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Experiences with stereo guitar rigs

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by gjsven, Sep 12, 2008.

  1. gjsven


    Oct 6, 2007
    Canberra, Australia
    Endorsing Artist: Cutting Edge Guitars
    Hi all,

    My new band is a 4-piece (guitar, bass, drums, vocals) and our guitarist is looking to employ a live stereo arrangement once he takes delivery of his Fractal Audio AxeFx and Marshall 9100 power amp in the next week or so. The initial idea is to mic his stereo 4x12 cab (custom made, with 2xV30s and 2xCL80s) with two identical mics (prob SM57s or E906s, panned left and right) and keep the stage volume moderate to help get the widest stereo image out front.

    Of course, we're aware of the many millions of variables such as poor PA systems, bad rooms (too small/big/muddy/bright etc), lazy or incompetent sound engineers ("Don't be a tosser I'm not putting two mics on your cab"), small gigs without PA support, etc etc.

    So my question - what have some of your experiences been with stereo 'amping'? Is it more hassle than it's worth?
  2. Deacon_Blues


    Feb 11, 2007
    If he really has a great stereo image coming out of his rig, mic it in stereo. In any other cases, I'd say it's totally unnecessary.
  3. anderbass


    Dec 20, 2005
    Phoenix. Az.
    I really like the stereo (one dirty/one clean-ish) amp thing for any of my bands with only 1 guitarist. It really seems to make my single guitar bands much more full and 3-d sounding. I usually prefer the clean-ish amp placed on my side of the stage (but dont always get that) and have never experienced any related sonic issues or soundmen declining to mic both.
  4. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    A stereo rig can sound cool, but I worked with a guy who did a stereo rig, and at the end of the night I was begging him to turn it off. It was so stinking loud that my brain hurt for days after.
  5. McHaven


    Mar 1, 2005
    My guitarist runs two Fender amps. A bassman and a Blues Deluxe, I think.

    The rig is LOUD. He can easily bury the entire band if he turns up. However, it also sounds really thick and adds a nice round tone to his sound. He likes to run all his effects in stereo too. Delay, Chorus, and some other things run in stereo.

    It's actually pretty cool at gigs when we have a nice soundman. He'll mic each amp, and pan the amps to the left and right on their own, so we'll have the "ping pong" delay
  6. gjsven


    Oct 6, 2007
    Canberra, Australia
    Endorsing Artist: Cutting Edge Guitars
    Thanks folks for the input, sounds like there's a few people getting some mileage out of stereo rigs. He's the only guitarist on stage and it's all going through the one 4x12 cab so hopefully he should be able to control the volume (and if not... I have 1100 watts! :D). He's a very smooth and dynamic player, if anything I usually tell him to turn up with his current rig (JCM800 50w).

    We're basically going for the hugest (portable) live sound known to man - time to start tweaking. Thanks all!

  7. That won't get you stereo. True stereo requires two non-identical signals. If one of the mics is run through say, a delay processor, or you're using two flangers running at different rates, that would get you stereo. Using two mics on a cabinet is not much more than "split mono." You might also end up with some comb filtering issues due to the two mics being in such close proximity.

    That said, I don't have much use for stereo in live situation. Stereo only works well for those fortunate enough to be in the "sweet spot" -i.e., dead center between the speakers. Everyone else (which will be the great majority of those in the room) gets a whacked mix. I've been to shows where they mixed two guitar players in stereo, and I was standing left of center. I mostly heard - surprise - the guy who was panned left. When the guy who was panned right did a solo, I didn't get to hear it well.

    Leave the stereo stuff to your home and car system. That's what it was designed for.

    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
  8. mjolnir

    mjolnir Thor's Hammer 2.1.3beta

    Jun 15, 2006
    Houston, TX
    My rhythm player runs a stereo rig, a Marshal solid state and a Fender Hot Rod Deville, but to be perfectly honest I see absolutely no point in it at all whatsoever except the fact that she was foolish enough to buy a solid state combo to compete with a very loud drummer, my 1000 watt rig, and our lead player's Marshal half stack and needed to add another amp to compensate.

    ...Well, that and our lead player is a tweaker and obsesses constantly over both his and our rhythm player's tone, thought it'd add some sort of dimension having the rhythm player playing through two rigs...
  9. gjsven


    Oct 6, 2007
    Canberra, Australia
    Endorsing Artist: Cutting Edge Guitars
    Excellent point, I should probably explain better. The Fractal Audio unit he's using has enough processing power to run two amp simulators at once (eg a Soldano left and a Bogner right), and he'll probably be running a 5-10ms delay on one side to help make it sound 'double tracked' - of course that's just his basic dirty tone. The Fractal Audio unit actually models tube behaviour rather than just 'tone', so it's lightyears ahead of Line 6, Johnson, Digitech etc. for amp model realism, feel and dynamic. Of course it had a price tag to match!

    As for comb filtering, another good point we've been thinking about. We haven't miced it up with a full PA setup yet, but we reckon if we mic each speaker halfway between the centre and outside edge of the cone (ie the two mics are pointed away from each other) we'll get the tone we want and minimise bleed (and with it comb filtering).

    We've also discussed making some sort of a sound 'barrier' between the left and right sides of the cab to further minimise bleed, but we haven't quite worked out how best to do it yet.
  10. gjsven


    Oct 6, 2007
    Canberra, Australia
    Endorsing Artist: Cutting Edge Guitars
    Apart from the logistics of making a stereo rig work, this is one of my main concerns. I suppose we can address it somewhat through 'effect design' but if we start running tempo driven auto-panners or trippy delay arrangements which sound rad from the mixing desk are they going to work for those in front of the left/right speakers? At this stage we're talking only small to medium venues (no stadiums). I guess the threshold question is 'will a stereo rig, properly done, sound better for the majority of people in the room than a mono rig?'

  11. In my opinion, no.

    That said, what you're talking about with the guitar, using different modeled sounds with some delay, wouldn't be a problem. Those at or near the sweet spot will hear the effect, those who aren't won't, but at least they will hear the guitar just fine.

    By the way, you'd probably get a better effect by dialing in a longer delay time.

    Auto-panning might work well for the same reason: It'll be rad for those who are positioned to hear it; those who aren't will still at least hear the instrument in question. It'll just sound like it's fading in and out - which could also be considered an effect. :)

    Wayne A. Pflughaupt


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