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Here's the deal: I have multiple guitars and a single one-input Line6 15WT amplifier. And now I have encountered the need to play two guitars with someone at the same time, with minimal equipment expenses.

I know buying a full-blown processor will solve my problem, but, afaik, that is the most expensive decision possible.

Could someone, perhaps, please suggest a more economic way of making this work without sacrificing too much sound quality?

Apologies if the question sounds ridiculous, I'm rather inexperienced with anything more complex than an amp and effects pedals.

Disambiguation: the guitars will need to play simultaneously.

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3 Answers 3

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A simple cable "Y" splitter will allow two guitars to work on one amp, if one is using a "clean" sound [no deliberate distortion] and can live with the fact that each guitar's volume control will have some effect on the volume of both guitars (the volume control on each guitar works by both restricting the flow of sound to from the pickups to the cable, and swallowing up some of the sound that would make it to the cable; if a volume knob on either guitar is turned all the way down, it will swallow up all the sound from both guitars, but if e.g. one is set to full volume and the other one to half volume, the guitars will probably play somewhere around 80% and 48% of their normal full volume). Provided that neither guitar needs to set below about 10% of normal volume, it should be possible to achieve good volume settings by setting both guitars to about 80%, adjusting the amp so that the guitar which should be louder is amplified to the right level, adjusting the guitar which should be quieter to its level, and then increasing the volume on the louder guitar to compensate.

My biggest complaint with trying to use one amp for two guitars is that, as a performer, it's helpful to hear the sound of my instrument coming from its own speaker. If both guitars come from the same speaker, then when I hear a wrong note it's harder to know if it's my mistake (and I need to fix it), or someone else's mistake.

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This looks like the answer I was looking for. Oddly enough, the question is again relevant. Hopefully, a 3.5mm "Y" splitter is not as uncommon as I fear it would be. Sound quality is a bit out of the question, as home practice is the goal, not stage performance. Cheers! –  Maxim Kumpan Sep 22 '14 at 10:53
Within the US, the retailer Radio Shack carries a Y adapter. That is probably not the cheapest place to get one, but such retailers might be an easy place to pick one up. Otherwise, I would expect most countries to have an on-line retailer that could supply them. –  supercat Sep 22 '14 at 15:56

Various A/B pedals are available. I use Behringers, which can switch either inputs or outputs.This may suit if you're swapping guitars, or for a more permanent set-up, buy a small mixer. Again, I use Behringer: their Xenyx series provides minimum 2 inputs, with eq., so you will be able to dial tone for each guitar separately. However, for about the same money or a little more, get yourself a pre-owned amp. similar to the one you use.

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So if we're going the pedals way, it's A OR B, not both? My only option is either a proc or a second\different amp? –  Maxim Kumpan Oct 21 '13 at 16:00
There's ABY pedals. I used a friend's Morley, but really only as A/B. My worry would be that you'll have headroom problems, but I've not played with this, so I don't know. –  VarLogRant Oct 21 '13 at 17:54
Your question is a little ambiguous, in that it could mean you need 2 guitars plugged in and playing simultaneously, OR, you needed 2 guitars plugged in, and would swap over between them.Either way, the A/B pedal will do it, I believe. –  Tim Oct 21 '13 at 18:40
@Tim, Sorry, thought that was kinda obvious. Simultaneously, of course. From what I've just found online, an A/B can only do either or, not both. Unless you know of a model that can? –  Maxim Kumpan Oct 21 '13 at 20:49
An a/b usually won't work to play both at the same time, unless they have very similar signal levels and tones –  Dr Mayhem Oct 21 '13 at 21:10

The simplest way to play two guitars through one amp at the same time is to get a cheap mixer. You can get two or four channel mixers for pennies.

Using effects, especially distortion and high gain overdrive, may give you some nasty sounds though.

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That sounds like the right answer. Thanks. I'm pretty darn sure A/B pedals won't work. And I'll probably want to test the mixer at the store so it doesn't sound too aweful. Cheers! –  Maxim Kumpan Oct 21 '13 at 20:54
In general, as long as the two signals are reasonably clean it will work fine. If you need distortion on each guitar, make sure your amp is not turned up too high. Although if you like harmonies using minor 3rds or 5ths you can get some nice interference. You need to be tight as a duet though. –  Dr Mayhem Oct 21 '13 at 21:10

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