Am I becoming a tonal dinosaur? Modern metal tone

Discussion in 'General Music Discussion' started by farren, Sep 12, 2017.

  1. farren

    farren SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    249
    Likes Received:
    91
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2008
    Location:
    Embarrassed States of America
    I don't want to be a Golden Ager. I don't want to complain about when guitar tones used to sound good and how no one knows how to set their amps anymore. Maybe when I'm bitter and senile, but I'm not going to complain about it now just like I'm not going to complain about the books or movies you enjoy, because I know it's totally subjective and my tastes are no better than yours, but I will say I missed the bus when common metal guitar tone started changing in what I guess were the mid '00s to early '10s, and apparently I am just now noticing.

    Here's where I'm coming from: I'm 33. Most of my favorite guitar tones are from the '90s. I like a thrashy tone with a good deal of high end cut and not so much midrange that it 'blunts' the sound (yeah, I know mids cut better in a mix). I love all those JMP-1 metal tones so many people recorded with in the '90s. I have a Mark V and I run it in Mark IV mode/variac/pentode with a classic V on the EQ, often sharpened further with a FullDrive 2. I find the cherished IIC+ just too fat, not enough high end. I love prog metal, death metal, thrash. Some of my favorite tones of all time are Stephan Lill from Vanden Plas' first several albums (JMP-1), Eugene Simone on Eldritch's Headquake, and Jim Matheos' tone from most Fates Warning albums (Mark IV) and all his live performances (Sansamp+Dual Rec usually). These are diverse examples (though all passive pickups), but they all do it for me. FWIW my favorite pickup at the moment is probably the Evo2 (not a big Vai fan but love all his pickups save the original Evolution), though I'm also really enjoying the EMG 57-7 which tells me it's mostly a matter of amp settings, because the vast majority of EMG 57(-7) demos make my ears bleed.

    I've been looking at pickup comparison videos on YouTube lately, and I'm floored by how different the amp settings in all these videos are from mine. I know these are good pickups and any number of them would work for me, but I find the amp settings so off-putting that it's difficult to judge one against the other. Then I come across a recent Phil Collen video for Jackson (the guy has barely changed since I was born), and while he has the gain set too high, I'm thinking 'wow, this is a great metal tone,' and I'm not even much of a Def Leppard fan. I felt old.

    I can basically track the tonal change through John Petrucci's pickups over the years. I loved the Steve's Special tone from the '90s and the JMP-1 and Dual Rec tones from Images and Words and Awake, but then it just got fatter and less aggressive from there to the point where I find Dream Theater's most recent DVDs difficult to listen to with what I can only describe as a farty rhythm tone. Breaking the Fourth Wall sounds like bingo night at a church. I know he likes a lot of the newer generation of prog metal, and because I don't, his gradual tonal transformation has sort of served as my window into that and what a lot of players are into now...

    Anyone else feel a little bit tonally alienated these days? I mean, what next, are my beloved Soloist-style guitars all going to look like old man guitars 20 years from now? :p
     
  2. Harry

    Harry Doom man of Doom. Contributor

    Messages:
    8,138
    Likes Received:
    589
    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2008
    Location:
    Melbourne, Aus
    Well ultimately we all have our tonal preferences.
    If you had framed your thread as just being such, then you can easily not be the "dinosaur".
    But I think banging on about a period of time well passed being "better" does have the effect of making one seem an out of touch individual/dinosaur.

    The idea that modern metal tone is only one thing, a narrowly defined idea just makes me think you're not getting out there (speaking mostly figuratively) and listening to a wide enough variety of music that modern metal has to offer, because within modern metal you can find plenty of variation of tone, not just within guitars but bass and drums too :2c:
     
  3. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire Sunbro

    Messages:
    3,508
    Likes Received:
    831
    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    Location:
    minnesotahhh ehh
  4. farren

    farren SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    249
    Likes Received:
    91
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2008
    Location:
    Embarrassed States of America
    The first paragraph was explicitly about not framing it that way. I don't think my tone is better. Like I said, no better than my favorite books or movies versus your favorites. I was joking about one day turning into an old man with a Les Paul who complains about 'kids these days,' but it was a long post so I can't blame you for skimming it. The only thing I explicitly dissed was Petrucci's recent rhythm tone, but I'm not alone on that one.

    What I base my general 'modern metal tone' concept on is the kind of tone I see in a lot of videos by 20- or 30-something guitarists on YouTube with good gear. It's a good indicator of where tone is going in my opinion because it will represent to a large degree the kind of tone that newer bands with large followings are using. I don't think 'modern metal tone is one thing'--I'm referring to especially midrange-heavy tone.

