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I'm thinking of taking a y cable splitter from my electric guitar to two practice amps. Is that going to work?

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Scoffed does it. Some guitars have two outputs which is an easy win –  Robbie Averill Sep 4 '14 at 22:01
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Opportunity for cool stereo effects if you go through a stereo effects pedal like light chorus or phaser. (see comment on Shevliaskovic's answer) :-) –  user2808054 Jan 29 at 11:22
    
You can definitely split to two amps but I'm not sure literally splitting the cable is enough or if you need to buy some sort of splitter box. –  Mr. Boy Jan 29 at 12:14
    
Not only is it possible but many times there is no reason not to do it. The stereo effect it generates is really intoxicating. –  Neil Meyer Aug 25 at 13:51

8 Answers 8

I don't think it will work with just a split cable. One complication is ground loops, which cause hum. I'd recommend to use a stereo pedal, or a dedicated AB/Y pedal. You might still get hum, but there are some remedies, like rotating the power plug 180 degrees and plug it in again for one of the amps, using an AB/Y pedal with ground lift, having isolated power for your pedals (e.g. Voodoo Labs), having both amps plugged into the same power outlet etc.

I've tried these things but still have a lot of hum when using two amps, so sometimes there seems to be no cure. But you might get lucky so just try it!

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+1 @Meaningful Username, My experience agrees with your answer. An AB/Y is a better way to go then a passive splitter. As far as hum, I have enough already from my single coil P90s. –  filzilla Sep 4 '14 at 19:57
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Make sure both amps are plugged in the same outlet if at all possible. –  greggo Sep 4 '14 at 20:59
    
@greggo: Yes, good point! I'll incorporate that in my answer. I have this setup, but still get hum, I'm beginning to think I am not supposed to use two amps... –  Meaningful Username Sep 5 '14 at 7:13
    
@filzilla: Luckily I am in Sweden, where that type of hum is not as bad as in the US. I've got P90's/Tele single coils and they're quite quiet. –  Meaningful Username Sep 5 '14 at 7:31

There may be a 'perfect' solution using a nice little sub-mixer, but frankly, yes, it can be done... & has been done many times over the years.

Relative volumes may depend on the impedance of the inputs on each amp, but the overall sound is up to you to balance up until you like it.

Edit - perhaps very pertinent right now, the new band Royal Blood has the UK No1 album this week with a prime example, 2-man band, drums & bass - I found this thread from before they were even signed, on how he does it - http://basschat.co.uk/topic/223363-royal-blood/

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Yes, you certainly can. But ideally you need a buffered AB/Y splitter or you may run into issues. Better yet, one with switches for ground loops etc.

Basically, you can google any "ab/y splitter" and get whatever fits your price range, but most stuff will sound bad.

Passive splitters will basically weaken your guitar's signal to each amp by half (or so–there's some math involved, but basically, you won't get that pure guitar to amp tone if you're looking for that, which you should be in the know about if you're looking to plug into two amps).

Active splitters will help this, but cheap/crappy ones will change your tone or make it uneven. So, basically you have to spend a lot of money to get the same sound as plugging in to each amp individually, at the same time.

You need at a minimum: buffering. (a great buffer can help your other pedals/other stuff in your signal chain if you have anything, as a bonus)

Some good bets:

Fulltone Soft Touch ABY Switching Box

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/amplifiers-effects/fulltone-custom-shop-true-path-soft-touch-aby-switching-box?rNtt=aby&index=8 - The Fulltone has Buffering, Ground Loops, and Phase switching, which is really awesome (the phase switching, in case you didn't know, can help with phase issues introduced by running the same signal against itself onstage). Also, comes in stomp box format so you can switch in and out.

The Rane SM26S (Formerly the SM26B)

I never really measured this scientifically, I just know I worked in a lot of studios and other places and saw these things everywhere and being used all the time.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/95569-REG/Rane_SM26B_SM26B_Rackmountable_Splitter_Mixer.html

High End

The Radial JD7 Injector is one of the best because it has Drag Control, which is impedance matching, meaning you can make the input going into each amp sound exactly the same. But it's pricier.

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/JD7

Alternative ideas

Line 6 is a crummy company, but they recently bought the best and most trusted wireless music equipment company in the entire business (which is why you're now seeing Line 6 rack mount gear in everyone's racks, even if it has nothing to do with amp modeling, etc. So, you could in theory buy the system, then get a transmitter for the guitar, and two receivers: one for each amp. I don't know how this would hold up, but it's an idea... might be worth researching. Everything may go wireless one day soon anyway (music wise).

http://line6.com/digitalwireless/

And +1 to what others said about Voodoo's isolated power; it has a great reputation (though you might have some redundancy that way).

