2-Voice Guitar

Update: July 21, 2014. Note: My opinion is my own. I have not received any of these products for free (or even reduced cost) from any manufacturer, and I am not a paid or compensated endorsee of any company.

So, you want to play electric, but you also want some great acoustic sounds at the same time. Maybe, like me, you play mostly worship music, and the ability to go back and forth between those two sounds is amazingly useful? Several years ago, I first started experimenting with something some call “stereo” but I call (as Godin does) “two-voice” guitars. Switching from acoustic to electric is a pain, and I wanted to do so, not only from song to song, but within songs. As I experimented, I realized that not only switching, but layering the two sounds was a wonderful way to make music. I have probably had nearly a dozen totally different setups for this. This latest setup is effective, flexible and actually not too terribly expensive (All the pedals and such that I use cost less than half of one of my guitars).

Let’s start with the guitars, shall we. My guitars are made by Tom Anderson (the finest instruments I’ve ever played), a Crowdster Plus 2, and Fishman PowerBridge-equipped Hollow Atom CT (carved top) and Classic T guitars. Anderson Guitars are simply amazing, and I recommend them more highly than anything else I’ve ever used. I’ve owned 2 others, and they were just as good.

In short, all my guitars for years have been outfitted with both acoustic AND electric sounds*, featuring the Anderson Baggs system (in the Crowdster),  the Fishman (in the  Cobra and Classic T), and and other excellent products from L.R. Baggs, Godin and Graph-Tech. The Crowdster sounds great acoustically because it is, at heart, a true acoustic guitar with bronze strings. Even without a preamp, it sounds better than most any “real” acoustic guitar I’ve ever plugged in..

Anderson Hollow Atom CT, Crowdster Plus 2 & Classic T

Anderson Hollow Atom CT, Crowdster Plus 2 & Classic T

Some two-voice guitars (like PRS, Godin and Carvin) have dual output jacks, but all the guitars I’m playing feature a TRS stereo output. Tip is electric and Ring is acoustic, Sleeve is ground. I have several TRS to dual TS cables for those. I get them from Lava Cable, which I highly recommend. I use the Gepco X-Band XB201M cable that they sell (Their customer service is outstanding, by the way).** 

As of September 2013, my system looks exactly like this.

Pedalboard as of July 2014

Pedalboard as of July 2014

Here’s how it works, as briefly as I can describe it.

The “stereo” output from guitar is split with a TRS to dual TS stereo guitar cable.*** Get good cables. Especially when you are running an acoustic and electric signal down basically the same wire… it’s critical.

The “acoustic” side goes to the input of the Yamaha AG Stomp.**** This is a wonderful box that tames the piezo quack by “modeling” a miked acoustic guitar based on your regular piezo signal and makes my acoustic sound more natural. It’s an older unit, and I’ve tried to replace it with newer technology, but nothing out there works better. There is an expression pedal (at right) for volume of the AG, and the output goes to the “Aux” input on the POD HD 500. I am using the second signal chain in the HD 500 with a “null amp” so that I can mix the two sounds in one box and send the PA one single mixed feed.

The output from the electric guitar, after being buffered by a This1sMyne Mini Buffer (hidden from view underneath board), goes first to an  xotic EP booster, which is almost always on. I think of the EP as a “more tone” knob, even at it’s lowest setting, which is where I use it. (I have used outboard distortion and compression pedals on occasion, but I like the “Tube Drive” and the “Tube Comp” effects in the HD 500 just as much… or more…) Next is a Strobostomp 2 Tuner which is needed to tune the Hollow Atom CT or Classic T in Buzz Feiten Tuning System (BFTS) mode. (For the Crowdster, which has much smaller BFTS offsets, being a true acoustic guitar, I just use the tuner on the HD 500, which is more than adequate.)

I then route to an Ernie Ball VP Jr. Pedal (which doesn’t suck any tone, since I have a buffer before it and since I don’t use the worse-than-useless “tuner out” feature). Finally, the signal is routed to the guitar input on the HD 500. (I use the Gibson, the Plexi, the Bassman with a Z cabinet, the AC 30, the Dr. Z, and the /13 for different sounds and guitars.)

The loop is used only for the Electro-Harmonix POG2, which I use for a “shimmer” that is simply not available in the POD. I use one of the HD 500 footswitches to turn this loop on and off, rather than having to always reach all the way to the footswitch on the actual POG2 pedal. The advantage of using this pedal in it’s own loop is that I can use it for either acoustic OR electric guitar at any time (Don’t try both at the same time, it confuses the unit a bit). This pedal is doing polyphonic pitch tracking, so DO NOT try and use it later in the chain. If there’s much distortion or modulation it will not track well at all (but may create a rather cool and unusual effect).

HD 500 Expression Pedal, VP Jr. Volume Pedal, & Old Korg Expression Pedal

HD 500 Expression Pedal, VP Jr. Volume Pedal, & Old Korg Expression Pedal

I occasionally add Mission Engineering expression pedal and plug it into EXP 2 on the HD 500, and use it to adjust some FX parameters (usually Rotary speed or tremelo or Univibe depth, as they are the only modulation effects I personally use even a little). I also sometimes use a tiny little rotary knob, from This1sMyne, to do the same thing.

I’ve written elsewhere about how excellent the POD HD 500 unit is. But let me make it brief. My electric guitars, through this unit, sound, in the mix and through a sound system, better than any amp I’ve ever miked from the audience. The effects are just the same as the Line 6 M13. Yes, you can use an amp if you would rather, but as for me… I’m totally delighted with this solution. I’ve used every POD ever as well as the excellent, but no longer manufactured, Vox ToneLab SE, and liked them very much, but the sound of the POD HD series is better than any of the others, even if some of its flexibility is reduced from the previous POD X3 series.*****

HD 500 Signal Chain

HD 500 Signal Chain

My POD is programmed to mix the “amped” signal from the electric guitar, pedals, and POD internal processing and amp emulation, shown above on the top signal chain with the acoustic signal from the Aux input, shown above on the bottom chain, so that I can send one signal to the house. This eliminates the mixer I used to use, but it also means that if I want to use an FX bank for acoustic guitar in the POD, I can. This is a level of flexibility I have NEVER had before, and so far it is serving me well. I use the unbalanced mono output to go to the house sound system. Why not the balanced output? For some reason, I think the unbalanced signal through a DI box sounds better (I use a decades-old Whirlwind imp3).

