You don't always need fancy signal
processors to emulate some common guitar
sounds and effects. Sometimes, off the shelf programs
or effects can do the job. For example...
Vintage wah effects. You can’t get a vintage
wah sound just by sweeping a highly resonant
parametric EQ set to bandpass, as real
wah pedals have steep response rolloffs that
reduce both high and low frequencies. To emulate
this effect with modern parametric EQs:
• Copy the guitar track so you have two
cloned tracks set to the same level.
• In track 1, insert a parametric EQ set to
bandpass (peak/dip) mode with about 6dB gain
and Q (resonance) of around 8.
• Flip track 2 out of phase.
• Sweep the EQ over a range of about
Throwing one track out of phase causes the
high and low frequencies to cancel, so all you
hear is the filtered midrange sound—just like
a real wah.
Adding “air.” When recording guitars
direct, there aren’t mics to pick up the room
reflections that give a “you are there” vibe. To
model these reflections:
• Feed your guitar track through a multitap
delay plug-in (or use several individual
• Set the taps for short, prime-number
delays (3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, and 23 milliseconds)
to avoid resonant build-ups.
• For more air, add some feedback (but not
enough to hear individual echoes). Experiment
with the tap levels and pans, and then mix the
delayed sound in at a low level.
Closed-back to open-back cabinet.With
open-back cabinets, low-frequency waveforms
exiting through the cabinet back partially cancel
the low-frequency waveforms coming out
the front. Emulate this effect by reducing bass
somewhat. A low-frequency shelving filter
Out-of-phase pickups. Don’t have an out- of-
phase switch? You can come close with a
• Select both pickups.
• For the EQ, dial in a notch filter around
1,200Hz with a fairly broad Q (0.6 or so) and
severe cut—around -5dB to -18dB.
• Use a high shelf to boost about 8dB starting
at 2kHz, and a low shelf to cut by -18dB
starting at 140Hz.
• Tweak as needed for your particular guitar
• Boost the level—like a real out-of-phase
switch, this thins out the sound.
Big bass build-up. When a cabinet is close
to a wall, bass waves bouncing off the wall reinforce
the waves coming out the cab’s front.
This can produce a rumble—due to walls and
objects resonating—that EQ can’t imitate. For
a killer rumble, split your guitar signal through
an octave divider, then follow the octave divider
with a lowpass EQ set to cut highs starting at
120Hz. This muddies the bass sound further.
Then, mix the octave sound about -15dB below
the main signal—just enough to give a “feel”
of super-low bass.
For a vintage wah sound, split
the guitar through two tracks,
flip the phase switch (outlined
in green) on one track, and
insert a parametric EQ
(outlined in magenta) with a
resonant bandpass response
in the other track.
This EQ curve emulates the sound of out-of-phase pickups.
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