Stack Attack

January 1, 2010

0.000gp1309_Gear_ElectronicGtrONE OF THE GREAT ADVANTAGES OF AMP simulators is that you can try out sounds that would be a hassle to set up in the real world— like stacking two (or more) different amps and cabinets with different effects and spreading them out in stereo. If you record through an amp sim in your computer (in this case the track itself is dry, and the final sound results from the amp sim processing the dry track), you can duplicate the dry track, and add another amp sim in parallel to stack the sound. But that means you don’t hear the stacked sound until after you’ve played your part, and it’s more fun to play through the stack, as it influences your playing.

You’ll want to split your guitar into at least two different paths to feed the different “stacks.” You can do this by inserting amp sims into two different tracks, and setting each track’s input to the channel carrying the guitar. However, many amp sims conveniently create parallel signal paths—that you can pan anywhere in the stereo field—all by themselves. With IK Multimedia’s AmpliTube series, there are eight routing options, and Routing 2 creates two separate, parallel chains. The Line 6 POD Farm has a Dual button that creates two different signal chains. Peavey’s ReValver Mk III and Native Instruments’ Guitar Rig 3 both offer Splitter Modules for their virtual racks. These let you split the input signal into two paths, where you can insert whatever amps and speakers you want. Then, these splits go into an output mixer for mixing and panning. (Guitar Rig lets you put splits within splits, while ReValver Mk III is limited to one Split Module per rack.) Waves G|T|R has stereo amps, which provide the same basic function as stacked amps. However, if you want a parallel path where you can add effects and such, you’ll need to use two tracks, and two G|T|R amps.

Here are some ways to use stacking in the studio or on stage.

When mixing, a stereo rhythm guitar with the channels panned opposite opens up a huge space in the center for bass. It’s almost like having two guitars, but with the simplicity of a single guitar part.

Use a tempo-synched effect such as tremolo, but set different rhythmic values in the two chains to get some wild stereo effects bouncing around.

Try three stacks, with power chord sounds left and right, and a bright, chorused acoustictype sound in the center. Add bass and drums, and you won’t need anything else—the sound can be huge.

If there’s a complementary instrument such as a keyboard or rhythm guitar, pan one channel of your guitar to center, and the other right or left. This “weights” the guitar toward one side of the stereo field. Similarly, weight the other instrument opposite the guitar in the stereo field. Now, both instruments take up a decent amount of space, but don’t tread on each other. g

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