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Stupid question: Do I need an amp? (Why?)
Old 20th July 2020
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Stupid question: Do I need an amp? (Why?)

Hi fellow noise makers,

I've been making songs with my computer and a moog synth for a few years... I guess you could say what I do is some kind of indie pop / synth-pop. I had some experience playing guitar and bass, but since the lockdown started I got more serious with it and have been practicing every day, I'm getting to a point where I could start recording and adding guitars to some of my tracks.

I have a 2-channel Focusrite 2 interface and 5" monitors that I use for practicing and recording/mixing. I also have a PA (8 channel mixer and 2 Mackie 12" speakers) that I use for playing at small parties sometimes or for rehearsing when I want a more real experience. I've been plugging my guitar and bass to those systems, sometimes adding effects through my DAW, and I've been pretty with the results so far.

Here comes my question: will it make any difference if I have an amp? Why? Also, is it going to make recordings better somehow?

Finally, if you have good reasons for me getting an amp... is there one that you could recommend that I can use both for guitar and bass (not at the same time, obviously)? I almost just hit "checkout" on a Yamaha THR10, but I thought I'd ask here first... is it a good idea?


Thanks!!
Old 20th July 2020
  #2
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frans's Avatar
Use the instrument input on your interface or a D.I. box. A guitar output needs to be plugged into something with 1meg Ohm input impedance or it will sound very dark. What do you want the amp to do? Clean guitar? Slightly overdriven guitar? Please describe.
Old 20th July 2020
  #3
Here for the gear
 

I think it will be mostly clean guitar and bass, I add effects on the DAW after recording... but it's mostly just subtle reverb and eq.

Is going through the input of my Scarlett 2i4 on "inst" setting not enough? Sounds decent to me, buy I have no experience at all with guitar amps so I wouldn't know.

If I were to get an, amp... does it need to have an output or is it better to mic it?


PD: I really liked "Organ Transplant"! Can I hear more of your stuff somewhere?
Old 20th July 2020
  #4
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enorbet2's Avatar
It seems to me that Electric Guitar, especially if solid body, is only one component of an instrument at least beyond mere practice. The other required component is ... well... electric, something to plug it into ostensibly at the very least to be loud enough to be heard by others. However guitar amplifiers don't just make a guitar louder only. They emphasize or de-emphasize harmonics and they respond in Time, abruptly or stretched out. I don't assume a traditional guitar amplifier is prerequisite to a complete musical instrument but it is a voice that cannot be experienced any other way... not exactly. The difference can be extremely eye (and ear) opening, not to mention physically affecting how one learns to play. Why not explore it?
Old 20th July 2020
  #5
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
This could be talked about endlessly. You need to borrow a guitar amp and see for yourself.
Old 20th July 2020
  #6
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As an enthusiastic player, I can't imagine life on my electrics without an amp when playing to entertain myself. Currently using a Marshall for guitar. It's been a while since I've played bass - but when I did I preferred the Hartke speakers since whenever they were released [mid-'80s?]. But there must be hundreds of alternatives that would work.

That said, for recording work I more often prefer the Rupert Neve Designs RNDI-S DI, which doesn't necessarily save you much money.

Over time, I would recommend you enable both paths - real amps/speakers/mics and a great DI. I expect the latter may be a lower barrier to getting you up and running quickly. Plugins are sounding awfully good to me nowadays.


But yea, there is a difference between talking the path and walking [playing] the path,

Ray H.
Old 21st July 2020
  #7
Gear Nut
 

Well, that’s a loaded question that has spawned severe discussions in the forums for years
On a pragmatic side: most guitar players probably will agree that playing guitar through a real (tube) amp with a cab miked up is still the gold standard, especially when it comes to “feel”. That being said, it is not always practical unless you have a good sounding room, the experience of miking a cab and no neighbors that will complain about the volume
There are some possible options for you:
Solution 1: going direct and using guitar amp simulations. Pros: fast and easy setup, flexible sounds, neighbor friendly. Cons: not quite the same feeling, can have latency issues which hinder playing, option paralysis with some products.
Solution 2: digital amps like from Kemper, line 6, etc. similar pros and cons as software, except no latency issues and bonus of easy portability. Some of them are rather expensive.
Solution 3: real amps with load boxes/attenuators, e.g. Two Notes captor X or similar. Pros: you can use your beloved tube amp at low volumes. Cons: not Exactly the same sound as your beloved cab. Can get pricey.

You can get perfectly usable results from all setups if you learn how to use them to your advantage. Sound differences exist, if they are relevant to you is a personal question.

