overage fees could be a problem.  I wish to host these WAVs at Amptone.com, but that's capped at a mere 12GB/month -- not nearly enough for how popular the WAVs will be.

o  Not MP3.com, because they forbid cover versions and album samples.

o  CDR in the mail -- this works very well for hi-fi MP3 trades.

o  No money or goods may be exchanged, involving album samples and renditions of them.  This must be a volunteer/gift approach.

o  Email attachments, possibly triggered via link on web page, may be an option.  I don't think I suffer the same crushing limitations on my email bandwidth as on my Web/ftp server download cap.  Can I send a 700 MB attachment though?

Announcing the project and WAV files

o  Very wide, but perhaps custom, announcements - newsgroups, specialized gear newsgroups, brand-focused discussion areas, webmasters

o  With WAV collection, provide instructions and encouragement to buy the albums and financially support the artists

Charged version of WAV collections

o  Get permission to include renditions and album excerpts, if included

o  Provide direct/dry samples that are not renditions

How to Collaborate and Share such direct/dry reamp tracks

o  Use Net resources, newsgroup announcements, create listserv for reamp-library collectors and contributors.

o  Create a page of links, to gather such libraries

Presets, musical relevance, and comparability

I only believe in specific samples of specific album clips.  Saying "the Fender amp sound" is not enough; instead, provide an album clip. Brands, artists, and styles are all too abstract descriptors to be useful enough. We can do better than that.  It doesn't help me very much to speak in terms of "the Fender sound".  We need to refer to particular sounds as heard on particular parts of songs in specific albums.  I want to emulate album clips, not amp brands.  There's a misplaced focus on amp brands, just like there used to be an excessive exclusive focus on guitar brands, when there are actually many other factors shaping the amp Tone in any given album clip.   Album clip emulation is the next stage in the guitar amp tone community.  We've been through presets that are dial-a-style, dial-an-artist, and dial-a-brand.  But those are all irrelevant.  We actually need dial-a-passage, referring to specific parts of specific songs.

 

We need much better and more public accountability, demonstratability, and testability for guitar gear.  If someone claims their preset P(1) sounds like a VOX AC30, and someone else claims their preset P(2) sounds like VOX, how do you test, prove, demonstrate, arbitrate which emulation is more successful?  You have to have a common public testable reference point and an absolutely specific goal... to "sound like VOX" is vague indeed.  What *exactly* are you claiming?  Can you be completely specific and play the part of the album that reputedly has this sound?  I have no way to tell whether you have achieved your stated goal.  But the moment you say "this complete preset, *when* used with guitar pickup x, and guitar type T, sounds like passage P in song S on album A by band B," *that* is provable, demonstrable, and comparisons are possible. We should try to start from such ultra-specific points of reference.  A common and exactly specific point of reference.  Actually, we should talk not just "the Tone of riff R", but rather, "the Tone of riff R at mm:ss on track T of album A".

 

It is impossible to demonstrate that your Foo gizmo sounds like brand Bar.  Those are both too vague.  Instead, provide A/B looping against album clips to prove that your Foo gizmo can produce a close emulation of passage Bar.  There is no "Marshall" sound -- there is passage a, b, c-- z...  Give me some EQs and other gear and I can get a wide range of different sounds out of almost any popular amp.  For claims about various amps sounding good, there has been no easy testability, accountability, provability. There has been a bad habit of providing 200 useless preset sounds with only 5 being useful -- because the musical goal, in the form of actual album excerpts, has been missing.  We need, first of all, to aim for proven, popular, famous guitar sounds.  It's better to provide 10 specific, musically proven-useful presets that have instructions on how to match a particular passage/clip on a famous album.

 

Your gear might be able to generally emulate an amp brand, but how can that be demonstrated?  Especially, how can that be publically demonstrated for free, via the Net?  There is a way to do it --- gather many clips from diff artists/albs/songs, and provide your rendering of each of them, listing all settings and pickup choice, etc.  Project: define a list of passages worth emulating.  Also powerful point is that a Fender amp sounds different depending on how you run it - controls, pickup, playing style...

