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Anyone Using Guitar Rig live onstage?

Discussion in 'GUITAR RIG' started by dokrok5150, Mar 20, 2013.

  1. dokrok5150

    dokrok5150 NI Product Owner

    I currently use Guitar Rig 5 in my studio and would like to be able to take it onstage with me and would like advice from anyone who is currently using GR5 live.

    I gave up on live amps years ago (yah, yah, nothing like a vintage tube amp, blah, blah) as my show requires a huge amount of flexibility in sound. I currently use a Line 6 POD XTLive through a SansAmp Power Station 60 (which, after years of trying to run though amps, pa direct, foldback through floor wedges, etc) is the absolute best sound live onstage. What I hear in my studio monitors is what I hear onstage. Now I'd like to take Guitar Rig out with me.

    Just as I had concerns way back when of depending on the box on the floor to not die in the middle of the show I have those same concerns now taking a computer onstage. Keep in mind there was a time I used the first Ensoniq sampling keyboard onstage that had to be loaded from floppy disc. Every time the air conditioner in the club would kick on the power would brown out and clear the memory - reboot! Really messes with the flow of the show.

    If I do this I would be purchasing the Rig Kontoller (does anyone besides NI still sell it stand-alone?) as my controller. So I need to hear from those of you who are actually using Guitar Rig onstage. I'd like to know what gear you are using (controller, computer, amp/direct, monitoring your sound) and any issues you've had (reliability, crashing onstage, sound, etc.) I do about 130 shows a year and in every type of venue you can imagine.

    To use the same sounds onstage as I use in my studio is the goal. It will also be a sizable investment which is where I hesitate as I know no one personally who is doing this.

    I thank you for any input you can share...


    Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA
  2. Roming22

    Roming22 Forum Member


    My band had the opportunity to do a few gigs, and I used RK3 and GR5 on stage.

    Here's my 2cts on the subject.

    1.Use a laptop with an SSD
    A laptop because if you've taken care to charge it before the show, you can actually run in without being plugged in for the whole set. It can avoid all sorts of issue, from surge problem to noise due to poor AC quality. The charger should be plugged in the outlet, ready to be plugged in the laptop, just in case.
    The screen should be off, as while playing you shouldn't need anything more that the preset number and the leds on the RK3.
    An SSD because if for any reason you need to reboot, it will be lightning fast, and won't keep the crowd waiting for too long. My personal choice was a 2011 MacBookAir, reboot time is around 15secs.

    2. Build or find a stand for the laptop.
    You just don't want it resting on top of an amp or something.
    You'll trip on the cables on day, so it should rest as close to the floor as possible.
    It could be anything including the top of the pedal board case (if you use one to move the RK,laptop and cables around).
    Just make sure that you can't stomp on it by accident by putting it just behind the RK.

    3. Keep the laptop close to you on stage
    In case it requires to be manipulated. It should never happen, but you should be prepared anyway.

    4. Learn to trust your setup during rehearsals.
    Bring and use your new setup to every rehearsal.
    Not having issues while rehearsing help building trust on the new setup as well as correcting what is not perfect.

    5. BACKUPS
    Once the laptop is setup, perform backups regularly, ideally without any user action.
    Just in case. It could get stolen, the hard drive could crash beyond data recovery, a user's mistake, etc.
    That might or might not require a bit of computer tweaking to achieve (a Mac and a TimeCapsule = no tweaking, which is also a good reason for me to shop for this brand in this context).

    That is all I can think of at the moment.
    Hope it helps.

  3. Bluesrip

    Bluesrip New Member

    Hi -

    I have been using Guitar Rig live at gigs for the past 2 years. BEST SETUP I EVER HAD! I gig 2 or 3 times per month in cover band playing everything from soft rock to blues to hard rock and I have NEVER had any problem whatsoever. I've tried using stomp pedals, Digitech RP 500, Line 6 M13 and also tried the Digitech RP1000 in my earlier gigs but none of those could compare to the tone I got from Guitar Rig/Laptop setup.

    Here's my setup:

    DELL LAPTOP - it's about 5 years old, has 4 gig of Ram and that's plenty of horsepower. Running Guitar rig 5 and using Rig Kontrol 2 footpedal (yeah, the really old silver colored Rig Kontrol...).

    LAPTOP STAND - Definitely get one - cost about $30. Don't try to use a sheet music stand because it won't be as sturdy.