When I need my own monitor, I use some kind of “Full Range Flat Response” (FRFR) monitor, currently an FBT Verve 8ma. It is coaxial, loud as you need it to be unless you’re in a full band situation with a loud drummer, and very small and easily transportable. There are other great solutions out there. I picked the Verve for it’s portability and sound. You can also use an acoustic guitar amp or a keyboard amp. Currently, at the church I work in, we run a mostly “silent stage”, so I sometimes use a basic model of Shure IEMs.

I did have some patches that use ONLY the POD HD 500, and have processing for the acoustic and electric sounds routed through, and when I have to travel and set quickly, I used to just use that. Currently, I’m rarely using it by itself… but it can be done.

I took some time to write this up, so if it was useful to you, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. And thanks to those of you who have been commenting over the last few years that I’ve had this online!

And, for those who can use them, the following HD 500 patches were designed with a guitar with a stereo output where one side is a piezo “faux acoustic” sound and the other is a normal electric guitar signal. They all use the Deluxe Reverb model. There are descriptions of what FX are used at the links when you click on them. If you find these useful, even as a starting point, let me know. Know that you will most likely need to edit the patches, especially the acoustic side, to make it work for you.

This patch is designed to do a normal acoustic, with some delay, with a lush ‘verb only “pad” from the electric underneath.

This is similar, but with a slightly less “over the top” verb on the electric side.

My “go to” patch number 1. useful for both acoustic and electric, with delays set up to be activated for both simultaneously.

This one is almost identical to the one above, except for a different modulation effect, and on this one the delay only affects the electric guitar signal.

If you aren’t using a 2-voice guitar, you might not like these patches. I’m not offended if you just skip ‘em… They work very well in a band mix, in my experience.

Notes:

*The Crowdster Plus 2 switches to mono only if you engage a switch on the guitar. The others have no switch, and no facility for combining electric and acoustic sounds in one cable. This means that with those, there is NO way to send the acoustic sound down a mono guitar cable. If you use a regular guitar cable, it basically behaves like a normal electric guitar. I prefer this over the “auto-switching” in some systems I’ve owned, like the excellent Graphtech Ghost. The other advantage of this particular PowerBridge installation is that there is no need for a battery in my application.

**Please note that if you use very high-gain amp settings, you may hear the very slight “crosstalk” from the PowerBridge with this setup, since the electric and acoustic tones share a ground. You may be better off with a guitar that has a two-jack setup if that is the kind of sound you are after. I use fairly clean to medium gain tones, and even when I get kind of loud, still don’t have crosstalk issues, but with high-gain metal tones, you may have issues.

***This cable is very similar to a standard unbalanced insert cable for mixers. I’ve used a basic insert cable in a pinch with no problems. Do not use a microphone cable with adaptors. It adds a lot of noise in this application.

****You can no longer get an AG Stomp, or the MagicStomp which will do almost the same thing, new. The device that most closely replaces it, imho, is the D-Tar Mama Bear. Some have tried the Fishman Aura pedals, and some folks I know have told me they’re as good as the Mama Bear for this. Currently, the brand new Zoom A3 looks to be a great, although very hard to program, solution as well (It ultimately didn’t work for me). I have tried an early Aura pedal (they have been changed since then) and the Zoom A3 and neither came close to the much more complete functionality of the (oversized) AG Stomp.

*****Obviously an Axe FX Standard, Ultra, or II would most likely be better, but they’re too rich for my blood.

I used to use a tube amp for this (there is an explanation in the archive section below), but my setup now takes me just a few minutes, even if I have to add in a keyboard or acoustic guitar amp or powered wedge. And, in the mix, and through the system, I am also getting a better, more controlled, and more consistent sound. That’s right… it sounds better in the mix than a real tube amp.

PS: I also previously used the excellent Paul Reed Smith Standard 24 with an after-market Graphtech Ghost, an awesome Godin Flat Five X, and a US Masters strat-like guitar with a PowerBridge. I have also had other Andersons, a Hollow Cobra and a Classic, and a Suhr Classic T (very briefly) which were fine guitars, and installed Fishman PowerBridges in them. I have also used a Heritage H150, which was as good as any boutique guitar, and to which I added a Fishman PowerBridge, and a James Tyler Variax JTV-59, which is a very capable guitar as well, and adds some multi-voice flexibility that goes even further than what I’ve been doing thus far. (Read all about it here.) I sold those guitars and settled on only a few, and felt the Andersons were the best guitars for my purpose and for my style, but if you are going to start with two-voice guitar, and you can’t afford the Crowdster Plus 2, I highly recommend either the Korean made JTV-59 or the Godin line above all the other affordable two-voice options. Carvin also makes something similar. I don’t know how well the Carvins work, since I haven’t used them, but from all indications and from what others have said, they make a solid product. Fender used to make a PowerBridge-equipped versions of a Tele and a Strat. I found the Strat disappointing, but the Tele was good.


Everything after this point is for archival purposes only. I am, from October 2010 onward, no longer running an amp, nor am I using the M13 or Keeley Compressor. In fact, I no longer own even one single tube amp. You might notice that I still own the tuner, the EP Booster, the volume and expression pedals, and the AG Stomp which are pictured below, so you know that they are the real deal. I think this is a good way to do it still… The view from where I used to stand…

Here’s a closer view of just the pedal board that runs only the electric guitar side.

