music, guitars & other obsessions

Guitar Rig Setup

For the past few months, I have been building up my guitar rig – both standard and amp sims. Here is my current rig:

Pedals

 MXR Phase 90

Fat Basterd (image coutesy of diystompboxes)

Ibanez DE7

Dunlop ZW-45 Zakk Wylde Custom Cry Baby

Guitar Amps

Vox Valvetronix 15
The Vox Valvetronix uses a 12AX7 tube as preamp tube to drive the power transistor stage. Using some of the user submitted settings from Valvetronix.com, the amp sounds darn good for $200. There are also some DIY mods that may be considered – 1) an effect loop kit, and 2) a DIY VF55 foot-switch for selecting user programmed pre-sets.

Marshall MG15 CDR
The Marshall MG15 CDR was purchased for Gaby years ago when we were in Singapore, we had no idea at the time about amps, so when the salesman suggested the Marshall, we just got it. The MG series are transistor-based starter amps, but as it turned out the circuit in the MG15 was the same as the one used in the Zakk Wylde Mini Stack you see here, to be honest, it sounded pretty darn good to me, even though it is not tube used. There is also a simple mod to add an external footswitch for Clean/Hi Gain switching that may be useful for stage work (as if I would even need it).

Guitar Amp/Effect Simulators

After researching online, I demo’d a few of the well-known sims on the market – Guitar Rig 4, AmpliTube 3, Overloud TH2, and Peavey Valvelator Mk III. So far, I like TH2 the best, but its UI does take a bit getting use to. AmpliTube came with good reviews but the most troubling aspect though was its MIDI implementation (or the lack thereof), I could not get it to work at all under Ableton Live.

Impedance Matching

When I started using the guitar sims, I just plugged the guitar straight into the AudioFire input without thinking. But the level was too low, I then use a Radio Shack “Hi-Z to Low-Z” adopter from the guitar via a small mixer, then into the AudioFire. It did get the level up higher, but it was still not the right way to do it as I soon found out – the Radio Shack adaptor was still a poor load for the guitar, which really required a very high impedance load (typically 1M), where as the Radio Shack adaptor was a low 25K, so a lot of the high frequency got rolled off from the guitar, what I really need is a pre-amp and/or direct box to get the proper impedance matching.

[Update] Months later I found a great article on pickup, volume, tone control, and cable loading’s effect on the guitar tone, you can read it here. All this goes on before the signal even reaches the guitar amp or the sim, now we know exactly what is happening thanks to the Spice model.

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