Getting OD guitar into the system through outboard gear?


Hey Guys!

The desired end result is:

  • Guitar plugged into outboard gear, specifically overdrives in the TS, BD family.
  • Run from pedal board to audio chain
  • Audio chain to Cantabile to use SW amp sims etc.

In terms of the audio chain, it seem pretty straightforward, I’ve done it quite a bit with clean acoustic tones.

But guitar players will always wax rhapsodic about driving the input stage of the pre-amp, usually with something about mythical trolls mysteriously working on the sound and a bunch of things that are frankly nonsense, but what do I know I’m mainly a keys player.

Are there any drawbacks to feeding the OD/Dist/Fuzz signal into the audio chain rather than using strictly digital drives?

As much as it might be fun to run the pre-amp output of a Blues Deluxe into the DAW, it’s probably a bit much for a unitasker, to say nothing of the Spousal Side-Eye that would elicit . . .


There’s just one main difference: you shouldn’t overdrive the input stage of your audio interface! So the typical scenario (use a pedal to boost the guitar level to drive the amp input stage) doesn’t work here; you’ll need to make sure your input isn’t clipping - digital distortion is NOT musical! If you want to drive the input stage of your amp plugin, you’ll need to do that inside the box with VST pedals. Once you’re inside the box, the audio stream should be 32 bit floating-point (or 64 bit, should you want to go really crazy), so no digital clipping (@brad: correct?)

But using pedals outside the box purely for sound shaping works well as long as you stay within that constraint, and there are a number of guys in the s-Gear community doing exactly that.

Same with the Blues Deluxe preamp-output: you need to be sure that you don’t overdrive the audio interface input - anything else is sound-shaping…

Personnaly, I’ve put everything in the box - no more tap-dancing across pedals; simply one pedal to advance song states, switching all VST pedals as I need them…




So my idea is basically sound, the Tube Screamer or what have you signal is just like any other signal that needs to play nice with my digital input stages.

Might need something to match impedance coming from the guitar, but something like a Boss EQ does that nicely.


I guess the pedals are built to play nice with guitar impedance - you’ll need a high-Z (“instrument”, 1 MOhm or better) input on your audio interface so it plays nice with the chain before it. Or you use a buffer / pre-amp between the guitar/pedal chain and the interface. I work with the Lehle Sunday Driver, which is a really nice unit to put between guitar and interface.




Yes, the Mackie mixer I use live has precisely that feature, but that’s at the “real” guitar player’s house . . .

But if I’m planning on using outboard gear already that’s moot.