The guitar runs “stereo”… the “acoustic” side goes to a Yamaha AG-Stomp as mentioned above.

The electric side goes into the Xotic BB pedal for distortion (DON’T plug into the volume pedal first unless you want to vary the distortion with it. I don’t), then into the compressor, then into the volume pedal. If you put your volume pedal before your compressor, you will lose the ability to do subtle volume changes, so don’t do it.

Out of the volume pedal, the signal goes into an Xotic EP Booster… Then the signal goes into the Line6 M13, which, again, everybody should try. From there, it goes into the amp, in this particular case a Fender SuperSonic, shown below (a good amp… but it needs new pre-amp tubes, an attenuator, and a replacement channel 1 volume pot {replace the 1M ohm with a 250K} to be great) And now it gets more complicated…

I used the “four-cable method” with the Line6 and the Fender.

Basically…

Guitar (electric side only) -> pedals

Pedals -> M13 – input

M13 – effects send -> Amp input

Amp – Pre-amp out -> M13 – effects return

M13 – output -> Amp – Power Amp In

I didn’t use the FX loop on the Fender, because when you jumper it (connect a cable from send to receive) it becomes an AMAZINGLY useful amp clean boost, so since there’s also a Pre-amp out/Power Amp in, I decided to try it that way and it works GREAT! You can use your amps FX loop.

Alternatively when I’m not using an amp with a loop or channel switching, I go pedals out directly to the input on the amp and rely only on the Xotic BB and the Line6 M13 for gain.

The speaker, as you can see below, is out of sight and earshot, and miked with a (now discontinued) Blue Ball. I also sometimes used my Dr. Z MAZ 38 Sr. That said, 99% of the people can not tell the difference between these amps, so go ahead and use what you’ve got.

Here’s where it gets even more complicated.

I do NOT send the signals separately to the board, as the sound man will (I know this from experience) always muck up my balance between the “sides”. So instead, I run the Mic from the guitar amp AND the signal from the AG-Stomp running balanced into a mixer (I use an old Mackie 1202VLZ, the little 402 would be fine) and mix the sound for the sound man, sending one balanced line-level signal to the board. Then I monitor on-stage through the avioms and the floor monitors, or occaionally through my own, separately controlled monitor amp. A keyboard amp works great for this, or, in my case, an acoustic amp, a Fender Acoustasonic Junior.

I didn’t actually monitor from the electric guitar amp at all. I monitored through the PA system using Aviom devices, and often used in-ear monitors from Shure. I also sometimes ran a noise gate (MXR Smart Gate) on the mic from the electric amp, so that when there’s no music, and the pastor is preaching, he couldn’t hear the amp noise (there’s always some). It took me about 20 or 30 minutes to set this up, but since I worked at the church, during weeks when I play, I used to just leave it set up most of the time.

Anybody else? Any thoughts? Discuss!

Revision: July 21, 2013
Disclaimer: I am not a paid endorsee of any product or company. The only accommodation I’ve ever received was for a product I no longer use, so my opinion here is totally “independent.” I have had a few items given as gifts by friends and family (not industry representatives), but everything was purchased with my own hard-earned money, although I’ve gotten such personalized help and service from Tom Anderson that I can’t be objective about how marvelous his company is, and how great a guy and how great a friend he is.. I do highly recommend all the products I use now and all of the ones I have used in the past that are mentioned here. I have put some of those folks’ kids through college at this point, and am happy to do so. Particular praise, again, must go to Tom Anderson Guitarworks, my favorite company of any kind to deal with… ever… totally… and Line6, whose products make this smooth and easy and allow me to do this in a way I never could otherwise without spending HUGE amounts of money.

©2015 Peter J. Hamm “Hands, Feet, Heart and Soul” & “Whole Again” ©2008 Peter J. Hamm

72 thoughts on “2-Voice Guitar”

  1. yeah, we got’s to talk…

    my rig starts at an acoustic and goes the other way with an electric pickup mounted and a two path system similar to yours with two rf systems feeding two serate rigs blahblah blah…

    there is a curious parallelism to us that astounds me…

    weird…

  2. Jeff Care said:

    Your set up is much more complicated than when we played together w/ the Elden Street Players!

    • TELL me about it! My rig is WAY complex, but pretty great, I have to admit.

      GREAT to hear from you. Still in Florida? Between jobs I see, I’ll pray for you!

      LOVING life in Western PA (although I’m visiting family in Maryland today) as a Worship Arts Pastor at an AWESOME church in an AWESOME little town.

      Just adopted Charles (you can read a little about it on the blog) 3 weeks ago. Looking to do that again, out of foster care again.

      Blessings, Peter

  3. Mark Patton said:

    Good update to the site Peter!

  4. I love seeing your posts here and all the creativeness your mind comes up with. Keep it up. Maybe one day you’ll get an axe-fx and ditch Line6 forever like you need to :)

  5. Yes, JR, I probably do indeed need to do that.

  6. Jeff Wittenfeld said:

    Hello,

    I stumbled onto your site while looking for information on Yamaha’s AG Stomp. Perhaps you can offer some advice…

    I have a Yamaha SLG-100S Silent String Guitar that has an underbridge piezo pickup with an internal amp and a headphone output. The sound quality seems okay while picking, but very thin and tinny while strumming. The guitar was apparently designed to function with Yamaha’s AG Stomp to enhance the sound quality, and there is a YouTube video that demonstrates the sound produced through the AG Stomp.
    The video is at:

    Anyway, since the AG Stomp has been discontinued, I am wondering if you might be aware of any other device that might enhance the sound quality similarly? Or should I just try to find a secondhand AG Stomp? It would be nice if I could find something that was small and portable, but perhaps there is no such animal?!?

    Any advice would be appreciated as I am a newbie guitarist and have a very low guitar gadgetry I.Q.

    Please respond to jeff.wittenfeld@alaskaair.com if you have any free time.

