It is nice to get a bit of a boost during guitar solos when playing live. Changing patches is the easy solution but that leaves you a bit of a gap in the audio. I’m going to outline a few ways in which you can get a nice volume boost using a single patch, no audio gaps! I’m going to outline the tips and techniques in terms of the controls available on the X3 Live but they will all apply to the X3 bean as well, as long as you have an appropriate foot controller.
For our purposes, a clean solo boost is a volume boost to your solo that does not change your tone at all. In order to apply a clean solo boost it must come after the amp model. Put any kind of boost before the amp model and you will change how hard you are hitting the virtual amp and the tone will get a bit grittier. That is a whole different topic (maybe I’ll write about that some day too). For now, we are focusing on getting that clean boost, keeping your tone unchanged.
Using the compressor for a solo boost
The full time compressor on the X3 is perfect for doing solo boosts. In all my years of using the XT and my time with the X3 I have never created a guitar patch for myself using the compressor. I just prefer the sound of uncompressed guitar coming out of my amp. The sound guy or audio engineer can do whatever he wants with my track, but I want to hear my guitar tone coming at me with full dynamic range. If you use the compressor for doing actual compression, this technique will not work for you, skip ahead to the next technique. Here’s how to set this up:
- Double tap your Comp(Boost) button to go to the compressor edit page (or use the cursor keys to highlight the Comp unit and double click to edit).
- Turn the Thresh control all the way up to 0dB. This deactivate the compression part of the effect.
- Turn the Gain knob to 3dB. You can experiment to find the perfect setting but in most situations, 3dB is a great starting spot. I have gone up to 6dB on some patches and with some very densely mixed bands.
- Press the Home button to return to the home page.
- Make sure the Comp unit is off (should be showing as a “hollow” box on the home page).
- Save your patch.
That is all there is to it to get set up. When you are on stage rocking, just step on the Comp(Boost) switch to kick in the clean boost you just created. Your solos will soar above the band and reach new heights of rock awesomeness!
There are two primary limitations of this boost method. We’ve already mentioned the first (if you use the compressor as an integral part of your tone, you can’t very well be switching it on and off during th song). The other is dual tone. If your patch is a blend then you can only turn the boost on for one of the two tones. The active tone is the only one controlled by the footswitches. You will have to either be content with boosting only one of the two tones or forget this method all together and check out the next technique.
Using the volume pedal for a solo boost
The volume pedal can be used for a solo boost. This leaves your compressor free to compress, and has the advantage of working on both amps of a blend. Here is how to set this one up:
- On the home page, double click the Vol block to go to its edit page.
- Change the config to Post so we can get a clean boost.
- Set the Min to 90% (adjust this through experimentation).
- Set the Max to 100%.
- If you are using a blend, do the same thing for tone 2, setting min and max with pedal in the post position.
- Save your preset.
Now roll the volume pedal all the way back (heel down). Normally this will mute your sound but since we set a high min value it just gets a bit quieter. When it comes time for your solo you only need to roll the pedal all the way forward (toe down) to get your full volume boost.
The great advantages of this method are using it on dual tones and leaving the compressor available for use as an effect. The volume pedal boost leaves room for experimentation with dual tones since you can set the min and max levels independently on each tone. You can give each tone its own unique level of boost that is different than the other by taking a clean/dirty blend and having the clean get much louder than the dirty on the solo, or the other way around. You could also invert the sweep on the clean (by setting max to 0% and min to 100%) which will cause the clean tone to fade out completely during your solo! Another neat benefit of using the volume pedal for your boost is you don’t have to rely on a set boost amount. You could set your min at 80% giving you 20% of the sweep range of the pedal so you can go full toe down for the mega boost or just go part way for a slight boost on a few fills. There is a lot of flexibility here if you are willing to experiment.
The only disadvantage of this method is losing the use of your volume pedal for other volume effects. I don’t ever use it in that way but there are some really inventive players for which the volume pedal is integral to their style. If you are one of these players, all I can say is I hope you aren’t that attached to using a lot of compression in your patches ;)
Leave some comments with some of your own tips and tricks or the settings that worked best for you!
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