Playing and Recording Direct Guitar - 002

Today, I talk about the ups and downs of recording and playing direct guitar. Also, Guitar News and Creating the Band



Welcome to episode 2 of Play Guitar Podcast


Ive been planning several podcast episodes and I need to be able to play some examples for you with my electric guitar . This is where the problem starts.

If I just use my amp and pedals, which is what I would normally do, t he sound would bleed into my podcasting microphone. Maybe overload it. It would just sound pretty crappy.

So, I need some way to play my guitar where it goes directly into my recording software, not from a speaker in the room.

I know what “My sound” is. It took Lots of experimentation to get to this point.

I am very happy with my amp and pedals. I have the right combo of pedals amps and speaker to get the job done. 

Surprisingly what works for me is actually not very fancy or expensive, but it is what works. I know that if I go out to a gig I can get my sound very easily

Ive struggled with the idea of direct guitar and digital processors. I have had a love/hate relationship with direct playing and recording since 1985.

My usual pattern is that I spend a lot of money and am not very satisfied. Back to my amps and pedals. Here I am again with a new reason to dive into this topic.

Honestly I have never been very successful getting what I thought was “my tone” from plugging straight in. I know it must be possible though because I have heard others sound absolutely fabulous with analog and digital direct tones.

I need something that works great for this podcast, because I have a lot planned and an amp is just not practical for recording a podcast.


So today I’m going to do a bit of an overview of recording direct guitar in general. Then talk about my opinions of the pros and cons and what to look for if you decide to go down this route.  I’ll touch on what the best products for direct recording are today, and I have a shootout with a lot of the direct gear I have on hand.

Recording Direct Guitar in 2018


Sometimes when you are dealing with a topic that is big, complicated, and tedious, its smart to get a bit of perspective. So, lets start from the beginning:


What is direct recording and playing?


Simply, it’s what you do to get your guitar sound without using microphones on an amplifier. Here are some different reasons why you would need to record direct:

  • Amps are very loud
  • Small clubs aren’t willing to put up with the volume “pressure” anymore
  • Ear fatigue
  • Recording at home
  • Have a lot of guitar tones at your disposal

In my instance recording a podcast and keeping the guitar sound seperate from the vocal mic

Here is a list of different direct recording devices and amps:

  1. Jack on preamp or interface
  2. Direct box – Countryman DT 85 and behringer ultra Di100
  3. Iso cabs – randall iso 12 and axetrak pro for guitar and bass
  4. speaker simulator – Huges and kettner red box and behringer ultra-g gi100
  5. Analog amp simulators – Rockman x100 tech 21 sans amp and all of its incarntaions
  6. Digital amp simulators – Line6 pod, hd500x, eleven rack (grahame cochrane recording revolution) Digitech roland vox peavey begringer yamaha
  7. Digital amp simulators with impulses – amplifire Axefx Kemper Helix
  8. Software line6podfarm, -sgear scuffham (steven slate package) , bias
  9. Real amp into impulses plugin

What are the pros of recording and playing direct guitar?

  • It doesn’t disturb others.
  • You can save presets to get exactly same tone, again and again.
  • Much lighter than real guitar amps.
  • You can get sounds that you wouldn’t normally be able to afford. Such as: a modeled  “dumble” amp sound on the Kemper profiling amp.


What are the cons of recording and playing direct guitar?

  • Direct devices usually don’t feel right. Playing a guitar through a real amp has a certain feel.
  • Takes way too much time to get the direct device to sound just right.

Here are some classic recordings that used direct guitar


What are considered the best direct devices in 2018:


Listen to the podcast for examples of the direct devices I have. I like to keep my BB Preamp pedal on all the time.  I turn the volume on my guitar down for clean and up for crunch. I am also using the looper from my Line6 M9 pedal.

  1. Amp with AxeTrak Isolation Cabinet
  2. Digitech rp355 (link to newest model – Digitech RP360xp
  3. Tech 21 Fly Rig 5
  4. Tech 21 Sansamp GT2
  5. Joyo American Sound
  6. Joyo British Sound
  7. Line 6 POD HD500X 
  8. Scuffham S-Gear


My decision: I’m  going with Scuffham S-gear. It’s super easy and it sounds great.

I can use the stock impulses or  I can use other impulses, like my favorite: Celestion Impulse responses.

Let me know what you think!

I need your opinion on my tone test today. Also, have you had any success with direct guitar? What do you use? Do you keep giving up like me or have you found something that gives you your sound?

Give me a comment below or tweet at me @playguitarpdcst

Creating the Band


This week I play you two song ideas that I have had for a while. I think these ideas are worth bringing back to add to this album of songs. 


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