Reaper Guitar Effects and Amp Modeling Tutorial

This is a beginner/novice Reaper users’ tutorial on how to use guitar amp modeling techniques and applying guitar effects inside the mix. This technique uses the guitar double tracking technique in the mix and entirely using Reaper free plug-ins in shaping the tone. This can be useful for users that do not have a real guitar amplifier and analog guitar gears at home. You can then have that 90’s “grungy” guitar tone sound without needing a vintage amp like Fender Bass man or Big Muff;

First, secure the following:

1.) Audio Interface with preamp
2.) Reaper (fully installed with plug-ins)
3.) Electric guitar with cable
4.) Direct Box

Step1.) Record the guitar clean

Since all guitar effects are applied within the mix, you need to record your guitar riffs clean. If your audio interface does not come with instrument level switch, you should be using a direct box to record guitars directly to your audio interface. This is the setup:

Electric Guitar === > Direct Box === > Audio Interface microphone input (XLR)

Some audio interface like Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 do include an instrument level switch button, so you can directly plug your guitar to its input without passing through a direct box. The setup:

Electric Guitar === > Audio Interface input (with instrument level switch on)

Switch the gain of the audio interface to 50% of the maximum and make sure it peaks around -16dBFS to -3dBFS.

Open Reaper and go to “Track” == > “Insert New Track” and configure to record from your audio interface. Hit the record button and record the guitar riff performance. This is a sample clean guitar riff recording:

This is the waveform:

Reaper audio waveform

Reaper audio waveform

Finally double the guitars in mix by duplicating the original recording. You can do this by selecting the first track (the original guitar recording) then go to Track – Duplicate Tracks.

Pan the first track to 60% RIGHT and the second track to 60% LEFT. This is how it looks like:

Reaper guitar panning

Reaper guitar panning

Later in your mix, you can adjust these panning to anything you like (75% for example).

Step2.) Apply and Tweak Effects to Perfection

To make this tutorial very easy to learn; it uses Reaper Effects (FX) Chain to get you started on implementing guitar amp modeling effects on Reaper.

Download effects chain here

Unzip the effects to your desktop. There are two effects. One effect is for the guitar panned to the right and other is to the left.

To implement and test the effects:

1.) Start with the guitar on the right (at Track 1) by clicking the FX button and add an FX chain. See screenshot below:

Adding FX chain on Reaper

Adding FX chain on Reaper