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guitargeek_2's picture
guitargeek compound
Dec 1995
1 year ago

"A rack is essentially a large or small cabinet, containing equipment. From a guitarist's perspective, this equipment is to do with the amplification and effecting of the guitar signal, all kept on one enclosure, and controlled from a single control pedal. A rack may also contain utility devices, such as power supplies, tuners, wireless receivers, noise reduction equipment, and signal routers. The main advantages of a rack system are:

(Relative) Compactness. Everything is kept in one box, ready to be used. Everything is powered up at once, and there are no settings to get knocked, or changed on accident. Just a rack, controller, speaker cabinet and guitar are needed to gig with. Minimal cables onstage etc

Interchangeability: One of the main advantages of a rack over a regular amp setup is the ability to combine different makes of preamps and power amps. For example, you could use a Mesa Boogie preamp, with a VHT power amp, or Bogner Preamp, and Marshall Power amp. There are hundreds of different combinations to choose from: something which cannot be done with a regular amp setup.

Programmability: Most rack units are programmable. This means settings on your preamp and effects units can be saved into �patches� and recalled at once, by pressing one button on your control board (or MIDI controller(MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface, and is a means of controlling musical instruments from various sources)) For example, you could have you�re preamp setup to produce a bass heavy clean tone, with lots of mid range, and just a hint of overdrive, and you�re effects processor could be set with a light reverb, and 500 milli second delay. These settings are then saved into a �patch� (it could be patch 1, 2, 3, 22, 45 etc) and the patch is assigned to a button on the MIDI control board (let�s say patch 1, button 1). When the player hit�s this button, those settings are recalled almost instantaneously. Then, for the next patch, you�re preamp could be set for a high gain, �Nu Metal� type sound, with little midrange, and lots of treble, and you�re effects processor could be set to produce a slow flanging effect. These settings could be saved to patch number two, and assigned to button 2 on the MIDI control board. The player then has two totally different sounds available instantly, removing the need for �tap dancing� between pedals, which could prove a nightmare, if there are a lot of pedals to be switched on and off.

Disadvantages:

Expense: While rack systems can be built over a period of time, to buy a complete system, with effects units, preamps, power amps and tuners etc, can be very expensive, depending on the quality of the equipment inside it. A small rack containing a power supply, tuner and effects unit can be quite cheap, though.

Size: Racks can become humongous as they are expanded. Power amps especially can get very heavy, and combined with the other equipment, can make racks very immobile. As a consequence, castor wheels can be fitted to the bottom to ease mobility.

Rack units:

Here are some of the things you may find in an average rack:

Power supply unit:

This, as you can guess, supplies power to every rack unit in the rack. It usually has a filtered and regulated power supply, to prevent noise and power surges from damaging the electrically sensitive equipment being powered by it. Some models contain two lights, to illuminate the rack on dark stages.

Examples: Furman PL8 Power Conditioner, Juice Goose

Tuner: Does exactly what it says on the tin, although rack tuners tend to have more features, and tend to be more accurate than pedal/handheld types. They also have much bigger displays than smaller tuners. Also, rack mounted tuners are much easier to integrate into a rack

Examples: Korg DTR series (industry standard. Recently updated), Sabine rack tuner

Pre amp: This unit takes the signal from your guitar, and amplifies it so that it is large enough to be amplified by the power amp. It also shapes the guitar�s tone, and adds overdrive. It contains controls for bass, treble, midrange, as well as gain controls, presence controls, and level controls.

Examples: Marshall JMP1, Mesa Boogie Formula/Triaxis/Studio .22, VHT GP3, ADA MP1/2

Effects units: These units process the guitar signal, by adding effects such as chorusing, flanging, tremolo, phasing, delay and reverb. They often have more control over the effects than individual pedals, having as many as 20 different controls for a single effect on some units!!!

Examples: Digitech 2120, TC Electronic G Major/G Force, Rocktron Chameleon, Eventide Orville/Eclipse/Harmonizer

Power amps: These take the signal from your preamp/effects, and increase the current so that it is large enough to push the speakers in your speaker cabinet. They vary in wattage, from 20/20, right up to 300/300 models! They can be tube, or solid state models. Most rack power amps are stereo, meaning they contain two totally independent power amplifiers in one unit. For example, a 50/50 watt power amp contains two 50 watt power amps. When used together, they will create 100 watts of power. These are especially useful when stereo effects are used, or, if one side of the power amp breaks, the other side can be used as a back up.

