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Amp Synth? Synth Amp? Ever been done?

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Amp Synth? Synth Amp? Ever been done?

Postby Guest » Sat May 26, 2018 10:43 am

Would it be possible for someone to make an Amp Synth or Synth Amp?

I’m new to all this guitar gear malarkey and have whizzed through YouTube last year listening to mainly amps, me favourite is the vintage Vox AC 30, even more so now that I’ve used it in the excellent Perry Vale studios.

Amp first, no compromise, it’s a wicked guitar amp, that’s it.

Valves or Solid State, would one or the other be best suited?

Wot could one do that oscillating? amped signal to synth it up?

LFO, Filter, Env, cut-off, I assume one couldn’t have a proper synth engine.

I haven’t yet heard any guitar synths that can rival say heavy-duty Dance/Club music tones, particularly aggressive ones, (my music’s recently been labelled tough) this is wot I’m after.

At the mo, I’m all Boss pedals, 5 of ‘em, in this order, BF-2, DS-2, AW-3, AC-3 and the new JB-2, very wicked, will be buying another of those, and the AC-3… I’m not sure if any of those qualify as ‘Synthetic’ er, synth parameters but could possibly be included, perhaps ‘synth’ is also the wrong word…

I still have a brill 80’s EH Poly phase, someone once told me, (I guess I can work it out for myself now) that it’s basically a few synth parameters, a module? as it has, ENV.MOD, MOD. RATE, ENV. SENS. & FEEDBACK, & RATE again, one can’t have all five parameters simultaneously though, three are for the envelope control, the other two for the phase, one switches between EV or SWEEP/phase.

Wotever’s in the AC-3 pedal, or similar, def should/could I think be included, gives real body and wiv the above pedals it’s already becoming synth-like, I’m not hung up on a synthesiser engine as such, as I doubt that’s possible, I’m happy to create a ‘synth like tone,’ but I also think some of those proper synth parameters could shape the guitar signal, then a combination of something like the effects like above…

Maybe neither fish nor fowl kinda thing.

Effects yes but coupled to LFO, Filter, Env, cut-off, and wotever else would be viable/available.

Thing is with me is I’m coming at this as a Dance producer not a guitarist looking for classic Dad blues tones…
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Re: Amp Synth? Synth Amp? Ever been done?

Postby Wonks » Sat May 26, 2018 2:24 pm

The biggest problem with trying to synth-up guitar sounds is the lack of any trigger signal for filters to work with, no note on or note off signals, so all filter effects have to trigger off amplitude and provide a fixed envelope.

I've got a moogerfooger filter, and on guitar it just sounds like any auto-envelope filter (say Mutron III or E/H Q-Tron), and very similar to an auto wah.

You can thicken the sound up with fuzz (better than distortion for this sort of thing) and use an octave pedal. Chorus/phase flange on fast settings can sound synthy, as can auto-swell pedals where the volume fades in - especially with delay and reverb.

Don't forget the basic Wah pedal for a relatively cheap bandpass filter effect. it doesn't have to go wakka-wakka.

Dave B will probably be along shortly to tell you about the Roland VG-99, which I believe does a lot of synth sounds created from guitar signals from a Roland GK-2 or 3 hex-pickup, rather than converting to MIDI and triggering a synth engine. I believe the Boss SY-300 does a similar sort of thing, but without needing a hex pickup. https://www.boss.info/us/products/sy-300/ But it's over £500 new.

Some flangers can go into self-oscillation - I've got an 80s Pearl flanger that does that when you turn the feedback right up. Unfortunately you can't tune it, so it's useful only as a special effect.

There are the Electro Harmonic x9 range of keyboard emulating pedals, the Synth9 being the one that recreates some classic synth sounds (but the sounds are fairly limited in what can be done to them - filter cut-off and resonance and that's about it). In fact, you're probably best looking at E/H gear for this synth business. Most of the pedals on this E/H page are aimed at making a guitar sound like something else. https://www.ehx.com/browse/octave-synthesis-pitch

As regards an amp, for synthy type sounds I'd suggest a full range system such as a powered PA cab. A guitar amp doesn't really produce much above 6kHz because of its speaker, so you loose out on a lot of the filter sounds if you don't use a full range reproduction system, as the guitar amp speaker is adding its own low pass fixed filter to the sound. This will also make distorted/fuzzed guitars sound a lot brighter and fizzy and less like guitars.

However I don't think you'll ever really get a guitar to make particularly good club synth sounds.
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Re: Amp Synth? Synth Amp? Ever been done?

