Saturday, November 12, 2011


Today we're gonna talk about reamping. What is it? It's an intelligent technique, in order to add infinite possibilities in terms of guitar tone shaping.
Once you have recorded a guitar, usually you can add processors like equalizers, compressors, delay, reverb, and then alter the base sound in the mixing phase, but you won't be able to obtain a sound COMPLETELY DIFFERENT from the one you've recorded. Reamping talks exactly about this: did you record with a Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier instead of a Peavey 5150 and you've painfully regret that choice? No problem, we've got the solution :)

There are two types of reamping: the "standard one", and the "plug-ins one".

The standard one is the simpliest solution: while you record, you need to split the signal from your guitar through a DI-BOX (there are some made specifically for reamping, like the Radial ones), in order to have a clean, balanced track straight to your audio interface or mixer, while the other guitar track goes to the amplifier (or other hardware signal processor, as a digital amp simulator) and it's recorded as usual (with a microphone, or from the line out if there is a speaker simulator output). At the end of the recording, so, you're gonna have two recorded tracks for each part you've played: one that comes from the amplifier, and another one, exactly identical, but clean. Just the bare guitar sound straight to the DAW (digital audio workstation).

In order to change the sound of this clean track (and this is the reamping), you take back the clean track from the output of your audio interface (lowering the volume in order to match the right level to be sent to the input of another amplifier), and go back to the input of the second amplifier, in order to play the same track you've recorded before on this other amp (or other hardware processor, like POD), and capture again (with the microphone or from the line out) the new sound.
You can do this all the times you want, until you're gonna have a certain amount of choices, played flawlessly and reducing to the minimum the amount of time wasted, instead of playing the track again for every amp you want to use.
This method will allow you also to try different combinations of sounds and layering, to enrich your tone (for example, for the Evanescence's first album's guitar tone, they say they've first played the guitar tracks on a Marshall head, and then they've reamped the same tracks on a Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier, and finally they've layered the two sounds).

About the "Plug-in reamping", (plugins like the Virtual Guitar Amplifiers seen on This Article) instead, keep in mind how these plug ins work: you activate it on a track of your DAW (digital audio workstation), then you record the part clean, and the effect (e.g. distortion) is applied on it in real time, giving you the freedom, once finished recording, to keep on changing it, adjusting the amplifier and the effects, or even taking away everything, leaving you back the clean track.
In order to play properly, you're gonna need a good low-latency audio interface, otherwise you're going to hear the sound to come out with some delay, and will be almost impossible to do a good recording. A latency of 10ms or less is tolerable, but if it's much higher, is better at least to download the ASIO 4 ALL drivers and try to set them to reduce the latency.  

To reamp a guitar (both with real amps or plugins), has some limitations. There is no way to create a feedback loop from a clean, direct-recorded guitar, and this is one of the reasons to use a real amp, at least as a monitor, because it can create some feedback that makes the strings to vibrate, and this effect is recorded on the clean track. Not only: other limitations may be because using digital simulators (both hardware or software) would not appeal the purist of the real tone (guitar->jack->amp->microphone), so keep that in mind, when working with other people.
Beside these limitations, in the recording situations where you have to keep in consideration the need of radical sound changes on the mixing phase, you will find in reamping a very useful and time-saving tool, and today as we've seen, there are more ways than ever to use it.
For example I always suggest to everyone, when recording, to split the sound and record a clean track anyways, it's just a matter of adding a jack and a d.i. box to the chain, and it may always turn out to be a blessing, later on.
In case the extra track turns out later to be unnecessary... A click it's all it takes to get rid of it ;)

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