As for the Yamaha THR10, as a practice amp I can fully recommend it. I have the first version and it sounds good at low volumes, is small and looks nice. Haven’t tried recording it tbh as there is no line out, only USB which acts as an audio interface of its own. I can imagine that miking it would actually work quite well, though. Can be used for bass and acoustic guitar, too.
I compared it with similar offerings from Blackstar (not quite there sound wise) and Vox (ugly) and as a whole package of sounds and looks the Yamaha won for me.
Old 21st July 2020
  #8
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Yuri Kogan's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Herzton View Post
Well, that’s a loaded question that has spawned severe discussions in the forums for years
On a pragmatic side: most guitar players probably will agree that playing guitar through a real (tube) amp with a cab miked up is still the gold standard, especially when it comes to “feel”. That being said, it is not always practical unless you have a good sounding room, the experience of miking a cab and no neighbors that will complain about the volume
There are some possible options for you:
Solution 1: going direct and using guitar amp simulations. Pros: fast and easy setup, flexible sounds, neighbor friendly. Cons: not quite the same feeling, can have latency issues which hinder playing, option paralysis with some products.
Solution 2: digital amps like from Kemper, line 6, etc. similar pros and cons as software, except no latency issues and bonus of easy portability. Some of them are rather expensive.
Solution 3: real amps with load boxes/attenuators, e.g. Two Notes captor X or similar. Pros: you can use your beloved tube amp at low volumes. Cons: not Exactly the same sound as your beloved cab. Can get pricey.

You can get perfectly usable results from all setups if you learn how to use them to your advantage. Sound differences exist, if they are relevant to you is a personal question.

As for the Yamaha THR10, as a practice amp I can fully recommend it. I have the first version and it sounds good at low volumes, is small and looks nice. Haven’t tried recording it tbh as there is no line out, only USB which acts as an audio interface of its own. I can imagine that miking it would actually work quite well, though. Can be used for bass and acoustic guitar, too.
I compared it with similar offerings from Blackstar (not quite there sound wise) and Vox (ugly) and as a whole package of sounds and looks the Yamaha won for me.
Just a few notes:
Solution 3 does not have to be anywhere near the price of the Kemper or AxeFx. It would also work with pedals much better then any DI-type solution (as is the case with options 1 & 2). It also is a much quicker setup to get a good tone then the other 2 solutions.
Standalone digital amps - well that's a personal choice whether it sounds as good or better then a tube amp. Also the solution 4 would be pre-amps, a separate power-Amp, a speaker and an attenuator/IR. This way (especially with a range of inexpensive pres) you have the best of all the proposed solutions.
Old 21st July 2020
  #9
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yuri Kogan View Post
Just a few notes:
Solution 3 does not have to be anywhere near the price of the Kemper or AxeFx. It would also work with pedals much better then any DI-type solution (as is the case with options 1 & 2). It also is a much quicker setup to get a good tone then the other 2 solutions.
Standalone digital amps - well that's a personal choice whether it sounds as good or better then a tube amp. Also the solution 4 would be pre-amps, a separate power-Amp, a speaker and an attenuator/IR. This way (especially with a range of inexpensive pres) you have the best of all the proposed solutions.
There could also be a solution 5, which would be an iso cab, but I have no experience with that. Might be that a good IR is actually better and easier.

Personally I have good experience with pedals and DI, I think it actually helps the amp sims if you’ve got some analog pedals in front, like a compressor or a tube screamer. Even something cheap like the Joyo American can be useful. Sure, it’s no tube sound, but the price is hard to beat...

I agree though that option 3 is a pretty viable one, you can get full tube amp sound for less than a thousand bucks that you can record even when everyone else is sleeping

Just out of interest, can you recommend some nice preamp pedals? Preferably clean to slightly overdriven sounds.
Old 21st July 2020
  #10
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Yuri Kogan's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Herzton View Post
There could also be a solution 5, which would be an iso cab, but I have no experience with that. Might be that a good IR is actually better and easier.

Personally I have good experience with pedals and DI, I think it actually helps the amp sims if you’ve got some analog pedals in front, like a compressor or a tube screamer. Even something cheap like the Joyo American can be useful. Sure, it’s no tube sound, but the price is hard to beat...

I agree though that option 3 is a pretty viable one, you can get full tube amp sound for less than a thousand bucks that you can record even when everyone else is sleeping

Just out of interest, can you recommend some nice preamp pedals? Preferably clean to slightly overdriven sounds.
Well, a pedal into a sim is a bit like a pedal into a DI. The front-end does not interact with the pedal same way as an amp. What pedal does to an amp would be different to what it does to a sim.
With an amp it interacts (augments) what the amp is doing . The result is the combination of the 2 tones. The sim just processes the pedal tone and hopes the level in does not exceed the level a digital device wants to see. If you use a pre-amp with the sim, it kinda defeats the purpose.
I have several hundred overdrives and pre-amps. What tone are you after when you say you want a pre-amp? There are many out there. My preferences change with the song requirements
Old 25th July 2020
  #11
Here for the gear
 

Thank you everyone for your complete responses, this thread has really taught me a lot. I'm going to beg, borrow or steal a few amps to start exploring this path... I hear my local gtr ctr is now open, so I'm going to mask up and go there to try a few amps, will take me a while to decide which, but I'm definitely getting one.

