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Recording noisy guitars?

Pwrmac7600

Power User
Curious what most of you tend to do. i have always been of the mind set of just recording my basic guitar tracks raw, and doing most everything else in post. Recently I have been working on a recording of some heavy guitars and the rhythm parts have a lot of breaks in them where you can definitely hear the amp noise and hiss. But I found, no matter what the settings and or placement of the gate, It was effecting my transient response when coming in from the breaks. Almost as though it was cutting off the initial attack of the note. So I am curious do most of you track your guitars with a gate or do you gate and or edit in post?
 

jon

Fractal Fanatic
First, fix the source of the noise!!

Could be as simple as a monitor or dimmer or electrical equipment like a UPS or motor nearby (you'd be surprised the amount and types of noise sources there are around you!)
Even some LED bulbs introduce noise so be open minded in your search

Secondly, sometimes you get ground loops which can be very difficult to trace, but typically if you are getting noise when you have other gear connected, you may have an issue. Way too much on the subject to cover here but you have to at least know if you have one or not.

Thirdly, shield and properly 'ground' your guitar-costs a couple dollars and some time but you will be happier with the results

4th, use less gain! If you're tracking multiple guitars you likely will get better results with less gain than more! Also be mindful of other 'gain' being added - makeup gain via other pedals or drive/fuzz pedals....additional connected equipment = additional noise. The least noisy connections are those in the virtual grid of the axe, but even there you can add a lot of noise (or amplify it rather) by adding drives and boosts. Be careful to not go overboard.

5th, after most of the noise sources are sorted, use a gate or turn down the volume between parts, just like how it was done old school (not ideal)
I use an ISP decimator, but the axe iii is so quiet and has so many gate options that I find I don't need the decimator like I used to. I usually don't use very extreme settings in the axe's gate as they tend to cut off the transient of the note as you mentioned. I'd look at how the threshold is set first...usually a bit lower than I'd like will allow the transient through without being too noisy. Remember that when you start to play that transient noise is not as noticeable as say the end of a decaying note.....so feel free to adjust down the threshold to a little less than you may like and see if that works.

6th, if you have noisy or microphonic pickups you may look at swapping them out completely. Some pickups I've been able to turn the gain up to ridiculous levels and they are dead quiet...not quite the ideal solution as you may already like the pickups you have, but if you are looking for solutions, this is also a viable one.
 
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dr bonkers

Fractal Fanatic
Vendor
When faced with this in recording situations, I learned to live with the noise during recording with no gate.

During mixing, I use DAW volume automation to tailor the volume to the note attacks and decays.
 

Pwrmac7600

Power User
Yes I do have some computer monitor noise bleeding into my guitar, Natural being in a small apartment bedroom. I am just in to close proximity to not get some bleed from that. All of my guitars have been shielded really well, and I run everything through a power conditioner. But I am talking even just general noise from the amp, hiss and what not.
 

dr bonkers

Fractal Fanatic
Vendor
Yes I do have some computer monitor noise bleeding into my guitar, Natural being in a small apartment bedroom. I am just in to close proximity to not get some bleed from that. All of my guitars have been shielded really well, and I run everything through a power conditioner. But I am talking even just general noise from the amp, hiss and what not.
That's the power of using a DAW. If using noise reduction plug ins that can analyze the noise floor don't work, or VST gates don't work on your noise floor issues with any amps, then you usually draw volume automation curves that leave all your note attacks and decays, but fade to silence the amp hum/noise between the notes.
 

jon

Fractal Fanatic
Is it from the amp only? Unplug the guitar cable from the amp and if the hiss is still there it's the amp, if not, could be a bad cable (had a couple of those too!) or the guitar.

Usually the source is recorded louder than the background noise so it's not really noticeable-if you listen to older recordings it becomes painfully obvious this was the approach haha

You can also remove the noise via post processing and editing, that's a great option as well!

Are you using an amp or the axe fx? Which model axe fx as well?

Sometimes those power 'conditioners' actually ADD noise! :O been a victim of those too! LOLL most of them are just glorified surge protectors believe it or not!

I'd also highly recommend the ISP decimator, especially if you're using different things to record....very simple, cheap and WORKS!
I NEVER would gig without it, even with the axe ii....the iii is much better so I don't use it anymore but it's still within arms reach at all times! LOLL

Also try the gate settings I mentioned, should help a lot too!

There was a program I had used many years ago called audacity that did good post-recording hiss removal, not sure how it is now, maybe you can check that out too.

