In today’s world, recording your guitar final guitar tone is no longer a given, but simply an option.

Now we can explore options by recording just the direct track from your guitar (using a DI box) so you can pick your guitar tone at a later date (and we can show you how).

It sounds like the superior option due to the flexibility, but is it really?

Flexibility

When it comes to dialing in tones, the DI box wins this category hands down.

You can get your tracking done without having to worry about taking the time to get the perfect combination of guitar, pickups, amp, cab, pedals and microphones. Tracking guitar is already time-consuming, why make it worse?

The downside is that you don’t have a reason to commit. The old way of tracking guitars meant that you had a schedule, and if you don’t hurry up and decide on that guitar tone there won’t be any time left in the sessions to actually record.

Nowadays, you have all the time in the world to tweak it afterwards, which option results in you never actually picking a tone. You spend hours or even days tweaking the smallest details that – in the end – likely won’t be noticeable in a full mix anyways.

Performance

Amps win when it comes to the performance. No, it has nothing to do with the feel of an amp vs the feel of a digital modeler…

The guitar player will always have a better performance playing through the EXACT tone that will be used to record with. The reason for this is that they have full control over the end result because they know how the amp is going to respond.

If you play really hard and it works great with one amp, when you change to another amp modeler it may not have that same effect. Think of it like driving a car – you can’t drive a Ferrari and a Toyota the same way, because they don’t respond the same way. They turn differently, they accelerate differently, the same goes for different guitar tones.

If the guitarist is able to play through the final tone he is able to take full advantage of that tone, giving him total control to craft the performance precisely the way he wants to.

Ease of Use

Another point for amps, here.

It’s far easier to record the guitar tone right away instead of having to capture a great DI signal, then putting together your reamp setup, making sure your gain staging is right, prevent any additional noise from entering the signal, etc.

Reamping can introduce more variables and points of failure/troubleshooting, and some of them can impact your tone too, such as the quality of the gear you’re using to reamp.

Just stick with committing to your tone if you’re short on time and you want to keep things easy.

Editing and Control

Recording a DI will give you a new world of options. Not just when it comes to dialing in guitar tones, but when it comes to editing and creative processing.

Distortion compresses your guitar tone, making the different in volume between the loudest and softest notes much smaller. As a result, editing can be difficult with a guitar tone that’s been recorded as-is.

Some of you may be saying that editing after-the-fact shouldn’t be necessary, and most of the time it isn’t. However, the other nice perk of having the DI is creative processing options.

You can use a transient designer to increase pick attack, or use a compressor to add sustain before it hits your amp. Got a guitar player who doesn’t pick hard enough? That transient designer can help bridge the gap.

Which Is Better?

Neither one is clearly superior, but both have incredible benefits that can make your life easier. Think about what your goals are and choose whatever suits you best!

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