Aug 10, 2012 6:53 AM
As most guitarists, I love tube amps. Nothing compares to running a tube amp flat out and hearing that tone. Line 6 has done a great job at leading the bleeding edge of amp modelling technology, but there is still something missing with the tone, no matter what monitors I use. Something subtle, like a cork-sniffing character with fine wine.
Having so many options often leads me down the road of ear fatigue. I keep chasing, "THAT tone" that I hear in my head, and I bought all the model packs and add ons I could to supplant my Pod Farm program. Nothing quite got me there, no matter what combination of amp, speaker, mic ,effect or whatnot in Pod Farm, nor did the monitors, which are as good as I could afford when I bought them; they're as dead flat as my room will allow as well.
So, what do I do? Get creative, that's what ...
I've addressed this previously, and I'm quite astonished that no one else has tried it and replied with their results. Here's what I did ...
I have a KB37, and it is the centerpiece of my modest home project studio. It does everything that I need, and it's a keyboard controller to boot. Great piece of gear Line 6! Anyway, it came with Pod Farm, as we all know. Like everyone else that gets a Pod Studio piece of gear, I plugged into the instrument input and started exploring the guitar tones. Good stuff ... REALLY good stuff. I can tweak anything, add EQ, adjust the noise gate, fenangle the signal chain any way I want ... TWICE since it has two signal paths. I can even use my bass! Fantastic! I was in love!
Meanwhile, my prized tube amps are sitting in a corner, neglected until I walk over, plug in and turn them up. No effects, but righteous tone!
So I got to thinking, how do I use both? And here's what I came up with: I plugged straight into my Carvin V3M head, ran the effects loop send into a line input of the KB37, ran an output to the effects loop return, and then launched Pod Farm in my Mac. I chose the appropriate input in the mixer, selected some effects, and .... I was blown away by how good it sounded. My quest was over. I found the PERFECT tone!
Tube amp juice with 24/96 effect models from Line 6! It was too good to be true, but here it is! My whole world has changed regarding dialing up tones. I've even gotten adventurous and added a vintage Twin as a second stereo output from the KB37, so I can hear stereo effects. All fed from my Carvin tube amp's effects loop. Then I got a Rapco A/B box to switch between the two, and I can truly say that this is the most flexible rig I've ever owned. I can now dial up ANY tone ... Dumble, Boogie, Buddha, Dr. Z, DB13, Gibson, small Tweed, Class A ... they're all there, with a tube amp driving it all. IN STEREO, no less ...
Granted, it took a long time of tweaking to get it; since the V3M is a 3 channel amp, I had to spend considerable time adjusting the channels. I have all my tones mapped to what channel I use. Clean tones and effects heavy patches are on the clean channel, slight effects and grit are on channel 2, and the balls out screaming lead tones with or without effects are on the lead channel. It's amazing! Keep in mind, YMMV ...
In order to do this, you'll need the following:
1. A computer with Pod Farm installed
2. A Line 6 compatible device
3. A tube amp or combo
4. a whole bunch of cables; at least 3 to make the connections
Presuming that you have a speaker setup already connected to your computer, you can audition all the Pod Farm sounds, right?
Now, this will work any KB37; don't know if it will work with UX2, GuitarPort, or any other hardware, but it's worth checking out if you have the right inputs/outputs. And yes, this method will work with both series and parallel effects loops in your amp. Just adjust to taste.
Now, start off with a clean channel on your amp. Pick any effect and drop it into the chain. You'll hear a big difference! Add more, and more, and more ... amps, cabs, mics, chorus, delay, if your computer can handle it, it will process the sounds.
You now have clean, glitch free, noise free, digital models of amps and effects with YOUR tube amp tone.
And yes, it WILL print to your DAW. You can use it as a plug in if you like, or run it straight into it and print the tone you have. You can even mic the speaker and have another option, or run it stereo in if you have another tube amp. It opens up the flexibility of Pod Farm exponentially. It's a great trick, and it may save you some $$ when it comes to buying effects for your tube amp. Personally, I plan on buying the FBV Shortboard MKII for my computer studio setup. I really wanted an M13 to do the same thing that this post is about, but this trick does the job! I just saved $500.00! Granted, when playing live, I'm not gonna hump my computer to the gig, and I will still buy the M13 for live gigs, but my studio setup for guitar is now complete.
It's a great tweak to an already killer setup. Highly recommended if you're adventurous enough. Let me hear about your results!