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DI Electric guitar more common nowadays?
Old 3rd January 2018
  #1
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DI Electric guitar more common nowadays?

I like super clean electric guitar tones and am thinking about getting an amp but wonder if it is worth my while and if a lot of recording gets done DI nowadays. My bass is DI'd and sounds sweet enough but it was so long ago since I DI'd an electric guitar. Can someone actually tell me what the difference is? And what the best gear is to get electric guitar DI into my DAW. thanks
Old 3rd January 2018
  #2
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GregkoNYC's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by attaboy_jhb View Post
I like super clean electric guitar tones and am thinking about getting an amp but wonder if it is worth my while and if a lot of recording gets done DI nowadays. My bass is DI'd and sounds sweet enough but it was so long ago since I DI'd an electric guitar. Can someone actually tell me what the difference is? And what the best gear is to get electric guitar DI into my DAW. thanks
This is a fine option these days and very convenient. Essentially you have a couple obvious ways to do this. If your audio interface has a Hi-Z input, then you can plug your guitar in directly then use whatever amp simulator and effects plugins you like. The other option is to run your guitar through outboard effects (pedals, etc.) into a line-level input on your interface to your DAW.

In each case, you can still play live through your speakers/ monitors since the frequency range of any decent speaker/ monitor will easily handle the frequency range of the guitar.

Some will disagree and insist that using a microphone on an outboard amp is the way to go, but I gave up on guitar amplifiers over 15 years ago and never regretted that decision.

Greg
Old 3rd January 2018
  #3
Gear Maniac
I prefer a DI guitar sound at times. I think it tends to sound most satisfying going through tube DI for sweet tone followed by a preamp with a beefy transformer.
Old 3rd January 2018
  #4
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Up until recently (the past few months), I've always put a mic up to one of my amps and going DI with electric guitar just wasn't good enough for me.

But I finally got a nice JFET DI (thanks to my iD14) and that has changed everything for me. It just really works for certain guitar parts, both clean and distorted. Mostly clean. I freely admit I really like the sound.

From there (people are going to flame me), I use Amplitube for amp sim, cab sim, pedal sim, and mic placement. And I'm sorry, but I just like the way it sounds. My Vibro Champ and Vox Cambridge are not happy about it.

DI doesn't always get the tone I need so I still have amps to work with. But I do find myself using it more and more.
Old 3rd January 2018
  #5
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

DI boxes come in almost as many flavors as amps. It wouldn't surprise me if Nile Rodgers has a vast collection stacked up a foot and a half high.
Old 3rd January 2018
  #6
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bowzin's Avatar
As you can tell from my avatar I am an amateur astronaut, and also play guitar. Hate to admit it, but I'm coming around a bit on DI guitar as well.

Recently at a writing session I played a G&L tele with Fralin pickups, into a 1073-style DI (Stam Audio), into a Pultec-style EQ (Klark Teknik), and WOW i was impressed with how quickly and easily we got it sounding good and doing WORK. Usually I'm fighting DI tone tooth-and-nail, endlessly tweaking, never truly satisfied. This time felt way different and was actually fun.

Still can't really deal with DI electric guitar for wild/touch solo's or situations where the guitar is front-and-center, or heavily features distortion tones. I've been able to agonize and tweak to death plugin type stuff to sort of get there, but have decided in those cases I still vastly prefer the sound of an amp in a room. I'm sure it's superstition and I'd lose a blind test or whatever to the plugins our there these days, but that's just my bias, and I think performance and comfort-level are more important in those situations. In those situations the player is playing the pedal/amp/room as much as the guitar, and it's harder (but not impossible) to capture that kind of performance direct.

Also importantly there are amps I have that are instruments unto themselves, and deserve to be featured when appropriate. In the example above, that chain heavily featured the pickup/guitar tone, which was a good tone and was working with the material. Often though I think of "guitar" tones more as "amp" tones, and basically the whole point of the creative decision is to capture what an amp is doing. Maybe thinking of amps as instruments is useful.

There's a saying, adjusted for inflation, that a $3,000 guitar plugged into a $300 amp will sound like... a $300 amp. While a $300 guitar plugged into a $3,000 amp will sound like a friggin $3,000 amp! I'm inclined to agree with that general sentiment. If you have clients coming in, having two amazing/expensive amps covering different ground would be a far better value than having two amazing/expensive guitars. Just my opinion.
Old 4th January 2018
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GregkoNYC View Post
This is a fine option these days and very convenient. Essentially you have a couple obvious ways to do this. If your audio interface has a Hi-Z input, then you can plug your guitar in directly then use whatever amp simulator and effects plugins you like. The other option is to run your guitar through outboard effects (pedals, etc.) into a line-level input on your interface to your DAW.

In each case, you can still play live through your speakers/ monitors since the frequency range of any decent speaker/ monitor will easily handle the frequency range of the guitar.

