Guitar players who wish to explore deeper into shaping sound will sooner or later be searching for answers on how to turn their guitar pedals from mono to stereo. Turning a pedal setup into stereo can bring a lot of creative opportunities, especially for musicians who are hungry for some sonic experimentation.
Multi-layered ambient sounds resembling those of binaural recordings, are achievable with the help of certain effects and a stereo setup. This is perfect for guitarists who are attempting to match the cinematic and ethereal qualities of choirs, string sections and synthesizers.
Stereo can be used to recreate expansive dream-like textures and soundscapes prevalent in ambient music as well as shoegaze and post-rock. But if you are into genres such as blues, funk, country and metal, the good old mono will help you deliver chunky rhythms and more audible guitar solos.
Genre-hopping guitar players who prefer a more versatile setup, can benefit from the ability to transition between mono and stereo at the flick of a switch (or at a push of a button). Today, it is possible to enjoy the best of both worlds with the help of gadgets that are designed specifically to provide both mono and stereo configurations.
Mono vs Stereo: Guitar Pedals
Before you decide to turn your guitar pedal from mono to stereo, let us first take a look at the differences between the two:
Short for monaural or monophonic, mono is any sound that utilizes only one channel, with the intention to make it seem as if it were coming from one position. Guitars are mono by default and this contributes to its usually frontal, in your face sound.
One variation of a mono guitar pedal rig is the “dual mono” which uses two amplifiers, with the gadgets working in mono mode. A dual mono setup still sounds like it is emanating from one source, but you can mix the two amps and blend them together. For example, you can benefit from the brightness of one amp, while taking advantage of the fat tone of the other, creating a thick combination of two guitar amp tones.
Commonly known as stereo, stereophonic refers to sound that is multi-directional and 3-dimensional. By using two channels or more, to reproduce a sound that surrounds the listener, akin to natural hearing.
In order to achieve stereo in your guitar setup, you will need an effects pedal with a stereo input and output. By making use of these stereo ports and two guitar amps, your setup can turn into a full-fledged stereo rig. Guitarists will enjoy the wider scope of stereo’s sound, as well its ability to make delay effects pan from left to right on the speakers.
A rig setup known as “wet/dry,” isn’t stereo per se, although it also uses two amplifiers. In the wet/dry scenario, you can use the first amp as your “dry” channel, where your unaltered sound will go through. On the other hand, the second amp which is tasked to accommodate your effects, will be designated as your “wet” channel.
Are guitar pedals stereo or mono?
Most guitar pedals are mono but there are also a considerable number of effects that come with stereo features. The most common pedals that have stereo options are delay pedals such as the Boss DD-7 Digital Delay, which have dual input and output ports.
Can you use a stereo guitar pedal in mono?
Even if you are using a stereo guitar pedal, it will still work as mono if you are using only one amplifier. However, if your rig is specifically set up for stereo purposes and wish to turn it to mono, you will need to sum to mono with the help of “summing” boxes or buffer interfaces.
Instead of using summing devices, some guitarists prefer just using the left channel of the stereo pedal, plugged into a single amp in order to achieve a mono sound.
How do I split my guitar’s mono signal to stereo?
To split your signal from mono to stereo, you will need an effects pedal with stereo features. Most modern delay pedals can go stereo and this, along with a pair of guitar amplifiers, is what you need to split your sound into two.
Before trying this setup, make sure first that your delay pedal is placed at the end of the signal chain. You will then need two cables, which will be connected from the two stereo outputs of your pedal and into the two amps (using one cable per amp).
There are countless gadgets in the market today that can transform your guitar pedal setup from mono to stereo. Always do your own research to find out what is best for your needs.
Here a few examples of effects pedals with stereo capabilities:
- Behringer DR600 Digital Reverb Pedal
- Boss CH-1 Stereo Super Chorus Pedal
- Boss RE-2 Space Echo Delay and Reverb Effects Pedal
- Electro-Harmonix Nano Pulsar Stereo Tremolo Pedal
- Electro-Harmonix 1440 Stereo Looper Pedal
- Fender Tre-Verb Tremolo/Reverb Pedal
- Strymon TimeLine Multidimensional Delay Pedal
- TC Electronic Flashback Triple Delay Pedal
Converting mono to stereo with an output configuration guitar pedal
Another effective way of turning your mono rig to stereo is by using a stereo/mono output configuration pedal. Using a stereo/mono foot switch, you can easily jump from mono, stereo and dual amp.
If you are serious about turning your guitar pedal rig from mono to stereo, but still wish to enjoy the centered, upfront sound of mono, a configuration pedal is totally worth investing in.