3

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 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.

6 Answers 6

7

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.

2
  • 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! Commented Sep 22, 2014 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
    Commented Sep 22, 2014 at 15:56
4

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, but ensure it has high impedance guitar inputs.

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

4
  • 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! Commented Oct 21, 2013 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.
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Commented Oct 21, 2013 at 21:10
  • Be careful when choosing your mixer. Most of them will have microphone and line inputs, but not the high impedence input that an electric guitar requires.
    – Laurence
    Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 11:47
  • 1
    Thanks Laurence - I'll edit that in. Admittedly, the shops I buy my music gear at may be biased towards guitarists...all the mixers have guitar, mic and line inputs :-)
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 12:39
3

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.

5
  • 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? Commented Oct 21, 2013 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. Commented Oct 21, 2013 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
    Commented Oct 21, 2013 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? Commented Oct 21, 2013 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
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Commented Oct 21, 2013 at 21:10
2

this is so simple. Most a/b switches that have one input and two outputs can be used in reverse. Plug your two guitars into the output jacks on the a/b pedal.....then connect the input jack of the pedal to your amplifier. It works exactly the same in reverse.

2

I know I’m late to the party, so no comments about that, but for anyone else trying to solve the same problem: • I have taught guitar for a long time, and every year we have all the students (about 20) give a concert, playing the same songs together on stage. I made a metal box with (20) 1/4” input jacks, each with a 100k mixing resistor in series with the tip (hot) and all common grounded to the box. Running through a Fender Super Reverb amp. This works surprisingly well. I also added a foot switch that shorts the output to ground, to mute all the students in case they are strumming between songs while I’m talking to the audience. (We have 20 guitar cords, some rather long, that we lay out to each chair, 3 rows, 8 in back, 7 middle, and 6 front row, including me. P.S. I use the same thing for guitar classes with 2 or 3 guitars plugged in.

0

Though this answer may not help much, I chime in, because I do know of a solution... In practice, it's never come up, which is part of why I toss this in...

Interestingly, there is an amp in the wild, that covers your particular situation... In the mid 80's, Peavey added to their lineup, the Stereo Chorus 400, available both in head form, or 212 Combo, (see included combo image)... Now only available in the used market, they are out there, reasonably priced... Their top of the line Chorus amp, it's the only true stereo amp on the market, that I'm aware of... 130 watts per channel, 260 watts in stereo configuration... It's truly 2 separate amps in one. In normal mode, functions like most Stereo Chorus amps, plugged into channel 1, your signal is controlled through preamp 1,sent in stereo, through power amp 1, & 2... The footswitch includes the option to split it up, morphing into 2 entirely independent amps, in one cab. Identical Twins, essentially. Guitar 1 through Channel 1, Guitar 2 through channel 2 ...

As you may imagine, this provides the ultimate solution, for what you want to do... I'd highly recommend you hunt one up, not only as a quite unique solution to your issue, but also because it's an awesome amp... I wish I could say I have one, therefore have first-hand knowledge of it... Sadly no, but it tops my Gear to find list, (Nearly acquired an SC400 twice, fell through both times)... I do, however, have its little brother, a 160 watt '94 Classic Chorus 212, which has served as the core component of my gig rig since '06... I've used Peavey amps & PA gear since '82, in every band I've been a member of. I do all my own repairs, as well, and know them inside out...

The main reason I answered, while doable, In my opinion, running two guitars, simultaneously, through a mono amp, won't be all that great, sound-wise, unless both are playing exactly the same thing... The SC 400 is the only amp I know of, that actually can do so, without adverse effects, such as both signals walking all over each other... Given it is literally two amps, each feeding a speaker, crosstalk is eliminated entirely...

Peavey Stereo Chorus 400 212

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.