Miscellaneous Rumbles

Do You Play in Stereo?


I have been experimenting using the stereo (Left/Right) functions on a few pedals to a couple of different amps . I think is sounds realy good but it may not be somthing that I would perform with but at home, different story.

I was just wondering, how many of you use a stereo set up when performing?

One draw back is hauling around an extra amp, which is not too appealing.


exactly why i never tried. even when i have two decent amps that are working, it would be too much trouble to haul that much gear around. also, i really don't have an application that demands stereo signal.


I’ve done it for years. At small gigs (the only kind I get), at least the front of the room can hear the effect, and even the back gets a more dimensional sense of the guitar.

When we HAVE had bigger gigs, when the soundman will mic and pan both amps, it reproduces well. When he won’t, and it goes out in mono, I still get the benefit on stage. As I usually put one amp on the other side of the drummer, everyone in the band hears the guitar better - at lower overall guitar volume. The guitar becomes more enveloping, and less of a point source blast.

Small amps work fine; I’ve often taken a semi-matched pair of Peavey Classic 30s (only “semi” because they have different speakers, and one is black, the other tweed). Sometimes, for weight reduction I’ve used one of the Peaveys with a Tech21 Trademark 60 SS amp. (Only 10 lbs lighter overall, though.)

Ground differentials between the amps can produce prodigious 60-cycle hum, and you can get phasing problems that ruin the day however. I use a Radial Big Shot AB-Y box to resolve that. It combines transformer-based isolation of the amps with a safe ground lift and phase reverse switch. There are other similar devices.

My effects systems have evolved to be quite elaborate, because I love all the possibilities for texture and layering in stereo. I have one board dedicated to true stereo guitars (with different pickups or different strings going to separate outputs). It actually has two separate stereo effects chains, one for each guitar output. In full implementation, it takes four amps. I rarely go that way because switching and amp adjustment get complicated - and the sweet spot to hear the effect very small, sorta like surround sound for one guy. Pretty self-indulgent. But the effect is glorious.

When we get bold enough to venture beyond amps, and willing to give up some of the enchantment and sonic variety of exploring different effects on a pedal-by-pedal basis, there’s a world of easy stereo fun in modeling and profiling devices which bundle multiple effects with amp emulation. Even the old L6 Pods have serviceable stereo effects - and no output issues when connecting in stereo. (And still sound surprisingly good when output to the power amp input or effect return of a guitar amp with effect loop, rather than feeding the front/preamp/tone stack of an amp.)

Their current Helix probably takes the idea as far as it currently goes, with dozens of amp and cab models (with many effective virtual mic and mic-placement options), literally hundreds of effects - many stereo - and sufficient configuration and output possibilities to easily build complex parallel stereo chains. Like with different amps/cabs and different effects on each side, all fed by a single input - and easily routed to stereo outputs to feed any amplification source you need to use (like recording gear, flat response amps - or straight into the power amp/effect return of “regular” guitar amps - or the PA). The Helix also includes its own effects loops to incorporate favorite pedals in the chain, if you happen not to think the built-in effects hit the spot. All in one compact, clean, beautifully made (if somewhat expensive) floor unit.

Boss and Kemper also have very capable all-in-ones that make it easy to get crazy with stereo, priced from a couple hundred bucks to lots more.

We have two ears, and most of us have at least two minds. We’re wired for stereo.


Yes, I've been playing with stereo delay and chorus for many years. I originally used a Boss DD2 Stereo Delay or their CE3 Stereo Chorus pedal. You're right about the hassle of dragging a second amp to a gig, if you use the pedal effects with amplifiers. Lately I've been experimenting with my Line 6 pod HD500X, it's the newest incarnation of the pod series, it has left and right XLR and 1/4" balanced outputs. It can be setup for both stereo delay and stereo chorus, I've used it with 2 amps at home, but haven't tried it into a sound board yet. I talked to our church sound tech and he said that it shouldn't be a problem with setting it up L&R to the board, without using any guitar amplifiers at all.

EDIT : It looks like Proteus has it figured out using the sound system, thanks Tim, you've saved me some R&D time!



It’s not that big a deal carrying a second amp - unless you’re a piggy-back or stack guy, and have to have big iron on both sides (which isn’t necessary to get the benefit).

For most of us, with less-than-kneehigh combo amps, it’s one half of another trip to the car, one more power cord, and one more long guitar cord. Like we don’t already have these things?

And an awful lot of us have reported carrying backup amps to gigs. So just hook that one up and use it stereo. Then when an amp dies, you don’t even have to interrupt the music to go get the backup...


No but....

Actually, I’ve been thinking about doing this with my Vox AC10 and my Musicman RD50. But it’s just more gear to drag around.


I'm more of a 3D guy.


Most so-called "stereo" guitars are actually only biamped, highs to one side, lows to the other. One full range pickup to each side would be closer to stereo. I've used a stereo out pedal (RE-20) to convert a mono guitar signal to stereo to drive a pair of amps. My keyboard rig is stereo. Keys have a much wider tonal range and are spatially bigger.


Wabash, I don't know of any "stereo" guitars configured in that way. Which ones are they?

Three of mine do have one pickup to each side (Wurlitzers and Ric-o-Sound); one has 3 of the strings from EACH pickup routed to one output, and the other three to the other (similar to the GCP, but using both pickups); one claims to be stereo but outputs exactly the same signal to two jacks (the Eastwood Spectrum V).

