You have two amps that you love equally, but having to switch between them is a bit of a chore. Or maybe you have two Marshalls that you want to combine to really blow the roof off of the venues.
How do you connect one guitar to two amps at the same time? Simple! By tone stacking them! But how exactly does tone stacking work? How do you split your guitar signal between two amps?
Methods for Splitting a Guitar Signal
Fortunately, there are a few different ways you can go about splitting your guitar’s signal into two amps. Each method has its pros and cons, so the one you choose to use will depend on what you want to do and how much you are willing to spend.
The first method is also the cheapest and easiest. It involves simply connecting your two amps with a standard instrument cable, or daisy-chaining.
To do this, you’ll need at least one amp with two or more inputs. This amp will be the one that you connect your guitar to. Simply plug the guitar into the first input on the amp, then connect the second input to the first input on the second amp.
The signal chain should then be: guitar – amp 1 first input – amp 1 second input – amp 2 first input. The guitar’s signal will then go through the first amp and into the second.
There are a few big downsides to this method. The obvious downside is that both amps will be used at the same time and you won’t be able to switch between using one or both.
The second downside is that the amps will likely be out of phase. This means that the amps will cancel each other out resulting in the overall sound of both amps being slightly weaker. You can resolve this by simply reversing the speaker cables on one of the amps, putting the amps back into phase.
There might also be increased hum and noise coming from the amps due to grounding issues. Amps with ground lift switches are much better suited for daisy-chaining or try using a noise-reducing pedal like the Electro-Harmonix Hum Debugger.
Another method is to split the signal using an effects pedal. This is fairly simple and a common method used by many guitarists.
To split the signal with this method, all you really need is an effects pedal that has stereo outputs. Something like the Electro-Harmonix Nano Pog is a good example.
Simply connect your guitar to the pedal’s input, then connect each amp to either of the outputs. The pedal will then act as a splitter.
Just keep in mind that once you turn the pedal on, the amp connected to the effect output of the pedal will then have that effect applied to it. This method is great for thickening up your sound since the signal from the dry channel will still be present once the pedal is activated.
The last method, and perhaps the best method, is to use an AB/Y splitter. These allow you to switch between amps or use both simultaneously.
The setup is essentially the same as using an effects pedal. Simply connect your guitar to the input on the splitter and then connect the amps to the outputs. Alternatively, you can also put your entire effects chain before the splitter if you are using pedals.
There are a few things to keep in mind when using a splitter. Firstly, make sure the one you are using is buffered. A buffered splitter helps to preserve sound quality, especially over longer cables.
Secondly, use an active splitter instead of a passive one. Passive splitters weaken the signal strength of your guitar, effectively halving it. Active splitters maintain the signal strength but do tend to color the tone a bit.
That is where having a buffered splitter comes in handy as well. A dedicated splitter like the Orange Amp Detonator is a perfect one to use as it is both active and buffered.
If you have ever wanted or wondered how to split your guitar’s signal between amps, these three methods are easy and effective. You’ll be switching between your favorite amps or jamming the heaviest sounding riffs in no time.