It’s always been a struggle for home recordists to capture a good guitar tone on tape or hard disk. Yamaha, however, wants to cure that often aggravating dilemma. To that end, its new DG Stomp guitar preamplier is intended to be the “magical box” that can do it all – just plug in your guitar, run another line out to your mixer or soundcard, and press “Record.” Does Yamaha succeed with its grand mission? Let’s find out.
Based on the preamp section of Yamaha’s DG line of digital guitar amplifiers, the DG Stomp packs a tremendous number of features and effects into its road-ready metal housing. With both factory presets and user-editable programs, guitarists can find an array of tones to play with, from distortions galore to a broad spectrum of clean and special-effects sounds. Among the effects are distortion (created using Yamaha’s Electronic Circuit Modeling, or ECM, circuit), compressor, chorus, flanger, phaser, rotary speaker, tremolo, digital delay, tape echo, spring reverb, hall reverb, plate reverb, tap-tempo delay, and 16 types of speaker simulation. There are 180 patches in all, plus a built-in tuner, and you can set the DG Stomp to activate eight effects as once. You can even plug in an expression pedal for real-time control of various effects, such as volume, wah-wah, and more (there are also MIDI In/Out jacks, if you’re into saving your edited patches on a computer, etc.).
As far as getting started, it’s fairly intuitive. There are heavy-duty “Up” and “Down” switches to change presets or activate the tuner. The DG Stomp also has vintage chickenhead knobs to manually adjust volume, gain, treble, midrange, and bass, and presence – just like a conventional guitar amp. We began by flying through a number of presets, finding lots of good, usable sounds along the way; solid distortions, echo/delay, and nice modulation effects (chorus, phaser, flanger, etc.). Try plugging it into a PA or acoustic-guitar amp, too. Remember, the DG Stomp is a preamp, so with the amp simulations, it sounds great through a full-range speaker configuration, even the crunch tones. If you’re in a pinch, you could even go to a gig with just this box and have the soundman plug it straight into the mixer. That’s not a problem for the DG Stomp.
With all these programs at your disposal, you can edit and save them, using the knobs to set the EQ to just the right “sweet spot,” or adding effects to spice things up. One cool feature is that the effect LEDs double as on/off buttons, making it quite easy to adjust your effects on the fly. And don’t forget the amp simulations. You get a knob on the far left that gives you options for lead, drive, crunch, and clean amps to choose from (these settings basically give you everything from metal crunch to clean tones, and varying overdrive colors in between).
For our road test, we plugged the box in between Fender and Ibanez solidbodies, and a variety of amps and a PA. But our acid test was cutting some tracks to our Dell PC’s hard drive. Could the DG Stomp introduce believable guitar tones into the cold world of digital recording? Actually, the resulting tracks were fairly impressive, especially those that ladled on the heavy crunch – yes, this box screams. In particular, we found a fat, crunchy sound that sounded remarkably like Eric Johnson’s fabled tone, even through our small computer speakers (it even had Eric’s patented echo). That alone seemed worth the price of admission.
As with most digital boxes, however, capturing the soft overdrive of a good Fender-style tube amp remains elusive. It’s okay here, but it ain’t no Bassman, so don’t sell that vintage amp just yet. The box’s clean tones were passable, though perhaps a little on the thin side (this, however, is not unusual for digital amps). Clean or dirty, we advise tweaking the factory presets to find meatier tones. But overall, We were pleased with the DG Stomp, especially since the user has the flexibility to adjust tones and effects at a moment’s notice.
In all, the DG Stomp offers an enormous amount of flexibility for a box with a list price of $299. While nothing yet beats a good amp and some well-placed mics, few of us have the room to create this kind of studio setup. In that light, a good direct box/preamp can be a lifesaver, and the DG Stomp fills that role nicely. If you want tone and digital effects control in a “one box” environment, give this unit a test drive. There are lots of goodies here for the home recordist to experiment with.
Yamaha DG Stomp
Type Of Pedal: Guitar preamp/recorder.
Features: Electronic Circuit Modeling, eight amp types, 16 Speaker cabinet models, compressor, chorus, flanger, phaser, tremolo, rotary, tape echo, three reverbs, tap tempo delay, tuner, stereo and headphone output
four built-in footswitches.
Contact: Yamaha, (714) 522-9011, www.yamahaguitars.com.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s July. ’01 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.