 

Spectrum of descriptive Tone names for presets, from vague to specific, used by guitar-gear designers:

o  Typical preset names that refer to Rock genre: Rock, Heavy Rock, Metal, British Rock, 80s Clean, Country, Pop, Glam, Texas Blues, Chicago Blues, Grunge [(TM) of DOD]

o  Typical preset names that refer to brands: Marshall, Fender, VOX, Soldano, Mesa, Boogie

o  Typical preset names that refer to artists: Metallica, SRV, May, EHV, Santana, Rhoades

o  Ideal preset names that would refer to specific album samples: main rhythm riff in "R Devil", wah part of solo in "Come On" SRV, solo in Bo Rap, solo in [a santana's song name?], rhythm in song For Whom the Bell Tolls at mm:ss.

 

Ideally, each preset for guitar gear should be documented and demo'd of what the intent is, and A/B'd against an actual album excerpt, on an included CD.  Bring these designers down to earth and make them provide musically relevant and useful presets that can be tested for accuracy against reference samples.

Files I have so far:

MiniDisc: neck pickup improvising (direct/dry guitar)

MiniDisc: bridge pickup improvising (direct/dry guitar)

 

MiniDisc: For Whom the Bell Tolls (album excerpt)

MiniDisc: For Whom the Bell Tolls riff (direct/dry guitar)

MiniDisc: For Whom the Bell Tolls riff (processed guitar) [verify I have this, what format]

 

WAV: Running with the Devil (album excerpt, mono, 2 measures)

MiniDisc, & WAV from MiniDisc: Running with the Devil riff (direct/dry guitar)

WAV (MD>process>WAV):  Running with the Devil riff (processed guitar to emu alb)

 

WAV: blues harp (dry, miked)

WAV & MP3: blues harp (processed through preamp dist, verb, & amp)

 

 

"Songs" to upload to MP3.com -- note that 128 Kbps mono, non-renditions, can be served via MP3.com.  That's 256 Kbps -- nearly as good as MiniDisc.  These will be ... monotonous solo electric utterly dry.

 

________________________

 

 

 

How You Can Help

Please help out with this project, which takes guitar-gear hookups and control-adjustments to the next level.  I have a good harmonica WAV someone contributed, along with the processed result I created using a TS-9 overdrive pedal, Fender Blues Jr. amp, and mic.  I have various other clips and am re-recording them as WAVs. 

 

Framework anyone can use for this type of collaboration, see http://www.amptone.com/reamp.htm.  Other webmasters can create a similar page -- such as Tonefrenzy.com, Guitarwars.com, AGA site, or sites that are listed at http://www.amptone.com/amptonemp3s.htm.  Last I checked, Guitarwars.com is not yet aware of the reamp paradigm in which performance (operating the guitar itself) is separated from processing (adding amp Tone, effects, and production).  I'd like people to have contests of *processing* shared input WAVs as a studio producer and recording engineer, separate from performance and composition skills.

 

Thank you for considering participating in this project or this type of samples exchange.

 

-- Michael Hoffman

Amptone.com

 

 

 

Please help out with this kind of exchanging of guitar recordings.  You can create directories containing mono album excerpts, corresponding dry renditions, and dry improvisations or compositions, and notes describing your guitar settings, tuning, and information about the album excerpt such as time.  Then prepare to exchange these directories. 

 

It can take a lot of effort to record useful, hi-fidelity WAVs of direct/dry guitar, especially when matching an album passage to enable the guitar-gear community to critically A/B and tone-clone the album's amp Tone, but you'll be rewarded by receiving powerful WAV libraries from other people, as well as your great benefits of using the WAVs you created.  When you create such a WAV, it is useful to anyone who wants to explore gear settings -- even if they don't play guitar.  The music in the WAV is not necessarily valuable for composition and sampling (unlike the existing commercially sold CDs of sampled processed & amp'd guitar).  Input for composition and sequencing is possible with reamp techniques, but the first order of business is to provide some jams and album-passage renditions in order to explore and test gear settings and gear qualities.  Electric guitar is unusual this way: if you want violin sounds as input to test a processor, just buy one of the CDs of violin samples.  But if you want electric guitar samples to test a distortion box... there are no commercial CDs, because they all contain samples of already-processed electric guitar.  For example, what commercially available sampling CD has aggressive Metal-style playing -- with no distortion?

 

 

Sending WAVs to Me

I have a very fast Net connection.  You can try sending me large WAV files.  After I receive some, I'll know the practical filesize limitations.  Start with shorter files, not extended jams.  Mono.

