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Recording Electric Guitar Without an Amp

Education
Read Time: 3 minutes
Recording electric guitar

Recording should be about inspiration – not perspiration! You are noodling around with your acoustic guitar, get an idea and run over to your home studio to get it down on tape. You want to capture the essence, the magic, the hook. You plug in your Les Paul, turn up your Marshall®, turn on your faithful overdrive pedal and you are set to go! We all wish it was that easy.

Truth is, most of us do not have dedicated studios where we can blast our amps any time of the day, and rarely is the amp set up with a mic ready to go. It can take upwards of half-hour to pull your amp out of the cupboard, set up a mic and test for levels. By the time you are set to hit record – the idea vanishes.  So what do we do instead? We compromise. We plug our guitar into our digital recording system and record with whatever we have available. Unfortunately, most of the time, it simply does not sound very good.

The problems are many: First off, when you plug a guitar pedal into a guitar amp, the sound is processed or if you wish, filtered by the amp and the 12’ speaker inside cabinet. There is no tweeter to accentuate the high end. When you record direct, you basically remove the all important ‘filter’ that shapes the tone. Your distorted pedal now sounds like a bag full of angry bees! Another important factor is the immediacy or feel of playing through a guitar amp. Your fingers are connected to the strings which are connected to the guitar pickups which are connected to the speaker. It is an analog connection from one end to the other. Using a digital interface introduces latency and the all-important feel that you are so desperately trying to convey on tape is compromised. Digital conversion—no matter how good—is not as natural. Playing through an analog system like a guitar amp excites the senses. It is immediate.

The Tonebone JDX Direct-Drive™ was conceived as a means to provide the guitarist with a direct, analog connection to the recording system. There is no digital trickery, no frustrating latency, you plug in and play as if connected through your guitar amp.

JDX direct driveIt features five different cabinet and amp simulations that are 100% analog. The first is the JDX 4×12 filter circuit that we created inside the popular JDX-48™ direct box. The JDX-48 is used on stages around the world with artists as diverse as Sting, Megadeth, Arcade Fire and Rascal Flatts and was the spark that led to the Direct-Drive’s development. The next setting is the Stack which emulates a vintage Marshall tube head. This can be set flat or accentuated in the high end with the Bright switch that acts like a presence control on your amp. Finally, there is an open back tone reminiscent of a Fender® Twin that may also be modified using the Bright switch for extra twang. By changing up your guitar and pedals and selecting the type of amp tone you want, you can pretty much create any tone you want. Connect the balanced direct output to your favorite studio mic preamp or balanced input on your mixer and you are set to go. No more bag of bees… Best of all, your studio monitors now sound like a guitar amp and you can play with the same type of response and feel that makes the electric guitar the unique yet powerful instrument that it is. If an idea comes to you in the middle of the night, you can record while listening to headphones without waking up the neighbors! There’s even a separate tuner out that lets you quickly check tuning so that the moment of inspiration is not lost.

The Tonebone JDX Direct-Drive… Immediate, responsive, convincing.

Learn more here.