3. Kemper Setup

3.1 Guitars

Both of our guitarists play sevenstrings. To make the profile exchange, pre-production and overall sound as consistent and uniform as possible, they decided on playing the exact same guitar as well. The instrument they chose is a Schecter KM-7 mk1 equipped with Seymour Duncan Nazgul and Sentient Pickups. It has a 3-way switch, a single volume knob and many other nice features we like about it but don’t want to bother you with for now.
The only thing we changed about the guitar is the volume pot, which has been a push/pull pot for coil splitting. Since we change and split pickups a lot during our songs, we replaced it with a push/push pot. That actually made a big difference.

3.2 Kemper

In the songwriting-, production-, rehearsal- as well as in the live-situation, we use Kempers exclusively. They became essential for writing and performing music from the very beginning of the band. Although both Kempers are the rack version, one of them has a power amp in it. The power amp isn’t in use though since we only rehearse and perform with a PA.

Additionally to the Kempers we have the Kemper remote as well. That device usually will be used for tuning purposes or experimenting at the rehearsal space. In live situations we put the remotes in front of us, but only for tuning and orientation during a set. Also we could technically switch slots and performances manually in case the MIDI-programming would stop working. Gladly this hasn’t happened yet.

For the connection with the X32 mixer, we use the main XLR outputs on the back of the Kemper. Also we run a MIDI cable from a MIDI interface to the MIDI input of the KPAs. Input-wise one of our guitarists uses the regular front input with a guitar cable, the other uses the alternate input on the back of the Kemper in combination with a wireless guitar system from Line6.

3.2.1 Performance Setup

To MIDI-program the Kempers we tried to find a solution as logical as possible. In perform mode, each song has its own bank with up to 5 slots. Usually those 5 slots are enough to cover all of the different tones and effects. If we need more than 5 different settings, morphing comes in quite handy and can handle variations with ease.

Here is an example of how we put together a performance:

Song: Soulmate Slot 1 Slot 2 Slot 3 Slot 4 Slot 5
Bank 10 PC #45 PC #46 PC #47 PC #48 PC #49
Kemper 1 Rhythm L (mono) Rhythm (stereo) individual profile individual profile individual profile
Kemper 2 Rhythm R (mono) Rhythm (stereo) individual profile individual profile individual profile

As a constant, we put our mono rhythm tones in the first slot and our stereo rhythm tones in the second slot of a performance. The following three slots are used for individual profiles, depending on the song and the layer we agreed on playing. Those profiles are typically clean tones, crunch tones, glassy tones, lead tones or drones. The majority of them are stereo. For planning and programming we once put together an excel sheet with banks, slots and their specific PC values. This makes programming faster. Programming automated changes of performances, slots and morphing will be explained in part 4 of the rig rundown though.

3.2.2 Profile Setup

First and foremost it was most important for us to get quality tones in all varieties from super clean to high gain. Over the years owning Kempers, we’ve tested quite a number of different profiles made by various manufacturers of various amps.
At some point we got our hands on the Blackstar SeriesOne Profiles from The Amp Factory (Kemper User @and44). Those particular profiles fit our music, playing style and instruments very well. In fact, we’re almost exclusively playing those profiles now in all gain stages.
Other than that a few of our cleans are based on a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe profile made by Kemper-User @Maurizio70 which we found for free in the rig exchange. Our glassy tones are based on an EVH5153 profile by Keith Merrow.

High Gain Components

  • before the amp: graphic EQ, noise gate

  • Blackstar SeriesOne Amp Profile

  • after the amp: graphic EQ

Lead Components

  • before the amp: graphic EQ, noise gate

  • Blackstar SeriesOne Amp Profile

  • after the amp: graphic EQ, delay

Crunch Components

  • before the amp: compressor, delay or chorus (depending on the song)

  • Blackstar SeriesOne Amp Profile

  • after the amp: graphic eq, chorus, delay, reverb (depending on the song)

Clean Components

  • before the amp: compressor, delay

  • Blackstar SeriesOne Amp Profile

  • after the amp: graphic eq, chorus, delay, reverb (depending on the song)

Glassy Components

  • before the amp: noise gate, compressor

  • EVH 5153 profile with cab section turned off

  • after the amp: chromatic pitch, graphic eq, delay, reverb

Drone Components

  • before the amp: delay

  • Blackstar SeriesOne Amp Profile

  • after the amp: graphic EQ

3.2.3 Stereo Imaging

Since layering different guitars is a quite essential part of our songwriting, we care about stereo imaging in live situations a lot. Typically both of our guitarists play different parts and tones during a song. Only on a few occasions, for example in a groove, they play the same riffs. We decided against panning hard left or right since that usually results in a total lack of the left guitar on the right side of the PA and vise versa. So panning hard left and right would simply affect the live experience for the audience in a negative way. To compensate that our mono rhythm sound is set to -3 and +3 in the panorama of the rig, so there will be some bleed on each of the guitars both left and right. The archived stereo width with those settings is our reference for all other stereo guitars.

In order to compensate for stereo width we use the Delay Widener, introduced in Kemper OS 7.5. After testing quite a few settings we agreed on a 12ms delay since those parameters gave us the best compromise of feel and sound. The delay widener works best for us when put at the very end of the signal chain (Reverb Slot). The results, even with clean or crunch tones (also with delay and reverb), are rather convincing.
The main benefits of using the delay widener are (1) wide stereo image even with just one rhythm guitar, (2) space in the stereo center for additional layers, lead and bass and (3) improvisation of the IEM-mixes.
Nevertheless, we are aware of the Haas effect but assume that this only could be a problem if listening to the live mix on headphones or standing at the sweetest sweet spot at a venue. Also the Haas effect gets less obvious (if noticed by the listener at all) in a complete live mix with drums, bass and layers.