Unable to get a satisfactory guitar tone. I could really use some help.

Discussion in 'Recording Studio' started by causeunknown, Oct 2, 2018.

  1. causeunknown

    causeunknown SS.org Regular

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    I've watched countless hours of videos and read everything I can get my hands on, but despite my efforts I can't seem to get a guitar tone that sounds half as good as anything i hear on youtube despite using the same plugins. I'm just really looking for some help here.

    My guitar is an Ibanez RG Prestige RG652AHMFX and i'm going directly into my focusrite scarlett 2i4 (2nd generation). I have two guitar tracks panned left and right and bussed to a stereo channel for processing. Guitar chain is as follows- https://imgur.com/a/b20o9xC


    The impulses are rosen digital / lancaster audio mesa rectifier. There's also another eq to try to remove unwanted frequencies and a multiband compressor for palm mutes. I feel like regardless which amp sim i use or what impulse I use I can't seem to get a decent tone. For example I tried to emulate this video Great Metal Guitar Tones with Free Software (LePoulin) by Adam Bentley or The best free amp sim for Metal by SpectreSoundStudios, but what i ended up with always seems to be way off. That seems to be the case any time i try to follow a video or just try to make something by ear. I've been trying to learn to mix for years and getting a somewhat decent guitar tone has been my biggest hurdle. The most specific thing I can think of is that I can never seem to tame the high end fizz. There's no clipping on the DI. Peaks are at about -6db and the gain is turned down on the amp sim.


    I'm just very frustrated and looking for help. I've included a link to dropbox with 3 files. A full mix, just processed guitars, and the guitar DIs. No master processing other than limited applied to the guitar and DI files. https://www.dropbox.com/sh/o3rxjjx156b17lr/AADKcAdLu-9lhPPT9q8em2RGa?dl=0
     
  2. Seybsnilksz

    Seybsnilksz SS.org Regular

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    To be honest it doesn't sound that bad to me. The high end fizz is usually a problem around 2-3k and 4k, which is the case in your example.

    Here is an A-B I made with some simple EQ-moves to tame the offending frequencies while maintaining clarity. It starts with the EQ off and then it turns on after one riff cycle, then this repeats once more (download the file for high quality): https://www.dropbox.com/s/h3srwoyyt5a5u4e/Causeunknown gtr eq.wav?dl=0

    And here are the EQ settings: https://www.dropbox.com/s/ud29atvyx8kmq0z/Causeunknown gtr eq settings.png?dl=0

    Other than that, cab impulses will usually have the biggest impact on a high gain tone. As you say, you've already tried different ones, but I urge you to try more impulses. Also, blend different ones (without panning them in the IR-loader). For example, have one impulse with lots of mids and one that's more scooped. It gives a lot of flexibility when blended to taste, and also creates more unique tones. What impulses have you tried so far?

    Another important thing is that the bass guitar plays a big role into making the final mix sound good. I'm not sure if that's relevant to your specific problem, but it's worth mentioning.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2018
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  3. causeunknown

    causeunknown SS.org Regular

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    Thanks for the reply!

    the eq moves you made sounded good, but should it still have so much air? I guess this is more of a question of taste, but when it comes to tone i'm still not great at identifying what makes good tone. so basically i just don't know if i should be trying to eliminate that top end.

    As far as cabs go i've recently bought the mesa and engl impulses from lancaster audio. I've tried all the standard free ones- gods cab, ownhammer, sperimental, and catharsis. Same with amp sims. Lepou, ignite, and tse. I'm not under the impression that I can make an amazing sounding tone with free options, but i know it's possible to get something that's not horrible and that's all i'm trying to aim for.
     
  4. axxessdenied

    axxessdenied :: 2077 ::

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    I think the issue is that the bass and drums don't create a good foundation for the guitars to sound huge.
     
  5. Seybsnilksz

    Seybsnilksz SS.org Regular

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    It all depends. Some remove a lot, and some don't cut anything. Use some reference tracks that you really like the sound of, and listen to how the guitars sound. Try cutting top end (removing bad frequencies and/or lowpassing) in your guitars and compare before/after. What sounds best in relation to the other instruments? Do your guitars have more unwanted 4k spikes/high end fizz/edginess compared to your favourite mixes?