    THX

    Jeff in Seattle

  7. Chuck Britton said:

    Thank you my brother! I have “envisioned” this setup using my Godin xtsa (3 voice). I previously used a Digitech GNX4 into the effects return of a Marshall MG HDFX100 (solid state) and a 4×12 cab. the “acoustic” side went into a Behringer ACX1000 (hiss monster- lol). I am still working on our Worship team leader to “allow me” to use my Roland GR20 Guitar synth.
    However, we installed the Aviom system and now the Pastor
    wants a quiet stage (with no amps/cabinets/wedges etc.) Little did I know the ACX100 DI out is not processed… dry signal only- nice effects thru speakers-now useless! After hearing my GNX4 thru the aviom I started looking to improve my sound- everything pointed to the HD500 (arrives on the 25th)I am trying to aquire an AG stomp as this will replace the behringer. Do you have any patches you could send or recomend to me as I am a TOTAL newb to the HD500(I am a tweaker at heart: GNX4 multi-effects/8track recorder, & Johnson JM250 amp the “Original Modeling Amp”.
    Where in Western PA are you located? (we have property near Lock Haven/Renovo area)

    Blessed By the Best and glad I can humbly serve Him with my stringed instrument

    -Chuck from Stratford, NJ

    • I’m not far from Lock Haven actually. I drive by it to visit my dad in Williamsport. I would probably recommend looking into a Dtar Mama Bear if you can’t find an AG Stomp. Much smaller, too.

    • Mark Patton said:

    • Chuck Britton said:

      Hello Pietrosquared, I recieved my HD500 and after about 12 hours of use the power pack died on me. I am a former electronics tech so I took it upon myself to open it up and look inside I found a bad solder connection on the bridge rectifier which in turn took out the fuse- a specialized micro-fuse (soldered in) Im getting one locally today.
      I was impressed with the VAST options I had in sound using the HD. I setup in the middle of the sanctuary on saturday to hear/tweak it thru the mains- not bad out of the box sounds, then the powerpack died. (many usless unless you are creating a cheezy “B” movie about outer space).

      Is there a way you could send me copies of the sounds/settings you use as we are probably playing many of the same songs/styles – I realize that I would have to re-tweak a little but this may save me hours of experimenting. My address is quazcha@yahoo.com (please put HD500 in subject line)

      how far (time wise) are you from Renovo? Maybe we could swing by for a service while we are on vacation (and maybe I could buy you lunch?)

      • Chuck Britton said:

        Hello Peter I have finally tried I out your HD500 patches- very nice! I did pickup an AG Stomp and use my godin xtsa or lr baggs/mag pu in a semi hollow LP style guitar. I was previously outputting 2 pa channels (elec/acoustic) and now have to consolidate to 1 channel as per our soundman so I tried your setup using the AG stomp into Aux in.
        My question is: I noticed you are able to control gain of the amps by the built in expression pedal yet there is no allocation (that I can find) in the fx or controller sections- I have vol and pan and wha pedals which use 2-3 of the eight fx available which limits me as far as fx loops etc (and I would love to free up resources/blocks). How can I reverse the heel/toe position of the pedal in the patches you configured? They dont exist in the fx/controller pages that I can see, so I dont know where to change them.

      • Sorry to say, the only way to reverse the heel-toe positions that I know if is to trash them and re-program them (which I’d only do in the software). Easy way? write down all the settings (or take screen shots of the heel and toe settings and print them out), switch the amp to another model and then back again, and then re-program them using those numbers (or your own numbers) that you printed. It’s really not that hard. What I typically do is set up the clean sound and record all those numbers into the controller section of the HD Edit software, with the pedal all the way to the direction I want clean to be. Then, I switch the pedal all the way the other way and program all the numbers for the gain setting. I typically change ALL EQs, gain, and master volume, as well as Delay level and sometimes FX loop level (which I use for my POG2 only) between the two extremes. Once you touch the expression pedal, the software forgets that you are in “edit mode” for the pedal and you have to reselect everything on that screen. It’s klunky, but I can’t actually think of a much better way to do it, so I’m not complaining.
        It’s literally possible to change all six Amp knobs (gain, bass, mid, treble, presence, master) and every single effect parameter for every effect you use with one expression pedal… that has become one of my favorite things about the POD HD 500.

  8. probably 2 hours from renovo to Du Bois. We’re at http://www.tricountychurch.net.

    I have backup power supplies for all my gear for the reason you just mentioned. But I’ve never had one fail (probably because I have backups ready to go…)

  9. Hi there! I’m trying to figure out the best way to be able to ‘blend’ the Acoustic and Electric – or subtly switch from one to another… Do you use the Ernie Ball 6165 or have you figured out a better method? If so, how do you deal with the volume decrease when it’s at 50/50?? THANKS!!

    • I have tried the blend thing. Can NOT stand it.

      I find it easiest to use two volume pedals.

      The downside is that you can’t “blend” from one to another. I rarely do that. I either add the electric underneath or the acoustic to the electric only signal. I don’t really play so that I need to fade from one alone to the other…

      That said, there are some kinds of “phasing” issues when you run both together into the POD, which if you set up the sounds just right go away on their own. Another easy way around that is to use an xotic EP booster set all the way down on the electric signal. I have no idea why.

  10. Jeff Care said:

    Most cool! In a worship setting, there is a great need to switch from acoustic to electric in mid-song.I have thought of a Parker Fly, or perhaps the new MOOG guitat.

  11. thanks for the long post. I found it from the HD500 Amazon page and have learned a lot from your rig/philosophy.

