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I am currently pretty happy with the results I am getting when recording my jazz guitar. I currently mic my Archtop (seven string, big body type) with a RODE NTK and record the direct signal from my guitar through an Avalon U5. I then re-amp with a radial X-amp through a Polytone and mic this up. My interface is a Firepod going into Logic. I am recording in a quite small room although it has been treated with an Auralex kit and I also use a reflection filter. The mixture of all this seems to work for me.

Although I am happy with my sound, would a Groove Tubes brick or similar preamp be a good investment? It would be used with my RODE NTK when Micing the guitar and then again when Micing my amp. I have been researching this idea and some views seem to say that it will improve the sound, other views are that with my Firepod, I won't hear much difference. I was wondering what the general opinion was if this would be a good idea.


BobRogers Wed, 03/04/2009 - 06:24

This is really a matter of taste. The Brick will certainly sound different than the U5. And I've had good success with the Brick on electric output of acoustic guitars and as a preamp for a miced guitar cabinet. If you were recording many different sources, I'd think it was a safe bet. But your recording needs are so specialized (one player, one guitar) that I don't feel comfortable making a strong recommendation. It is definitely worth trying, but be sure that you can return it.

guitarjazzman Wed, 03/04/2009 - 14:54

when i first read the title of this post i thought you were unhappy with your Firepod and wanted to hurl a brick at it.

I just finished a solo gig in a restaurant, sat down to a meal and read this on my phone... nearly fell off my chair laughing! It was rather embarrassing as I felt everyone watching me sitting alone with my stupid grin. Very funny!!

Cheers for the comments. I also play in a duo with another guitarist and will be recording the two of us when we have time. Having two DIs should work a treat as I can just record the two guitar's pickups and re-amp both afterwards. The added bonus is that any overdubs will be easy with no mics.

CDSoundMaster Thu, 03/05/2009 - 00:18

You may or may not find that adding the Brick will improve the sound you are getting from the Firepod. It is possible you will like the sound of the Brick more, less, or simply as a different option. D.I. is just fine, but can also be limiting. It is nice to be able to experiment between the relationship of the instrument, the source capture, and the amplification, but D.I. of course simplifies things if it picks the guitar up well.

There is nothing wrong with the Brick, but I don't think it is necesarily a huge jump upwards in the chain from the Firepod, just different.

For other flavors of pre's, it is hard to beat tube inputs like the Putnam 610 for color and range, or a V72 for a very dimensional tube sound.

It really depends on if you have a definite vision of what is lacking in your current setup. Sometimes people make the mistake of thinking that since they play smooth, jazz guitar with very dark tones that are harmonically rich, that they need a pre that matches this style, along with a mic etc. Where under ideal conditions this could work, you also run into the potential for killing what is working with your guitar's tone and/or playing style. Let's say you get a Coles ribbon microphone and UA610, because they are in the same camp of mood and texture to what appeals to you and your playing. This may be great, or it may be too much of the same thing. With some roll-off in the highs and some pleasant smearing of the source signal, along with your great tone choice, you may add all 3 together for a very overcolored sound, with harmonics that are no longer subtle but that actually overtake the sound instead of enhance. In this instance, you may find that either a very clean, crisp small diaphragm mic with same pre choices get the perfect capture of your sound. Or, a very quick j-fet pre or ultra-clean pre like a Millennia with a neutral large diaphragm condenser may be just the thing to keep your tone intact.
If you can isolate what is missing from the recordings you get from the Firepod, you can guess pretty close to what equipment change is going to work for you!

I do want to mention that I have created an original piece of hardware that may be more what you are looking for. Please don't view this as an advert, but your question appears to be exactly the scenario that I hope to address with this hardware.

It is a dual-valve, two channel device that I made for my mastering set-up. It has been designed to bring the best sound out of the equipment that you already own. It is not a mic pre or a signal driver. It provides an ideal analog connection between any two devices, whether between your mic and mic pre, or your pre-out to ADC in. You can adjust the bias, tube gain, and clean output of the source signal so that the next device in chain is able to work at its optimal setting and give a better represenation of sound.

guitarjazzman Thu, 03/05/2009 - 03:12

That looks an interesting piece of equipment. Thanks for the info, lots to think about!

In an ideal world, I could try out equipment before I bought it. I live in the UK and there are no stockists of the brick or anything decent locally. Even looking on the net, I can only find one place to buy the brick from so I will have to see if they could send it to me to try before I buy. The biggest local store is PMT (recently taken over from Sound Control) and all they have in stock are cheap Behringer preamps.

One part of my sound that I feel needs improvement is the mic'd up guitar. The sound is slightly harsh and maybe brittle sounding. This is one of the reasons I was looking at the Brick to smooth things out to give a more coloured sound.