Postby Dave B » Sat May 26, 2018 7:32 pm

My only suggestion would be to go in a totally different direction : there are Eurorack modules which allow the guitar to trigger modules. I'd be looking at that. As Wonks says, it's really EHX who produce interesting 'synth' pedals and if they aren't what you are looking for, then there is almost nothing else.

Worth pointing out that the Synth Challenge version of 'Cars' was Arkieboy with a VG99. I think that shows the synthesis off better than anything else I've heard...
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Re: Amp Synth? Synth Amp? Ever been done?

Postby Guest » Sun May 27, 2018 8:18 am

Hmm, maybe I should nick a leaf outa Wonks's precise concise informative book.

Ok then, not synth as such, a non-guitar tone/sound then.

I can play a synth, brill though Arkie's was, I'd find that easier to play on a keyboard, not interested in tracking or triggering... or substituting keys for guitar or vice versa, I don't want a synth guitar, I want the guitar signal to have as much synth type processing as is possible. The EH pedal seems to hug or change the tone in a more 'processed' way rather than say a Boss CE-1 which does a similar 'hugging' but it's an effect not a process, I may be wrong and the EH is also just an effect?

Processing coupled with say effects like those Boss ones above rather than synthesizer.

If tapping the signal in the guts of the amps circuits would be better, more control over the signal? than an external effect/processing type box, if not... either way and with its limitations that Wonks points out would be my starting point... sometimes complete ignoramuses in such matters could lead others with the capable knowledge down avenues that they wouldn't normally travel...

So, a re-amping, er, amplifier, two outs, one clean, that's it, second one? how can we process that internal signal, with what are considered say synth type parameters ENV MOD RATE etc.

Would wiring a mic into the circuit board, a mic inside? a mic on a goose-neck outside, too... er, getting a bit 'eath Robinson is it?

With the AC-3 it pretty much kills, or can kill, the geetar tone dead, I don't care cos I'll always have a clean tone too. But it gives the tone real body, or a decent non-guitar sounding spring-board if you like.

With the guitar I'm interested in the micro-timing we guitarists achieve, I'm not sure tracking or triggering preserves that?

The same steady 'arpy' guitar rock riff, played up stroke, or down, or up and down is subtlety different.

So, I'm saying, signal gets synth-like 'processing' and/or then into circuits like the above pedals or similar. We’re not trying to emulate anything, just process, effect, mangle, wotever from source, maybe it’s all twaddle and an external box could/would suffice?

You know how we all stack synth sounds, well this is wot i'm after here, I already do synth music, jus done a geetar track, now I'm gonna combine the two, the synths and guitars will meld into one and will also have there own single part to play no doubt, ain't done it, started one yet.


I'm not sure I could play Gaz Neuman on a guitar, doddle on a synth though, so not substituting one for t'other, mind you triggering a guitar from me Juno 2, hmmm, I guess dat's not on then? Hmmm got me thinking though cos that would def throw-up some weird, diff possibilities, hmmm...

Hey Wonks thanks for all that effect stuff I was kinda leaning to EH stuff etc, and they, like you say too, seem to offer some of wot I'm after, but unless i can find a real stand out... expensive too so might wait before travelling down that road, need to generate some bleedin' cash, 'tis all spend spend spend at the mo.
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Re: Amp Synth? Synth Amp? Ever been done?

Postby Guest » Sun May 27, 2018 8:42 am

So fuzz, there's zillions, just to save me legs, which one? er cheap one, I'm happy sticking wiv Boss, for now, but I suppose i need Fuzz, I'm also not hung up on Boss and would fork out more if you think that's worthwhile, but do remember, spiffing invdl geetar tone's not too important when stacking, even so, one play/writes wiv only one pedal engaged so no rubbish.

I split me signal, the Boss pedals i mention are on one line, the other, still working on it, has a Boss MT-2 going into a EH Ravish Sitar, I wanna put more stuff in front, fuzz and wot else?

If I don't splash out now on wot i really need, I will at some stage soon, cain't buy it all at once but i want to sort at least 3/4 pedals for the Ravish

Some stuff can wait cos of cost, I need tremelo or rotary, any cheap ones?
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Re: Amp Synth? Synth Amp? Ever been done?

Postby Guest » Sun May 27, 2018 10:15 am

The BF-2 & AW-3 both have a guitar or bass input, at home, for convenience, I just leave them both chained in the bass input, I suppose in a commercial studio I will put them in their correct inputs, seeing as I do and will use home recorded stuff too, do I need to swap inputs as I swap guitars at home too, is there that much missing, y’know, I’m not after classic tones here, maybe guitar input for both instead?

Bear wiv me lad.

