Opinion: Software that Claims to Shift the Sound of your Pickups

Blue Cat’s Re-Guitar plugin models 25 types of signal
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ReGuitar 1

Ever wanted to swap your smooth Strat for a chunkier Les Paul but didn’t have one lying around? Or wanted to trade your bitey Ibanez for a sweeter Telecaster tone, or even for an acoustic guitar, with the touch of a button? That’s exactly the intention behind Blue Cat Audio’s latest plugin, Re-guitar.

The idea: select the pickup type that’s producing your input signal – Humbucker, Single Coil or Single Coil (Bright) – then select the destination pickup category (Single, Hum, Acoustic…) and the exact type of pickup from that category. There’s a comprehensive selection that can take you on a tonal journey without needed to set foot in a guitar shop.

ReGuitar 2

Each pickup model has its own Volume and Tone controls, even for the various acoustic models and acoustic simulator pedals, and there’s a Hollow Body section for adjusting the thickness if you’re emulating that kind of guitar.

The E-Custom and AC-Custom settings look like very interesting sonic destinations to visit. These two pages splay out a bunch of models of pickups or acoustic guitar bodies, plotted in a 2D plane. The idea is for you to move the cursor between the models in order to morph between them. You might want, say, to land your tone close to that of a Mini Jumbo acoustic body, but stretch it out with some Modern Dreadnaught flavouring, or a tinge of Acoustic Simulator Pedal.

ReGuitar 3

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty: Re-Guitar probably won’t be 100.0% perfect – especially in the estimation of guitarists who can tell the difference between two guitars of the exact same type – but it’s probably going to be very good at what it does, and will surely serve most of the needs of the wannabe tone hound who doesn’t have thousands to spend on a variety of guitars [Hi].

Re-Guitar brings to mind those plugins that claim to ape different types of studio monitors on your master bus: you can get the frequency response just right, but you can’t emulate, say, the transient response and timing of any studio monitor in any other simply by changing the input signal.

Neither will Re-Guitar do away with other inherent characteristics of your pickups. Case in point, I recently asked my guitar tech if there was anything that can be done about my Fender Jaguar’s inherent buzzing. “I can file down the pickup claws, but then it would sound like a Strat”. This plugin could do that too, but I expect the buzz will remain!

Re-Guitar is available as a VST/AU/AAX plugin from bluecataudio.com, and is also operable as part of the developer’s Axiom plugin. It costs $99, but may still be on its introductory discount ($69) period when you read this.

James Russell

As well as being an Editor At Large for Electronic Musician, James also dispenses software news and views as the co-host of Appetite For Production Podcast, and tweets on Twitter as rusty_jam. You can find his 'collected works' at his website, XoverFreq.