This morning, I reviewed an HRH post on recording with outboard gear and later in the day, while I was in the local pawn shop, I realized I had overlooked one of the most accessible and inexpensive forms of outboard gear: guitar pedals.
Most DAWs are setup to accommodate an external I/O in each channel. If you have the appropriate jacks on your audio interface, you can send the signal out to a guitar pedal and then back into one of the instrument inputs. Instant analog magic!
Why would you do this? You probably have more effects in your computer than you can use in a day, but there are a few reasons to tap into pedal power:
- You’re an unbalanced and reactionary luddite that distrusts the digital environment, though you find yourself producing with a DAW.
- You want to get some analog circuit atmosphere on your tracks.
- The only place to find your favorite effect is in a specific pedal. This is definitely true of some pedals. There is no replacing the real deal.
- You just want to get out of the box.
- You like twiddling with knobs, rather than drawing automation data.
This is a variation on another technique: re-amping. Anytime you record a guitar track, grab your direct box and record through the amp, as well as the direct signal, straight to your DAW. You’ll always have the option of sending the direct signal to an amp and recording that with a microphone as well. At that point, you can use as many pedals as you desire.
You can use the technique for bass, keyboards, guitars, and just about anything else you desire. Here is a a guide to re-amping from ProAudioFiles. It includes some critical information like this:
The biggest factor in managing the gain staging of your re-amping signal chain is your choice of adapter. The two choices are:
- A purpose built adapter, like the ones made by the company called Reamp, or Radial Engineering; or
- A passive direct box (so say some).