Also you can use eq to notch out some of the offensive noises too, but be subtle or it might sound weird Haha!
 

jon

Fractal Fanatic
Another option is to relocate from your DAW monitor - use something like the presonus faderport or apogee GIO or korg nanoKontrol to relocate the transport buttons away from the monitor AKA noise source

A wireless may help your cause too, as most of the background noise is not loud enough to register on the units
 

PincoTech

Inspired
First, fix the source of the noise!!

Could be as simple as a monitor or dimmer or electrical equipment like a UPS or motor nearby (you'd be surprised the amount and types of noise sources there are around you!)
Even some LED bulbs introduce noise so be open minded in your search

Secondly, sometimes you get ground loops which can be very difficult to trace, but typically if you are getting noise when you have other gear connected, you may have an issue. Way too much on the subject to cover here but you have to at least know if you have one or not.

Thirdly, shield and properly 'ground' your guitar-costs a couple dollars and some time but you will be happier with the results

4th, use less gain! If you're tracking multiple guitars you likely will get better results with less gain than more! Also be mindful of other 'gain' being added - makeup gain via other pedals or drive/fuzz pedals....additional connected equipment = additional noise. The least noisy connections are those in the virtual grid of the axe, but even there you can add a lot of noise (or amplify it rather) by adding drives and boosts. Be careful to not go overboard.

5th, after most of the noise sources are sorted, use a gate or turn down the volume between parts, just like how it was done old school (not ideal)
I use an ISP decimator, but the axe iii is so quiet and has so many gate options that I find I don't need the decimator like I used to. I usually don't use very extreme settings in the axe's gate as they tend to cut off the transient of the note as you mentioned. I'd look at how the threshold is set first...usually a bit lower than I'd like will allow the transient through without being too noisy. Remember that when you start to play that transient noise is not as noticeable as say the end of a decaying note.....so feel free to adjust down the threshold to a little less than you may like and see if that works.

6th, if you have noisy or microphonic pickups you may look at swapping them out completely. Some pickups I've been able to turn the gain up to ridiculous levels and they are dead quiet...not quite the ideal solution as you may already like the pickups you have, but if you are looking for solutions, this is also a viable one.
This!

An overlooked trick in certain situations is just rotating your chair while listening to the noise decrease. Yeah that kind of noise has underlying issues, but it works.

If you can’t afford to have your guitar shielded, and your able to do it yourself, buy some copper shielding for the electronics cavity.

A gate with a very fast release, and dialed in attack at the proper threshold like Jon said matters a lot. It won’t chop the first transient while recording. Any noise that’s recorded between waveform clips is an easy fix. Select the area “process in place” the noise. Or, split the clips into 3, delete the middle clip then rejoin, if you want to maintain an easy copy paste layout..

I strongly agree that less gain not only removes noise, but increases clarity, especiallly on double or quadruple tracking. In the end you won’t even notice that you used less gain, since the multitracked guitars will sound like a wall. Like Jon said remove make up gain especially on the live armed to record guitar tracks. No need to record hotter than -1.5 either. Any other makeup gain in the daw armed track, including plug-ins will add noise.

I also tend to run as much gear as possible at +4, with XLR (stronger signal, lower noise floor)

Man, a subject like this could go on forever, but compared to 15 years ago, it’s rather easy, especially with mighty fractal.
 

PincoTech

Inspired
You could also use the AXE fx built in RTA spectrum analyzer! Place the RTA at the beginning of your chain to look for and eliminate “pre” amp noise. Leave the guitar armed while doing this. Then try the RTA at the end of your signal chain, and do the same. You might even find that there’s some level mismatching. Look at all the frequencies that are producing noise. Since you’re not playing, you need to bring them all down. Walk around the studio, doing a lot of what Jon is saying, and watch those noisy frequencies drop.
 
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trancegodz

Power User
My guitars with humbuckers aren't a problem, but my Stratocasters are. Right now I use a volume pedal and just turn the volume all the way down when I'm not playing. My computer and monitors are straight in front of me about 4 feet away. The Axe FXIII is to my right about 4 feet away and about 6 feet up in a rack. As an experiment tonight I turned off the computer and some of the noise went away. Then I turned off my monitors and plugged headphones straight into the Axe FXIII and more of the noise went away. Even when just plugged into the Axe FXIII and headphones I still got noise if I was facing any direction except facing straight ahead. I was playing an Eric Johnson Stratocaster. It is dead quiet in the two hum cancelling positions, and noisy in the three straight single coils. I'm going to try shielding the whole inside of the guitar with copper tape. If that doesn't help I'm considering buying noiseless Stratocaster pickups, but I don't know which ones are good.
 