    I listen to lots of new metal, but most of the bands I listen to formed in the '90s (or even '80s) and while their tone has evolved, it's still more or less within my neighborhood of preferences.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2017
    VBCheeseGrater and cwhitey2 like this.
  5. BlasphemyMadeFlesh

    BlasphemyMadeFlesh Buried in the mix

    Messages:
    73
    Likes Received:
    13
    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2014
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    I can really understand the same thing you are saying. I hate mids, but you need them for live and solos and for guitars to pop out in a mix. Most of my favorite guitar tones are from the '80s and '90s as well. I love old-school extreme metal and most of the music I listen to (not just metal) is before 2005-ish. I am always discovering new bands from around that period because I like the style. I am about as old as you are. And yes I'm the old man gawking on about how bands back in the day had to learn all the parts and play as a unit well before recording due to lack of access to recording technology and so that feel and urgency is very lost today. Alex Webster said something great one time "you are only original once."
    But the point is that you like what you like, indulge in it, change it, fit it to suit your needs, there are no hard fast rules in creativity? That "tonally alienated" feeling you stressed is part of your creative flow, the thing that will make you sound like you and nobody else.
    EDIT: And no Soloists will always be an amazing guitar
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017
    farren likes this.
  6. diagrammatiks

    diagrammatiks SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    578
    Likes Received:
    228
    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2010
    Location:
    china
    yup old.
     
    Seybsnilksz likes this.
  7. exo

    exo SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    658
    Likes Received:
    134
    Joined:
    May 14, 2010
    Location:
    Elkhart, IN
    I'm a rhythm guy, don't get too fussed about "lead tone", but I'm also a "tone dinosaur".

    Almost every "favorite" recorded guitar tone of mine is from 1998 and prior. The classic "Jose mod" JCM 800 sound, Metallica MOP, Sepultura and Iced Earth "morrisound studios" stuff, Dream Theater "Awake", Blind Guardian's Nightfall in Middle Earth. Kreator's Enemy of God is really the only post 2000 album I can identify as having a tone I am particularly fond of.

    The common denominator? When most of my favorite tones were recorded, the Peavey 5150/6505 was not the type of dominant force that it is these days. So many tones over the last 20 years are "5150 blended with......" type of tones. Apparently, that's just not "my" thing.
     
    Descent and farren like this.
  8. Humbuck

    Humbuck SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    808
    Likes Received:
    23
    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2014
    Location:
    NYC
    I'm 48 and I own 11 different old Marshall heads, both stock and modded, as well as old Fender and Gibson tube combos from the 50's and 60's and I'd love to get my hands on an Axe-fx or Kemper...I'm certain I will at some point. Most of my playing at home any more is through an ipad with Bias FX on it.
     
    Zado, AxeHappy and InCasinoOut like this.
  9. Unleash The Fury

    Unleash The Fury SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    1,135
    Likes Received:
    82
    Joined:
    May 16, 2015
    Location:
    CT, USA
    Peoples tastes change over time man.
     
  10. silverabyss

    silverabyss _(:3 」∠)_ Contributor

    Messages:
    3,398
    Likes Received:
    241
    Joined:
    May 14, 2011
    Location:
    Brewster, OH
    However Luc had his VH140 dialed in on Erosion of Sanity and the VH140 on Despise the Sun
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017
  11. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire Sunbro

    Messages:
    3,508
    Likes Received:
    831
    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    Location:
    minnesotahhh ehh
    There's plenty of modern metal that isn't "ALL TEH MIDZ" and that's part of why I like bands like Lamb of God or Mastodon. They play "modern metal" but their tones are vastly different from dj00nty stuff.
    I don't really like the 5150 sound, except for Gojira's tone. I love the razor sharp chunk they get.
     
  12. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

    Messages:
    3,812
    Likes Received:
    388
    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2007
    Location:
    Gatineau, Quebec
    I guess everyone hears things differently, but LoG uses a super mids-heavy sound. The Mark amps they've used absolutely have ALL THE MIDS. That's a big part of what I like about those amps, you can put them next to a more scoopy sounding amp and they blend well without stomping on eachother.

    I generally don't like a lot of "modern" tones, but not because of "how many mids" they use, it's usually a matter of so many tones being based on the same formula: 5150 or similar or a model of one, with a boost, with mids adjusted in some way, through a bunch of v30s, mic'd with a 57, sometimes blending with something else. The resulting gain character just isn't interesting anymore.

