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Dual Output Guitar Mimics Doubling

Brandon Drury —  February 17, 2011 — 1 Comment
Dual Output Guitar

Dual Output Guitar

Every time I stumble across a new technique, I get excited, for about 3 days. Then it’s just another tool in the box. This technique, however, is as exciting today as it was the first time I tried it a few months ago. The stereo guitar.

So I put together a little better demo to show why I think everyone should mod their guitars to have a stereo output. Basically the idea is to put another jack on there so that you can record the output of each pickup onto separate tracks.

For this little song thing, I sent the neck pickup to the left and the bridge pickup to the right. I then sent those to an amp sim and used identical setting on the amp. I took out some of the low end on the neck pickup so they would match a little better. Then I added bass and drums.

This is not a doubled guitar. It is one take (well, I did multiple takes, but the take on the left is the same as the take on the right). The advantages of this are that it can actually sound like a doubled guitar, only it’s much tighter and takes half as long to do.

Things to notice:

1) When doing pinch harmonics, the two pickups sound completely different. At times, it even sounds like harmonizing guitars (0:34 and 0:44).

2) It’s much easier to get the triplet palm mutes tighter at the end. I am not a tight player. Not even close. Getting that last part would have taken me much longer had I doubled the guitars.

Note: I’m sorry that the guitars are kind of scratchy. I overdid a few things and then my project crashed, and I refuse to spend the extra 15 minutes remixing it. so if the mix isn’t great, I’m sorry.

here’s a picture of what it looks like.

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waynepd – 02-26-2011, 11:23 PM
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Very clever Boz.
So is the guitar now a permanent recording machine or can it revert to normal gigging into a single input amp….

brandondrury’s Avatar
brandondrury – 02-27-2011, 06:53 PM
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You’d need an A/B box to switch pickups….which isn’t a horrible idea anyway.

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Mackanov – 02-27-2011, 09:05 PM
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Quote Originally Posted by waynepd View Post
Very clever Boz.
So is the guitar now a permanent recording machine or can it revert to normal gigging into a single input amp….
If you wire the second TS connector directly to the bridge pickup and leave the original one as is, you can use the original one normally, select pickups and all.

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Audio~Geek – 02-27-2011, 11:25 PM
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This is cool!

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bozmillar – 02-28-2011, 10:54 AM
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Quote Originally Posted by waynepd View Post
Very clever Boz.
So is the guitar now a permanent recording machine or can it revert to normal gigging into a single input amp….
It can be used normally still. As mack said, one jack is always the bridge, the other is wired to the switch (like it was when I bought it).

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Danny Danzi – 03-01-2011, 12:19 PM
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boz, first off, before I say a word here, I think this is an awesome technique you’ve come up with and this attempt of it was way better than the last one you shared. My question to you though….wouldn’t we get very similar results if we recorded a track, cloned that track, slid it back a few ticks to like 24 ms, and then eq’d it differently than the source track, wouldn’t we achieve the same results without having to mod our guitars?

I’ve just tried this method and it gives me the same results as what you’ve done here. Try it and you’ll see what I mean. The delay in the cloned track as well as the different eq to compensate for a different set up pups makes it sound nearly the same as your files. Just to be clear, here’s what I did.

Record a source guitar track using the sound you like best.

Clone that track to another track.

Slide the clip a few ms out…for more stereo separation, slide more…for tigher sound, go less.

Eq the 2 sides differently using the same sound of your sim while concentrating on the eq’s that would make one pup sound different from another.

You’l hear that though this may not be spot on to what you have, it comes damned close and you won’t have to mod your guitar for it. You could even do this live with a stereo eq and a delay using the HAAS effect. One side, no delay, the other side, start at 15ms and go up to 30ms depending on how tight or loose you want it to be. It’s pretty much the same principal really as we are sending two different eq’d sounds in stereo. The delay effect makes it a bit more stereo as well and it can be done in real time without mods to your guitar. Just some food for thought…but I still think what you’ve done here deserves mad props.

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brandondrury – 03-01-2011, 12:35 PM
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From a technical standpoint, I think what makes this work is the fact that the phase is changing with every chord you are playing and even within every note within that chord. A 24ms delay would be fixed.

I think we are getting into a “fundamental character” difference with the neck on one side and a bridge on the other.

So I think the delay would have to be continuously sliding between to set points and you’d need a “neck pickup simulator” on the delayed signal to emulate this via effect.

With all the years I spent trying to get the big guitar sound with one track, I always heard the “obvious effect” sound. You can hear it clearly on Van Halen’s For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. I never liked that “obvious effect” sound, personally. I think what has impressed me so much by Boz’s work here is that it doesn’t sound like the “obvious effect”. It just sounds good!

Brandon

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bozmillar – 03-01-2011, 12:37 PM
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Hey Danny. Yeah, applying different eq and a delay is certainly a way to add stereo widening to a guitar, but the idea here is slightly different. By adding a delay and eq, you are applying a static process to the guitar. If you delay the left channel by a few ms, it will always sound like the guitar is coming slightly from the right side. With the dual output, the delay is constantly changing, The difference between a bridge and neck pickup is more than just an eq difference.

for example, take a listen at 38 seconds into the clip. The bridge pickup is squealing and the neck pickup is not. No amount of eq or delay can make that happen. Part of what makes a doubled guitar sound the way it does is the fact that it is inconsistent and unpredictable. While the stereo output on a guitar doesn’t have nearly the same amount of unpredictability, it does add an amount of unpredictability that you can’t get out of eq (unless you had an extremely complex and dynamically changing eq/all pass filter).

This is not a cure all. But it is an extremely easy mod and extremely cheap to do. It cost about $2 to do this to my guitar.

