This site is supported by the advertisements on it, please disable your AdBlocker so we can continue to provide you with the quality content you expect.

Welcome to Our Community

Wanting to join the rest of our members? Feel free to sign up today.

Is good guitar tone even possible?

Discussion in 'F.O.H.' started by tk7261, Aug 14, 2014.

  1. tk7261

    tk7261 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2012
    Messages:
    87
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    So i need some real advice here guys. Anyone have the problem that they just hate any guitar tone they record? Ive really gotten deep into trying to get an awesome tone over the last year. I am not exaggerating when I say Ive probably tried over 5 or 6 thousand combinations of mic placements, mics, tubes, settings, guitars, and pickups and have never once gotten something I was completely happy with. Im assuming its not my gear cause Ive heard others get tones i love with the same exact set up. Any tips on how to know what to listen for, and listen through hating your own stuff? Should I just call it quits?
     
  2. bryan_kilco

    bryan_kilco Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2007
    Messages:
    4,623
    Likes Received:
    19
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    Poconos, PA
    Well, how's your playing/technique, for one?

    Also - do you have a treated room you are tracking in?

    What gear are you using?

    I've mic'd a live cab quite a few times and, honestly, I am never fully satisfied with my recorded tone either. This may be due to the fact that I've never mic'd it in a properly treated room.

    Remember that it needs to sound good in the mix and not on its own! Most often, a great mixes guitar solo'd out will sound different than you think!
     
  3. Manicompression

    Manicompression doing it for the kids

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2007
    Messages:
    1,036
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    Cleveland OH
    Id be willing to bet you have recorded a tone that was at least average or better if you have spent that kind of time and money working on it.This is on faith that you can tune your guitar and play in time. Your probably just victim to your own OCD.

    If you have a strong idea about what you want the outcome to be its easier to work towards it. I find that when I start chasing my tail with recording stuff / chasing tones it tends to be because I didn't have a clear enough idea about what I wanted the finished result to be when I started. If you have only been recording for a year or so, then it might be something to continue working on. Most people suck at instruments for a year or so when they start, some take a few years to get any good, no reason recording should be different. If your really determined to get better at recording / mixing then it would be wise to save some of that money your blowing on tubes and whatever else and spend a few days at a studio with an engineer whos work you like. There are plenty of famous musicians that record others but have others work on their personal projects.

    Also there is no shame in calling it quits, or just not pursuing that goal all the way to where you initially imagined it. Not everyone who plays an instrument should be the worlds best recording engineer. Jimi Hendrix, Dimebag, the guys in Necrophagist do / did not record their own albums, or at least they dont release them if they are.

    It might be your playing that your unhappy with and you don't even realize it. Sometimes how we perceive events to have happened VS how they actually are happening are very different things. The time you spent learning to record yourself is valuable in this regard alone, it allows you to stand back from the function of playing and actually listen to yourself.

    Finally, a recording can sound like complete dogshit or just plain average but if the songs and playing are fantastic most real fans of what your doing will look past it, especially in the metal genre. Good luck
     
  4. HOFX

    HOFX Member

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2012
    Messages:
    469
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    TL:DR; Judging your isolated guitar tone against what you perceive is a good guitar tone from a commercial mix will always disappoint.

    Perception is everything.

    Drums set the basis of a mix, particularly the high end air from the room mics.

    The bass gives the low end and thump.

    Vocals fill out what they need to sound cool as fck.

    The guitar then just pokes through what is left.

    I think you'd find that if you solo'd most guitar tracks in recordings they would sound thin and weak.

    You need to find what place in your mix you want your guitars to fill, and mic it to that.
     
  5. tk7261

    tk7261 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2012
    Messages:
    87
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Thanks so much for the replies guys. bryan_kilco I have a 5150ii, mesa oversized cab, fernandes monterey elite, schecter hellraiser c1 special, fender american deluxe custom telecaster. Mics I have sm57, sm7b, and an akg c214 that I use with my apogee duet (1).

    Whenever Im using reference Ill pull up the full mix as well as the isolated guitar for that reason. You can find a lot of em on youtube or Ill make it from a section of a song with just the guitar playing. But Ive also tried every possible combination of settings and mic placements I could think of to make it fit in the mix. If you have any suggestions for setting and tone combinations please let me know.

    Some wise words Manicompression. Your very right about all that.

    I used to do some studio musician work, and I think Im a pretty decent player. But its definitely possible I strum too light or something like that. Ive actually been recording for about 6 years, but only recording metal for about 2 (playing metal for about 11 haha). I went to engineering school and worked in a few recording studios, but in the studios I worked at we mainly recorded indie and other non metal genres. Which maybe is why I really like my drum and bass sounds but just hate my guitar tone. Ive tried to look up everything I could about engineers I look up to. How Adam D, Kurt Ballou, Jason Suecof, Andy Sneap, and a bunch of others get their tones. All Ive wanted was to get a tone that was comparable to records I like and that I was proud of. The fact that Ive been working so hard on it and am not getting it is really screwing with my confidence. Starting to make music not fun anymore.
     