    Long USB cord. When I say long I mean about 10 a footer. You want to have the Rig Kontrol in front of you so you do need the longer cord. Don't worry - you won't lose any tone, or volume and there won't be any latency issues, etc. with a longer cord. Better to have too much cord length rather than too little!

    Egnater 15 Watt Tube Amp. Plug guitar into "left in" of Rig Kontrol and plug"left out" of Rig Kontrol into Effects Return on my amp. Using Effects Return won't change your tone and basically your amp just becomes a PA for your sound. OR you can bypass the whole amp concept and use the "left out" (and "right out" if you want stereo) of Rig Kontrol directly into your Mixer/PA. My amp is my emergency backup in case the laptop crashes. It's never happened to me but you should always have a backup plan just in case - maybe bring stomp boxes or multieffects pedal as backup. If I have a problem with laptop then I can always just plug my guitar into the amp and use guitar volume knob to control gain, tone, etc. Won't be as fun but it will get the job done until I figure out what the problem was with the computer.

    Do plug your computer into an outlet - don't ever trust battery power.

    Do turn off our Wifi and all antivirus stuff before firing up Guitar Rig

    Put laptop on the stand and put that BEHIND your amp.

    Keep laptop OPEN (and hit F1 and then F4 key) so all you see is the "live" Guitar Rig on your screen. This is why I said to get long USB cord and set laptop up on sturdy stand BEHIND your amp. My amp is behind me which means the laptop is behind the amp and that puts it out of the way of the crazy dancing people.

    Use the "Information" tab area on each preset in Guitar Rig. This is great tool as reminder to what key your song is in, song chords, notes about the song, etc. This is very helpful - just take a quick glance at it for each preset before a song. We play about 45 songs at each gig and a quick look at this "information" area really does help me remember stuff.

    Make sure you level all presets to same volume using the preset learn button before you go to the gig!

    PRESETS - keep them simple and load up a bunch of changes on one switch so you don't have to "tap dance" for your tone. I have distortion, flanger, and volume boost all tied to button #1 for example so on a solo I only have to step on the button once and 3 effects turn on. Step on button again and 3 effects turn off. Again - keep things simple!

    If you can get a wireless guitar setup then GET IT. The less wires the better!

    Hope this helps. Have fun out there. Sorry for such a long response!
  4. ChrisACT

    ChrisACT New Member

    I use GR 2 with RK2 live.

    I've just upgraded to GR5 but I haven't gigged with it yet.

    I don't use a guitar amp at all. I have a 1000W stereo power amp with DSP build in with two 15" + horn foldback wedges. I DI straight into the FOH PA system. It sounds mighty.

    I use a Lenovo Thinkpad Laptop. 2.4GHz. 3GB RAM with Win XP Pro.

    No problems. It's been very stable so far. Latency is no problem.
  5. stormstudios

    stormstudios NI Product Owner

    I'm another who has used GR4 on stage frequently. I rack mounted my Mac Mini in foam with a 7" touch screen LCD. The power is managed through a Furman power unit to avoid fluctuations but I do agree that the laptop being able to run on battery is a benefit. With that said, I've never lost power and since the computer cable is all in the rack nice and secure I don't worry about a dancer kicking any computer cables.

    Sound-wise I don't like the amp sims so I play through an AC30 but the effects all sound quite good. The RK3 is the soundcard at 96kHz and also functions as the MIDI In for my piano which sends to Reason with the internal card as the soundcard for that.

    It's been very reliable so far for me. Never had one issue.
  6. hiphopwong

    hiphopwong NI Product Owner

    Does Guitar Rig 5 on a laptop require the sample libraries to be installed on an external drive?

    For a live stage rig this seems like an extra headache to have to worry about another drive, power supply, and connections.

    Since all sample libraries are recommended to be installed on a separate drive, what is the proper way to install Guitar Rig for a live stage rig on a laptop?
  7. Roming22

    Roming22 Forum Member


    GR5 is not a virtual instrument, and therefore does not have any samples.

  8. jayendra

    jayendra New Member

    All valid points above (read and learn)

    I use it with a cover band:
    Great for different styles of amp sim i.e. Slappy twinverb with tremelo for country etc

    I play through a PA speaker for fold back and also the main stage speakers.

    The problems:
    Using the RK pedal board as the soundcard - had issues with stability and now only use it for MIDI pedal for changing sounds. Instead use a NI komplete audio card - which has Mic inputs for other things.

    Computer crash - read everyone elses posts - kill processes if your a windows user.