This is probably the part that made the most difference:

Quote:
Originally Posted by enorbet2 View Post
It seems to me that Electric Guitar, especially if solid body, is only one component of an instrument at least beyond mere practice. [...] I don't assume a traditional guitar amplifier is prerequisite to a complete musical instrument but it is a voice that cannot be experienced any other way... not exactly. The difference can be extremely eye (and ear) opening, not to mention physically affecting how one learns to play. Why not explore it?
Thanks again, I really appreciate the time you took to explain this for me.
Old 2nd August 2020
  #12
Gear Guru
 
monkeyxx's Avatar
I would have an amp around just to play on. For fun. Whether you end up recording it or not. Sometimes you just want to jam, and you're not in DAW mode necessarily.

My recommendation for a low price would be the Boss Katana MK II series, which you can record direct out as well. Obviously there are approximately one hundred billion different amps out there so let your imagination run wild.
Old 2nd August 2020
  #13
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mbvoxx's Avatar
Get a Fender Princeton Reverb and a Fulltone Fulldrive 2 and you can accomplish just about any studio related tone goal with your electric guitar.
Or
If you don't want to get an amp, look a the Tech 21 Fly Rig line...pick one. It will also cover your needs without having to get an amp.
Or
Look at the Vox MV 50 line - awesome little amps that work great for studio use.
Old 2nd August 2020
  #14
Gear Guru
 
monkeyxx's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbvoxx View Post
Get a Fender Princeton Reverb and a Fulltone Fulldrive 2 and you can accomplish just about any studio related tone goal with your electric guitar.
I beg to differ.
Old 2nd August 2020
  #15
Get a (tube) Princeton Reverb. (The reason I specify "tube" is that at times Fender borrowed the name for unrelated solid state amps that don't sound the same.)

With sufficient pedals it should cover nearly everything.
Old 2nd August 2020
  #16
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uOpt's Avatar
The question is how well you like the amp and cab(!) emulations in your DAW.

For distorted tones the cab (or emulation thereof) is at least as important as the amp.
Old 2nd August 2020
  #17
Gear Guru
 
monkeyxx's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by uOpt View Post
The question is how well you like the amp and cab(!) emulations in your DAW.

For distorted tones the cab (or emulation thereof) is at least as important as the amp.
100%

I just spent a few days mapping out my fantasy cab/speaker combos. I had to narrow it down a lot.

I know that's GAS'sy as all hell but it helps to plan purchases with limited space and budget.

For a clean tone, almost any speaker could work. The more overdrive you add, and then when you get into full on distortion, the speaker plays a huge part in the final tone. Increasingly so, compared to cleaner sounds.

The microphone choice is just as crucial, especially if you'rs some sort of connoisseur for recorded guitar tone, or PA amplified guitar tone.

That's why I disagree that a Fender Princeton with an overdrive pedal will "do anything."

Some sounds need that big closed back chunk, and there's no shortcut to it with a small low power amp. There are entire genres of music based around these sounds. Or entire bands, to put it more simply.

In my estimation, of course.
Old 2nd August 2020
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monkeyxx View Post
[. . .] That's why I disagree that a Fender Princeton with an overdrive pedal will "do anything.
I disagree that a Fender Princeton with an overdrive pedal will "do anything. . .because it doesn’t remotely approach my experience.
Old 2nd August 2020
  #19
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monkeyxx's Avatar
I guess there's this sort of idea that vintagey, simple guitar tones are the basis of most things, but no, that's not my experience either. Obviously that sort of sound is widely applicable. But there are millions upon millions of guitar players in this world.
Old 2nd August 2020
  #20
Quote:
Originally Posted by monkeyxx View Post
I guess there's this sort of idea that vintagey, simple guitar tones are the basis of most things, but no, that's not my experience either. Obviously that sort of sound is widely applicable. But there are millions upon millions of guitar players in this world.
The Princeton is an excellent BASE for anything. You can add pedals for dressing, to do more. The Princeton with pedals will do MUCH better than the current fad for "modeling" amps that have a bunch of baked in tones that will be totally out of date in a few years. And you'll always be able to get the amp fixed for a reasonable cost, unlike solid state stuff with parts that become "unobtanium" in a few years.

He said "studio". In the studio you want an amp that covers as wide a range as possible.
Old 2nd August 2020
  #21
Gear Guru
 
monkeyxx's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
The Princeton is an excellent BASE for anything. You can add pedals for dressing, to do more. The Princeton with pedals will do MUCH better than the current fad for "modeling" amps that have a bunch of baked in tones that will be totally out of date in a few years. And you'll always be able to get the amp fixed for a reasonable cost, unlike solid state stuff with parts that become "unobtanium" in a few years.

