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Says the Producer/Engineer: Your gain sounds are too compressed...bigger tone

dbarrow

Member
Thank you guys! All wonderful answers. I shut off everything in the chain other than amp and cab (except for the 'ambience tracks.' I honestly need to go back to check the gain settings, but they weren't too high. This producer is by no means a guitar nut, but we were comparing to some other tracks on previous recordings etc where the individual tracks sounded a drop more "in your face." It was only for rhythm, and yes I layered and we got the sound we wanted by layering, but again I was looking for individual track advice. I kinda thought you guys were gonna mention transformer drive, LF and HF resonance and things like that. Do any of you push those when recording high gain in the studio?
Yes, record tracks dry and "in your face" and then you can do whatever with them later: layer, echo, panning, chorus, whatever. You will have preserved your options versus being stuck with FX that can't be "unrecorded".
 

EpicAxe

Member
Doubling is always essential in thick tone. You will not achieve it with one take. The days of van halen and the single take of guitar are over. Everything is multi tracked and heavily layered these days.

If I remember correctly, the presets you mentioned do have a bit more gain than what's needed for recording. I usually record with the drive anywhere between 4-5. The presets are usually set at 6-7 which is great for performing, but not recording.

Its my experience that engineers like to complain about EVERYTHiNG! If you brought in a prerecorded track of a perfectly miced tube amp, chances are he would have hated that too.
 
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R.D.

Power User
I cannot take credit for this post .... It was done by ZenGuitar and posted on 6/10/2009. It made such an impression on me I did a "cut-n-paste" into a word document. I hope it helps you as much as it has me !

A couple of things that work for me in dialing direct recording tones ….

Turn off all of your delays, reverbs, stereo enhancers, etc; and start with a dry MONO tone.

Once you get in the ballpark of where you want to go with a patch, put on a well produced / recorded CD of a band with a similar guitar tone that you are trying to dial and re-tweak. Dialing your sound with a reference point makes all the difference in the world. When you start to sound like you are "in the mix" you are getting close.

At this point, your tone may sound a bit flat and two dimensional, depending on what you are looking for. Now add in a touch of reverb with the thought in mind that you want this to not sound like an effect per say, but to merely give you the impression that your sound is coming from a mic'd source in a room. Try to dial in a reverb that mimics what your idea of a good sounding recording studio would sound like where you would mic your cabs. Take time with this reverb, as it will serve you for many of your patches. Now, dial in just a tiny bit of this until your tone begins to sound three dimensional and have some air around it. If you can hear the reverb trail you've probably gone too far. It is something that you shouldn't notice until you bypass it and then find that you miss it. There is some good starting parameters for this in the Wiki that you might want to try, although I would dial the wet mix back quite a bit …, maybe 9-10%.

If you are planning on double or quad tracking, you may want to leave your patches as mono and adjusting panning in your DAW. If you prefer to use stereo patches, then start to tweak your panning at this point. I approach this the way I would with a real set of mics and cabs …. For instance, an SM57 and a MD421 or R121 are a good combination for rock tones. Let the 57 be the main part of your tone and dial up the Senny or the Royer until your sound gains some girth and some dimension and loses some of that harsh midrange from just the 57. Do this in mono at first. This can be on a duplicate cab

(real world would often be same cab and often same speaker ) or you can do this on a complimentary cab. If you plan on going stereo, don't just pan everything hard left and right, but instead listen as you pan and see what sounds best. Also, keep in mind that if you are panning two sources of unequal level (the 57 is probably set louder than the other mic for example ) that you'll want to pan unevenly to keep the tone sounding "centered" without changing the ratio between mics.

If your sound is starting to happen, but is sounding a bit too muddy, don't be afraid to tame the bass, and do some surgery with the parametric EQ. Try using a high pass and cut out the portion that is going to fight with the bass player ( below 70-120Hz ). Try some surgical cuts at the frequencies that seem to cause you the most mud, such as 250Hz. Maybe add a little boost at 2K for some clarity and maybe boost a high shelf at around 10-12k for some added air.

If you are getting some harsh or artificial sounding highs, try doing some EQing in similar fashion …. Sweep the parametric with a large boost and try to accentuate the offending freqs, and then turn that boost into a cut. Adjust the Q to as narrow as possible to cut out the ugly without interfering with the good. Rule of thumb is wide Q for more natural boosting and narrow Q for less obtrusive cutting. Also, try dialing in a touch of the warmth parameter here. I also personally feel a touch of cab drive helps here, but some might debate that.

Remember, do all of this back and forth with a good reference mix. Makes a world of difference.

