Beyond tuners: signal chains for guitars in Reason

“where’s the tuner?”


Dutch composer Tom America asked me yesterday:

“where’s the tuner?”

I pointed to the small tuner which is build-in Propellerhead Reason’s audio lane.

When I first worked with Tom in the early 90’s we were using an Atari computer and all digital guitar-devices at the time sounded like shit. Also like most synth-modules. They were very much one dimensional sounding, way too clean and perfect. But over the years things have changed for the better. Nowadays I only use real amps for live performances but in my studio I always record the dry signal of guitar and process it later on.

I am happy to use Reason for that purpose. Using the additional Rack Extensions of Kuassa for example (I am using both Creme and Vermilion). And thanks to the modulair nature of Reason I can add extra processing to the signal chain if I want. Reason devices can be seen as the digital equivalent of guitar-pedals but are way more flexible. You can even use Control Voltage in Reason in your signal chain. Sometimes I resample my guitar, I stretch it, I gate it, I distort it, I reverb it, I glitch it, I can really do anything with my guitar signal. A synth’s oscillator is never as complex as the tone of a guitar and by using Reason we can process a guitar like it is a synth and go way beyond what’s possible with a synth.

Most of the time I’d like to keep things simple so I often use nothing more that an amp Rack Extension and/or the build-in Reason Pulveriser effect (see also this special I did for the device) for tone filtering, tremolo and modulation effects.

That build-in tuner in Reason is a very nifty feature which every DAW should have (see also Peter Kirn’s post on that subject). And the Recording Meter Window in Reason, which is an overlay, will show the tuner even in a much wider view:


Thanks to the Reason Combinator effect it’s super easy to create a custom signal chain for guitar and save it as a patch. And don’t forget: creating signal chains for acoustic instruments in Reason works as great as for electric instruments. I am using McDSP compressors as Rack Extensions. As well as the famous RE-2A Leveling Amplifier. Instantly a great sound using nothing more than a guitar, an interface and a laptop. People often talk about the old days. Sure, I miss the smell of good old rock and roll. I miss rebellion in music. But I don’t miss that old sound ’cause it’s here, right now, playing from my laptop. I can hear it and feel it.

It’s my birthday today, 46 years old now. Playing guitar for over 33 years now. An old love which will never die.


yes! reason the ultimate guitar pedal. its why i got reason in the first place. i got fed up of saving up money to buy expensive guitar pedals only to play around with it for half an hour and wish i could have a second one. i can just copy and paste now 🙂

thanks for all the great articles btw

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