Some will disagree and insist that using a microphone on an outboard amp is the way to go, but I gave up on guitar amplifiers over 15 years ago and never regretted that decision.

Greg
I like your second option more about using outboard effects and going line but I have two questions regarding this.

1) why is the signal now line level and not Hi-Z anymore coming from outboard effects pedals etc?
2) For keeping clean guitar tones, what pedals outboard effects are good other than reverb and delay?
Old 4th January 2018
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by attaboy_jhb View Post
1) why is the signal now line level and not Hi-Z anymore coming from outboard effects pedals etc?
2) For keeping clean guitar tones, what pedals outboard effects are good other than reverb and delay?
1) the level after effects depends on the amount of gain. Active electronics in effects have a much lower output impedance, so you won't need a hi-z input after effects.
2) look into modulation effects like chorus or tremolo.

Scott
Old 4th January 2018
  #9
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Maybe its just me but I feel going through outboard multi/FX defeats the purpose of just going DI (if you have a good DI box or interface).

The Input for most Multi/FX units is usually lack-luster and rather flat. Whereas a good DI signal is robust in tonal quality.

Starting with a quality DI signal is the key to getting more convincing tones after processing ITB. I've never thought that Line Out signals from amps were convincing at all. Nor is the direct output from a multi/FX pedal very convincing. At least in the low-midrange $$ category. For a lot more $$, sure, you get closer.
Old 4th January 2018
  #10
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askomiko's Avatar
 

DI and plugins, no. AxeFX, hell yea! Of course for that super clean funky stratocaster thing a plain DI sound works.
Old 4th January 2018
  #11
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GregkoNYC's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by attaboy_jhb View Post
I like your second option more about using outboard effects and going line but I have two questions regarding this.

1) why is the signal now line level and not Hi-Z anymore coming from outboard effects pedals etc?
2) For keeping clean guitar tones, what pedals outboard effects are good other than reverb and delay?
Most multi effects that are designed for guitar have a preamp circuit. In my case, I have a multi-effects pedal that I will often run stereo out to my interface for recording - in the past, I would commonly run these same outputs to a mixer or powered PA speakers.

Can't help you on the second question since it's really a matter of personal taste and goals. Soooooo many options

Greg
Old 4th January 2018
  #12
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jwh1192's Avatar
i really like guitar into ZOD DI .. add an amp to that and it is like pouring Gravy on a Bisquit !!!!
Old 4th January 2018
  #13
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Reading the title, I just thought: look what Nile Rodgers says. For me kind of the king of clean guitar. Thought he only uses DI at least on the Chic recordings. He uses DI's but there is more to it. Maybe an interesting read for some here:

Niles Rogers on rec'ing guitars - Home Recording forums
Old 4th January 2018
  #14
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monkeyxx's Avatar
That's funny. I was messing around and DI'd my new Ibanez RGA just for fun. I sent it through the Klark Teknik EQP-KT for some sound shaping, and the result was pretty nice, and certainly usable (for a clean tone).

A big one I've started messing with is DI'ing tube amp heads, using the Two Notes Torpedo Captor box I got last month. So much fun. Line 6 Helix and Two Notes Wall of Sound get the rest of the sound shaping done (cabinet IR, and effects) once inside the box.

Apparently the first Pink Floyd record, Syd Barrett's guitars were done this way (minus the software, of course). One of my favorite tones of all time.
Old 3rd December 2018
  #15
I don't consider myself a guitarist but I love the sound of clean electric rhythm guitar but with a little tube bloom. I bought a REDDI specifically for this and it gives that sound. It is clean but not tinny or sterile. I turn the guitar up max, REDDI turned up max, into a RND Portico 5024 pre for around 6 db of extra gain into the interface-very sweet sound and extremely low noise.

I also love the sound of a glass slide on electric guitar clean. To me it sounds like a human voice. For this sound on the high e string of the guitar I'm wondering if running the REDDI into a Germanium or a tube pre would add a little extra grit and thickness but still maintain the overall clean sound? Hmm I think I'm going to have to try this!
Old 3rd December 2018
  #16
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I would never record DI electric guitar except as a special effect, personally (like the revolution tone through a REDD.47, or an intentionally super clean dry tone). You're taking away the vast majority of what makes the instrument what it is when you eliminate the amp, the cab, the speakers, the pedals (perhaps), the interaction between the pickups and the cab, etc.

I think people tend to mistakenly think of the guitar itself as "the instrument" when, in reality, electric guitar is a fundamentally modular instrument consisting of a guitar, usually pedals, an amp, a cabinet, and speakers. The guitar itself is only a part of the equation and, sometimes, not even the most important part.