  12. Brian Batters said:

    Hey Peter. I have been running a poor-man’s version of this for the past 5 years or so. My guitars are both Peavey Generation models. My #1 is a Korean-built H-S-H equiped quilt-top model that has received many mods, including custom pickup switching and an Earvana nut. My backup is a Chinese model, originally with 2 humbuckers that I have since replaced with 2 GFS Mean 90 pickups and a custom 5-way switching system. I run a TRS to TRS cord to home-built splitter/switcher that I call the “MagPie” (get it? Magnetic/Piezo?. This splits the 2 signals to separate TS jacks and gives me the ability to swap between outputs or combine them with a tap of the foot. The acoustic path goes through an old Zoom 504 Acoustic pedal and into the aux input of my Digitech RP500. The electric path goes first to a Line 6 Echo Park for those all-important dotted-eighth tap-tempo effects and then to the input of my RP500. As mentioned before, the acoustic side blends with the prcocessed electic side and comes out the RP’s built-in balanced output straight to my church’s (WVCC) PA. I monitor through one earbud in my left ear, plugged straigh into the headphone jack of the RP. On occasion, I will plug the whole rig into a small TOA keyboard amp. Works and sounds awesome!

    • Sounds pretty useful. I’d be really really careful of that one-earbud monitoring though. An Audiologist will tell you something about masking, and how you don’t feel like it’s too loud, but it’s super-bad for your hearing.

  13. Just curious if you’ve played the T5? I always wanted this Crowdster but was gifted a T5 by a worship leader friend to me at a new church. I’m sure you’re familiar with them but it’s basically the opposite- electric strings but will output acoustic and electric. Knob placement is the biggest drawback that I see Tom thought about. The knobs on the T5 used to get rolled by my upstrokes…I’ve had to be conscientious of my playing lately :)
    I run it into a Ernie Ball Stereo and send it into my pedalboard and Avalon U5.
    Just curious if you’ve toyed with it. I haven’t really run across someone who’s played both the T5 and Crowdster.

    • I have. I really wanted to love the T5, as it seemed like a great solution for my challenges, But it lacks the ability to output the acoustic and electric voices at the same time, which I do fairly often, so I didn’t get one. I actually went to a store when they were fairly new and tried one and was demoing it and loving the way it played and felt, and asked the sales guy there how you split the output. When he told me you couldn’t do that, I asked him to put the guitar back and thanks anyway. Shortly thereafter I acquired the Crowdster Plus, which was upgraded to the Plus 2 as soon as Tom offered that upgrade.

      Not a bad guitar by any stretch, but the lack of ability to route the two sounds simultaneously was a deal-breaker for me.

  14. Peter,

    I have a Parkwood H2 and a POD HD 500 that I use in our praise and worship band at church. I absolutely love what I can do with the guitar and the POD on the electric side. As for the acoustic side, it has been very disappointing. I need the ability to quickly switch between voices. At this point I switch, on my guitar and different patches in the POD, between an electric sound and an acoustic sound. I haven’t messed around much with blending the two because I want to, at this point, have a distinction between the two.

    I have looked over your rig (especially the idea of getting either an AG Stomp or a Zoom A2), but I’m wondering if I can accomplish a better sound within the POD. I’ve played around with it a bit by adding some tube comp, delays, reverb, etc. but just cant seem to get a good, natural acoustic sound. If I get a stomp or zoom I wanted to know how this setup would work to switch between the acoustic and electric sides within the POD. Any help would greatly be appreciated. And thanks for this great article.

    Shalom.

    • I find that most of my guitars I’ve owned REALLY suffer without some kind of preamp before the HD 500. I’ve gotten pretty close with just the HD by using only a couple things. Subtle tube comp, and the parametric EQ. Mostly, I find the frequency that is “quacking” and cut it a bit, then boost or cut the high and low eq depending on the guitar (each one is different).

      With the Crowdster, I have no problems, it just sounds that good… (but better with the AG Stomp). With the others, I really feel like I’m compromising when I don’t use the AG Stomp, so I just always have it there. The “mike modeling” it does is out of this world. A LOT of guys are having similar success with the Fishman Aura. I messed with one for a bit and it didn’t do it for me, but I already had a good solution so I wasn’t motivated that much. Might want to give one a try… or a Mama Bear.

      There was way more for acoustic built-in to the X3 Live and I miss some of that stuff, and hope that something like that will work its way into the HD via a Model pack upgrade or something.

      • I had a feeling I would need to get a preamp because I can’t stand the quacking produced from the acoustic side of the guitar. It’s really unnatural. As for using the preamp, how would I run this with the POD? I only use one out (and that’s all I can use at this point with our current setup at church) but I want to have the ability to choose which input I use, either electric or acoustic. Is that something I can do within the POD or do I need an A/B pedal to distinguish the two? Thanks Peter!

  15. Tom Talley said:

    Because of you I bought of Crowdster Plus 2 and most of your gear and just got it. I have a problem figuring out how to set up the aux in on the Line 6 HD500 as a null amp as you described. I’d love to know a bit more. I am a worship leading at a Vineyard church in Florida.

    • I hope you enjoy that combo as much as I do! You might want to start with this patch right here… http://line6.com/customtone/tone/209351/ You will probably have to log in to the line6 site to download it.

      It is already set up for the Crowdster Plus with the electric plugged into guitar and the acoustic plugged into aux.

      If you select your amp in a blank patch and drag it up or down, it’ll create two chains. But starting with what I have there might be easier.

  16. Tom Talley said:

    I downloaded the patch into the HD 500 but the acoustic side still isn’t responding. I switched tip and ring cables from guitar in and aux in and then it just puts the electric side to the aux in. I must have some setting on the HD wrong to not get it to work correctly. Is the “null” amp an actual setting to look for or just an expression? Also, as you describe the tone with delays and other FX to switch on and off, I pressed all the FS1-FS4 and nothing in the sound changes. Was this sound set up for the Line 6 HD500?

    • yes, it was made for the HD 500. I think the problem is with your guitar, but it’s an easy fix. Check the push-push button on the Crowdster. If it is IN, it is in MONO mode, and you won’t get separated sound, if it is OUT, you will get stereo (separated) acoustic and electric. Keep in mind also that the volume controls work differently in the two modes.