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Yes it is possible. I don't really know if the cable you are referring to will work (I don't see why not) but, what I have seen is people using pedals to do this. There are some pedals that have 2 exits that are the same.

So, you can use that pedal to plug your guitar into two different amps.

This is what El Ten Eleven do. They use a pedal like that (I think it is a delay one) and they plug the bass/guitar to a bass amp and a guitar amp.

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I've done this with an effects box with stereo chorus. If you don't switch the chorus on, the sound is the same in both outputs. If you do switch it on, POW! the room fills with sound witout it getting any louder. The stereo phasing is making the guitar sound extra "wide" in the stereo mix - but because the straight sound and phased sound are coming out of different amps, you do'nt hear that swooshing you get from a mono chorus. I haven't added this as an answer because it's not part of the quesiton, but the ability to get a stereo effect from 2 amps is quite juicy :-) –  user2808054 Jan 29 at 11:21

Let me give you the physicist-who-plays-a-bit-of-guitar answer: "yes and no. it depends".

Here is why:

A guitar can have different kinds of pickups, but these have in common that the power in the signal they (the pickups) produce is quite small. Now electrically, power is voltage times current. Some "high impedance" pickups produce a high voltage and little current, while other produce a lower voltage and more current.

Either way, a preamplifier is used to "beef up" the signal and make it capable of being carried around over cables. Cable have "resistance" (which will make the signal weaker) and "capacitance" (which kills higher frequencies).

If you have a high impedance output, you are more sensitive to "capacitance" - so if you split the signal and send it to two amplifiers, you may lose some of the high end of the sound (but you could boost it with a graphic equalizer if you needed). And if you split a signal to two amplifiers, you risk having twice as much cable, and thus twice as much capacitance - meaning more high frequency cutoff. Either way, if your guitar has a preamp built in, then this is not something to worry about.

So as I said - "it depends". Keep the cables short and you will get away with it just fine.

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Impedance matching is just one of many good-practise design aspects that's blatantly neglegted by guitar electronics... though in defence, in the audio range a transmission low-output-impedance to high-input-impedance can actually work very well, just not for the horribly uneven characteristic of an electric guitar. — As for capacitive loading: that is actually a relevant sound aspect, but it's mostly due to the guitar cable! Amps represent a mostly Ohmic load. –  leftaroundabout Sep 5 '14 at 6:51

Yes, you can do it with a passive Y-splitter. If there is an increased hum / ground loop problem you can use a direct box for one of them. Plug the guitar into the the DI input, connect amp A to DI through and amp B to DI output, for example. However, there is no guarantee the either amp will sound the same as it does on its own, because the input impedance of both of them coupled together (directly or though the transformer in the DI box) will be different, which may or may not affect the tone, depending on the guitar and the amps.

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Yes, but it's good practice to keep both amps on the same electrical circuit (try using the same outlet for both) to avoid hum or even electrocution (usually mild, but dangerous on a wet floor).

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I'm still researching and testing things out splitting amps as well and came across this thread.

My band just recorded and is about to release a maxi single and I was splitting my signal between 3 different amps (none actually belonging to me :( ). We are power duo with the me on guitar and vocals and guitar and then drummer/singer. Therefore we often have to think of different sonic solutions to help fill out the sound and not just sound like a country white stripes.

For the recordings, two guitar amps (an old fender champ or at times or an even older fender twin then ?stereod? with a marshall half stack) and then we used a radial bigshot aby splitter into an Ampeg bass amp. The bigshot did a really good job of getting rid of most of the hum and it has built in ground lift as well as 180 phase.

Here's the result:

https://soundcloud.com/volkmusic/sets/boutique-western-swing-compositions

We did have an issue on the first song with hum coming from a soulfood ehx pedal I used on the first track, but we sorted ended up liking it for the old timing feel we were going for. But the tracks are all analog from recording to mastering (cept for a pog I use a little in one song), recording on 2 inch tape -- no overdubbing, autone, or post production. Decent enough I'd say for our first try. Let us know what you think :)

As for live performance,I'm still waiting on my own Bigshot to be shipped, so I've got a fender excelsior and TC Electronic G250 split by a simple fender aby (lot's of hum!). I wanted the fender aby just to switch between my strat and gretsch originally but gotta wait a couple of weeks. Man is it fun to have two amps blasting at the same time, though I've got to learn how to equalize them myself better. Hopefully I'll be able to figure out a pedal chain combination that won't hum so much as well.

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Hi Chris, welcome to the site. Unlike other forums, we don't act as a discussion forum. See How to Answer for guidance. Editing your post to answer the question will likely result in upvoted :-) –  Dr Mayhem Jan 29 at 17:40

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