He said "studio". In the studio you want an amp that covers as wide a range as possible.
One man's potato is another man's tomato I'm afraid. But it's always fun to debate.
Old 3rd August 2020
  #22
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enorbet2's Avatar
Well in the "defense" of modeling (and all the other names that may apply) it may not matter that the sounds will become obsolete in a few years and that they will become unfixable junk since it has become The Disposable Economy. Don't fix. Don't keep. Just buy new 'cuz New == Improved. Unfortunately along with that "disposable" POV comes a lot of "disposable" music, but then again that was always the case. Mediocrity (with flash) sells.
Old 3rd August 2020
  #23
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
Get a (tube) Princeton Reverb. (The reason I specify "tube" is that at times Fender borrowed the name for unrelated solid state amps that don't sound the same.)

With sufficient pedals it should cover nearly everything.
Nonsense ..... why then do studios invest in so many amps? Not sure I'd put a bass through a Princeton, at least at any volume, lol.
@ Riot07 - THR10 sounds a good option - hell, even a secondhand Pod xt / x3 would be a step-up from what you're doing now (yes, they have been used a lot previously in studios).

If you're looking to spend more look at a used Axe fx or Kemper
Old 3rd August 2020
  #24
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
....will do MUCH better than the current fad for "modeling" amps that have a bunch of baked in tones that will be totally out of date in a few years...
Wait, tones go out of date? Surely all old amps should be scrapped then....
Old 3rd August 2020
  #25
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by monkeyxx View Post

My recommendation for a low price would be the Boss Katana MK II series, which you can record direct out as well. Obviously there are approximately one hundred billion different amps out there so let your imagination run wild.
another good option
Old 3rd August 2020
  #26
Quote:
Originally Posted by enorbet2 View Post
Well in the "defense" of modeling (and all the other names that may apply) it may not matter that the sounds will become obsolete in a few years and that they will become unfixable junk since it has become The Disposable Economy. Don't fix. Don't keep. Just buy new 'cuz New == Improved. Unfortunately along with that "disposable" POV comes a lot of "disposable" music, but then again that was always the case. Mediocrity (with flash) sells.
Most of the time "improved" just means that they figured out a way to build it cheaper. Especially in audio.
Old 3rd August 2020
  #27
Quote:
Originally Posted by gixertrix View Post
Wait, tones go out of date? Surely all old amps should be scrapped then....
Old amps don't have tones "baked in" the way new amps do. Usually because the new ones are doing a cheap imitation of something developed on an old amp.
Old 3rd August 2020
  #28
Quote:
Originally Posted by gixertrix View Post
Nonsense ..... why then do studios invest in so many amps?
Because they can?

To attract easily impressed customers?

Because having a studio allows them to depreciate the cost of the amps off their taxes?

Because the studio owner is an amp collector?

The truth is that most of the original, professional studios owned almost no amps at all - it's almost entirely a modern thing. It used to be that if you wanted a particular amp you either brought it with you or rented it from a hire facility like SIR.

This studio owned amp thing really didn't hit until there was a flood of mostly amateur musicians looking to record who do not own a decent amp themselves.

Most pros aren't impressed by that, they bring their own.

If a studio happens to own some real classic stuff that you can't buy at Banjo Mart, that might be a different thing, but studios with hundreds of relatively common amps and guitars? Not really.
Old 3rd August 2020
  #29
Gear Maniac
 
howseth's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
Because they can?

If a studio happens to own some real classic stuff that you can't buy at Banjo Mart, that might be a different thing, but studios with hundreds of relatively common amps and guitars? Not really.
'Banjo Mart' Now that sounds like my kind of establishment! To hell with cheap amps. Maybe someone has brought in great-grandpa's old Vega Whyte Laydie I could get my hands on.

Too bad I never lived near a Banjo Mart
Old 4th August 2020
  #30
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Yuri Kogan's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
Because they can?

To attract easily impressed customers?

Because having a studio allows them to depreciate the cost of the amps off their taxes?

Because the studio owner is an amp collector?

The truth is that most of the original, professional studios owned almost no amps at all - it's almost entirely a modern thing. It used to be that if you wanted a particular amp you either brought it with you or rented it from a hire facility like SIR.

This studio owned amp thing really didn't hit until there was a flood of mostly amateur musicians looking to record who do not own a decent amp themselves.

Most pros aren't impressed by that, they bring their own.

If a studio happens to own some real classic stuff that you can't buy at Banjo Mart, that might be a different thing, but studios with hundreds of relatively common amps and guitars? Not really.
Because they service many clients with all sort of tastes and tone requirements? Different styles of music?
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