      • Tom Talley said:

        I have it out and use it in stereo with a split cable. I split it at church through two channels but trying it through the POD gives me strange results using your settings. I think you are referring to the volume knob on the guitar working differently in stereo vs. mono which I understand. I use my guitar both ways when I take it somewhere simple but at church I always use stereo.

      • My patches are indeed strange. I use my expression pedal BACKwards. heel down is distorted, heel up is clean. That way it works as a “gain pedal” if I just step on it. Also, I use EXP 2 (you’ll want an external pedal) for acoustic volume on most of my patches, and I use a standard volume pedal in the loop for electric volume.

        I’ve thought of making a patch for “normal guys” that turns that EXP 1 pedal around.

        In any case, I use an amp model for the electric on chain 1 and a “null amp” (these days I use the excellent Vintage Mic Pre model and a parametric EQ as well) on the acoustic side. I mix them together and send one mono signal to the board.

        Also, if you’re not using the software to edit your HD 500 patches on the computer, do so. It’s far far easier.

  17. jtwguitar said:

    Hi, thanks for taking the time to document how you get all of these awesome sounds! Have you ever evaluated one of the ovation VXTs? They are discontinued now, so you see a good deal on them used from time to time. Wondering how they might stack up. I read that they use a fishman powerbridge but with proprietary modeling circuitry from fishman, similar to the Aura (but with one fixed model and blend).

    • I thought the Ovation VXT was a GREAT guitar, and well done. I think it had its own “modeling” built-in. Don’t even remember if it was any good. They should have kept making that guitar imho.

      • jtwguitar said:

        Just got a used Ovation VXT for $700 on fleabay. Acoustic output sounds decent, I am sure not up to par with the Crowdster though, but at a fraction of the cost. Now to find the right preamp to give it some “wood and air”. Do you feel like the AG Stomp does a good job with fishman powerbridge type preamps? The Mama Bear looks good, but I wish it was in a floor-friendly format.

        I’ll post some sound samples once I get my setup all figured out.

      • The AG Stomp works GREAT with a Fishman PowerBridge, imho. I think it works better with that than with a Ghost, but the best with the Crowdster or a “real acoustic”. Good luck!

      • jtwguitar said:

        Thanks. Got the AG stomp and I think it works well, the C1 mic model sounds really good. However, while it seems to add the “air” I was looking for, I still think it lacks some dimension. What sort of strings did you use with powerbridge type guitars? I tried DR Zebra 11s off the bat, but I have also heard of people using GHS White Bronze.

        FWIW I also tried a fishman aura spectrum DI with very poor results, some people love them but I don’t think they work with solidbody piezo pickups. Also tried a Zoom A2.u with surprisingly good results after A LOT of tweaking, but not as good as the AG stomp. It is nice that the zoom has the integrated exp though.

      • I HATED the Zebras on my Godin Flat Five X. Really, any .011s worked fine for me. I used elixirs with a plain G because I wanted to bend strings.

        I also did not like the Aura with a “non-real-acoustic” guitar, but others have had great results, so who knows. Heard a LOT about the Zoom A2, too. Thanks for sharing!

  18. Matt Andress said:

    I just ordered an Anderson Crowdster Plus 2. To say that I am excited would be an understatement. I am looking to build my pedal board to get ready for it. In particular, I am looking at the different acoustic processors. I cannot seem to find a Yamaha AGstomp, but I have found the DTAR Mama BEar and the Yamaha MagicStomp. In your opinion, which is a better unit?

    • I say get the Mama Bear…

      • Matt Andress said:

        Well, I just landed a vintage Yamaha AG Stomp off of ebay for a pretty affordable price. Do you think this is a better unit than the DTAR Mama Bear? There is a possibility that I will need 2 of these type units (different setups for different rooms). Any opinions?

      • Better? No. Different? Sure. Just as useful? I suspect. If I were buying a second unit, I would do what you are suggesting and get a Mama Bear…

  19. Hello Peter. Just recently got my new gear consisting of JTV-59 and POD500. Gotta tell you that after watching(many times) your WONDERFUL demo video of 2-voicing guitar, had to add the exp pedals in my purchase as well ;-) and I thank you for that because the setup sounds just amazing at church and everybody love the NEW sound.

    You mentioned above something quite interesting that made me raise my right eyebrow:
    “I use the unbalanced mono output to go to the house sound system. Why not the balanced output? For some reason, I think the unbalanced signal through a DI box sounds better.”

    Hmmmm, can you go deeper into this thought?

    Thanks and blessings!

    • Well, it’s simple really. When I compared using the XLR output (after panning all the way to one side) to using my own direct box and using the unbalanced output, the sound had more “oomph” (not just more volume). It may be that the XLR is more “flat” or “neutral” but I didn’t care. I thought the 1/4″ output just worked better, and since it automatically sums to mono and the XLR output, by design, can not, it was just simpler, so I never looked back.

      You should do your own comparisons and report back!

      I’m thrilled that I was able to help you with this.

  20. Ohhhh man, I knew it and you just has confirmed my thought ;-)
    See, the very first time I hooked my gear to the house system, I went the unbalanced route through my Radial Pro D2 and Dimarzio mono cable. I was wonderfully amazed with the sound of the accoustic guitars; there was “presence” and “shine”.

    Some other day at a rehearsal I took the XLR approach(using both POD XLR outputs) just to free up the DI for other guitars. Well, know what? I immediately noticed a lack of “brightness” in my sound. I mean, it was just too flat for my personal taste.

    So, I will agree 100% with you in the unbalanced, and certainly will go that way.

    Thank you so for your prompt response. Blessings!