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Danny Danzi – 03-01-2011, 01:10 PM
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Hmm, what you and Brandon say make perfect sense, Boz. And that example you mentioned at 38 seconds totally makes my theory and experiment obsolete because I can’t get one side to squeal and the other side to shut up. That’s a major difference right there showing your deal here was even more successful than I thought it was.

I have managed to come up with a fix for the “fixed” delay. Waves has a few plugs that will allow a constantly changing delay which can be set not to go above or below a certain delay time. This makes my experiment much more consistent, however, it still doesn’t change the pick-up voicing like yours does due to how yours is set up. Well done Boz, I’m a total believer in this now that I fully understand it and see the limitations I have verses the ones you don’t have. I just had to mess around with this a bit. I think I came pretty close, but the stuff you and Brandon brought to my attention showed me just how far off I really was. Thanks for that, guys.

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Mackanov – 03-01-2011, 01:13 PM
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Now, what should we call guitars thus modified? “Stereo” doesn’t cut it. Bozed guitars?

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bozmillar – 03-01-2011, 01:26 PM
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Quote Originally Posted by Danny Danzi View Post
I have managed to come up with a fix for the “fixed” delay. Waves has a few plugs that will allow a constantly changing delay which can be set not to go above or below a certain delay time. This makes my experiment much more consistent
I’m a DSP engineer. I believe that all the worlds’ problems can be solved through DSP, including chronic diarrhea. I don’t think it’s impossible to write a plugin that has an effect very similar to this (with some obvious differences) but I’ve yet to see one made. The waves doubler can have a similar effect, but I don’t like the idea of LFO oscillations to change timing. Maybe if every time a transient was hit it would readjust it’s filter settings it could be more random and unpredictable. I’m just throwing out ideas here.

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Mackanov – 03-01-2011, 01:29 PM
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Quote Originally Posted by bozmillar View Post
Maybe if every time a transient was hit it would readjust it’s filter settings it could be more random and unpredictable. I’m just throwing out ideas here.
Yeah, but how would it handle transitions? I mean, if it goes from a 10ms delay to a 2ms delay, what would happen with the “gap”?

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bozmillar – 03-01-2011, 01:31 PM
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Quote Originally Posted by Mackanov View Post
Yeah, but how would it handle transitions? I mean, if it goes from a 10ms delay to a 2ms delay, what would happen with the “gap”?
If you make large adjustments on a transient, the noise from the guitar might mask the click/pop caused by the drastic change.

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Mackanov – 03-01-2011, 01:38 PM
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Quote Originally Posted by bozmillar View Post
If you make large adjustments on a transient, the noise from the guitar might mask the click/pop caused by the drastic change.
I’ll just cut a track up when I get home and try something like this. However, the phase difference between the pickups is probably so tiny it would be hard to replicate. I’m guesstimating around 0.3ms (4 inches = 10 cm between pickups, speed of sound at 68°F(20°C) = 34320 cm/s, distance/speed of sound = 0,000291s).

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bozmillar – 03-01-2011, 01:42 PM
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Quote Originally Posted by Mackanov View Post
(4 inches = 10 cm between pickups, speed of sound at 68°F = 20°C, distance/speed of sound = 0,000291s).
speed of sound in this case would be the speed of sound through the string, which is different for each string (Which would make the dsp side hard if not impossible). It would be about 1ms on a low E string. Shorter for higher strings. You can get subsample phase delay in a plugin though.

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Mackanov – 03-01-2011, 01:46 PM
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Quote Originally Posted by bozmillar View Post
speed of sound in this case would be the speed of sound through the string, which is different for each string (Which would make the dsp side hard if not impossible). It would be about 1ms on a low E string. Shorter for higher strings. You can get subsample phase delay in a plugin though.
I don’t see the need for subsample delays, as at 48khz sample rate each sample lasts around 0.02ms, giving us one order of magnitude to work with.

Stuff’s getting nerdy, right?

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Billkwando – 03-01-2011, 03:14 PM
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Quote Originally Posted by Mackanov View Post
Now, what should we call guitars thus modified? “Stereo” doesn’t cut it. Bozed guitars?
Rick-O-Sound?

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wgtp – 03-01-2011, 03:22 PM
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I’m sort of a pickup freak and don’t like using the neck pickup that much, but you can reverse the phase 180 degrees by changing the wiring of the pickup or reverseing the magnet.

Also, with a humbucker, each coil sounds slightly different, and DiMarzio makes some with each coil wound differently, so different tones can be had from using just the bridge pickup, with the right wiring.

I have also seen strat pickups wound and wired so that the E, D & B come out on one side and the A, G & E come out on the other.

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cporro – 03-01-2011, 03:24 PM
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i kinda just read through the text casually and then LISTENed. words are words. sound is sound.

that sounds cool. it’s almost like an automation of another track because the differences really stand out on harmonics.

i saw there was some discussion on how this could be done with one take…err pickup output. i don’t think so. each pickup is like a mic. it will hear things a certain way and it’s placement will be unique. you can’t duplicate that with processing. if you could no one would use stereo micing. have to get it at the source.

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Billkwando – 03-01-2011, 03:24 PM
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Also, you can avoid drilling extra holes by using a stereo jack, just like they do in Rickenbackers. Then just hook up a stereo Y-cable and voila.

Brandon Drury

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Brandon Drury quit counting at 1,200 recorded songs in his busy home recording studio. He is the creator of RecordingReview.com and is the author of the Killer Home Recording series.
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One response to Dual Output Guitar Mimics Doubling

  1. Nice concept. Personally I prefer the harmonic difference between the bridge (treble) and neck (bass) pickups. My configuration can achieve a Strat sound for the neck pickup and Gibson sound for the bridge pickup based on this concept.

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