    I'm currently upgrading to a REAL AMP and using the effects from Guitar Rig - Does anyone have advice for this?
  9. Roming22

    Roming22 Forum Member

    You really should have a strategy in case of a computer crash/freeze.
    On the other hand, while I've only performed live a couple of time, I've been rehearsing weekly for the past few years without a crash (using a Mac).
    What I'm trying to say is: plan ahead, and then don't worry about it.

    As for the use of the real amp, that depends on why you are using the real thing.
    - if you want the tone of the amp, choose one with an FX loop, as that will allow you to plug your effects any where before/after the pre-amp by using a L/R split (guitar to In-L, Out-L to amp-In, FX-Send to In-R, Out-R to FX-Return). By pluging directly into the return, you could also bypass the pre-amp, and use a preamp sim in GR instead. Or add an A-B switch and get both world by switching the In-R input from FX-Send to Guitar on demand ;)
    - if you want to be able to improve the accuracy of all modelisations, then you should search for FRFR cabinets (Full Range Flat Response). Keyboard amps can be good. Atomic was recommended by AxeFX users, the Tech21 Power Engine 60 is an affordable solution as well... Nice hi-fi speakers could also perform very well, but be a bit more of pain to move around.

  10. Bluesrip

    Bluesrip New Member

    Curious what you mean about "switching the In-R input from FX-Send to Guitar on demand". What does that do? Are you talking about using two guitars - one into L-input and one in the R-input?

    I've been using split mode live on stage bypassing Amp Sim in guitar Rig 5 to use my own tube amp through the effects loop (so using guitar rig 5 only for effects) but I'm trying to find a way to switch between split mode using my tube amp and then switching back to using Guitar Rig 5 Amp Sim for clean sound. Is there a way to do both without having to unplug/re-configure wires? I'd like to be able to do it on the fly live on stage (as two separate presets) but don't know if that is possible. I used to have a Digitech RP 1000 with 4 cable setup method that let me jump back and forth between my own amp and amp sims on Digitech but can't figure out how to do that on Guitar rig 5.

    Possible to do this on Guitar Rig 5? Hopefully.....

  11. Roming22

    Roming22 Forum Member

    Since you're interested I'll try to clarify the setup I was describing.

    - the L channel is used for effects before the pre-amp
    - the R channel is used for effects before the power amp. If the pre-amp is not used, then all the effects including the amp sim are in this channel.

    First the gear:
    - one guitar with a mono output (GO)
    - one amp with a input (AI), and an FX Loop FXS/FXR (for send/return)
    - one bypass pedal with input, output, send, return (BI, BO, BS, BR)
    - one RK controller with IL, IR, OL, OR for the L/R inputs/outputs
    - cables, lots of them :)

    Now the wiring:
    - GO to BI
    - BS to LI
    - LO to AI
    - FXS to BR
    - BO to RI
    - RO to FXR

    With this wiring, hitting the bypass pedal with redirect your guitar signal to either RK input.
    So on a preset with no amp sim, you do not activate the bypass, so the signal path is: Guitar, Left Channel, Pre-Amp, Right Channel, Power Amp, Cabinet, Ears.
    When you want to engage a preset with an amp sim, you activate the bypass and the path becomes: Guitar, Right Channel, Power Amp, Cabinet, Ears.

    That would be the hardware solution... but now I'm thinking about something else, I'll post it in a minute :D
    OK, back to the drawing board for a solution that does not need a bypass pedal.

    Here's the wiring:
    Simple enough.

    Now, how are we going to control the path of the guitar signal?
    Well, thanks to the Split component and its panning feature.

    The basic standard setup in GR goes like this:
    - for the sake of simplicity, start with an empty rack
    - add a Split component
    - pan A 100% to the Left, B 100% to the right
    - activate the L/R Split (on the left)
    - the crossfade should be at 50:50

    In this configuration, you can add effects before the pre-amp in A, and effects in the amp FX loop in B

    If you want to bypass the pre-amp, the settings become:
    - A pan 100% to the right
    - B doesn't matter
    - crossfade to 100:0 (cutting B off)

    This means that A becomes the place where to put your effects and your pre-amp sim.

    Now if you want to mix and match the solutions inside the same preset, you'll need to automate the change when pressing a button. The same button should also turn on a container with the preamp sim and the various effects you want to use.

    So it would go like this:
           Amp Sim (no cabinet)
    The RK button would:
    - turn off Container1
    - turn on Container2
    - change A to 100% right
    - change the split to 100:0

    And that would do it :D

    If your brain hasn't melt yet, kudos!

