When performing regional and local gigs I run
into situations where the stage mix is atrocious.
Not hearing the mix correctly creates a struggle. Usually I’m sure the audience is hearing a
mix that’s as bad as what I’m hearing—though
often, thankfully, the front-of-house mix is
much better than what I hear onstage. But
concern about the mix is a huge distraction
from performing well. Having my guitar set up
in stereo has helped me find a sonic spot I can
retreat to and regain the feeling and inspiration, even if the onstage mix is awful.
Connect your guitar into the distortion pedal,
then route the distortion to the stereo chorus.
Since the stereo chorus has a left and right
output—it actually creates the first level of the
stereo effect—we’ll send both outs into the
digital delay, which can increase the stereo
spread with the judicious addition of short or
long echoes. Run the left/right signal out of the
delay into two separate amps set for a clean
sound. Position the amps a reasonable distance
apart to enhance the stereo spaciousness.
come out of the MX400 left and right into the
SM82S. The reason for the line mixer is so you
can mix the stereo wet signal of each effect
against the amp’s dry signal and maintain a
clean signal path. The left and right outputs
from the mixer are sent into the effects loop
returns on the two amps.
There are, of course, many configurations you
could use, depending on the gear you have
and want to use. You can substitute combo
amps or rackmounted preamps and power
amps. You can use 4x10, 2x12, or 1x12 cabi-
Figure 1: A basic stereo rig, using stereo chorus and stereo in/stereo out
delay pedals routed into two amplifiers.
To morph your current amp and effects setup
into a more dynamic stereo rig, you’ll need two
combo amps or two amp heads and matching cabinets, cables and one or more stereo
effect processors. The processors can be rackmounted units or stompboxes. An effects loop
on your amp is desirable, but not required.
A more advanced rig might include multiple
stereo processors and a small mixer for blending them.
Figure 2: A more complex system places the stereo processors
(which are blended using a rackmountable mixer) in one amp’s
effects loop, and routes the stereo output back into the power
amp sections of two heads driving two cabinets.
nets. Or, for maximum convenience, check out
stereo cabinets like the Marshall 1936. Just pay
attention to the ohms/watt ratings on the cabinets and the amp. You want to make sure they
In Figure 1 we’re starting with a basic stereo
rig. The stompbox processors consist of a
distortion, a stereo chorus, and a digital delay.
This is a budget-conscious configuration that
sounds great and is a breeze to set up.
The Next Step
In Figure 2, we’re using rackmounted effects
combined, using a mixer. Amp 1 is the main
amp that your guitar is plugged into: it creates
the preamp tone you’ll be using. Route the signal out of that amp’s effects loop send into the
first effect. In this example, we’re using a TC
Electronic 2290 because it has a direct signal
pass-through that we can use to route a “dry,”
unprocessed signal to another effects processor. Alternatively, you could use a line-level
splitter, like the Whirlwind Splitter, to split the
effects send output so it can feed the inputs of
multiple processors simultaneously.
A major benefit of this setup is you can use it
with the “MIDI switching” setup we discussed
in Premier Guitar’s November 2007 “Guitar
Tracks” column. This will allow you the flexibility of using MIDI to change any of your effects
patches. Enjoy, and let me know if you have
Route the left and right output signal from
the 2290 to a stereo line mixer, a rackmountable Rane SM82S in this case. I’ve also routed
the direct signal into a Lexicon MX400. Then
Tim Harrington performs in the Tim Harrington Band (
tim-harrington-band.com), is a recording/ live sound engineer,
and has been a Sweetwater Sales Engineer for five years.
You can reach him at: firstname.lastname@example.org,
or 1-800-222-4700 x1395