A Guitar Experiment

A Guitar Experiment


I have an idea for an experiment that I would love to conduct - something I have wanted to try out for a long time.

My own home studio setup doesn’t include any guitar amps - I don’t have space for them (or the money). I have read endless debates about guitars being DI’d into a DAW and then using plugin Amps and pedals vs old school mic’ing a guitar amp. So here’s my idea:

I would like to conduct a blind test in this forum to see if it’s actually possible to tell the difference between a traditional mic’ed guitar amp vs plugin amps. For this to work, I will need somebody to message me a small file or two - obviously if you post a reply on this thread everybody will be able to see and hear your efforts. I would love a clean guitar and a distorted guitar. You can apply any EQ / Reverb to your sounds - basically mix the guitar as you normally would so that it sounds fantastic. Once I get those sounds, I will try to recreate that sound using only my DAW.

I will then post both files back to this thread and invite the rest of you to see if you can tell which is recorded traditionally vs new school.

Note - I can’t create my files until the new year when I’m back home in front of my equipment but I’m very curious to see what I can achieve. Anyone interested in this silly experiment?


Sounds very cool to me! I’ll be a spectator though, I’m in the same boat as you, DI + plugins all the way. I do have an amp but learned the hard way that for me, being able to adjust the guitar’s amp setting after the fact is crucial, and “locking in” a sound with an amp never works in the end. So I’ll be very interested to see the outcome of this.

Did you catch the recent blind test of the Kemper modeling unit against the real amps? Check them out here. They’re about half an hour each, but worth it (the two guys get a little too into their shtick). Bottom line is they can’t tell the profiling amp from the real ones. Not the same thing you’re doing, but similar concept.

and part two:


Nice one - I’ll give these videos a watch tonight. I’m kind of hedging my bets - I’m recording a modelled signal, plus clean DI’d version simultaneously. My dream is to be able to record the modelled signal in clean (so record a Strat or Gibson), and then apply the plugin amp to that signal so I get the quality of the amp, mic. I’m also really interested in applying an impulse response as well.

Anybody willing to give up some time and record some old school guitar for me?


This sounds like a great task for @theauermethod!


For me as a player, I can instantly tell the difference while playing, but I have a harder time telling the diff in a recording. In fact, I’d say I tend to prefer amp “sims” on recordings.

That’s the thing about recording though. Once an instrument has been recorded, they are ALL samples at that point. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


That’s the thing - playing guitar through a nice amp is beautiful, there’s nothing like that sound of a guitar going through a Fender twin or a Peavey. I’ve spent a little while though trying to get that sound from Logic and my pedals. To my ears I’m close, but I’ve never been brave enough to throw out those recordings to other people to critique.


This will be a fun experiment!


Another spectator here.


Do I have any takers on this experiment of mine? Basically I want some very short recordings of electric guitars through somebody’s favourite amp, clean and distorted. Just a simple riff, or chord progression (it doesn’t have to be original). I will then try to recreate those sounds completely with my setup and then present that to the forum as a blind test to see if we can tell the difference between guitar recorded though mic’ed amps or 100% DI guitar with virtual amps.

Do I have any volunteers for this experiment?


I have a couple samples that @theauermethod did for me for the shop. That may work for what you’re doing :wink:


I don’t have any real amps so I can’t help.


This is cool, I’d like to participate. I like this sort of thing! :slight_smile:

It’ll probably be a week or so before I get the time, but I’ll do some riffs through my Mesa Stiletto combo, a Marshall JMP50 combo and my beloved but terribly named Genz Benz Black Pearl 30.

I like slightly unrefined sounds, so don’t expect heart-achingly beautiful recordings!


@madpsychot - just to be clear, are you wanting a guitar player to run a split D.I. signal into the DAW and to their amps (So the DAW is simultaneously recording amps and the dry signal), then send you an mp3 of the D.I signal for you to run through your plugins?

And are we assuming you have a comparable amp simulator in your virtual instrument arsenal? If so, you should probably tell us what you have to work with in your DAW.

I might be able to try it later this week.


Almost. I want somebody who is able to record a mic’ed amp to record some good tones - clean and distorted with their normal setup. The recording can be eq’d and processed however is best. I want those recordings to see if I can record DI’d guitar and process it with my virtual amps and see if I can record anything near a traditional setup. I would then present that to the forum as a blind test to see a) if it’s possible to get great amp tones from VST’s and b) - just for fun to see if anyone notices the difference!


Hmmm… mad, I think you might want to get the dry DI from your participants as well and treat that, as @Jonathan said. If you are comparing sounds from different guitars, that is likely to drive the difference in sound more than anything else. For this experiment to be most valuable, there should be as few variables as possible. Then you can eliminate any differences native to the instruments themselves, and that’s really what you want I reckon.


Fair enough - I’ll take DI version if it’s going! I wasn’t so worried about treating the same recording to compare - really this is just an informal experiment I’ve wanted to run for a while but never been able to. I’m going to wait for @Jonathan to send me some recordings.


The mix contest has DI guitar and bass tracks. You can take those and record various plug-ins or reamp them to an actual amp. This way it will be apples to apples for everyone, same guitar and performance.


I had to take my setup apart to do some re-arranging…I might not be able to get them to you soon. If someone else has some, please do chime in.

Short story long, the a few more of my top end ones went out on loan…I couldn’t do much with them at the moment being without a facility. I also dis-assembled the L/C/R Mesa rig to re-configure the G systems and re-do my pedalboard…I’m getting ready to start playing out again.


Hi all - no rush on the files! It’s just an idea that’s been rattling around in my head for a good few years now. @Fishmed - good idea with the contest files - I might try that out. The problem is we’ve all most probably heard those guitars a few hundred times and my idea is a blind test. But I’ll give it a go for the sake of fun!

@Jonathan - no worries on the time scale - just take your time. By the way I’m a little envious of your setup…


Which one?