  21. jtwguitar said:

    Really good info on the HD500 XLR output, I will have to give the unbalanced out a try! I will pose a similar question… I am using an Ovation VXT dual voice, electric going into the HD500, acoustic going into an AGSTOMP->HD500 aux in. I notice that, when practicing with headphones (my norm) that the acoustic sound from the AGSTOMP headphone out sounds much better than when monitoring the acoustic sound through the HD500 headphone out. I haven’t done any A/B tests through the PA yet. Could just be a higher quality headphone amplifier on the AGSTOMP. But worst case something in the Aux signal chain is degrading the signal quality. I tried removing all effects, comp, eq, etc from the acoustic HD500 chain and it did not make any difference. Any thoughts from others in this one?

  22. Hello jtwguitar. I’ll tell you this from experience, and I think it could be applied to your case. During my years as an audiophile, I remember occasions where I used/preferred to listen to music through a GOOD pair of headphones. I used to connect them directly to the DAC or the CD player instead of the preamp. Why? Because the preamp circuitry or the electronics chain involved(CD transport>cables>DAC>cables>preamp) somewhat degraded the sound. When connected my headphones directly or as close as possible to the source, the sound was overwhelming, rich and present.
    Could there be a higher quality headphone amplifier on the AGSTOMP? It could be, but also notice that you are connecting close to the source, thus getting a better sound.

    Now about the POD500, I do my practicing with headphones as well, connected to the POD. Know what? the accoustics sound better through my headphones than through the PA!!! However, I think there are valid reasons for that to be:
    1. Perhaps my headphones are more “revealing” than the JBL PA speakers.
    2. Perhaps the mixer amplifier(an old Crown, by the way) is not as “transparent” as others.

    But perhaps the main reason is this: I’m connecting my Variax guitar to the POD through VDI(Variax Digital Interface). This means that the guitar’s DIGITAL signal(s) are sent DIRECTLY to the POD’s DAC, thus getting a purer and vivid sound through headphones.
    I guess the VDI connection makes all the the difference in the world.

    Hope I have helped in some way. Blessings!

  23. Tom Talley said:

    I downloaded your patches for my Anderson Plus 2 on the Line 6 Pod HD 500 and they behaved way differently than expected. Volume pedal was reversed or the assignments were and other things. If I already have patches I am happy with but want to set it up to use the acoustic side mixed in like you do can you explain more in detail how to spilt the signal path, null amps or however? I’m not very good at this but can get the sounds I want using the computer’s editing program. I just don’t understand the assignments to the aux in for the acoustic side.

  24. Tom Talley said:

    In my never ending list of trials setting up dual amp patches here’s what I run in to: If I try to take an electric guitar patch I already have it won’t let me add a second amp. (Null amp I’m assuming means second path with no amp model selected) Someone posted a dual amp basic patch to begin building from and that works but then I can’t assign volume pedal to it. I’m uncertain if there is a specific order that effects and volume pedals must be assigned in order to work but for instance if I try to reassign your patches and change from the volume pedal which controls “drive” on the amp to control electric guitar volume after I make the changes it will go away as soon as I touch the volume pedal. Truthfully, I’m not bad at creating sounds and using the software on the computer but I’m not really a techno geek either so I don’t spend my life refining this. I would be happy to pay you for your time someday or evening if we scheduled a phone call while on our computers looking at the same things and you walked me through some of the issues I am having. No one else I’ve called for support has been as helpful in doing specifically what you are doing which is what I am attempting. Seriously I would be happy to pay you fairly for your time. It would mean a great deal to me as a worship leader. My other guitar player has my old Line 6 POD Pro Live and I could help him with the knowledge also since he too is struggling. Send me a private message with a way to contact you if you are willing. I think I could solve my problems quickly with just a couple of answers live.

    • I will try to figure out a way to contact you.

      This might help though.

      To add a “null amp”, you just select the amp you have… and “move” it UP… voila, second chain established. This works in the software or on the unit.

      You can NOT assign the volume pedal to a null amp. I use the vintage Mic Pre, and set an expression pedal to control the output volume on it. It works great.

      I imagine I could talk you through some of this on the phone… I’ll email you.

  25. FWIW I can put a voume pedal inline in front of, or behind, the null amp. Just make one of your 8 effects a “VolPan” and assign it to the appropriate expression pedal, move it wherever you want in the chain. Of course the downside is it uses one of the effects banks, but that is OK for my situation.

    • This is a good point! One thing, however, when dealing with an acoustic chain. In the same spot as the “volume pedal”, you can also stick that “vintage mic pre” and have a “sweetener” (I don’t know what it’d doing to the acoustic sound, but I LIKE it) in which you can control the volume with either EXP pedal… two “effects”… one slot…

    • Oops. I think I only replied to one guy… WordPress = confusing sometimes.

      The Vol pedal is one I don’t bother using these days. Instead, I’d rather use the Vintage Mic Pre, since I can ALSO control volume by assigning an EXP to the output parameter on that effect and it really sweetens acoustic guitar (and gives you a phase switch which is sometimes crucial for these two voice patches, which can develop phasing issues)… but ymmv of course.

  26. Tom Talley said:

    I’ll have to try this. Using the Mic Pre sounds like a good idea also.

  27. You really make it seem so easy along with your presentation however
    I find this matter to be actually something which I think I
    might never understand. It kind of feels too complicated and very
    extensive for me. I am looking ahead for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!

  28. Is there a way to control the blend of the piezos and the magnetic pick ups? I have a Baggs piezo and It says that in Stereo mode the blend knob becomes the Piezo Volume (just like in the graphtech system) which basically leaves me with three options 100% piezo, 100% mag and 50/50 each. Yeah I know could blend both using both volume knobs, but then that would mess my tone when Im back full mags or go full acoustic.

    The reason I had the baggs over the graphtech was because I liked the idea of blending both (having like 70% acoustic and 30% electric). I found is page trying to find an answer.

    I also have another few questions
    Why is a switchable stereo/mono system preferable to an auto switchable one?

