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How to Set Up a Stereo Guitar Rig

Which Amps to Use

The types of amplification you use for a stereo configuration really comes down to personal preference as well as experimentation. The general consensus is to make use of two identical amplifiers and let the effects do the work (ping-pong delay or stereo chorus).

If you’re using two of the same amps, configuring the tone of each individual amp slightly differently will give you a stereo spread. In addition to this, some people like to use a different set of output tubes on each individual amp. For example, one amp may contain EL34 tubes and another EL84.

You may also find that combining two completely different amplifiers can work well. But unless you have an abundance of amps lying around or just an extremely large bank account, this kind of experimenting can be on the pricey side. The cheaper alternative to this is to experiment with different configurations in amp simulation like the Line 6 POD, or the Fractal Audio Axe-Fx.

Wet / Wet

This is the most common stereo guitar setup for the home user. It consists of 2 amplifiers with effects running through both of them, hence the name “wet / wet”. This rig is relatively simple to accomplish, and can be achieved by using one of the following methods of your choice:

  • Any effects pedal that includes more than one output can be used to split your mono signal into a left and right output.
  • You can use a high quality Y-Split cable.

A/B or A/B/Y

If you’re looking to have 2 amps for individual purposes, then you’re going to require an A/B setup. This is great if you want to use one amp for clean sounds and another for hi-gain. Again, this setup is effortless to set up, as all you’re going to require is an A/B switcher pedal. If you want to make use of both amps at the same time, you will need an A/B/Y pedal.

RadialAbyAmpSwitcher

Wet / Dry

When using a wet / dry setup, it will be possible to isolate your effects from your dry signal. This is a common setup for gigging purposes, as you’re able to send the mixing engineer a separate signal with only your effects for more accurate mixing. You can also maintain a clearer guitar tone without adding extra “mud” to your dry tone.

This kind of setup, along with a wet / dry / wet (discussed next) setup is usually utilized by professional guitarists with a setup built by a professional rig builder. There is, however, a simple way to accomplish this type of setup at home…

You will need to run the “send” from the effects loop of your dry amp into an effects processor (like the TC Electronic G-Major). The output from the effects processor then runs into the receive section of your wet amplifier. Be sure to set the unit to 100% wet in order to avoid any dry signal being applied to your effects. Here’s a diagram that may illustrate this concept better:

WetDryStereoGuitarRig

Wet / Dry / Wet

This is the same as a wet / dry configuration, however you will be utilizing one extra amplifier resulting in your effects being in true stereo. This is great for ping-pong delays or atmospheric chorus sounds. The dry amplifier is placed in the center, while the two wet amplifiers are placed on either side.

When using a wet / dry / wet configuration, be sure that the PA system at the gig is configured in stereo. Keep in mind that the PA system in most clubs, pubs and restaurants is configured in mono. It can be argued, however, that the audience will still hear resemblance to the stereo image created by your on stage sound if the PA system happens to be configured in mono. You should still think carefully about a stereo configuration if the case is a mono PA configuration, as your audio quality is likely to be diminished. You will need to, however, experiment with your particular rig and configurations.

In order to set up a wet /dry / wet configuration, simply run the left and right outputs from a stereo effects processor into the “receive” section of the effects loop of each wet amplifier. Refer to the wet /dry diagram above, but just add an extra “wet” amplifier.

Further Reading

Should You Play Guitar In Stereo at a Gig?

Dean Hailstone

Dean Hailstone

Dean is a professional guitar player, recording artist and touring musician. He has over 20 years of playing experience, and has performed hundreds of live gigs during his career. Read more...

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2 Comments

  1. Hi Dean is it not easier to buy a stereo amp say Rocktron or Mesa or even a crown and plug the left outs to the left channel and the rights out to the right channel just the same as Tom Shultz did in Boston that way its cheaper and true stereo say 50 watts a side(home use) and then (if gigging) go through the stereo PA system direct, or miked up if so is it better to use splitters 6 into 1 or just patch loop them? if so which amp which speakers as i am ready to buy kind regards Stephen Fell

  2. Can this stereo sound be achieved wet/dry with 1 stereo amp L+R pure and use A 10BAND EQ For color if so what amp you suggest solid state or tube? I need to buy all this and speakers from you as the amps i have (old) dont have rear fx loops can you send me a hook up diagram. to add all my effets are stereo

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