can i use a guitar pedal as a preamp into pwr amp?
im using a mesa power amp i need to have as a spare rig but have no "pre amp". i have an inexpensive Art tube mp studio DI/mic pre , and a few quality dist stomp box. the combination set up actually sounds great but was wondering what qualifies as a true preamp and what signal it sends to the power amp(-10db or +4). i looked for different threads but no luck. thanks
If your DI has a hi-z instrument input, then it's basically an instrument preamp.
Guitar amps or preamps are customised for guitars - obviously. For historical reasons of bad luck, ignorance & greed, guitar players have been stuck with noisy unbalanced humming gear for over half a century. Despite the fact that Les Paul, who invented the electric guitar, invented and used/is using a hum-free balanced pickup. This was because Gibson did a dirty deal, and refused to pay for the invention, but went ahead and made a guitar with Les Pauls name on it. (You can hear the story from the mans lips on the DVD).
So guitars are stuck with noisy hi-z unbalanced crap - while singers get the professional low-z balanced system. This is why a Fender Strat hums like a dog, but the far cheaper SM58 can be used with long mic cables and does not hum. Who gets the best deal?
So that's the basic difference between a mic preamp and a guitar preamp. But the other reason is tone shaping. An SM58 sounds ok into a flat amp with no eq. A guitar pickup sounds extremely bad, and needs a lot of tone shaping - to remove the highs and lows. Also, guitarists have grown to love distortion of all types, which is a greater priority for guitar preamps than mic preamps.
So if you like the sound you are getting, you are good to go. There is no wrong or right (although matching levels and impedances can help if you are getting bad sound). But very often, those classic guitar tones have been achieved with strange and "wrong" combinations of gear.
With guitar, hifi is a dirty word. It's a feature of the history of the electric guitar - almost everything we love about these things is the result of somebody doing the wrong thing.
EDIT - to answer your question - the Mesa is almost certainly unbalanced consumer line level (-10) like hifi gear. You could add an Ebtech Line Level Shifter which also gives transformer isolation, if ground loop hum is ruining your day. Jensen make a better transformer, but like I said - hifi is a dirty word when it comes to guitar.
thanks but what about the pedal part of the chain? can yu use it as a pre? whats the dif between the di and a pedal with input and output levels? i also have a hk red box mk2 cabinetulaor for a di signal if need be.....thanks ...any more suggestions would be great. im looking to invest into the project . the challenge is to use what i have....extra money goes into my u.s. rigs. this one is to be shipped and left for tour back up....cheers
The Sansamp pedals are probably the most misunderstood stompboxes - and the company sort of aids in that confusion by selling them as dual purpose devices.
They really are battery powered guitar preamps - which is very useful if that is what you want. They can give an 'amp voice' to a flat power amp. The problems start when you try to use them in front of a guitar amp that already has it's own 'voice' ... the eq is fairly flexible, but it's a compromise in my view. For an amp to sound ok on guitar, it needs to cut a lot of unwanted lows and create a bit of an 'edge'. If you connect a Sansamp into another amp, you can get some very noisy edgy sounds that are not pleasant. But used as intended (as an amp-replacer, ie. preamp) they are useful.
EDIT: depends on the particular Sansamp product - they are all different and worth experimenting with. But I stand by my comments about the confusion between whether they are supposed to be stompboxes or preamps. E.g. = the GT2 I found to be not particularly good as a preamp, and not my first choice as a stompbox, whereas the new Character series seem rather good as preamps and not stompboxes. And the Fender one is just not right if you ask me - but that's not to say it might be the solution for somebodies problem ...
Normal stompboxes are designed for guitar level, which is not quite as hot as -10 consumer line level, but close. They are voiced to be used with an amp that already has a guitar amp 'voice'. In that respect, I find that they have a fairly 'soft' voice compared to an amp voice. So if you try to use one as your sole guitar preamp, they can lack the edge of a good guitar amp.
Then again - there are so many factors in creating a unique guitar tone - use whatever works. I'm enjoying some rather odd combinations of gear.