    But then also consider the other elements surrounding the guitar sound - there are also trends in things like the Darkglass/dirty bass sound, and we're hearing a lot of the same programmed drum samples and patterns - which means heavy and proggy music in general is just saturated with a lot of same-ness. I made a similar comment a while back about how so many of the bedroom/home/diy proggy instrumental stuff you run into online sounds all the same to my ears. I can only handle so much noodling through biasfx or whatever it is + sampled drums.
     
    Overtone likes this.
  13. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire Sunbro

    Messages:
    3,508
    Likes Received:
    831
    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    Location:
    minnesotahhh ehh
    I thought mark morton was using a transatlantic or some other boogie, not the mark series. Anyways, their sound depends on the album. Some of their earlier albums are more mid scooped sounding but yeah, later stuff like Sturm und Drang/Resolution are definitely more mid-forward. I was more referencing how a lot of kids are bumping the mids like crazy to get the djenty sound. What's funny is I watched misha's video of the invective and he actually scoops the mids on the amp, then bumps the mids from the pickup/overdrive into the scooped amp and gets a pretty savage rhythm tone. I know there's other non-djenty bands that also do something similar with their setups.
     
  14. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

    Messages:
    12,665
    Likes Received:
    946
    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
    Location:
    St. Johnsbury, VT USA
    I'm significantly older and crabbier than you, but I prefer some of the newer tones to the old ones, but I don't think that the 90's tones were bad, so much as they are a bit "dated" now. I think that in the year 2525, people will look at the noises we called music in the 2010's and scoff at how horribly archaic they are.

    Anyway, I see your side of it, I think. Maybe I don't know which tones exactly, you don't like, since I didn't pay as much attention to the newest Dream Theater offering. If I compare WD&DU to, say, BC&SL, I'd say Pettrucci's tone is way better now, but IDK man, that's just, like, my opinion.
     
  15. mikah912

    mikah912 SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    513
    Likes Received:
    47
    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2013
    Location:
    atlanta, ga
    The Invective is 5150-based, so cranking the mids on that would be disastrous. The 5150/6505 is MID-heavy with its natural voicing. That's why people start at 6/4/6 for the B/M/T settings.
     
  16. jephjacques

    jephjacques BUTTS LOL

    Messages:
    2,007
    Likes Received:
    688
    Joined:
    May 29, 2012
    Location:
    Halifax, NS
    I'm just glad literally every band on the planet isn't using a super-scooped Dual Rectifier these days. And I'm sure in 10 years we'll all be able to instantly identify the sound of a 2010s era AxeFX preset and roll our eyes :lol:
     
    AxeHappy and Hollowway like this.
  17. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire Sunbro

    Messages:
    3,508
    Likes Received:
    831
    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2015
    Location:
    minnesotahhh ehh
    ah, well between that, the juggs having a mid forward voice and the precision drive cranking even more mids I can see why he cuts some out on the amp.
     
  18. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

    Messages:
    3,812
    Likes Received:
    388
    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2007
    Location:
    Gatineau, Quebec
    Ashes is all Mark IV to my ears. And I think the next album or two are mostly Marks, maybe blended with stuff (but I'm guessing). If someone asks "what does a Mark amp sound like", to me, Ashes of the Wake is the answer. Last I heard (and I'm too lazy to look it up) Morton was blending a Mark and the Transatlantic.

    I'm not 100% convinced that we're all talking about the same "mids" when we say something sounds scooped or mid-y though. :lol: Such is the nature of trying to use words to describe sound.

    Edit: I think it's worth keeping in mind too that we can't judge a sound based on where the dial sits. You can "scoop mids" using a control on the amp and still have lots of mids in your sound. Lots of high gain amps are very heavy on what people call "the mids" to begin with, it just becomes a question of *how much* you remove.
     
  19. mikah912

    mikah912 SS.org Regular

    Messages:
    513
    Likes Received:
    47
    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2013
    Location:
    atlanta, ga
    Yeah, "mids" are not a monolithic fixed frequency. There are low mids (240hz-700hz or so) and high mids (800hz-2K or so).

    I think the "modern" sound actually scoops away low mids because they tend to convey "muddiness" with extended range guitars and drop tunings. They boost high mids for clarity and presence on those same areas.

    Also, "modern" production often shears away a lot of the highs and lows on guitars, then scoops out the mids on bass tone so what's left is a clangy, thumpy pillow to wrap around the note definition of the guitars. That's why bass tone is such an underappreciated staple of good modern guitar tone.
     
    AxeHappy likes this.
  20. Andromalia

    Andromalia Pardon my french

    Messages:
    6,739
    Likes Received:
    641
    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2009
    Location:
    Paris, France
    I imagine your pain, as I still think the best ever guitar tone is on The Number of the Beast.
     
    PBGas, zappatton2, AxeHappy and 2 others like this.

Share This Page