 

You can email WAVs to me via http://www.amptone.com/contact.htm.

 

Contacts

People who have created direct/dry tracks:

harpist

me

Tonefrenzy

 

 

 


Older:

I am coordinating with others who own gear, and with stores and studios. I will have my laptop to send the auto-loop guitar signal into any amp input, and another mobile device to record the results. I want to go into stores and take digital photos and run transform-tests on various gear -- instead of me going into stores as one person hearing, I will have a scientific way of scoping out gear while mobile, just as ToneFrenzy does in their industrial research compound. I am going to try all permutations of the 3-stage amp setup: driving a cab and miking it, driving a dummy cab and tapping the terminals, driving a dummy load and tapping it, using a guitar speaker as the final monitor, using a full-range speaker as the final monitor, and so on. The recording studio, as far as the guitar signal path, is an EVH-like 3-stage amp rig. So is any technique that involves post-processing the recorded guitar track, such as adding reverb to it during the final mix - that is putting reverb after the power tubes, not merely moving it "back" from in front of the amp to the amp's fx loop.

There are several things you can count on from my site and my experiments: use of saturated power tubes, use of 3-stage amp rig approaches, meaning post-processing of the signal which is at the Out jack of the tube power amp, and post-processing of the miked guitar speaker. And I will try driving a 100% dummy load, but I expect driving an actual speaker load to be required for the best tone.

I think a lot of the SRV breakthrough was not SRV's simple mastery of amps, as much as the mastery of his studio producers and engineers -- his sound got *worse* on some of the last collections. I credit excellent studio guitar recording techniques for a lot of the incredible Tone in many spots throughout Soul to Soul and Couldn't Stand the Weather. Right now I'm listening to the ToneFrenzy.com long clip of the Chandler Tube Driver -- which I am intimately familiar with -- and some passages sound alarmingly good, like they are going through a cranked tube amp, with the Chandler serving merely as an overdrive to drive the tube power amp into producing bell-like tone -- other passages don't.

I'm starting a re-amp samples page, to go along with the instructions I've posted at: Creating a clean-guitar auto-loop recording for dialing in Tone, and ideal amp Tone recordings

I will put the samples at this URL first, and probably branch them off to a separate page later.


http://www.marshmellowrecords.com/Pizazzudio/FAQ.htm - "...track your album at a less expensive studio, or in your home studio. When it comes time to mix, however, don't skimp or you'll probably be sorry later on when you listen back to your CD. Discuss your remaining budget with us, tell us how many songs you want mixed and so forth. If we feel that we can be of help to you, we'll tell you. Even average quality recorded tracks can be beefed up in the mix to give you that professional sound you want. Here are two examples how we can help. Let's say you have a wimpy sounding live snare drum - we'll replace it with a beefy sound from a good drum module. Or perhaps the electric guitar sound is just not happening - we'll run the track back to our live room through a REAMP box to a guitar amp, and mic the new guitar sound which goes directly to your mix. Problems solved. ...running your tracks through a great console and outboard gear can make a huge difference. Bottom line - it pays to mix at a professional studio if you want a professional product."

http://www.harmony-central.com/Guitar/Data/Line_6/POD_PRO-01.html - "I could not use the POD Pro to reamp without getting a bunch of noise. No such problems on the original. Once again I will retract if it's my human error but my engineer was familiar with the reamping process and could not get the Pro to do it."

http://www.guitarworld.com/gearreviews/gear/0009_techedu.html - "In the July ’98 issue of Guitar World, former “Absolutely Live” columnist Nitebob wrote about a piece of studio gear called the Reamp. It lets you feed a previously recorded guitar track from your recorder to your amp. It provides the correct guitar-level input impedance that the amp requires, and it has a level control to adjust the volume of the input signal. "... "a very cool device that will run you $199, plus shipping. It can be ordered from the Reamp website (www.reamp.com). A side note: When recording amplified tone, I’ve found that it’s a good idea to simultaneously record a signal direct from the guitar. That way you always have a “pure” signal to feed back to an amp."


Research links

Click these custom links for "reamp".

search newsgroup postings at Deja.com

search Google


Amptone.com ultra gear-search page


Home (amp tone and effects placement)

Contact