It's sort of like recording a nice violin with a bridge clip on mic and then trying to simulate the body and room later.
Old 3rd December 2018
  #17
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thismercifulfate's Avatar
For clean guitar tones I get “there” much faster recording DI through my REDDI and using bassdude or than even a nice tube amp and running a 57/121 combo into neve pres. Heck, sometimes I end up running those through the bassdude plugin as well and they sound much better afterwards.

Crunchy and distorted guitars is a whole different story though. Plugins have a long way to go for those. They can sound much better than a cheap crappy amp though and can save your bacon when the guitarist rolls in with a line6.
Old 3rd December 2018
  #18
Been recording all my guitars direct through my Great River MP-2NV's for like 12 years. Never really gave it a second thought. It worked for Michael Rother, it works for me.
Old 3rd December 2018
  #19
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by thismercifulfate View Post
Crunchy and distorted guitars is a whole different story though. Plugins have a long way to go for those. They can sound much better than a cheap crappy amp though and can save your bacon when the guitarist rolls in with a line6.
I've worked out a "Mr. In-between" way of doing it that doesn't involve plugins. If you don't wanna listen to me blab, scroll down to 1:00 and start there.

Old 3rd December 2018
  #20
Gear Addict
what you want is an RNDI and an Undertone Audio Vari-Cap cable. this combo into any decent amp sim software will make you a believer. keep the di signal going to into the box pretty conservative. i try not to peak above -15.
Old 3rd December 2018
  #21
Gear Nut
 

The heavier the guitar riff, the less likely a plug in is going to sound as good as an amp.

Clean guitar? Yeah, that's fine.
Old 3rd December 2018
  #22
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thismercifulfate's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
I've worked out a "Mr. In-between" way of doing it that doesn't involve plugins. If you don't wanna listen to me blab, scroll down to 1:00 and start there.

Cool demo! I like it a whole lot better on the wurli than on the tele.
Old 3rd December 2018
  #23
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EvilRoy's Avatar
Never liked reverb on DI guitar, just can't make it stick somehow.... like you're listening to an amp with a spring reverb instead of a dry amp in a hall, even with spring reverb plugs. Adding a touch of reverb from my amp's springs seems to accept more reverb much better at mix down. DIing the amp just doesn't sound as good as a cab with a 57 on it, sorry.
Old 3rd December 2018
  #24
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Cody's Avatar
 

Just watched the EV vid on that Vari-Cap cable. Wow, I'm a believer. I've moved to a workflow where I reamp everything, and these are the kinds of gains I'm looking for.

Quote:
Originally Posted by citrusonic View Post
what you want is an RNDI and an Undertone Audio Vari-Cap cable. this combo into any decent amp sim software will make you a believer. keep the di signal going to into the box pretty conservative. i try not to peak above -15.
Old 3rd December 2018
  #25
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by thismercifulfate View Post
Cool demo! I like it a whole lot better on the wurli than on the tele.
Thanks. Actually, with that particular transformer, I like the way it can add a little bite to a rompler grand piano that makes it seem more like a real, miked piano. To me, anyway.
Old 4th December 2018
  #26
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andychamp's Avatar
It worked over at Motown...
Old 6th December 2018
  #27
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monkeyxx's Avatar
I like DI guitar with a digital amp simulator because it always sounds "thin"

When I started recording in 2001 I got addicted to that sound and liked it better than my amps for a while.

I don't really think it can sound like a real amp and pedal rig yet to people that are very critical.

Check out that new Guitar Center Billy Corgan video. He's endorsing the Line 6 Helix FX and it kind of blows my mind for him to say that.

It's a relevant tool to have in the bag of tricks.
Old 7th December 2018
  #28
din
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din's Avatar
 

If you get your distortion before the DI, send the output of the DI to a tube EQ like a Pultec clone or whatever to roll off or notch out those really harsh high frequencies. It can sound pretty awesome!
Old 7th December 2018
  #29
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Sigma's Avatar
DI gtr is kinda standard in R&B..is there R&B anymore?..
Old 7th December 2018
  #30
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I've been recording guitar DI since the 70's. Of course I've recorded just as much using amps too so I'm quite expert at both techniques.

The key to recording direct is, whatever preamp/pedal you're using needs to have "Cabinet Emulation"
Without it you'll be recording full fidelity which typically results in having ice pick tones.

The speaker in a guitar amp EQ's what's coming from an amp head and rolls off the frequencies below 100hZ and above 5K.

Here's an example of a 10" Jensen alnico which is a fairly bright speaker.




Sometime during the early 80's I bought my first Boss rack preamp which had a speaker emulation switch. It was fairly primitive and only provided one cab sound but it was good enough to take the bottom and top ends off so you could focus on shaping the frequencies in between. Used it for a good 20 years with excellent results too.

