Akin to the LookBooks found in women’s fashion magazines, RigBooks offer suggestions for outfitting your setup from top to bottom. If you take the LookBook analogy a bit further, far too many players have a closet full of gear they never use. More often than not, this is the result of not having a rig-driven buying strategy, which is both a poor use of finances and space!
RigBooks are, in many ways, like simultaneous reviews of several pieces of gear, reflecting the fact that when I get something in to review I almost always pair it with other gear to see how it holds up in real-world applications. This is the same strategy I use for putting together rigs, where each piece has to do a great job at the component level and as part of a larger system.
Well-designed rigs usually solve a number of problems simultaneously. I’ve provided links for each of the components in this rig, so we can focus on how each of these pieces function to provide specific rig-driven solutions, and in turn you can explore the key features for the components you are interested in. A rig needs to both inspire you as a player and make it easy to capture the essence of your music for others to hear!
With a MAP price of U$D 1,499.00, the Martin D16GT sits at the lower end of the Martin price spectrum. This guitar sounds and plays great, but the lack of built-in electronics poses one of the common challenges acoustic players face – how to capture the sound on stage and in the studio. The good news is that this is exactly why the folks at DiMarzio selected it to install their Dark Angel pickups.
While the DiMarzio Black Angel Soundhole and Piezo Acoustic pickups sound great on their own, when used together they deliver outstanding results by blending the body from the soundhole with the sparkle at the bridge. The phase switch on the side of the soundhole pickup reflects a suggestion from acoustic virtuoso Mike Dawes, an avid DiMarzio endorser. This easy-to-reach switch enables you to control phase alignment at the instrument, which is vital on a multi-pickup system. Simply put, these pickups are the heart and soul of this rig.
The Vertex Effects handwired stereo volume pedal is another key component in this rig. This passive volume pedal is utterly transparent and built like a tank so it stays put where you place it. It is vital to be able to control the volume on the fly without taking your hands off the guitar, and the dual inputs and outputs maintain the stereo integrity of the signal chain.
Ironically, Grace Design and DiMarzio are both using each other’s systems, so this combination was a bit of a no brainer. The fidelity of the EQ on the two channels on the Felix is perfect for dual-pickup systems, allowing you to sculpt the perfect tone at the soundhole and under the saddles. The strategy here was to use the complementary elements from both pickup locations to craft and blend a sound that is designed to be split left and right across the stereo spectrum. The dual outputs allow you to maintain sonic integrity for stage or, in this case, studio.
The outstanding fidelity, easy routing, native UA plug-in processing power, and portability make for an unbeatable combination. Per the video, the bundled Console app allowed me to monitor using UA’s Dreamverb plug-in as I tracked, without “printing” it to the recorded track. The flexibility of being able to easily jump into the creative space without paying the price later is priceless.
Although I’ve reviewed a number of the great recording applications out there, when I made the jump from tape-based recording I started using Pro Tools and haven’t looked back. One of the biggest reasons is the built-in plugs and rock solid integration with my beloved UA hardware. For the mix on the video I added Dreamverb to the guitar tracks and used a combination of the 1176 Rev A and Precision Limiter on the Master Fader to add a hint of vintage flair as I leveled things out. This is my “go to” combination for getting great acoustic guitar sounds in the studio.
When these monitors came in for review I hadn’t planned on falling in love with them, but I did. They’re great for recording guitar, have a frequency response that is both flat and warm, and feature a switchable circuit to counteract proximity in case you need to set them up in a corner or near a wall. I cannot stress the importance of having a great set of studio monitors, and for the money I’ve yet to see anything that can compete with these.
If you’ve ever touched the headstock of your guitar against a wall and started playing you’ll understand the impact of surface to surface coupling. Another irreplaceable item that came in for review, ISOL8Rs stands, free your speakers from surface-born coupling. Available in a range of sizes, the included height adjusters allow you to focus your speakers exactly where you want them – head on! Used by top speaker manufacturers, audiophiles, and mix engineers the world over, hearing truly is believing.
Like most home studios, the room where I record was not designed for making music. Prior to being treated it was one of the worst sounding rooms I’ve ever heard. Fortunately, the Auralex web site allows you to upload a diagram of your space, and in turn craft a customized treatment plan, free of charge. While you do have to buy the various materials necessary to treat your room, if you’re serious about recording, this is one of the best investments you can make.