Re-amped tones/sounds are completely different to double tracked ones, double tracking brings in lots of interesting musically & tonally rewarding differences, two diff feels for instance, re-amping is just the exact same signal re-effected…

I was one step ahead of Wonky cos one can’t re-amp a bass and a guitar part simultaneously, so from the guitar part I could generate the bass from an Octave or similar pedal, to fill out the guitar part, the bass here being intended as part and parcel of that guitar sound, not a bass line.

Now I could play the exact same riff on me bass, but that would be double tracking not re-amping, I have looked at Boss Octave and the Harmoniser, so wot would you recommend, to provide that bottom end in the above scenario.

This micro timing thingy and audio to midi, I’m on Cubase 5, is this a fiddly diddly trial and error kinda fing that won’t result in an 100% accurate tracking of the micro beats/strokes, or is it a click away, and if I can’t I assume there’s a bloke ’oo can, or is it always gonna be an approximation not an exact replica.

If exact replica, this way I can ‘re-amp’ the re-amp, wiv synths, by recreating the micro timing exactly, rather than playing the same part in from me JUNO-2, especially as I don’t/can’t do micro timing on a synth, can anybody, a pianist? I’d guess other string players, violin maybe, is this kind of micro timing restricted to only guitars or strings, or can any virtuoso perform that feat and on any instrument? I’m tempted to say drums aren’t instruments, but that’s not strictly true, so probably piano or similar as well then?

Of course, not all guitar playing involves micro-beats, so could audio to midi accurately track basic strumming or riffs, hmmm, just occurred to me, bet it can’t do chords then…?

Never thought about this before, still, if right, I’m happy to be able to accurately track single note riffs…? Hmm then again, if so, I could step write the chords after inputting single note riff… bloody Nora, where is this all leading me, up the garden path no doubt… I need to lie down for while.

Cheers lads.
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Re: Amp Synth? Synth Amp? Ever been done?

Postby Alba » Sun May 27, 2018 12:31 pm

Guitar audio to midi in a plug-in?

Its the best i've tried but life's too short ... really ... I'd rather play.

Worth a look though.

https://www.jamorigin.com/
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Re: Amp Synth? Synth Amp? Ever been done?

Postby blinddrew » Sun May 27, 2018 1:54 pm

Bought that a couple of months ago. Very impressed so far. No problems handling chords, doesn't handle voice or bass well though.
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Re: Amp Synth? Synth Amp? Ever been done?

Postby Wonks » Sun May 27, 2018 2:36 pm

There is a bass optimised version, but I have no idea how well that works. Free trial version though of both the guitar and bass versions (built-in sounds only, no external MIDI connection), so you can try and decide on how well it tracks before you buy.
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Re: Amp Synth? Synth Amp? Ever been done?

Postby Guest » Mon May 28, 2018 7:05 am

If there’s no MIDI on the trial then there’s no point as I want to put the re-amps/wavs say through Massive, not play the synths from the guitar, I want Massive to play the audio to midi conversion, so it tracks my guitar after it’s been recorded normally?

It’s the midi conversion of the audio wav file I’m after, so I can plonk it on a midi track and try diff synths, I want to know can that kind of signal, say a normal basic pre-recorded single note syncopated riff be accurately tracked, as it’s that tracking that will give me the ability to ‘reamp’ the riffs not double-track I need that precise up/down micro timing?

This isn’t about playing, it’s about converting to midi after it’s been recorded.

I don’t wanna play a guitar synth, I wanna know if audio to midi can faithfully, after recording, track the up/down strokes, the last time I dabbled in Cubase it couldn’t.

There perhaps would be a wee aesthetic prob, as the up strokes tone differs to the down, and this is part of wot gives the riff its unique character I suppose, chugga chugga chugga up/down strokes, so by splitting the midi to two tracks and maybe a simple parameter tweak of one or the other would suffice.

I don’t mind getting my hands dirty, but there must be people who know the limitations or/and have experience, so for now I’d hire them, but I got a sneaky feeling this kinda feel/timing can’t be nabbed from audio to midi conversion.

However, I also think a cleverer sod than me could also man-handle the data, and get it pucker, or at least as near as damn it? Hmmm, James Perret maybe? Not sure 'e's cleverer than me though, even so...

I can’t do micro timing on a keyboard, I’d love to hear wot Massive, Spire or say Sylenth patches would sound like being tracked 100% accurately from a pre-recorded guitar riff, don’t wanna play, wanna listen/produce…

I’m a synth freak too don’t you know.
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Re: Amp Synth? Synth Amp? Ever been done?