  12. Bluesrip

    Bluesrip New Member

    Oh WOW! I actually do understand all that! Only thing that confused me was when you talked about "containers". Do you use containers much? I kind of understand what they do but didn't find much use for them since I only use about 2 or 3 effects on any given preset. Am I missing out on something by not fully understanding containers?

    Thank you SO much for sending that all this info. I tried everything way possible (except your way) to get the 4 cable method to work and now it looks like I will be able to do it.

    Thanks again for your WEALTH OF KNOWLEDGE and quick response!

    forgot to ask you one questions about that diagram info you sent back. On the right input on RK pedal - what gain setting are you using for that little input gain button on the back? I have the left input at about 12:00 because that's about my max before the red button lights up meaning too much gain - should the "right in" gain button also be at noon setting? Not sure if there is a way to tell if the input from the FX send from my amp is clipping or not when feeding into RK pedal....

  13. Roming22

    Roming22 Forum Member

    I'm glad I can help :D

    Containers: I find them useful to:
    - control a bunch of effects with an easily identifiable control
    - to hide many effects that serve one purpose (e.g. a combo modifier+effect)
    - to use them as 'drop in presets'. I create a setting I like that I may use on more than one preset. If I make a modification instead of performing the exact same change on all presets, I -re-save the container's setting, and reload the setting on all presets using the container.

    Concerning the gain, you can monitor the levels of both inputs from the RK3. For maximum range, you should barely be able to hit the red zone. For safety you could just make sure that you can hit only the first 6 LEDs. In my opinion this is also likely to increase the quality in the process, because you won't be 'pushing' the pre-amps to their maximum, thus getting better response in the transients.

    For the Right channel, since it will receive signal from both the preamp and the guitar, you'll have to set it low enough for the pre-amp, and will have to make do for the guitar signal.

    And I don't have a 'best' solution in mind. You could boost the amp's volume, you could add again booster at the top of your FX chain, and you could even control the amount of gain thanks to an input modifier (I'm thinking 0% gain when input is 0%, and 100% gain when input is 100%, thus acting like a pre-amp).
    Ok, may be the latest would be the 'best' solution, in the sense that it would reproduce what would happen 'IRL'.

  14. Nikolas M. McNeal

    Nikolas M. McNeal New Member

    Using Guitar Rig live would be definitely risky, but I can see it from your point of view. Make sure you have a guitar stand. Your laptop should have a good amount of RAM, and your digits in your hard drive MB should be lengthy. Make sure you have had no overheating problems on the laptop. During your live session, make sure Guitar Rig is the only program open. Disable your firewall/antivirus. My current setup for live playing is Guitar --> M-box --> Computer --> GR5 --> M-box --> My two amps (One a acoustic lead guitar series g35fx, and one a Peavey Bass amp). NOTE: Plugging an M-box through a guitar amp is a mistake you only make once.
  15. purplebug

    purplebug NI Product Owner

    LOL! why is it "Risky"? Keyboard players and electronic bands think nothing of using lots of computers and other advanced technology on stage.

    I use GR5 live and have never had any problems. I use a stereo Fryette power amp and any available guitar cabinets. (Often support bands etc have some already set up). I have a 4U rack, 2U for the amp, 1U for a stereo graphic EQ, 1U for a laptop slide-out draw. The graphic EQ is handy as it's quicker to tailor the sound with this for the the venue and which ever cab you happen to use rather than edit patches. I have reverse mounted the laptop tray so I can close down the lid of the laptop and have it projecting partially out at the back. This avoids any danger of it being hit, being seen and keeps it cool.
    I use a Boss tuner and with my old RK2 so there is no need to ever look at the laptop once setup. Most people never know I use a laptop - which I LIKE.
    The most important thing is to disable ALL cab sims in guitar rig. Trust me even with FRFR solutions (and I have tried MANY!) they will not sound like a guitar amp at gig volume.

    It is explained a little more here :-

    The Fryette amp works well as it is valve and gives an authentic feel and sound.

    With this setup I am more or less like any other guitarist in the band. The sound engineer just mikes up my cab/s when required.

    In the venues I play (North of England) not many sound engineers are happy to mess about taking my sim sound directly into the PA while I use on stage monitoring. If you are on stage with 3 other bands you won't get an extra privilege in the "Real" world!

    I use one pedal on the RK2 to play/start the tape so I can play sound clips in between songs, I program one pedal for tap tempo. GR is configured - one patch one song. Any number of settings can be programmed into the remaining pedals. Mostly they are for clean/Overdrive/solo.

