dialing in a high gain Petrucci-type lead tone

Discussion in 'Recording Studio' started by adrianb, Jul 15, 2021.

  1. adrianb

    adrianb SS.org Regular

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    Two of my favorite lead tones of all time are those of Yngwie Malmsteen and John Petrucci. I'm working on a bunch of musical ideas for instrumentals and i'm aiming to replicate Petrucci's tone as close as possible given the gear and software i have at my disposal.

    Some of my reference tones are the solo tones to "As I Am", "The Shattered Fortress", and the songs on the new LTE album. I'm a big fan of that compressed, fat yet articulate tone with very emphasized pick attack. I'm using Helix Native but i'm an absolute n00b when it comes to direct recording with plugins, so i'm also dealing with the learning curve there.

    I feel i can get a similar (for some values of "similar") tone in the room using my Roland Cube 40XL, which is the only amp i have at the moment. The Cube has a cab simulated line out for direct recording but i'm struggling to get a good tone -- my normal room settings are waaay off. I would like to try miking the Cube but i simply don't have the resources to do that, so i'm going to try and get something going with Helix Native first.
     
  2. LiveOVErdrive

    LiveOVErdrive CNC hack

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    Get yourself some kind of very stiff and tight amp Sim, and set the eq controls to a scoop. If you have a multi band eq, cut at 750, and boost the bass and high treble.

    Put an eq in front of it. Bring the bass all the way down to start, and reduce the treble just a little bit. Start chugging on a low string and gradually turn up the bass. As soon as it starts to get flubby, turn it back a little bit and call it good.

    Add some delay to the end as well. A little reverb would be good too.

    If you check YouTube, there are a few videos that show trooch himself showing how to get his tones. Just remember that on a Mesa Mark amp (what he uses), the tone controls are before the distortion (hence the eq before the amp Sim) and the graphic eq is after the distortion (hence the scooped regular controls).
     
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  3. SpaceDock

    SpaceDock Shred till your dead

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    One of things I notice about Petrucci is that he is constantly switching between his pickups in a lot of solos and that has a huge impact on the tone.
     
  4. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    ...though the other thing to keep in mind is a Mark is an extremely middy amp, and you can scoop it a fair amount before it starts to sound "scooped." Petrucci's tone has varied a lot over the years, but there are definitely periods where it isn't all THAT scooped.

    If you want to get pretty exact, there's a number of videos he's done for Mesa over the years demonstrating amp settings - here's a series ferom the Mark V rollout:




    In the second you can see where he's using the GEQ - boosting slightly in most frequencies, but scooped narrowly in 750hz - I forget where that white line comes out on the slider but I want to say around 5db? I actually pulled out the manual for the first time in forever but it doesn't say. :lol:

    Here's a similar video for the JP2C:



    Same basic approach.

    Only things I'd add: unless you're aware you're working with a modeler that does a really good job capturing the nuances of a Mark tone stack, I would be leery of replicating his knob EQ settings and then throwing a GEQ on top of it, and getting similar results. Mesas are kind of weird if you're not used to them, and again, a Mark, left to its own devices, is a VERY mid-heavy amp. If you're working with something like a Recto model, boosting the mids on the amp on Modern mode and simply leaving it at that will probably get you in the right ballpark, since the Recto is naturally a little more scooped than a Mark (it was designed to offer a rhythm sound that was in the ballpark of a scooped Mark, right off the bat). And, some eperimentation with different models to figure out which ones you can boost the mids and then pull them back with a GEQ, vs no GEQ needed at all, vs just don't work for this sort of tone t all, is probably going to be in order.

    But, a very smooth, mid-heavy, saturated Mesa sound, with a decent notch around 750hz, should get you pretty close.
     
  5. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    One final thing to add - after posting this, I fired up my Mark-V last night and engaged the GEQ and tried playing around with a 750k scoop - normally I leave the GEQ off for lead sounds.

    Honestly... I don't like what scooping frequencies here does to the sound of a guitar, for soloing. It works for Petrucci, sure.. but for me, the sound becomes audibly less "lush" and full and warm, and becomes a bit more... I mean, saying "scooped" would be obvious, lol, but more immediate, more impactful, more present, drier, and stiffer. Leaving that band neutral, or simply using the footswitch to bypass the GEQ, gives me a lead sound I find a lot more vocal, warm, lush, and liquid.

    And this is coming from a guy who thought JP's lead sound on the first G3 tour, before "Suspended Animation" was released, was one of the best he'd ever heard.

    I guess all I'm saying is that maybe don't overthink trying to chase Petrucci's lead tone exactly and go about it by exactly replicating his setup/settings, because at the end of the day even using very similar gear (and I'm not using one of his signature guitars, but a Suhr 6 with Thornbuckers isn't going to sound radically different through an otherwise very similar setup) isn't going to yield exactly the same sounds, and even if it did, you might find you honestly prefer something a bit different. Use it as a jumping off spot.
     
  6. KingAenarion

    KingAenarion Resident Studio Nerd

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    The only other thing I'd add is the guitar and guitarist and mic choice and everything else, as well as the sounds of the instruments around it make a MASSIVE difference, and even the gain structure would be making a difference.
     
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  7. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    :lol: Thanks man.

    But yeah- gain structure IMO is really underrated, maybe less from a pure, unadulterated "tone" standpoint, than in terms of things like feel and what you can actually do with it. There's definitely a sweet spot in the response of an amp where the amount of compression, the amount of sustain, the decay at which it goes from sounding "saturated" to clearer, stuff like that... Figuring out where that is for you is going to make a huge difference for getting a tone that "feels" right when you're playing, and simply copping Petrucci's settings, even ignoring things like the impact of pickup height and output, isn't necessarily going to work for you.

    Also, I guess, that a 750k scoop may sound pretty good for riffing... which means NOT scooping there in your lead sound will help with differentiation.
     
  8. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    EDIT - dupe
     
  9. Captain Butterscotch

    Captain Butterscotch SS.org Regular

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    I believe the JP2C manual has some of JP's settings and, like the videos posted above, he's been super free with his settings for a while.

    You can sort of fake it and get in the ballpark by absolutely cranking the gain on the Helix Cali IV model or the gain on a similar sounding amp like he does in the sample settings in the back of the JP2C manual linked here. I've found that this gives me that swishy/squishy pick sound he has.

    He also has said (I think in the Sweetwater clinic?) that he never uses reverb on his signal because he just doesn't like it. A Dual Delay style reverb block with crossover settings is what he would uses on his live Fractal patch but you can get away without the crossover settings and just a normal Dual Delay or perhaps a Ping-Pong?

    I wish you immense amounts of luck; the JP lead tone is the unicorn tone for me.
     
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