Examples: VHT 50/2/50, Marshall EL34 100/100, MESA Simul 2:9

www.guitargeek.com
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jetpackmods xp pedal conversions -
xp-1000 mod - This modification enables any xp pedal to switch between all four xp modules. This means you will have the xp-100 whammy, xp-200 modulator, xp-300 space station and xp-400 reverberator all in ONE pedal! pre-modded xp1000s also available: pm me for pricing & availability

screamingdaisy's picture
Off the deep end.
Sep 2003
2 months ago

Heeeyy!

Formal recognition with a sticky.

Looks like GG must have liked your material.

Good job bro.

\m/><\m/

R. Mutt

Guitar -> Wah -> Amp -> Cab

drl_06's picture
Near Chi-Town
Sep 2003
10 years ago

Could we make this thread sort of like Fiveway's "Ambient Equipment Guide?" As in adding info here an there about rack gear?

Quote:

Originally posted by guidedbyechos
Hey you in tha truck, do you wants some fries with that. I'm fred usta be hot ****, bounce around in the mosh pit, now I work at mcdonalds I ain't got ****. If only I could fly, I wouldn't have to serve apple pie, makes wanna cry.

My gear (updated 10-3-04)
Pic of my gear (updated 10-18-04)
Tubefreak.com; knowledge is power

guitargeek_2's picture
guitargeek compound
Dec 1995
1 year ago

Yes. Please post any additions within this thread and we will compile it at some point.

Originally posted by drl_06
Could we make this thread sort of like Fiveway's "Ambient Equipment Guide?" As in adding info here an there about rack gear?

www.guitargeek.com
the guitar rig database
official guitargeek merchandise
-----------------------------------
bands
alison's halo | geek'd rig
lochheed | geek'd rig
insta
-----------------------------------
jetpackmods xp pedal conversions -
xp-1000 mod - This modification enables any xp pedal to switch between all four xp modules. This means you will have the xp-100 whammy, xp-200 modulator, xp-300 space station and xp-400 reverberator all in ONE pedal! pre-modded xp1000s also available: pm me for pricing & availability

drl_06's picture
Near Chi-Town
Sep 2003
10 years ago

Originally posted by guitargeek
Yes. Please post any additions within this thread and we will compile it at some point.

Oh goody... :D :D :D

Quote:

Originally posted by guidedbyechos
Hey you in tha truck, do you wants some fries with that. I'm fred usta be hot ****, bounce around in the mosh pit, now I work at mcdonalds I ain't got ****. If only I could fly, I wouldn't have to serve apple pie, makes wanna cry.

My gear (updated 10-3-04)
Pic of my gear (updated 10-18-04)
Tubefreak.com; knowledge is power

drl_06's picture
Near Chi-Town
Sep 2003
10 years ago

An audio switcher is a unit that allows you to contain equipment (such as effects units, tuners, preamps, etc.) in effects loops. These days, units like these are built so you can control which loops are activated with MIDI control. Each loop consists of a send and return. In a basic explanation, these units are configured as such (using effects units in the loops as examples):

--(guitar output)--->(input of switcher)--->(send)--->(effects unit)-->(return)--->

NOTE: The number of loops per unit differs from unit to unit

If you're using the example effects unit, the switcher sends the signal out to the unit, and the output of the unit goes back to the swticher, and the swticher sends that signal to another loop which sends it to a unit which returns the signal back to the switcher, and so on so forth.

Advantages: putting your effects (or tuner, or other units) in the loops of a switcher and rackmounting everything keeps things neat and orderly. You can also setup up patches that turn on/off a large amount of pedals at one time with the push of one button instead of “pedal dancing.� These switcher units also reduce tone loss. When you aren’t using a loop, the signal does not go through the unit in the loop and therefore does not alter your tone.

Another advantage to using one of these units is parallel effects routing. When doing this, you put your effects in the loops, but instead of routing the effects back to the switcher, you send them to a line mixer (I’ll do another article on line mixers later) where the mixer “mixes� them into your signal. This is considered by many people to be a superior way to use effects than the normal way of using effects in chains.

