Confused about getting a good distortion tone from a song.

Discussion in 'Beginners/FAQ' started by Willyjacksonjs22-7, Dec 10, 2019.

  1. Willyjacksonjs22-7

    Willyjacksonjs22-7 Banned

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    I’m still in the learning curve of guitar playing and recording and I was always wondering why my guitar doesn’t sound as good as any metal song. I was always using to much distortion and my playing sounded awful. So I found out that the songs have a double track riff, and with the added bass guitar it sounds killer and heavier.
    As soon as i learn how to adjust the settings on the amp, my riffs sounded clean. But it just sounds weird to me because my ears got used too much distortion and high bass tone of the amp. It’s funny when I play stand alone it doesn’t sound like the recording, it sounds weak like something is missing, and the settings are fine. But when Im playing over a song, there it is, it sounds like it lol
    Just sharing this experience in my adventure of learning guitar. now I have to get used to that and ignore the double track recording of a song. Now thats gonna be hard. It’s like you wanna sound the same as loud and heavy without the mix lol
    Idk if someone understand what I’m saying lol
     
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  2. c7spheres

    c7spheres GuitArtist

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    I get what you're saying. My problem is I still like to much gain and low end which makes it hard to make it sound good in a recording unless theother instruments suffer. I'm fine with that : )
     
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  3. NoodleFace

    NoodleFace Delicious Noodles

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    I always change my eq/gain/etc settings when recording vs. just playing. If I have a thin tone in person just playing, it doesn't sound as good. Although typically you want that when recording and want the bass picking up the low end.
     
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  4. Erin Hayden

    Erin Hayden Professional Amateur

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    I can tell you from experience, that there is a lot more going on in post-production and the general production process than you think. Having a good tone for your guitar is only around a quarter of the whole thing. If you're recording and producing at home and by yourself, you've obviously got a bigger workload ahead of you, if you want to increase your general production quality.

    The general rule of thumb I follow is: Drums and bass get most of the center and the headroom (except for cymbals, which are usually placed in varying L/R positions - Although drums recorded live have a wider stereo field to work with (depending on who records them and how)). The guitars are (if double tracked) spread all across the stereo width, and thus have a lot more breathing room than the other elements in the song (especially if you keep in mind, that guitars aren't only mid-heavy, but depending on the kind of riff (shred/lead or rhythm/chugging), you'll probably need some adjustments along the entirety of your song/idea), but you'll still have to keep them in check enough, so that every other instrument shines through in the mix as well.

    I generally recommend adding a low-cut to the guitars at around 90-100Hz, because everything below is bass domain. Letting too much low end through will just mess with your bass too much, so getting rid of that rumbly low end is a must imo. Also, number one tip, especially if you're playing more metal or heavy rock stuff: Don't overdo it with your gain/overdrive. Most of the time, you need a lot less than what you're currently using (may not apply, but still good to mention) - If gently sliding your hand over the strings without any pressure worthy of mentioning causes as much noise as you hitting the strings as if you're playing, you're definitely using too much distortion and/or gain (or possibly input - might be a good idea to turn that volume knob on your guitar down just a tiny bit, might already do the trick).

    This is all just from my experience, so take it with a grain of salt, but following these general rules when it comes to heavier guitar music, has kept me afloat in terms of production most of the time.
     
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  5. Masoo2

    Masoo2 SS.org Regular

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    ymmv but I always found "use less gain" to moreso mean "check your tone against the mix" rather than literally using less gain

    SO much of the music I listen to (grindcore, powerviolence, deathcore, thrash, black metal) has incredibly high gain, often audibly "too much" for the track

    but that's just part of the vibe

    if you enjoy the increased gain, use it, there's nothing stopping you
     
  6. Erin Hayden

    Erin Hayden Professional Amateur

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    Of course, the gain aspect is also a matter of taste, and you can still make it work, but for me it's kinda like driving everything against the wall, and you'll lose all your dynamics and expressions in your notes. Adaptive gain control is probably the best idea, use how much gain you may need for each portion of a track, prepare different tones for lead and rhythm parts, possibly.
     
  7. cGoEcYk

    cGoEcYk SS.org Regular

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    I play both bass (mainly) and guitar and there is definitely "bedroom tone" (sounds good by yourself in the bedroom) and "in the mix tone." On both instruments I dial an almost harshly aggressive, thinner sound and it works great in the mix. Since guitar usually has a lot of low end in modern lower-tuned styles and kick drum is huge, I cut the lowest frequencies on bass and push low mids (around ~180hz) instead. This gives me a faster/punchier and more audible sound, instead of being a subwoofer for the guitar it's more like a sledgehammer to reinforce the attack of the kick and guitar. On guitar I keep lows under control, push a ton of mids, use minimal gain. Clarity is an uphill battle in metal... I cant say how many local metal bands I've heard live where it's a wall of mud and you cant hear anyone. If you are recording guitar and double tracking use even less gain and the combined tracks together will sound normal.
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2019
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