Today I’d like to cover a topic that comes up quite often through email or on the Wampler Pedals Tone Group on Facebook: Setting up amp EQ’s when running 2 amps in stereo.
We’ll use two amps that are very different as an example. Let’s use a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe (clean channel, we’ll just forget that the dirty channel exists), and a Vox AC30. Two VERY different amps in terms of EQ and gain structure and tonal frequencies. Bear with me on this one:
I look at a stereo setup as a painting. Your output of both amps should combine to look like a finely painted picture. Let’s break that down into colors:
– Highs and Upper-Mids = Light colors – Lows and Low-Mids = Dark colors
The goal is to find the right mix of colors to make the painting look right.
Step 1 – Setup a great clean tone with your AC30, as if you were going to run it on its own. Straight up, no frills. AC30’s are fairly bright, so you want to make sure you get that high-end chime without being piercing. Step 2 – Fire up the Hot Rod Deluxe, and find your favorite standalone clean tone. Fenders are inherently much bassier and low-mid focused, so try to dial in a great clean tone that isn’t too woofy and flubby (#GuitarLingo) Step 3 – Make sure your pedal is ready that you’re going to use to run stereo. In this instance, I’m using a Neo Mini Vent as my stereo output. Set your amps up about a foot apart, angled slightly towards each other so the sound frequencies will meet in the middle and bounce around together Step 4 – Cut both amps on and play a bit. The thing to listen for first and foremost is if there’s anything that sounds out of place. It may be a bit too much high end, or the bass has a bit too much overlap. Make small changes, that way if you find a sound you love, you won’t lose it.
The goal is to take all of the colors available on your amp, and blend them to the perfect match. Maybe you like the sparkle of the AC30 (light colors and airiness), but the bass and thump of the Hot Rod Deluxe (depth and deep color)? Maybe you like the cleans on the Hot Rod Deluxe, but want to add some extra chime and sparkle to the mix? The goal is to find a middle-ground that both sound great together, but so they both complement your pedals too.
I typically have one amp that I love, and it’s my primary amp I use for my base tone. My stereo setup will focus on that sound as the primary, then I use another amp to fill in the tonal palette to give me a fuller sound. In this example, a brownface has been doing it for me lately. I have that amp as my primary tone, then I fill in the clarity and sparkle with my Dr. Z Prescription Jr. (AC15-ish). The brownface covers the lows and low-mids, where the RXjr covers the highs and high-mids.
One major tip that I can recommend is stepping away from your amps as far as your cable will take you. This will give you the fullest sonic onslaught of tone, and most importantly, it’s what your audience will hear.
Until next time, Tone Chasers!
– Alex Clay