Each stereo configuration produces different results through a stereo rig - but the split of 3 strings to each side is by far the most interesting (and challenging to employ).


Stereo to me is an extra benefit to the use of two very different amplifiers and speakers. I liken it to a hi-fi effect. I combine my Swart 5w x 8" speaker with my Victory V-40 w/12" cab. My stereo tremolo pedal and reverb make a huge asymmetrical sound.


Also a great trick. It's always useful to vary the sound of the two sides at least a bit.


Wabash, I don't know of any "stereo" guitars configured in that way. Which ones are they?

Three of mine do have one pickup to each side (Wurlitzers and Ric-o-Sound); one has 3 of the strings from EACH pickup routed to one output, and the other three to the other (similar to the GCP, but using both pickups); one claims to be stereo but outputs exactly the same signal to two jacks (the Eastwood Spectrum V).

Each stereo configuration produces different results through a stereo rig - but the split of 3 strings to each side is by far the most interesting (and challenging to employ).

– Proteus

That's the problem, Prote---few guitars are configured that way. Calling a split pickup stereo is a misnomer. Bi-amped at best. The Ric-O-Sound and Wurlitzer with one pickup to each side is the "right" way. The Eastwood is simply a Y connector.


Seems like it depends on how you define "split pickup." The TV Jones stereo FilterTrons send the 3 treble strings to one output, and the 3 bass strings to the other.

That seems to me as stereo as you could possibly get. It's not biamped. EVERYthing from 6-5-4 goes to one one output, everything from 1-2-3 to the other. (With some minor amount of bleed from 3 into 4 and vice versa, just from proximity.)


Highs separated from lows IS biamped. You could get a similar effect from using one amp with a 15" speaker, and another with an 8". Your stereo or PA doesn't separate highs to one side and lows to the other. While it may be fun to play guitar that way, it's still only biamped. Stereo is full range to each side. Having the bridge to one side and the neck to the other would be stereo.


These are not bi-amped via frequency crossover; that would still allow all the higher-order overtones from the bass strings onto the treble side. These are mechanical: the polepieces on the bass side are routed to one output, the polepieces on the treble side to the other.

Call it what you will semantically, to me it's another approach to stereo. If I hear the bass strings from a different place in the stereo spectrum than I hear the treble things...I hear that as stereo. Something different in each ear. Separation.

Splitting via crossover (a la what I think of as bi-amping) would be interesting, and certainly another approach, but I still can't call string-splitting bi-amping.

Debating what constitutes "true stereo" seems academic at best. If you hear something different from each speaker, or in each ear...that's my functional definition of "stereo."

Actually routing each pickup to a different amp doesn't inherently produce nearly as dramatic an effect as routing sets of strings in opposite directions. One (bi-amping) is like mic'ing both the top and bottom octaves of a grand piano from far enough above that you pick up the whole soundboard, then spreading the outputs: you get emphasis on bass or treble from their respective mics, but hear the whole piano and get a more dimensional effect. • The other (split-strings) is like mic'ing the ends of the piano sounding board very closely with a pair of mics and spreading them so that you hear predominantly the bass side (though with bright eq if you choose) in one speaker, and predominantly the treble side (with whatever eq you like) on the other. A run on the piano will cross more dramatically from one speaker to the other, with a clearer sense of location.

Both are cool (though very different), both in my book are stereo.


I have used two amps for years with my space echo with is earlier RE-150 with has separate dry and echo outputs. It makes for a big spacious echo and 2 different amps with different speakers really gives you a full sound.

Recently I built a stereo amp combining 2 deluxes (one side ,the 'dry' side, had reverb and tremelo, the other has no reverb and a bit of tremelo.) It's actually a 7189 based amp rather than 6V6s but otherwise a deluxe reverb circuit.

I have my 'dry sound in the deluxe reverb side . A feed is taken from the dry side before the reverb circuit and goes to the echo side via a mixing pot(volume knob). the echo is sent to the other side, When I turn off the echo I still have the guitar 2 amps but the main one is louder.

It sounds great , it has two 12" speakers (different, currently a JBL D123 and a Eminence Lil' texas). I also use a mini leslie extension cabinet powered by the 'echo' side of the amp.


Again the Gretsch Pages delivers. Never experienced "phasing problems" before but I guess once I hear it I'll know what it is. Great information on this topic and many thanks.


Out-of-phase. The sound will go "hollow", with weak low end and a tanky-sounding midrange.


Proteus, thanks now I know


So...whats next...."5.1"? Dolby Atmos?


If I'm deep in echo/delay/tremolo mode, I hook up the elaborate stereo rig sometimes when recording.

On stage, it's too much hassle, and it's hard to get a stereo rig to work right I think, both amps need to be as loud, you have to stand kind of in the middle of them, or you'll end up hearing one side more than the other and the end result where I'm standing actually sounds smaller than a single "mono" amp.


For sure, the louder and liver the context, the harder it is to make stereo work, especially on stage.


hmm I've never found it too much problem myself, I've been playing that way live for the past 25 years, and sound guys enjoy it cause they have a little more to play with.


Come on guys, Neil is the " stereo king" with his Falcon.

Been doing it for a while too!

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