    One thing to be aware of with reference mixes is to not fall into the trap of trying to copy the exact tone curve of the entire mix. Don't cut more highs just because the other mix has less highs, instead ask yourself if less highs is benefitial to your mix or not.
     
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  6. Metropolis

    Metropolis SS.org Regular

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    Di-signal sounds little bit unclean and it might be too hot, and that traslates to guitar tone. I made similar eq cuts around 200 and 400hz to remove mud and boxiness. In my opinion Rosen Digital impulses have lot of low end and fizz you don't really want in a higain guitar tone, it just sounds bad if it comes from an IR.

    I replaced TSE 808 with Mercuriall TSC because it has more depth in tone, IR is from Ownhammer Uber Duo pack. Settings aren't exactly the same, but in the same ballpark just with guitar signal chain and parametric eq.
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/1cpk3i3n023fo02/chainsaw2.wav?dl=0

    What kind of pickups you use, and have you experimented their distance from strings? If they're too close it might cause too hot signal and muddiness to di-signal.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2018
  7. causeunknown

    causeunknown SS.org Regular

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    thanks for the tips. the DI i posted was actually still being limited, so i uploaded it without any processing at all https://www.dropbox.com/home/chainsaw?preview=chainsaw_remix3-di-unprocessed.wav. I'd love to get your take on it because i'm definitely trying to get a good DI signal. the pickups i have are DiMarzio Air Norton and Tone Zone. i don't even know how to determine if there's anything wrong with them or their position.
     
  8. Metropolis

    Metropolis SS.org Regular

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    https://www.dropbox.com/s/68l12ebengsgz82/chainsaw2.wav?dl=0

    Something like this, but I don't have any idea how it sounds in a mix. But it is a lot cleaner comparing to what you started, excluding the dynamic compressor. An active DI-box could improve clarity quite a lot at the beginning of signal chain, especially with budget audio interface.
     
  9. Metropolis

    Metropolis SS.org Regular

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    This, over excacrating guitars makes nothing sound big. Drums and bass have to be a solid foundation for low end where to build everything.
     
  10. causeunknown

    causeunknown SS.org Regular

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    I'm still trying to have a better understanding of the benefits of a DI box. My initial understanding was that it was required to prevent clipping on budget interfaces like the first generation focurite scarlett 2i2. I bought the second generation scarlett 2i4 because I read that not only was the preamp greatly improved from the first generation, but also because the 2i4 also has pads. Would just adding a Radial J48 improve the quality of my DI signal? (chose the J48 because I have passive pickups. my understanding is that passive pickups require an active DI box)
     
  11. Metropolis

    Metropolis SS.org Regular

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    The thing is that Scarlett's preamps aren't designed to take high-impedance instrument level signal, even if it has a pad and line level option. Doing impedance match before the mic pre increases headroom and gives you more clarity. It may also prevent unwanted noise from signal when instrument level signal is converted to mic level signal. But you could make a comparison if it really matters in your specific situation. Those are reasons why many people give up with amp sims because they have a budget audio interface, and haven't got a single clue about those things.

    Here's explained quite well why to get one.
    https://www.fender.com/articles/tech-talk/why-you-should-consider-using-a-di-box
     
  12. axxessdenied

    axxessdenied :: 2077 ::

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    A DI box is great but there is still a huge issue that cheaper interfaces have and that is a terrible freakin' noise floor and poor driver design. I've had 3 different interfaces now and the RME is light years ahead in terms of how clean and noise free the signal is compared to even my Presonus Firestudio Project. In a high-gain situation you really want to minimize any excess bs in your signal because of how much gain staging happens. You gotta try and get your noise floor as low as possible. Adding something like the Fortin Zuul to your signal chain really takes it to the next level if your house doesn't have the cleanest power as well.
     
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  13. Flappydoodle

    Flappydoodle SS.org Regular

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    I don't think it sounds that bad at all.

    Question: Have you ever actually recorded a real amp, with a real cab, put a microphone in front of it, and then listened to it? Real amps and cabs ARE fizzy.

    Think of a classic metal guitar setup. You put an SM57 (bright microphone) in front of a vintage 30 (bright, mid-rangey speaker), driven by a 5150 (mid range heavy amp) and you're absolutely going to get fizz and sizzle. I don't think your problem is related to you using free plugins. I think you probably just have unrealistic expectations of what a recorded guitar sounds like, and also how much processing goes into finished guitar tones and finished mixes.