Now, you might be feeling like your tone is a bit dry sounding and needs some reverb. Before reaching for the reverb, try using a delay instead. Roll off some of the highs in the repeats and limit the repeats to 1-3. You can add a sense of space without muddying up your tone or your mix. Reverb can be just the ticket for certain tones, but it can take a lot of sonic real estate and also make your sound more distant.

Once you think that you're really getting there, try recording some tracks the way you would with a real world amp, cab, and mic set-up ( ie; double / quad tracking, post processing, etc; ). This is part of the elusive secret sauce of pro sounding recordings.

Go back and listen to your test tracks with fresh ears and record variations of your tones in the same mix to reference later and on separate systems. If you prefer, then just dial in separate patches with subtle variations so you can spin the patch wheel and hear the differences in real-time. You'll start to narrow in on what you like. I think I had like 13 or 14 different Recto crunch presets before I finally got to where I am now. Same with lead patches, cleans, etc; ( who said OCD !??! ).

Remember, when in doubt, err on the side of:


  • Bright rather than dark
  • Dry rather than wet
  • Less gain rather than more
  • Less wide rather than more wide ( panning )
  • More mids rather than less
 

guitarnerdswe

Fractal Fanatic
Just do 1 or 2 dry takes, pan them and be done. I don't think there is anything more to it, no magic etc. All the effects and everything else is not your really. Just a amp block and cab will do the trick.
 
My solution to getting a huge sound really does not have much to do with the amp or cab. It has not been helped by the advanced settings or any of the basic amp settings as well as any EQing. These all shape the basic tone wether it be warm, fat, punchy, harmonically rich, bright etc. To get a huge sound i usually use a side chain of dual delay into a stereo reverb to the output and another side chain with yet ANOTHER reverb also in stereo to the output. The 3rd path is the dry signal from the cab or post cab EQ. I then mix all these meticulously and get huge spacial sounds which are actually very clear and crisp and not muddied. I usually will select the different verbs to get this effect like medium hall after delay and the other verb would be the medium or large plate.

Most importantly i usually go back and turn down the gain, turn down the input trim, down on dampening, down on transformer match, down on base etc. I find i need very little drive but usually max the master on many of the non master volume amps. My tone is best described as slightly past the edge of breakup but with the delays and verbs the sound is gigantic. This approach may not be best for recording since you are "locked-in". May not be best for live use since every venue is different.

For me the most important problem i have encountered is that one you get into the time based effects, the basic tone changes and has to be reworked to better suit the use of the effects.
 

Rotaholic

Inspired
Heavy guitars on there own are normally thin compressed and have no dynamics. If they sound big and huge your not going to have much room to fit anything else in. If you listen to any band, but lets say foo fighters new album "wasting light" they have 3 guitarists, all of them probably double track and when you listen to the guitars on parts of the cd, when its the guitars and the guitars only, they sound thin and small. So how do you get that wall of sound great guitar sound???

Bass guitar! you have to (well you dont have to lol) get a banging mix of the drums and bass first, well kick drum and bass guitar atleast. Then you will know what you can get rid of from the guitars, trim the fat so to speak. If you listen to any part from any record in isolation it will probably sound like crap but in the context of the mix it will pop out and have its own place.

So the question should be how does your guitar sound in the mix!

If your playing by yourself in a room etc go for gold, use all that you can from 20hz to 20,000khz but in the mix high pass and low pass that sucker.
 

Sammetal91

Power User
Heavy guitars on there own are normally thin compressed and have no dynamics. If they sound big and huge your not going to have much room to fit anything else in. If you listen to any band, but lets say foo fighters new album "wasting light" they have 3 guitarists, all of them probably double track and when you listen to the guitars on parts of the cd, when its the guitars and the guitars only, they sound thin and small. So how do you get that wall of sound great guitar sound???

Bass guitar! you have to (well you dont have to lol) get a banging mix of the drums and bass first, well kick drum and bass guitar atleast. Then you will know what you can get rid of from the guitars, trim the fat so to speak. If you listen to any part from any record in isolation it will probably sound like crap but in the context of the mix it will pop out and have its own place.

So the question should be how does your guitar sound in the mix!

If your playing by yourself in a room etc go for gold, use all that you can from 20hz to 20,000khz but in the mix high pass and low pass that sucker.
this! Kill everything 120 Hz and under and 8k and beyond. You'll fit better in the mix.
 

ari

Inspired
Wonderful advice from all! Thanks-when i get the tracks i'll post them up for you to hear-thanks again.
 