    Why you need an extra volume pedal for the electric sound? If you use the expression pedal for modulation then the expresion on the HD500 can be used for Volume… And where you put that in your signal path? You said you connected the electric signal right into the HD500… Mmm…

    Also I have a POG2, I usually use a split box to have the POG with a different set of FX than the normal sound and then both signals meet at a custom stereo volume pedal to blend the sounds. Pretty sweet that POG.

    Im really intrigued by that HD500, I always wanted to play live with my VST but I never could, maybe this comes closer to that.

    • I think I’m doing it way different from you. On my Crowdster, I can adjust the blend very much using the on board controls.

      I keep the electric and acoustic signal separate throughout. There is no “blend”, other than adjusting the individual levels.

      I don’t like the piezo signal going through any kind of electric guitar amp (whether modeled or real).

      I use an “extra” volume pedal for the electric sound so I can turn it on and off with my feet and so I can do swells.

      Don’t know if I answered all of your questions, but I tried. Thanks so much for stopping by!

      • Thank you for your reply!
        What I do is spliting both voices through an Y cable, the Piezo goes into an EQ and to the main mixer.

        The electric is more complicated. The signal goes to a split box and then into two different paths.

        Path one is: Morley Wha/Volume->Nano Stone Phaser->Visual Sound distortion->Line 6 AM4 (amp modeling)-> Visual Sound H2O (chorus/delay)
        Path two is: POG2->Small Clone chorus-> EHX delay

        So I have a three voice guitar really: Acoustic, Electric and an Organ sound from the POG. In church I often go with just the acoustic and the Organ sound (Electric guitar at church is still a taboo for many elderly people, besides most songs we play dont use electric or overdriven sounds).

        For a regular set I just bring four pedals and my guitar and use two chanels in the mixer for the two voices.

        I think my problem is send the mags and piezo to two different chanel im the main mixer and there is no way for me to Mix the signal.
        I think Im going to sell the old AM4 and get a HD500, with that I can send one mixed signal to mixer as you do.

        I dont like Line 6 stomp box modelers but I love their amps! Seems weird cause some people use an M13 through a Tube Amp and I use real pedals through an amp simulator!

        So one last question, Can I use the HD500 as an amp simulator only? Like if It was a preamp?

  29. gerardotejada,

    Yes, I think the HD 500 might do what you want. You could definitely use it as an “amps only” box, but you’d NEED the 500 level to mix the two signals the way you want to. I might recommend trying the HD Bean. I think it has the I/O you need to accomplish what you’re doing in a smaller package that won’t take up so much space.

    I agree, sending the stereo signal unmixed to the house is problematic. Even a GOOD sound man is likely to get the mix between your signals different than you want.

  30. Tom Talley said:

    I agree with Peter. He set me up with the HD 500 and I switched the signal to pan to center with only one send. It works better since the sound personell we have is not always the best to give you the room you need. I have my Crowdster set up identically to Peter and it’ been the best move in years. It is so flexible but in your case of playing mostly acoustic style the Pod has the two reverbs that can sound just like a pad on the keyboard and is such a nice touch blended with the acoustic to bring in and out by applying it to just the electric guitar patch. Again, this was Peter’s idea and I love it.

  31. Renaissance Man said:

    Hi Peter, how does the playibility of the Crowdster compar to the Variax (for bar chords, not for shreading)? I have a medical finger issue, and am after a good acoustic sound from an easy to play (ie low string tension) guitar like the T5, etc.

    • The Crowdster is, do not mistake it, an acoustic guitar. A T5 or Variax will play a lot easier because they are, at heart, electric guitars with thinner strings.

      That said, the Crowdster I have is set up with remarkably low action and extremely easy (for an acoustic) playability. Variax might be a better choice for your situation.

      • Renaissance Man said:

        Many thanks Peter. From what I can gather, if electronically finessed correctly, the Variax will sound a lot more acoustic than a T5. Dual voices will be a tasty bonus, and I’ll be downloading your patches to get me started with this.

  32. Hi,

    I would like to get your feedback on the following idea: I’m dropping a Powerbridge into my Lonestar Strat and want to switch between mags and piezos using a push/pull pot on the guitar so I can continue to use the stock mono jack (installing a stereo jack requires additional routing that I don’t want to do). A standard mono cable will run to an A/B box, which will route either the piezo signal to an outboard preamp to PA or the mag signal to my amp. Do not want to blend so no Powerchip. Make sense?

    I think the wiring would pretty simple: Run a wire from the center lug of a DPDT volume pot to an end lug of one Of the two poles and the hot piezo lead to the adjacent center lug (grounding both, of course). Think it’ll work? Thanks in advance for any comments you’d care to share.

    • I don’t understand why dropping a stereo output jack will require additional routing. That part never has been any problem on any guitar I’ve done this with.

      I think that the way that you want to do it won’t work well, and will be harder to operate. Not a wiring expert, but I think if your PowerBridge is going through the onboard electric guitar wiring that could be an issue, too.

  33. Hi There Pietrosquared

    Thanks for a great post. I’m new to working with Line6 pod HD 500’s. I have noticed a few different guitarists using a separate volume pedal like the Ernie Ball VPJR before going into the POD.. I would like to know what the real benefit of this is? Why not just use the POD’s volume pedal in pre mode? If you could explain how you use the VPJR and the POD’s volume pedal together, it would be such a blessing to me.

    Many thanks!

    Kurt

    • I think the video shows how I use the pedals separately. Simply put, if I use the on-board pedal for volume, I can’t use it for other things, plus, I have to tie up an FX slot for volume pedal or use one of the other FX to control it in a way I don’t want to.

      So, I simply plug into a buffer, then go to my pre-HD 500 pedals (drive, gain, compression) that I love, then use the volume pedal (since I already have it anyway) letting me use EXP 1 in the HD 500 for amp gain/volume/tone adjustment and EXP 2 for modulation speed or depth (or both). What it means is that I can use, sometimes, only one patch for all kinds of sounds.

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