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Stereo Guitar

Double tracking guitars has become a pretty standard practice for getting electric guitars to sound larger than life. Turn on the radio today and almost every rock song you hear has double tracked guitars.

I wanted to find a way to make my guitar sound bigger without having to double track it. There are a few simple ways of doing this: Stereo mic’ing the amp, running the guitar through 2 different amps, chorus, etc. All of these have a widening effect, but don’t quite capture the largeness of a double tracked guitar.

1 Guitar, 2 Outputs

Enter the stereo guitar. This mod gives you a separate output for each pickup, so you can record the output of each pickup onto separate tracks, or send them to separate amps. So we can run the bridge pickup out to one amp, and the neck pickup to another amp and track them at the same time. Or, if you like using amp sims, you can just run them through different (or the same) amp sims.

I liked the results so much that I did the same mod to my other guitar as well (which was far more work because I had to drill a huge hole through thick hard wood). I then did the mod to my bass. The results were, um… dumb.

The cool thing about this mod is that the guitar still works as it did originally. Because the second output is just hardwired to the bridge pickup directly, the original output is still switchable when nothing is plugged into the new output.

How it’s Done

There are lots of ways to do this and a lot depends on the style of guitar you have. I choose the simplest way I could think of: Connect a wire directly from volume knob to a new output jack (also connect the ground). That’s all there is to it. This assumes you have separate volume control for each pickup (like LP or SG style wiring).

The hardest part is drilling the new hole for the new output jack. This was waaaaay easier in my SG than it was in my LP. The LP required drilling a thick hole through very thick hard wood. The SG just needed a little spot routed out to fit a new jack.

I’ll be modding my new telecaster knockoff here in a couple weeks, so I’ll take better pictures of the process and post them.

The Results

Here are a couple quick examples of what a stereo vs mono guitar sounds like. These clips start out as normal mono guitars and switch to stereo guitars.

Clean Guitar Stereo Guitar Clean
Distorted Guitar stereo Guitar Distorted
Mix (1 Guitar + Bass) Stereo Guitar in a mix

8 thoughts on “Stereo Guitar”

  1. Ah, but you could make a short lead with a stereo plug on one end (for the guitar) and a mono inline socket at the other end so you could plug in a regular lead! So no more holes! But seriously, what will the CPU usage be like for the wall?

    1. Yeah, there are lots of ways to do it. Drilling a hole in a guitar takes about 5 minutes and doesn’t affect the normal use of the guitar in any way at all. The original output acts as it always did. I didn’t want a guitar that requires a special cable. I want to be able to use the guitar like I would any other guitar in any situation. But of course there are other ways to do it. It’s not like it’s a tricky mod. And it’s not like I’m selling people the idea or anything. People are welcome to mod their guitars however they want.

      As for The Wall, I always code my plugins to keep the CPU as low as possible, and I haven’t made an exception for this plugin. On my machine, it uses 0.1% cpu with no oversampling, and with 8x oversampling it uses about 0.3%

      1. Hello Bozmillar,

        first of all thank you very much for sharing your tips !

        I’ am very interesseted in the realization of this mod. I have a esp ltd H308 and I’m kinda newbie in welding.
        This guitar have to problems :
        – actives pickups (is that change anything for this trick ?)
        – only one volume knob and one tone

        Strangely I’am not scare about drilling the guitar to make new holes, Whereas, I lost for what precisely I need to buy.

        If i ‘am not wrong :

        – one volume knob in addition (read on web that I need a 500k potentiometer
        – one output jack

        It would be awesome if you added new picture and a more detailled tutorial to do this

        Thanks a lot anyway !

  2. er I was looking here to see if anything says what the CPU usage might be of the new ‘wall plugin’ – then I saw the guitar mods! IS that a spoof or are you a bit bonkers? Why would you drill holes in a guitar when you could just fit a stereo jack socket with the tip to one pickup and the ring to the other? A totally reversable mod.

    I’m hoping I’m just not getting the joke!

    Really not sure whether to prebuy the wall plugin now – it might make a hole in my VST folder and let of my plugins fall out of my pc….

    1. Because by putting in a stereo jack, you no longer have the ability to use the guitar like a normal guitar anymore. The second pickup will always be tied to ground if you put in a mono cable. I don’t know about you, but that seems like a dumb design to me.

      But to answer your question, Yes, The Wall will probably put a hole in your PC.

      I really have no idea why I even bother taking part in these conversations.

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