Postby Wonks » Mon May 28, 2018 8:07 am

You miss the point. You use the trial to see if the program's conversion to MIDI works well enough for you. It's still converting to MIDI but using it's own selection of built in sounds. If you think it's quick and accurate enough for you, then buy it and use it with external virtual instruments. There aren't any time or note restrictions on the trial version.
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Re: Amp Synth? Synth Amp? Ever been done?

Postby BJG145 » Mon May 28, 2018 8:20 am

blinddrew wrote:Bought that a couple of months ago. Very impressed so far. No problems handling chords, doesn't handle voice or bass well though.

I've been messing around with Imitone for that. Not perfect, but quite promising.
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Re: Amp Synth? Synth Amp? Ever been done?

Postby blinddrew » Mon May 28, 2018 8:50 am

BJG145 wrote:
blinddrew wrote:Bought that a couple of months ago. Very impressed so far. No problems handling chords, doesn't handle voice or bass well though.

I've been messing around with Imitone for that. Not perfect, but quite promising.
Intriguing, will have a shufti. Cheers. :)
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Re: Amp Synth? Synth Amp? Ever been done?

Postby BJG145 » Mon May 28, 2018 4:22 pm

...kind of neverending Kickstarter, the backers gave him hell because it's still in Beta several years later. There are still occasional updates though. And although it's clunky, I suspect it's a better voice-to-MIDI solution than Jam Origin. Jam is amazing for guitar though. (I still want a Yamaha G10 but I totally can't justify it.)
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Re: Amp Synth? Synth Amp? Ever been done?

Postby blinddrew » Mon May 28, 2018 5:17 pm

I'm pretty certain I have no need for voice to midi, I was just playing around with it the other week with that one-synth-challenge thing. :)
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Re: Amp Synth? Synth Amp? Ever been done?

Postby Guest » Mon May 28, 2018 5:36 pm

Did try Jam last year, my reasoning here was that I had to compromise my style and to much faffing about, I don’t want to do that, it’s only that special micro-timing I’m after, will give it a go again though…

Everyone here seems to think it’s ok, but I think I need better than ok to replicate that kinda timing, and collectively, if none of yous are aware of anything that can do that, there prob isn’t at the mo’ so I’m guessing a combination of technique/procedures.

Pretty sure I tried audio to midi once and it was rubbish and none of you lot are mentioning it… surely someone must’ve wanted to or at least did something similar.

I play a keyboard but nowt like a guitar, I just got it in me ‘ead that synth tones will sound amazing with that chugga chugga etc guitar timing, and to couple those tones wiv real geetar tones is even more wicked, maybe not won’t know ‘til I’ve given it a go.

Hmmm, I suppose it may be possible to cut a wav file, separate the ups and downs and generate a midi track or two from that? Then that way it wouldn’t be too troublesome for the conversion to midi, I’m assuming if you’ve separated the timing best you can, that the audio to midi would be able to handle that, especially wiv a tweak or two after… maybe I should become an acoustic singer songwriter, now that’s an easy life innit.
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Re: Amp Synth? Synth Amp? Ever been done?

Postby Alba » Mon May 28, 2018 7:27 pm

I bought a copy of Audio to Midi years ago - wasted my money but i suppose technology has to start somewhere.

Had you considered a midi guitar? There's the Yamaha offering. Not sure if they still make them but they come up on eBay https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_v-Bp6h-KgE

And the You Rock guitar reviewed in the mag https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/in ... ock-guitar
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Re: Amp Synth? Synth Amp? Ever been done?

Postby Alba » Mon May 28, 2018 7:27 pm

I bought a copy of Audio to Midi years ago - wasted my money but i suppose technology has to start somewhere.

Had you considered a midi guitar? There's the Yamaha offering. Not sure if they still make them but they come up on eBay https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_v-Bp6h-KgE

And the You Rock guitar reviewed in the mag https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/in ... ock-guitar
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Re: Amp Synth? Synth Amp? Ever been done?

Postby Wonks » Mon May 28, 2018 8:54 pm

I just acquired a YouRock guitar. And the YouRock website disappeared just after I bought it so I couldn't load the editor or check for firmware updates. Haven't played with it much but first impressions are no better than my guitar with a GK-2a pickup into a GR-20.
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Re: Amp Synth? Synth Amp? Ever been done?

Postby James Perrett » Mon May 28, 2018 9:47 pm

LdashD wrote:However, I also think a cleverer sod than me could also man-handle the data, and get it pucker, or at least as near as damn it? Hmmm, James Perret maybe? Not sure 'e's cleverer than me though, even so...

You called....?

I think you've got the clever guitar synth people thinking about it already - with synths I've always found that it helps to be working with something close to the final sound as you play as the sound will have a subtle effect on your playing. Never really done much with guitar synths though.
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