PincoTech

Inspired
My guitars with humbuckers aren't a problem, but my Stratocasters are. Right now I use a volume pedal and just turn the volume all the way down when I'm not playing. My computer and monitors are straight in front of me about 4 feet away. The Axe FXIII is to my right about 4 feet away and about 6 feet up in a rack. As an experiment tonight I turned off the computer and some of the noise went away. Then I turned off my monitors and plugged headphones straight into the Axe FXIII and more of the noise went away. Even when just plugged into the Axe FXIII and headphones I still got noise if I was facing any direction except facing straight ahead. I was playing an Eric Johnson Stratocaster. It is dead quiet in the two hum cancelling positions, and noisy in the three straight single coils. I'm going to try shielding the whole inside of the guitar with copper tape. If that doesn't help I'm considering buying noiseless Stratocaster pickups, but I don't know which ones are good.
I can’t tell you which noiseless Strat pickups are the best, but I can tell you they work. My nephew has a custom strat with noiseless pickups, and it’s very quiet
 

trancegodz

Power User
I just covered the back of my Eric Johnson Stratocaster pickguard with copper foil and it made a huge difference. That's all I did. I was going to do the whole inside of the guitar, but stopped because I'd cut my fingers up enough for one night with the copper. There is very little noise at all now.
 

PincoTech

Inspired
I just covered the back of my Eric Johnson Stratocaster pickguard with copper foil and it made a huge difference. That's all I did. I was going to do the whole inside of the guitar, but stopped because I'd cut my fingers up enough for one night with the copper. There is very little noise at all now.
Sweet! The reward of perseverance, and hard work
 

RevDrucifer

Inspired
Not sure what DAW you’re using but Waves makes some EXCELLENT plugins to relieve you of noise issues. I can’t remember the names off the top of my head, but I regularly go in and throw some gates on my guitar tracks. I’d rather track with then guitars full open and remove it after the fact. Now that I have an AxeFX, the amp hiss is a thing of the past and all my guitars have humbuckers.

What I get a kick out of is listening to raw tracks, or ’Guitar Only’ tracks on YouTube. Some of those older recordings are full of stuff like this and I love hearing the edits and punch ins as those raw tracks give you a great idea of how stuff is mixed/edited. It’s amazing how many huge songs are filled with mic bleed or amp hiss, but you never hear it in the final mix.
 

Pwrmac7600

Power User
Not sure what DAW you’re using but Waves makes some EXCELLENT plugins to relieve you of noise issues. I can’t remember the names off the top of my head, but I regularly go in and throw some gates on my guitar tracks. I’d rather track with then guitars full open and remove it after the fact. Now that I have an AxeFX, the amp hiss is a thing of the past and all my guitars have humbuckers.

What I get a kick out of is listening to raw tracks, or ’Guitar Only’ tracks on YouTube. Some of those older recordings are full of stuff like this and I love hearing the edits and punch ins as those raw tracks give you a great idea of how stuff is mixed/edited. It’s amazing how many huge songs are filled with mic bleed or amp hiss, but you never hear it in the final mix.
Yeah I tend to like to record full open as well, and edit after. The only thing i am having a real issue with is on high gain chord fades. It reaches a point where the hiss and any amount of electrical interference from computers and what not starts to rise up as the chord rings out.
 

Pwrmac7600

Power User
I just covered the back of my Eric Johnson Stratocaster pickguard with copper foil and it made a huge difference. That's all I did. I was going to do the whole inside of the guitar, but stopped because I'd cut my fingers up enough for one night with the copper. There is very little noise at all now.
Yeah a long few years ago, I opened up all of my guitars and ripped out all the electronics so i could shield them. It did help alot.
The noise I am trying to remove probably isn't nearly as big a deal as it is in my own head, but still just interested what others do to remove noise on a already recorded signal.
 

RevDrucifer

Inspired
Yeah I tend to like to record full open as well, and edit after. The only thing i am having a real issue with is on high gain chord fades. It reaches a point where the hiss and any amount of electrical interference from computers and what not starts to rise up as the chord rings out.
Waves X-Noise, X-Hum and NS1 plug-ins have helped with that. They've got a learn feature that zeroes in on the noise so when it starts rearing it's head it cuts it out. You can also automate the thresholds so as the chord gets quieter you raise the threshold and it'll kill the noise increasingly. Since you've already got the track recorded, you don't have to worry about it messing with the guitar's volume/chopping it up.
 
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