  6. ATLA

    ATLA Member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2007
    Messages:
    1,001
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Location:
    The North
    why dont you post something then? i sure there would be a few people here who can help you out.
     
  7. Genius Gone Insane

    Genius Gone Insane http://www.¯\(°_o)/¯.com

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2003
    Messages:
    5,708
    Likes Received:
    14
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    San Francisco Bay Area
    This is my bible for guitars, with the 10 Commandments in bold:

    http://www.ultimatemetal.com/forum/andy-sneap/164831-guitar-player-vs-amp.html#post3180580

    "In my opinion there are a couple of small things that go a long way to making a player sound great. The first is unwanted noise. Whether it be the noise of your fingers sliding up and down the strings or a string buzzing accidently, if you can get the unwanted noise down it will always sound half decent.

    Decent vibrato will also make a huge amount of difference. It doesn't have to be super wide vibrato say like Zakk Wylde (although he does have just about the best vibrato around - especially on his pinch harmonics). It just needs to be smooth and so it doesn't sound like a bee.

    The other main thing is the guitarists ability to double tracks accurately. This is not just a timing issue but also a feel issue which is hard to explain in words. But for me, the feel is all in the picking hand. How you mute, whether you're playing on, in front or behind the beat... that kinda thing."
     
  8. crillemannen

    crillemannen Member

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2007
    Messages:
    3,320
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Go for modest settings: Treble 5-6 Mids 3-4 Bass 5-6 Gain 3-4. Use Sm57 slightly off axis and you should have a great tone IF you are recording a good guitar player. Boost with a TS if you like to.

    Not really hard to get a good sounding raw guitar tone.But a good sounding RAW guitar tone is nothing without a good sounding mix. That is probably where the problem is for you.
     
  9. indecizo

    indecizo Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2011
    Messages:
    818
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    It took me two years of ear training to get good guitar tones.
     
  10. ashgallows

    ashgallows resonant manipulator

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Messages:
    274
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Culver City
    I did not see a tube screamer in your gear setup. tbh when I got one it was the first thing I did to set me on the right track. btw what is it that you hate about your tone? tell us that and post a clip and we can more effectively help you.
     
  11. He's Dead, Jim

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2012
    Messages:
    1,429
    Likes Received:
    11
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    Washington, DC




    Any Ola or Keith Merrow videos with amp playthroughs can also let you see the exact signal chain and often include centered or panned solo guitars that aren't heavily eq'd or mastered, which is really helpful.

    At the end of the day, I've also spent hours upon hours trying to find That Guitar Tone, and I've basically reverted to not caring much about what it sounds like so much as making sure each individual part of the signal chain is set up correctly. There's so much stuff before it even hits the amp/mic. Make a checklist:

    -New guitar strings
    -What string gauge?
    -New active pickup battery
    -String dampener
    -What type of pick are you using?
    -Input/output volume of amp/instrument
    -Hi Z input?
    -Variable input impedance setting on your interface?
    -Every setting on the amp, every setting on the tube screamer- play around with each, try new things out
    -Amp tubes and bias
    -Type of microphone, direction, any phase issues, combination of microphones (I often find just one off-axis SM57 doesn't get me the bass I need, so an on-axis 421 or 121 is a great addition- but play with their respective volume levels!)
    -Mic pres?
    -Room, room treatment, placement of cab in room
    -Mic levels

    In the DAW:
    -Add a compressor after? See Ola's video for a nice, decently subtle setting. And then, stereo-linked compression? Always put a compressor instance on each panned track, not on the bus!
    -EQ: If you're using 2 mics, on each mic or on the recorded tone afterward?
    -EQ: before or after mic?
    -EQ cuts: wide for mud reduction, or tiny narrow cuts for room issues or fizz nodes?
    -Saturation yes/no, and amount
    -Double or quad tracked? Did you make sure you played in time? Try playing with different drum loops that make you a tighter player by adding snare 8ths or 16ths if quarter notes don't get a tight enough result.
    -Phase issues once tracked?

    And that's just to start. Each of these things matters anywhere from about 1-25% in terms of the tone, but collectively that's what makes a guitar tone. The tube screamer in particular might be the most important effect in your chain, since it can really substantially change your tone in a huge way. Make sure you aren't over-doing it on the tone or level knobs, since I know I love putting them at 100 to start and then sometimes forget to fine-tune them to where they really need to be.