    Also, have you ever listened to isolated guitar tracks from well produced albums? The guitars usually ARE fizzy. Usually they sound pretty thin - and that's because the drums and bass are there to fill up the rest of the space. Kick drum thump is down at 60-80hz with click around 3k, bass fundamental around 100hz usually with some clank in the mid range, and the snare body is usually around 200hz, with overtones at 400 and 800. That's an awful lot of frequency range used up by important instruments. The high end will be occupied by cymbals and hi-hats. You also need to fit vocals in somewhere. That means your guitar sound is mostly going to be heard in the mid range.

    Check this isolated guitar track from Arch Enemy's Nemesis album. That album was mixed by Andy Sneap and sounds incredible. But the guitars are pretty fizzy, right?

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/3ion234ivak84mg/Arch Enemy - Nemesis (Guitar Only).mp3?dl=0

    Or here are isolated guitars from Killswitch Engage



    Again, lots of mid range and lots of sizzle. Listen how thin the single guitar sounds. But in the mix, that album sounds incredible.
     
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  14. Metropolis

    Metropolis SS.org Regular

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    That's the good kind of sizzle you need in modern metal guitar tone, and those tones use probably multiple mics. Bad di-signal can make it sound very unpleasant with plugins, 2-5kHz area is really noisy in OP's tracks.
     
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  15. causeunknown

    causeunknown SS.org Regular

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    very informational. thank you!
     
  16. Flappydoodle

    Flappydoodle SS.org Regular

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    Sure. But I see from his EQ that he's basically killing everything above 8k. In my experience (and I'm not a great mixer), that's going to make problems in other areas jump out even more.

    My main advice to @causeunknown would be to sort out the drums and bass first. Then work on making the guitars fit. There's very little value in listening to the guitars alone, since a tone you like probably won't fit in the mix well.

    If OP is using Ownhammer impulses, why not just use the OH-1 impulse, which is a blend of an SM57 and a R121. It's a VERY classic setup, used in countless metal records. It has enough cut without being harsh. And it has enough thump without being muddy. In my opinion, it's an excellent starting point.
     
  17. causeunknown

    causeunknown SS.org Regular

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    Thanks a lot for all the input. I did another remix here https://www.dropbox.com/s/74upgkjeyu3i4re/chainsaw_remix5.mp3?dl=0

    I worked a lot more on the drums and bass. On the bass I tried the limiting technique to make sure the signal is consistent. I also tried out new drum samples and techniques. On the guitars I went and bought the Ownhammer v70 412 mesa recto impulses and switched to the OH-1 impulse.

    I still feel like i'm hearing a lot of noise. I tried really focusing on cutting out what I could here in the 2k-5k range, but I feel like it's still fairly present. I know my DI tracks should be peaking at -6db and I did my best to gain stage my chain to make sure the volume was consistently set between everything, but i'm still not sure where all this extra noise comes from or how to tame it. If I just completely suck out that area the guitars sound extremely thin. I'm not too sure why I seem to have this problem. I tried experimenting with a different guitar (an older ibanez I still have from like 2008) and it's the same results. I even tried changing the 1/4" cable and updating the focusrite drivers.

    Thoughts?
     
  18. axxessdenied

    axxessdenied :: 2077 ::

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    are you doing any automation at all?
     
  19. Lindmann

    Lindmann SS.org Rectangular

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    It's all about the DI files, trust me.
    Perform a quick test: Get some of those renowned DI files floating around the internet and feed them through your current chain.
    It will sound amazing right away, even without turning any knobs.

    That is something I had to learn myself.
    Once I got this, I focussed on learning how to affect to tone with my playing style.
    Different picking techniques, picking angles, picking strengh, palm muting et cetera.
    The outcome was a way improved tone across the board.
    Today even ampsims with default settings sound better than my older multi-miced tube amp recordings

    Tweak your playing style, choose the right guitar with the right pickups and the rest will fall into place.
     
  20. ToneLab

    ToneLab Bedroom Playa

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    You guys are awesome. What a resource for OP. And I'm learning a lot along the way.
     

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