A few weeks back, Dan & Mick went out with a bang. As they packed up the old recording space and headed for the new, they set up an epic wet/dry/wet rig using top tier and vintage gear. Those sounds were the last heard in the old “That Pedal Shed,” and arguably, some of the best. But this vibe didn’t come cheap. As Mick did a quick tally of the gear it took to create that setup, the price tag came to the tune of around $40, 000 USD.
Is it possible to harness that type of sound and feel without so many zeros? That was the question many of us asked. Dan & Mick rose to the challenge this week and tackled the topic of how to create a wet/dry/wet rig on a sensible budget with gear that is accessible. Spoiler alert: they did it, it’s more than possible, and, if you’re like me, you’ve been trolling around on Riff City all weekend looking for the gear to make it happen.
The Gear You Already Have and the Gear You’ll Need
The great thing about establishing a wet/dry/wet rig is that you don’t have to start from scratch. Chances are you’re about 80% of the way there with the gear you already have. The guitar, the pedals, maybe even an amp or two. So we’re really talking about picking up some more cables, connectors, splitters, and that third amp to complete the ensemble.
But what type of amps are you going for? While Mick remarked, “it kind of doesn’t matter what you use,” both gents agreed that you probably want them to be in the “same gain ballpark.” You’ll also want to ensure you’re paring up either all solid-state or tube amps, probably not mixing the two. This is not amplifier elitism. It is simply because of a latency issue when mixing the two that can impact the phase relationship of the amps.
In terms of headroom, it’s also key to ensure your dry amp has the headroom to handle the gain your overdrive pedals will throw at it. As Dan showed with the Keeley D&M Drive running into the Fender Blues Junior, “It’s working within the amps natural limiting range.” This middle amp is going to anchor your sound, so take the time to tinker with it and choose wisely!
Finally, when it comes to picking your amps for the wet effects, Mick commented, you’ll want to “put your high headroom amps on the outside so that you can hear the effects clearly.” In this case, they used a Vox AC15 and Fender Hot Rod Deluxe.
So that’s the gear, now here’s how to build it.
Dan’s Guide to Setting Up a Budget Wet/Dry/Wet Rig
I’d like to start off by reminding us all of two things: (1) Dan’s the brains behind the pedal boards of musicians as huge as Ed O’Brien of Radiohead, Noel Gallagher of Oasis and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, and Graham Coxon of Blur. And that’s just the UK scene. (2) TPS is as free as PBS. So when Dan shows up with a tutorial, diagram, and full demo of how to make your wet/dry/wet rig, the value on that free consulting session is priceless!
Once you’ve got the gear outlined above, Dan described several key aspects of this setup with a few diagrams.
The guitar goes directly into your gain pedals. The split goes after that point. What this means is that all three amps will receive the same gain structure built from those front-loaded pedals.
After the split, the sound goes three ways. The center line of the split, however, goes directly to the dry amp. In this case, a Blues Junior. As Dan noted, “The Blues Junior will receive anything that we turn on before that split…but what the Blues Junior won’t receive is anything we turn on after the split.”
After the split you can do one of two things. Option one is having the outside two amplifiers receiving their own effects. So, for example, you feed the amps with two separate pedals. You could use, say, a Dunlop Echoplex over on the right and a Catalinbread Echorec over on the left to get a rich, full, and dynamic tape delay sound. This was what the $40k rig did, only using the original vintage effects and the stereo outs of the GigRig G2 switching system. A variation of this setup using a signal splitter is included the following image:
Option two, however, is what we see in the image below. This solution involves a few stages of signal splitters to ensure both outside amps are receiving their own distinct effected signals. The location of the splits is integral. As Dan summed up, “the first split comes after the gain pedals. The second split is before the effects that you want going to the separate amplifiers.” The advantage of this set up is it results in a wet/dry/wet without requiring a complex effect switching system.
Why a Wet/Dry/Wet Might Open Uncharted Territory
Do you really need all this? Yes. Okay, maybe. It’s really up to you. But there were two key outcomes of this week’s TPS episode that might make it worth considering.
First, there’s that indescribable yet very real relationship between you and your gear. As Dan described, “When you get connected with the sound you play beyond yourself and it’s such a special thing. The whole idea [of this set up] is to help you get there.” Of course, a wet/dry/wet rig is not the only way of getting to that interactive place, but it is certainly one way of opening up some new sonic and creative terrain.
Second, as Dan & Mick demoed, it is possible to get a killer wet/dry/wet sound on a sensible budget. This sort of sound and experience doesn’t have to be $40k away. The whole idea of a wet/dry/wet rig is creating a sound that is “more than the sum of its parts.” For Mick, even after the experience of the epic vintage plus boutique rig, the budget version did nearly as good: “We’re using everyday amps that most people have got with effects you could go out and buy tomorrow, and they sound fantastic.”
Ready to grow your gear into a wet/dry/wet setup? Whether you need a few more pedals, an amp or two, or the cables and accessories to get it all connected, stop into see us at Riff City and we’ll get you set up!
TPS Rig Rundown:
Guitars: Fender Custom Shop 1963 Telecaster, Fender American Vintage ’62 Stratocaster.
Pedals: D’Addario Pedal Tuner, RYRA Tri-Pi Muff Fuzz, Keeley D&M Drive, ProAnalog Devices Manticore, Analog Man Bad Bob Boost, Longamp Roxanne, Strymon TimeLine, Dawner Prince Boonar, Chase Bliss Audio Gravitas Analog Tremolo, Dunlop EP-103 Echoplex.
Amps: Fender Blues Junior III, Vox AC15 Custom with Celestion Greenback speaker, Fender Hot Rod Deluxe III.