Category Archives: Recording

Recording tips, techniques, etc.

One Month with the Boss GT-100 v2

The GT-100, flagship of the Boss line of multi-effect units, has been around for about two years. It benefited recently from a software upgrade, dubbed V2 which introduces new capacities and effects .
Instead of writing a catalogue of all the features offered by the GT-100 v2, I thought I would go with a more personal approach of my experience with the unit, and a little video of my favourite tones and effects.

Upgrade Procedure

First off all, I was lent a V1 version of the unit by Roland Australia and I performed the upgrade as per instructions. You need a USB cable and a Windows or Mac computer after which it is pretty easy. The upgrade itself takes less than a minute. This video from Dawsons music in the UK explains it all. Alternatively, This blog entry from Roland Australia has all the info, including all the new V2 features.
Before upgrading the unit, I spent some time with the V1 version to get a feel of the changes. Well the good news is that the V2 version is the same, but better, I could find no regression per se (which can happen sometimes!)

A virtual rig

The GT-100 v2 is a virtual guitar rig: it takes your guitar signal and runs it through virtual amps, virtual effects and virtual speakers. A lot of classic pedals are simulated both from Boss and from other manufacturers. For instance, in the distortion/overdrive department, you find the OD-1, the Blues Driver but also the Big Muff, the RAT, the Marshall Guv’nor, etc. Same goes for compressors, Boss compressors are in there but also the Dynacomp, the Orange Squeezer, etc. And the v2 software adds MDP effects such as Tera Echo, Adaptive Distortion and Overtone, all available in separate pedals. I personally love the Tera echo (see the video below).
Something that I found really cool was the fact that the effect order can be changed. You want to put a delay before the amp simulation, no problem! There is also a mono effect loop to put your favourite pedals in and make them become an integral part of the signal path. Finally, another great feature: there are two amps (A and B) in one given “virtual rig” so you can go from one amp to another by pressing the “accel” footswitch.

Building my direct recording dream rig

The way I approached the GT-100 v2, given the fact that it is like having the best amps and pedals in a box, was to build my “dream rig” so to speak. I used the GT-100 v2 direct (more on uses with an amp later).
Let’s start with amps, the Bassman is the grandfather of all amps and it was my choice for Amplifier A. On a side note, it was used by Hendrix a lot in the studio, Voodoo Chile is the perfect example of the kind of big creamy tone you get out of an old Fender amp. The Bassman simulation in the GT-100 v2 did not disappoint me, it’s very responsive to touch as well as the guitar volume, like a good cranked amp (by the way, if you can crank a Bassman when you practice, you are a pretty lucky chap) . The GT-100 v2 has several EQ sections (at amp level, as an effect and globally) which allows to tailor the tone to your guitar. I found the global EQ most useful when going from my Strat which is quite bright to my SG which is darker. Same goes for the reverb, there is “global” setting so you can adapt to any venue without reprogramming all your patches.

Second amp I chose: the good old Marshall Plexi, classic amongst the classic loud rock amps. I chose the mixed inputs (I+II) version of the simulation and I found the results quite Malmsteen-esque given that the level of gain goes further than on the real amp, a nice touch. I also put a slight overdrive in front of both amps.
Finally, I like my guitar tone to have a bit of a studio quality, so I put a slight chorus, a discrete delay and a good dose of plate reverb and, voilà, I suddenly have two vintage cranked amp and some studio quality effects going straight to my computer. By pressing on the “accel” footswitch, I can go between the two amps, Bassman for blues tone, Plexi for big rock tone. By pressing the end of the expression pedal, I have a nice Wah to complement the amps, the ultimate rock rig in my opinion.
Of course, this is one example of how you would adapt the GT 100 to your style and taste, there are many amps and many effects to choose from.

Boss Tone Central

Customizing patches from scratch on a machine as complex as the GT 100 can be a daunting task. The built-in presets are pretty good and don’t yield to the temptation of being “over processed”, kudos to Boss for that. But if those presets leave you wanting, here comes Boss Tome Central, one of the V2 feature for the GT 100.
Boss Tone Central is an online library of (free) patches. A software called “Boss Tone Studio”, available for Windows PCs and Macs from the website, can control the GT 100v2 through the USB connection and download presets from Boss Tone central directly into the unit, pretty cool.
Some big names such as Steve Lukather contribute patches to Boss Tone Central and presets are added on a weekly basis.

In the Studio

There has been some improvement on the Audio Interface for the GT-100 v2. Like the Desktop Version (the GT-001), the GT-100 v2 now presents 4 inputs to your computer. I have tried this with Cubase 7 and it works out of the box. The idea is that 2 inputs send the signal with effect and 2 inputs send the dry signal of the guitar in case you want to re-amp an already recorded track, using the GT 100 v2 or plugins.
And last but not least, a monophonic Guitar to MIDI converter has been added to the GT-100 v2, pretty cool to play a synth or bass part using your favourite virtual synth. As always, the tracking depend on a number of factor and it is not as good as using the Roland hexaphonic pickups and a unit like the GR-55 but great feature still.