Certain units, such as the Axess-Electronics GRX4, automatically connects each loop, meaning that if no plug is inserted (har har) into the FX return of a loop, the signal is routed straight to the next loop. Other units, such as the Digital Music Corps. GCX Audio Switcher, require you to connect each loop with a small cord. This has it’s advantages: since you have control over how many loops you want to chain together, you could place 4 pedals before your preamp then place 4 pedals after your preamp.

Disadvantages: when you have a rack switcher/router and all your effects (especially non MIDI controllable units, such as single-effects pedals) in a rack, it isn’t easy to change the individual setting of each effects unit (this mostly would be a problem in live situations). Of course, if the effects unit in question is controllable with MIDI, there isn’t a real problem.

Another big disadvantage, like most rack switcher/routers, is cost. Certain units cost more than others, and for the most part it depends on the amount of loops you want. Units range from $220 for about 4 loops to about $500 for 8 loops. Of course, units will be more expensive depending on quality of the product, tone preservation, etc etc.

Suggested rack mounted switcher/routers:
Axess-Electronics GRX4 switcher/router
One group of 3 loops, and one stand alone loop (can be used for swtiching an effects unit or tuner or preamp, etc, or for switching 1/4 jack functions on other equipment).
P.S. Mario Marino, the head of Axess Electronics, is a great, friendly guy. He responds to e-mails A.S.A.P. (This doesn't have any real relevence to this article, but I just thought I should mention his great customer service).

Digital Music Corps. GCX audio switcher/router
8 Mono loops, very high-quality unit. Will put a hole in your wallet, though. As mentioned before in this article, you must connect the loops together yourself, but this can be used towards your advantage.

Rocktron Patchmate: this unit is discontinued, but is a great unit. 9 stereo loops and a built-in Hush module. You'll have to check eBay or something to find one. You can download the manual for it here.

Custom Audio Electronics switchers/routers
These units I don't have much knowledge with. The website contains manuals for these units, so if you're interested you can download them.

Quote:

Originally posted by guidedbyechos
Hey you in tha truck, do you wants some fries with that. I'm fred usta be hot ****, bounce around in the mosh pit, now I work at mcdonalds I ain't got ****. If only I could fly, I wouldn't have to serve apple pie, makes wanna cry.

My gear (updated 10-3-04)
Pic of my gear (updated 10-18-04)
Tubefreak.com; knowledge is power

stilwel's picture
USA
Apr 2004
10 years ago

Originally posted by drl_06
Digital Music Corps. GRX audio switcher/router

Just correcting the name and the link.

That should read:
Digital Music Corp GCX Audio Switcher Router

drl_06's picture
Near Chi-Town
Sep 2003
10 years ago

Originally posted by stilwel
Just correcting the name and the link.

That should read:
Digital Music Corp GCX Audio Switcher Router

Thanks. I guess I mixed up GCX with the GRX in the name.

Quote:

Originally posted by guidedbyechos
Hey you in tha truck, do you wants some fries with that. I'm fred usta be hot ****, bounce around in the mosh pit, now I work at mcdonalds I ain't got ****. If only I could fly, I wouldn't have to serve apple pie, makes wanna cry.

My gear (updated 10-3-04)
Pic of my gear (updated 10-18-04)
Tubefreak.com; knowledge is power

flipperbaby's picture
Burlington,Ontario,Canada
Jul 2003
5 years ago

Amen to this:D

MY GEAR!
Member of The Onomatopoeias and The Charley Bronsons

drl_06's picture
Near Chi-Town
Sep 2003
10 years ago

Originally posted by flipperbaby
Amen to this:D

I'll try to get that article on mixers written shortly. I haven't had much time lately, I've been studying for finals.

Quote:

Originally posted by guidedbyechos
Hey you in tha truck, do you wants some fries with that. I'm fred usta be hot ****, bounce around in the mosh pit, now I work at mcdonalds I ain't got ****. If only I could fly, I wouldn't have to serve apple pie, makes wanna cry.

My gear (updated 10-3-04)
Pic of my gear (updated 10-18-04)
Tubefreak.com; knowledge is power

flipperbaby's picture
Burlington,Ontario,Canada
Jul 2003
5 years ago

Originally posted by drl_06
I'll try to get that article on mixers written shortly. I haven't had much time lately, I've been studying for finals.

i know what you mean, i have been woprking on 3 summatives that are already 3 days late:(

they are so stupid too..but gotta pass the coarse or now they can throw me in juvi:o

MY GEAR!
Member of The Onomatopoeias and The Charley Bronsons