The Voodoo of Reamping

So many amp heads to play with.

I recently mentioned “reamping” when talking about the new album and got a couple questions about… whatever the heck that word means. The definition is simple: It’s how modern recording artists save a shit-ton of money.

Normally you’d think of guitar/bass recording as a guitarist in a recording studio with some huge amplifier stuffed into a closet. If you can afford to spend time dialing in the perfect guitar and amp tone AND getting the perfect performance at $1,000 a day, more power to you. Remember: there’s no guarantee you’ll even get a take that you like that day; the VIBE may just be all wrong.

What if they DO lay down an amazing performance, but the mic cable crapped out halfway through it? Meh.

Reamping at Mad Oak Studios

Instead, thanks to modern recording technology, I have my guitarist and bassist record their parts in the comfort of their own home. Most musicians have some kind of professional-grade audio interface for as little as a few hundred bucks. I ask them to record with NO distortion, NO effects, just the clean sound of their instrument in the most comfortable environment they’re used to. If it takes them a full week to get a part they’re happy with, so be it… nobody’s watching the clock.

Then, in the Big Expensive Studio™, we run that clean recording through… whatever the hell we want. In the case of #CognitiveDissonance, usually a 1963 Vox AC30 (aka The Sexiest Amp on Planet Earth). We don’t have to wait around for the right take, Benny (the engineer) can just focus on getting the right sound out of that amp. Or that giant plate reverb. Or that Swollen Pickle (look that one up).

The great Vox AC30

The process may not fit in with most peoples’ notions of “studio magic,” but the studio is rarely magical. It’s a workshop, full of method and precision and science. And yet, at the same time, watching the engineer create the PERFECT sound from the PERFECT take is something beyond mere procedure. There’s an arcane art to creating an album, and it’s always a privilege to watch as much as it is to participate.