If you recorded direct with out speaker emulation, like from an amps line out or any number of overdrive units, you obviously wont have the speaker frequencies. You'll have to try and emulate it copying a Speakers Frequency response curve using band pass filters and EQ's. I've done that too and you'll find you have to work your ass off even trying get close to sounding like a miced amp.

What they do have hardware units and plugins which emulate cabinet impulses. With the use of one of these you can even record directly from your guitar pedals and use this box to emulate a guitar cab. I bought one just to see how well it worked. Thought it would simply use cheap EQ tricks and was surprised as all get out to find it used a digital circuit to add actual Cab impulses. Sounds like the read deal too, so much in fact I bought a second one for recording in stereo. https://www.amazon.com/TOMSLINE-Shap.../dp/B01K29Y7L6



Once its recorded you can use a plugin to emulate cabs and mics. They work pretty darn good too.
This one is one of the best I've found to date. It allows you to add cab resonance and miced amp ambiance
to he track. It also allows you to EQ the track to get the tones you need. Download Free Amp cabinet enhancer plug-in: Cab Enhancer by AcmeBarGig



With newer multi effects units they have the amp and cab emulation but right in. You simply select your choices and switch the units output from feeding an amp to feeding a recording interface. With a little tweaking there is NO way you can tell the difference whether the tracks were recorded direct or from a miced amp. you'll still get people saying they can tell a difference but they simply aren't up to speed on the latest gear being sold now.

The miced amp tones you can get direct now make some of the original DI units like a Sans amp sound like stone age audio tools in comparison.
Allot of companies include amp emulations too, Vox, Digitec, Zoom, Korg, Boss and dozens of others have it. Just dial up what you need and play.

Here's and example of what a Vox 1G has. 103 modeling effects Total for guitar (60 for the bass 1B version)

AMP Models (44)

BTQ - CLEAN - JAZZ - CLEAN 1 - PURE CLEAN - JAZZ CLEAN 2 - CALI CLEAN 1 - CALI CLEAN 2 - CALI CLEAN 3 - VOX AC4
CALI CLEAN 4 - US BLUES 1 - US 2x12 1 - US 2x12 2 - VOX AC15TB - VOX AC15 - VOX AC30TB - VOX AC30HH - VOX CRUNCH
US BLUES 2 - US BLUES 3 - US BLUES 4 - US 2x12 3 - US 2x12 4 - UK ROCK1 - UK ROCK 2 - UK ROCK 3 - BTQ OD
VOX NT15 - VOX AC30BM - UK ROCK 4 - UK METAL 1 - UK METAL 2 - UK METAL 3 - UK METAL 4 - US HIGAIN 1 - US HIGAIN 2
US HIGAIN 3 - US HIGAIN 4 - US METAL 1 - US METAL 2 - US METAL 3 - US METAL 4 - BTQ METAL 1 - BTQ METAL 2 - BTQ METAL 3


Drive Pedals (11 types)

TONE DRIVE - BLUE DRIVE - TREBLE BOOST - GOLD DRIVE - TUBE OD
GERMANIUM FUZZ - BIG FUZZ - VOX TONE BENDER - OCTA FUZZ - TECHNO FUZZ - CRUSHER


CAB (21 types)

TWEED 1x8 t1 - TWEED 1x12 t2 - TWEED 4x10 t3 - BLACK 2x10 b1 - BLACK 2x12 b2 - VOX AC15 v1 - VOX AC30 v2 -
VOX AD120VTX v3 - UK H30 4x12 U1 - UK T75 4x12 U2 - US V30 4x12 US - CUSTOM CU CHARACTER 20 types

Its hard not to find the ideal tone you need using these.

I'll leave out using amp plugins like Guitar rig because they fail big time for tracking due to high CPU usage and high latency levels. They simply aren't ready for prime time yet. There are some digital units which house the software and take the load off the computer. Avid 11 is an example of the combination of hardware and software. Not cheap and I'm not sure its an improvement over straight hardware.

Besides micing an amp which is obviously a good one you can use either speaker emulated DI's directly from the speaker output (something we used to use for live and recording back in the 80's) or you can use an amp that has built in speaker emulated line outs.

I have a Marshall amp that came with a speaker emulated line out and I've done direct A/B comparisons recording the head direct and the 1960 cab with its cream back Celestion's recorded with a mic. After doing several comparisons it was obvious the DI sounded better, mainly because there was no bleed from other instruments coming in the mic and because you didn't have the additional EQ curve from the mic itself. I eventually just recorded that head and dumped using a mic and used a second amp and miced its cab so I have dual tracks recording amps live.

I should add, getting a DI guitar to sound as good as a miced amp does take time to learn how to do well. You have to have enough experience recording an amp with a mic in order to emulate those results recording direct, otherwise you aren't going to know when you're hitting or missing the target of what a miced amp sounds like. I recommend you become proficient using all methods until you can really nail them all then simply choose the one best for a particular song.
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