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surgical cuts in high gain patches


Hi there,
so, I have a question regarding high gain patches and the surgical use of eqs to remove annoying fizz frequencies.
There are a lot of tutorials/insights of audio engineers out there showing how they remove those frequencies in their daw (high Q, sometimes 0.5 db sometimes 6 db or more cuts), I find myself always doing 2 specific cuts on my high gain preset.
I wonder, what are those frequencies anyhow and how do they come about? In my case, even without a cab and with different amps I can hear them. I tried to cut them before the amp but that actually doesn't remove them entirely and alters the overall sound in a way I don't like.
Does anyone have insight: Are these fizzy frequencies generated by the guitar, the pups or the combination?

As an example, at the 08:26 ish minute mark, Tue Madsen is removing some of those guys ().

Any input is appreciated!



Few personal observations

A good top end (one that is clear sounding and not dark or harsh) has a typical slope that ends around 7.6kHz, and a small bump of signal after (or else you kill the presence).

At 9.4kHz there might be some weird fizz from the axe-fx. Maybe it's aliasing. But notching it might kill the presence. If you want a thick and clear top end you need the 9-11kHz band. Better add room reverb and compression/console saturation to thicken the signal than nerfing it. In the mix, guitars always sound darker than they are.

What happens after 12-13kHz rarely matters.

Other surgical corrections you need to do in the top end are generally visible with a spectrum analyzer. The virtues and the vices of your tone are the visible asperities of the signal and you ears will make the difference. If the signal falls too abruptly, you probably also have a harsh bump at the top of the slope that should be taken care of.

Your guitar can excite some unwanted parts of the amp gain structure, but it most likely happens in the mids. Surgical issues in the top end are more an amp/cab matter.
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Fractal Fanatic
+1. Boosts often make frequencies easier to hear and pick out vs cuts. Once you find the right frequency, you can reverse it into a cut as needed.

One thing to keep in mind though is that some amount of fizz is often what gives your tone cut and clarity in a full band mix. If you try to remove it all, you can sometimes end up sounding muddy or indistinct and get lost in the mix.


I've been AEing for 15 years and each type of speaker typically has some peaky frequency stuff going on.. for example vintage 30's are notorious for having a 2.3k and a 3.5k peak that you'd typically notch out a bit. That said, notching those frequencies out before the amp won't really do much as amp gain has a tendency to kind of undo and normalize upper-midrange "noise". If you're looking to tame some of the harshness; you've got you've got to do it after the amp or cab. To answer your question, 85% of that stuff comes from the cab/speaker impulse whether it's an IR or a live cab.
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@speedloader: Thanks for the insights! I spent many night with cablab coming to the same results, (totally ignoring ear fatigue at times because even if I know better I just couldn't stop trying "one more thing"... Columbo mode I guess...)

@wyzyguy and @mr_fender, yep, thats what I do, and sure enough, @outloaf, I always find myself cutting 2.3k and 3.5k about 2 db, and of course the cab has v30's in it! This was also exactly my experience that cutting those frequencies up front didn't help at all.

So, is that cutting something you do in your daw or already with a PEQ in the axe?

Thank you to all of you, that was very helpful!


@kdotx I do it after the cab block with PEQ in the Axe. I try to get it sounding right before recording.. Not to say that once the mix is coming to together more eq work isn't done.. Also I will always record a direct track so If I want to reamp later. So many great options with relative ease....


Power User
With the Axe FX I never really have to make those kinds of surgical cuts.
If you use good IRs and good amp settings this should never be an issue.
Some sizzle can definitely make guitars sound 'healthy'.
Only make those cuts if those frequencies are annoying in the mix, never go into the mix and just start making those adjustments just because.
Just my 2 cents...


@wyzyguy thanks, and yes, grabing a di is a blessing and mostly obligatory.

@Guitarjon , thanx for dropping in.
I don't mind a certain type of sizzle that sounds awkward when the git is soloed but is masked and vanishes in the mix, I give you that. However, as outloaf stated, if the issue originates in the speaker, I wouldn't call it an axe problem at all but an speaker immanent issue, no? If you watch the video I posted in the OP, that is exactly the whistling I am talking about.

Btw, I use owhammer irs, so I don't think the ir itself is the issue.

In the end it probably comes down to taste and ones vision of a good guitar sound, however, I value exchanging experiences and I am eager to listen and learn.


To expand on the whole "if you're using good IR's and amp settings, it should never be an issue" statement; I'd say that if you can find an IR that isn't peaky (which most of the stock fractal IR's are by far less peaky than most on the market, then you're in good shape. I personally have only ever recorded a handful of cabinets ever that are actually balanced enough to not need more than a low/high-pass(bogner 1x12 cube). Most of the time you're going to be hunting those whistles down.


Yes, I also find myself often reducing the 200 - 500 hz area between 0.5 and 2 db max, that always adds clarity to the git sound as well as the mix. Additionally, I tend to use not more than 2 mics when mixing irs, it seems to me that while the sound gets thicker with more mics, it looses the air between the notes and definition, for the lack of a better description. Maybe that is what one also may refer to as "character".

I guess this is also a matter of an AEs workflow, if you throw an SPL vitalizer on the 2 bus and suck out some lower mids you might not wanna do that on the git bus already, others might prefer to send as a polished sounds as possible into the 2bus. The axe gives us so much more of a say than with a regular rig what we wanna sound like. Can be a blessing but also a grudge.

Jason Scott

Fractal Fanatic
You can visually see fizz in a spectrum analyzer. Being able to see it allows me to target specific areas that I might otherwise overcompensate for without a visual aid. Fizz usually presents itself as a narrow boost. I typically locate it using a spectrum analyzer in my DAW and then EQ it out using an EQ plugin. I generally use a DAW and plugin as a guideline to help locate the fizz. Once I know where it's at and how much to cut, I'll add a PEQ block in Axe-Edit and reproduce the same cut(s) there.
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