    If a laptop is going to fail it is usually when you try to switch it on - very unlikely it will just crash and die mid use. Regardless I have an older machine (cost £30 s/h) loaded up with GR3 that I could use if there are any problems. Never used it yet.

    The bottom line is GR5 sounds AMAZING live and so flexible - when people compliment you on your sound you can start to feel a little smug!

    Use it live - it was made for it!
  16. tuato

    tuato New Member

    Hi all, i'd like to test that system, but using amplitube instead GR5. I've got a little doubt. What kind of amplification is the ideal for this? i've heard out there, the best option is an auto amplified flat response full range monitor, for example this one:


    i need to test it before i buy it. Would you recommend me this option?

  17. 70HN

    70HN New Member

    great (but noisy when switching bigger patches)

    hi everyone, it's nice to hear from others using GR onstage. i would agree with and not want to repeat most of what has been said here. generally, i do not see an alternative to GR in the near future and plan to keep working with it.

    however, in my solo projects, some of my patches tend to be ridiculously big - two digit numbers of effects, several splits, instances of CPU heavy reflektor presets, external pedals controling a number of paramters, and mutli layer loops created and messed with in real time, everything in full stereo. (btw i play bass and in these projects over a lab gruppen amp with two glockenklang, more or less full range speakers.)

    SO i guess now the most simple answer to my question would be "keep it easy and increase you buffer size".

    BUT the handling and the music's happening for me the way it is (and CPU hardly ever tops 60%)

    SO is there any way to avoid the occasional, loud & nasty cracking sound when switching between presets? at least when playing alone, this is a real problem for me!

    thanks for your support!
  18. purplebug

    purplebug NI Product Owner

    Well, I gave my opinion fully in post #15. I have recently bought a tube preamp too, this help give a nice "warm" valve sound. I also sometimes just use an old valve Boogie amp and DI into it. I just use my std patches - ALWAYS without cab sims.

    If you are anyway an old school player, a guitar amp setup is the most simple and best sounding.

    Do you click between presets mid song? The answer is not too. 1 preset = 1 song. Just set up switches to toggle units on/off and change any parameters. I often load two identical amps, each has different settings, I just toggle them on/off with the same pedal. There is no overhead in using multiple units.
    As said elsewhere there is little sound difference in HQ/LQ when playing live. Leave it on LQ if not already.

    Changing between presets should be done when nothing is playing. Avoid master FX for the same reason.
  19. 70HN

    70HN New Member

    nice unless you need more than one preset per song

    thank you!

    i am not talking about musical settings where one sound is enough, but where one preset already contains several sounds and the music demands further significant changes in sound. to give you an example, some of these works contain more than five presets. (the nasty cracking noises are usually not audible in the recording afterwards.)

    so yes, that's the point i DO want to change presets mid song and with loops running. among other things i also tried out your recommendations. combine presets: CPU clip. master FX: no difference.

    so the answer remains: guitar rig is a fully live capable software as long as you can play with one preset per "song". in my opinion, not very state of the art (not to talk of the future).


  20. magek

    magek New Member

    This thread has been around a while, but just for kix thought I'd chime in.

    I'm a keyboard/guitar double, and use GR5 with RK3 live. However, as not yet seen in the thread, I use GR5 within a host as a plugin. Mine is SONAR X2. I only use the RK3 as a MIDI pedalboard to control GR5, as I have an M-Audio Fast Track Ultra 8R. The 8R allows me to route the guitar signal completely separate from the keyboard signal. However, most of the time I just route to a single amp, a Roland KC-550. It's got a flat response that doesn't unnecessarily color the guitar tone further.

    I've never had any problems. I have a live-dedicated PC (Toshiba QOSMIO) and I've modified the OS to eliminate everything but the essentials to run my key/gtr setup. It's beefy - SSD, 8GB RAM, quad core, etc.

    I used to have an A/B switch between the guitar and 2 setups - GR5 and pedals/amp, that I could use to switch immediately if any problem happened, but I haven't done that extra in a while. (think about it, before GR5, how many guitarists took TWO complete rigs to a show in case one amp blew?). I'm just as comfortable with my setup as I would with a single pedal/amp solution.

    One minor annoyance... I've compared the tuner in GR5 to my trusty BOSS TU-2 and really prefer the TU-2's accuracy. So, most times I do insert the TU-2 in the RK3 effects loop! Also greatly reduces the need to see the computer screen during performance.

    Just reply if you want/need more specifics.