    From there, think about different "philosophies": are you trying to get a tight, scooped tone that sounds full when you quad-track? A dry, mids-dominant tone that will come to life when you add the perfect amount of bass (The End of Heartache- listen to the solo guitar tracks on YouTube!)? A muddy guitar tone that fills up a lot of the mix to compensate for a smaller bass and drum footprint?
     
    #11 He's Dead, Jim, Aug 15, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 20, 2015
  12. tk7261

    tk7261 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2012
    Messages:
    87
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Oh sorry, yea I actually am using a tube screamer. I have an Ibanez TS9. And yea Ive watched the hell out of Olas videos. Looked up anything I could find about Andy Sneap, Adam D, Kurt Ballou, Ola, Don Gilmore, and a bunch of others. Everything I could find about them talking about settings and micing stuff up. Old magazine interviews, videos, forums, all that stuff. I always make sure I have new strings and batteries. As far as string gauge I use Ernie Ball Skinny Top Heavy Bottom in drop C. I wanted to try a higher gauge but I have a wrist injury so I cant. My head was biased by FJA mods. I am mixing on mediocre $40 headphones though. Ive tried a lot of stuff as far as different settings. Im finding the really hard thing to balance is the High eq, Presence, and mic placement. Im finding balancing those three things is really whats giving me a hard time. I feel like there has to be a few magic combinations of these three things Im not finding.

    Here some samples of what Im working on. I had a better balanced mix, but it crashed when I was trying to make this for you guys. So I had to do the levels and some mixing again real quick to get something to show you :p

    Drums and bass-
    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/140656441/Drums and bass (for UM).mp3

    With guitar-
    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/140656441/All Instruments.mp3

    And the guitar Isolated-
    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/140656441/Guitar only (for UM).mp3

    Like when you listen to something Adam D produced the tone is really aggressive and has really nice high end, but is still dark and big sounding. Thats what Im aiming for. I feel like mine sounds fuzzy and weak. I don't think this is the best tone Ive gotten, but its where its at now after running In circles with settings and placement a billion times. I really am having a hard time telling whats good and whats not anymore haha.

    Edit: Also I have no idea why its so quiet. I have had other mixes that where so much louder when I mastered them.
     
  13. He's Dead, Jim

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2012
    Messages:
    1,429
    Likes Received:
    11
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    I don't think there's anything wrong with that tone at all. Maybe try reducing the mids and boosting the presence a little bit but I really think it sounds fine. Have you tried listening to the isolated guitar tracks from metal albums from the Rock Band games?





    IIRC they're both mostly if not solely one SM57. It seems to me like you're over-thinking it. Your drum track could use some tightening up (EQ-wise) and the guitars are a little quiet, which also impacts how you perceive their tone. On the headphones, definitely get a better pair, since monitors are ultimately what determine how your music sounds to you 99% of the time during the mixing process. I have Audio Technica ATH-M50s and I use them in every mix to strip out guitar fizz/resonance nodes and mix the bass. About $150 through most retailers.
     
    #13 He's Dead, Jim, Aug 15, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 20, 2015
  14. Hankyu

    Hankyu Member

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2014
    Messages:
    75
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Location:
    Germany
    I had a similar problem that I couldn't find a guitar tone that make me happy. I also tried everything out. I just left out one little thing: the guitar tuning. I played in drop c and now I changed to drop a. I'm finaly happy with my tone now. Realy simple isn't it? Try it out the tuning makes a huge difference
     
  15. Mago

    Mago Austrian Blech Machine

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2009
    Messages:
    4,687
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    Vienna, Austria
    I think you're being a bit too critical here. That's not a bad tone at all, it works for that kind of stuff.

    But if you want it to sound more aggressive there's only one real way to archive it, it's simple but hard at the same time, and was mentioned a couple of times already:

    Play it more aggressive.

    Dig in like you mean it. Especially Adam D hits the guitar like it owes him money. I mean listen to his pinches and you know he's not taking prisoners :lol:


    But on a more engineering perspective, it takes quite a bit of time and experience to know how to listen to guitar tones. The more you mic up, the easier it will get for you to get tones and judge if the tone you have is good to work with or not.
     
  16. Jordon

    Jordon Member

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2008
    Messages:
    1,008
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    Chicago
    That's not a bad guitar tone, at all. It's all about context, and I think it will work nicely for the style once the mix is tightened up.
     
  17. tk7261

    tk7261 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2012
    Messages:
    87
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Thanks for bringin me back down to earth guys. I think Im hearing it a bit clearer now, trying not to be so hypercritical. Ill post some updated tones when i get the chance. On a side note. Currently trying to figure out how to best eq the bass to fit well with the guitar.
     

Share This Page