So far I have mentioned using the GT-100 v2 direct to a computer or to a console. Chances are some of you will want to use it to their favourite amp. I have given it a try with my trusty 1974 Fender Champ and although it requires some tweaking, this can sound pretty good.
I got some good results by turning off amp simulation and using the GT 100 v2 as a collection of pedals. The RAT simulation sounded particularly good though the Champ. I also had good fun with the Tera Echo and some reverb through the amp. Note that the GT 100 v2 has an output selection feature to adapt the EQ to small amps, combos or big stacks. Coupled with the various EQ features, this makes for a highly adaptable rig. Let’s not forget the expression pedal and the Accel footswitch which can control pretty much any parameter in the unit, perfect for those crazy Whammy moments.


The GT-100 v2 is an impressive piece of gear. Of course, the age old argument comparing real tube amps to simulation will never be put to rest. What I think is that the GT 100 v2 sounds really good and in situation where you can’t crank a Plexi or a Bassman to get your tone, this is definitely a good option. It’s useful in the studio as well as live where it can replace a collection of pedals. Amp simulations have come a long way since the 90s and the wizards at Boss have obviously been working hard. I have compared some of the simulations to the 2007 Micro-BR and the progress made is very palpable. If you don’t care for the switches, check out the GT-001 which is basically a GT-100v2 in table top format!

Reverb for Guitarists, Part 1: a Sound Reinforcement Tool

I recently got a few comments asking why I use reverberation in post processing in some of my Youtube videos. In this series of posts, I would like to outline the two main uses of reverb for guitarists. In this first part, I will focus on the use of reverb in the studio and will explain why I sometimes add some light reverb to my videos. You will also find several sound examples. Part two will focus on the use of reverb as an effect.

Natural vs Artificial Reverb

In an enclosed space, any sound will bounce off the walls, thus creating a king of muffled echo. An extreme case of reverberation is found in cathedrals or caves where any sound can be reverberating for seconds. But even in a small space, you will get some reverberation. Try clapping in your toilet or bathroom and you will probably hear it. In a nutshell, a reverberation unit (commonly known as reverb) is an effect device which aims at reproducing this phenomenon. Reverberation is also sometimes referred to as “ambiance”.

Reverberation is almost as old as recording studios or radio stations. Sound producers and engineers had found out very quickly that recording any source (guitar, voice, etc.) using a microphone placed close to it lacked any sort of “ambiance” or “natural reverberation”, producing a quite unpleasant dry sound.

To solve that problem, a number of artificial ways to produce reverb were invented. The most primitive was to use a big empty room with a speaker at one end and a microphone at the other end to record the effect. Later on, spring and plate reverberation units were invented. Eventually, digital technologies became affordable and reverb units capable of simulating pretty much any space are now available as software plugins, pedals, rack effects, etc. I invite you to read the wikipedia page dedicated to reverberation for more information.

Reverence is a Cubase 5 reverb plugin which uses convolution techniques i.e it uses imprints from actual venues to generate reverberation

When I use a bit of reverb in my videos, this is not to “inflate” the tone, it is just because the microphone I use is close to my amp and misses out on the natural reverb of the room.  Short of adding some artificial reverb, you can change the microphone placement and put it further away from the amp in order to get more of the ambiance of the room, but you might pick up undesirable sounds. It is a matter of experimenting and finding the right spot.

Guitar and Studio Reverb Sound Examples

Here is a short distorted guitar clip. It was recorded by placing a microphone really close to my Fender Champ and no reverb was added. Note how dry it is:

Audio MP3

Here is now the same clip with a short room reverb (I have used the LA Studio preset of Cubase 5’s Reverence plugin):

Audio MP3

The difference is very subtle but the reverb adds a “roundness” to the tone and makes it a little fuller without being over the top. This is the kind of reverb I often put on my youtube videos. When using reverb for sound reinforcement purposes, it is important to be subtle, the idea is not to hear the effect itself.

And here is now the same clip with a lot of Plate Reverb (using the Plate Reverb 3s preset of Cubase 5’s Reverence plugin):

Audio MP3

Note how wide the tone becomes but also how different it is from the original. You can really hear the reverb, one could argue that in this case, the reverb is too pronounced and is rather used as an effect.

And now listen to the same solo alongside other instruments. For this first clip, there is no reverb at all:

Audio MP3

By adding a dose of plate reverb to every instrument, you get a better sense of depth and a bigger overall sound:

Audio MP3

Some of you might prefer a drier sound but more often than not, the point is that reverberation is a timeless and indispensable studio tool.

We will explore in Part 2 of this series of posts the use of Reverb as an effect. This next post will feature a list of reverb units to add to your pedalboards, stay tuned!

Book: Recording Tips for Engineers by Tim Crich

I have spent the last two months recording on my houseboat with whatever gear I have and did not want to embark on this journey without some help. So, I picked up a copy of “Recording Tips for Engineers” by Tim Crich. I had learnt the hard way that a good recording begins at the source and that no magical software plugin will fix everything.

And this is exactly what this book is about: helping you get a good sound at the source. It teaches you about the big and small details: from organizing a session to microphone placement and equalization, you will learn how to record a whole band. I also found it useful at the mixing and mastering stage and there is a good section about the intricacies of digital sound.

Written in bullet point form, it is easy to follow and can be used as a reference, it does not have to be read back to back. Icing on the cake, Tim Crich has worked with little garage bands such as U2 and the Rolling Stones and some of his rock’n roll stories are pretty funny.

I will tell you more about the recordings in the coming weeks and what I have learnt by “doing”.

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