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Question: Developing an ear for the "right" tone

Discussion in 'F.O.H.' started by shreddster, Sep 12, 2017.

  1. shreddster

    shreddster New Metal Member

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    I'm not exactly sure what terminology to use to ask this question, so I'll try to get as close as I can.

    How do you know when a guitar sound is "good" or not? Is there an accepted way of dialing in a great tone that works systematically? Or is guitar tone completely open to interpretation once you get rid of the "problems" that arise with the recording (i.e. fizz, muddy/boomy low end)

    I just feel like I follow the standard guidelines for miking up the speaker but after that, I can't tell whether my tone is good or not.

    I find the sweet spot on the speaker, then turn up the volume to saturate the tubes, then I EQ to get a tone that sounds good to me, but I have no idea whether that guitar tone is ACTUALLY good or not.

    Is there any way of "knowing" when you get an awesome guitar tone? Or do you just roll with what you think sounds best and hope others are digging it too?
     
  2. MartijnPaauwe

    MartijnPaauwe Member

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    Well, I guess you know you got an awesome tone when you are the one who get's excited about it. Surely there are different tones complementing different genres, but in the end tone is something personal. You can like a tone which I dislike.

    I guess the best way of developing an ear for the right tone is keep an open mind, do what sounds best to you but don't be afraid to get some constructive or deconstructive criticism, that's what makes us all better :)
     
  3. KillFrenzy

    KillFrenzy Member

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    That's pretty much what I think.

    Sometimes you only get 1 amp and 1 cab so you gotta make the most out of it. So don't overthink this "right tone" idea.
    Also, there are lots of very different great tones that can fit a mix. In the end it comes down to personal taste.

    I admit I have difficulty to embrace tone diversity and commit to a tone. For me it's a daily exercise that pays off big time.

    Find a tone you like, rest your ears, evaluate that again and if you still like it, you're probably on the right path. Do the same thing in the mix context.
     
  4. H-evolve

    H-evolve Member

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    I don't fully agree with what has been said so far, and I base my opinion on what I went through as I was learning about recording (and I am still a beginner, but much better than a couple of years ago).

    I guess that when you have enough experience, what has been said is indeed a good summary of how things work. But, when you are only just beginning to get interested into all that "tone" and "mixing" business, I personnally found out that there are really basic things you aren't used to.

    If I refer to what I experienced, I always thought the tones I used to use were good. Maybe not perfect, but good. And at that time I was relatively young, without money, so I was playing on a cheap solid state combo amp. And I remember the first time I heard a real good high gain tube amp in an expensive cab with V30s. At first I thought it was difficult to bear as it was so fucking bright compared to what I was used to.

    But now, my ears got used to it and I understand than back in the days, the tones I was using were relatively bad.

    What I am trying to say is, I think it isn't true, saying that "If you like it, it's probably good". I used to like my tones and they were shit. It's just what my ears were used to. Therefore, I think early on there is a certain process to get to understand the "basics" of good tones. When your ears get that, then yes, I agree that if you like it, it's probably ok.

    P.S. BTW I'm not saying solid state amps sound bad and you need an expensive rig.
     
    #4 H-evolve, Sep 19, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2017
  5. Megin

    Megin Member

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    Are you after sounds that will fit in a mix? If that's the case, it doesn't matter so much how it sounds solo. It's how it sounds with the rest of the instruments/mix that matter. Don't forget the bass is very important to the guitar sound. Is it your own guitar tracks and if so, are your playing skills enough good that you like how you play and others agree? We are always more critical to our own performances than others. Good arrangment, good tracked and well miced up gets you there. The less you need to EQ the guitar is a good sign of how well it was tracked.
     
  6. QuantumSound

    QuantumSound Audio Engineer / Living Meme

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    The question "is this good" is subjective no matter who you ask. The worth of your work depends on if YOU like it or not, rather than if others like it or not. No one can tell you what YOU think is good.
     
  7. KillFrenzy

    KillFrenzy Member

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    I agree with you on that. I had a Zoom 505 when I was 12 and I thought I've got pretty close to the Black Album tone. hahaha

    Comparing your mix to other good sounding mixes in a similar style is a good practice. Just don't be too analytical because you can fall in the trap of trying to sound too similar to the reference mixes. Does the tone fit in the mix? Does it sound good compared to other mixes overall? Then don't overthink it.
     

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