Gasp100

Experienced
I would also suggest slightly tweaking the cabinet settings (in the AxeFX). The proximity, room level, size, mic spacing, etc... don't go nuts, but I'm finding even with very basic simple guitar recordings tweaks here carry throughout the patch creation process and reduce the need for additional EQ, FX, etc...
Do you have the option of printing dry tracks and reamping using the AxeFX with the producer? That might be helpful.
 

dbarrow

Member
Heavy guitars on there own are normally thin compressed and have no dynamics. If they sound big and huge your not going to have much room to fit anything else in. If you listen to any band, but lets say foo fighters new album "wasting light" they have 3 guitarists, all of them probably double track and when you listen to the guitars on parts of the cd, when its the guitars and the guitars only, they sound thin and small. So how do you get that wall of sound great guitar sound???

Bass guitar! you have to (well you dont have to lol) get a banging mix of the drums and bass first, well kick drum and bass guitar atleast. Then you will know what you can get rid of from the guitars, trim the fat so to speak. If you listen to any part from any record in isolation it will probably sound like crap but in the context of the mix it will pop out and have its own place.

So the question should be how does your guitar sound in the mix!

If your playing by yourself in a room etc go for gold, use all that you can from 20hz to 20,000khz but in the mix high pass and low pass that sucker.
I have heard numerous guitarists trying to "duplicate" the sound of Van Halen, etc. by cranking up the low end on their guitar tone, not realizing that much of the low end comes from the bass. That's fine if you are by yourself, jamming in your bedroom, but once your guitar is mixed in with other instruments (bass, toms, kick drum) the cranked low end on the guitar is just more mud. Same thing with the upper highs. Leave that for cymbals, percussion and other instruments that have something going on up there. These are merely my opinions, but similar philosophies are used on countless recordings to have each element sit in it's own space in the mix. Low and high pass filters, as well as sculpting the mids with EQ can help the guitar tracks blend with everything else that is going on in the mix.
 
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klaushouz

Experienced
My solution to getting a huge sound really does not have much to do with the amp or cab. It has not been helped by the advanced settings or any of the basic amp settings as well as any EQing. These all shape the basic tone wether it be warm, fat, punchy, harmonically rich, bright etc. To get a huge sound i usually use a side chain of dual delay into a stereo reverb to the output and another side chain with yet ANOTHER reverb also in stereo to the output. The 3rd path is the dry signal from the cab or post cab EQ. I then mix all these meticulously and get huge spacial sounds which are actually very clear and crisp and not muddied. I usually will select the different verbs to get this effect like medium hall after delay and the other verb would be the medium or large plate.

Most importantly i usually go back and turn down the gain, turn down the input trim, down on dampening, down on transformer match, down on base etc. I find i need very little drive but usually max the master on many of the non master volume amps. My tone is best described as slightly past the edge of breakup but with the delays and verbs the sound is gigantic. This approach may not be best for recording since you are "locked-in". May not be best for live use since every venue is different.

For me the most important problem i have encountered is that one you get into the time based effects, the basic tone changes and has to be reworked to better suit the use of the effects.
Idea sounds great, can you post a screen shot AND preset to further explain ?
 

clarky

Axe-Master
I think a lot of folk don't realise that a great tone in the mix is often quite different and disappointing when it's heard in isolation..
it's all about how the combination of instruments blend together in the mix..

to add to all the great info above...

when tracking guitars, don't use the exactly the same tone
use slightly different tones because it's the differences that combine

I've had good results from tracking three times in mono
placing a 'cleaner than you'd usually use' tone with low end just off dead centre
this blend with the bass and gives the guitars a centre of gravity
the pair of higher gain tone guitars are panned wide but with less bass
too much bass on one guitar panned wide will make the mix 'lean' to one side.. let the central guitar add the low end whilst the brighter / fizzier / panned wide guitars create the energy and sense of spread...

if your playing is tight enough, two performances are better than one.. this avoids phasing..
I'll do one performance for the central guitar and another for the wide pair..

reverb.. too much reverb on riffing guitars can have a couple of negative effects..
- it'll smear the definition
- it'll make the guitars sound slightly distant and make them 'retreat' to the back of the sound stage..

if you want reverb on your riffing guitars either:
- have it quite wet but very very short [less than 200mS / 25% wet or a little more]
- have it a little longer but very dry [more than 200mS - less than 500mS / 10% to 15% wet]

personally, I like my riff tone to be just a little wet with a short reverb..
I tend to bus all riffing guitars to an aux channel [to allow control over them en masse] and then add a little reverb in parallel by sending a little of this to the short ambient reverb I use for the drums..
 
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