Learning to undersand the intricacies of tone creation

Discussion in 'Recording Studio' started by Clebby, Mar 7, 2016.

  1. Clebby

    Clebby SS.org Regular

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    For the past month or so I've had an eleven rack and have been messing around with tones on my 6 string. I've come up with some tones that I'm reasonably happy with; not 100% but they're good enough for practice.

    The problem I'm having is that when I try to replicate a certain tone, all I have to go off are people describing on the net things like "EQ these frequencies, have this level of treble or bass' etc. This works well enough if you want to get one tone and thats all, but what I want to know is how to use of the different settings on the rack. Sure, I can tweak and tweak but usually the difference in sound is marginal and I don't understand what its doing.

    I hope this makes sense, I'm struggling to put it into words exactly. Basically I don't want to know how to copy tones of artists, I want to know how to make my own tones by understanding effects, amps etc. Is there somewhere I can learn these things?
     
  2. AntonioPetrole

    AntonioPetrole SS.org Regular

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    A few things to note

    1. If by 'tones of artists' you mean tones on albums, there is a lot more that goes behind it than someone just plugged into an amp. Most tones sound immensely huge because they are double tracked (sometimes quad tracked) and panned left and right for a bigger stereo sound, they have been constructed by a talented engineer working with a decent guitarist with new strings and usually fresh setups, the bass guitar in the mix is about 60% of the 'guitar tone' that you hear, the drums are supporting it giving each pluck and chug a thicker and rhythm etc. Plugging your guitar into an eleven rack and messing with tones will never sound like a fully produced and mixed record.

    2. A lot of great tones that you hear recorded are usually pretty wimpy and small sounding once you solo them from all the other elements.

    3. The guitar playing itself usually has a good deal to do with the tone. Practice makes perfect :D Example. Look at Ola Englund's videos.

    4. Making a great guitar tone can be as simple as micing a decent amp setup (ex. 5150 -> Mesa Cab with a single SM57) to a multiple day process (ex. see BTBAM studio vids, some Kurt Ballou stuff).

    5. I forgot what I was going to type here because I stepped away for an hour, but I'm sure it goes along with what I was saying in the other steps.

    When you say "Sure, I can tweak and tweak but usually the difference in sound is marginal and I don't understand what its doing." are you referring to EQ? Reverb? A little more info would be great. Your tone should already be 85% there just from the Playing -> Amp -> Cab -> Mic (basically the raw source). It's not possible to take an okay tone and make it incredible just via processing, everything starts at the source.

    If you have any more detailed questions, that would be helpful. Otherwise, I'll just ramble :D
     
  3. Aymara

    Aymara SS.org Regular

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    Here's a video that might give some insight, why EQ can be pretty important for a mix:



    When it comes to creating a good guitar tone in general, EQ is the final step.

    To understand the topic in a whole search for Geordie Walker of Killing Joke, who has a pretty unique tone, which he achieves through a complete tone chain, that means guitar and string choice, tuning, effects and amp. Change one piece of this chain and his unique tone is lost.
     
  4. shnizzle

    shnizzle johnny

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    the best way imo to understand effects and amps and how to build your tones is by just
    trying every thing out. try out every effect, every amp, every cab, every mic and really
    just every parameter of your modeler and see what it all does and how it contributes to
    the tone. doing that you´ll get to know your gear in and out and you´ll start to
    understand how to make good use of it. it takes a lot of time and is very tedious. but
    there are no real short cuts. you could watch some tutorials on different tones and try to
    apply the principles to your 11r. that´ll give you a starting point at least.
     
  5. oc616

    oc616 Control Deck Wins

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    As others have said, the tones you'll hear on albums are mostly the Bass guitar for the lower "girth". I spent years chasing Fear Factory's sound thinking "how the hell does Dino get that tone"? I now know it's only 30% guitar, 20% higher end of the kick drum, and 50% of the Bass which compared to most metal albums is more heavy on the upper mids.

    Best suggestion I can give is to find a tone patch from a community forum you love, reverse engineer it, and understand why each part is where and how it affects the tone. That's how I've been doing it, and it was better than just chucking all the building blocks at me and saying "go!"
     
  6. Clebby

    Clebby SS.org Regular

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    1. I understand that. But I want to understand that kind of stuff. I want to know how far I can get with just the processor, then make the next step into mixing when I'm ready.

    2. Fair enough, but then how do you go about making the tone then? Is it a matter of trial and error by changing something, then hearing it in the context of other instruments?

    3. You're totally right here. Also, I've seen this guy before and he's pretty awesome. Got any videos in particular you're thinking of? He has a LOT.

    4. I'll search those guys now.

    In regards to understanding bits. I've been working on some clean tones, ambient kinda stuff. Each of the effects has like 5 or more different knobs in the editor like decay, tone, mix, pre delay etc. for reverb, sync, feedback and more for delay. The EQ has different types and frequencies that you can remove or boost and I want to understand how that effects the sound. And theres more things that can go in the mix. It's just a bit overwhelming to be honest. I'm happy to put the time in, and know theres not just a few tips that will make me Misha Mansoor. But at times it feels like theres so much to figure out, it does my head in.

    Good video, thanks for sharing. Interesting how alot of his tone is manipulated in the DAW via plugins. Haven't really considered it.



    I might check out some tutorials, because a starting point will really help. At the moment I'm kinda just diving in and its a bit overwhelming!





    Reverse engineering some patches sounds like a neat idea, like being able to pick them apart and analyse them. That should really help, cheers!
     
  7. Aymara

    Aymara SS.org Regular

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    For sure it is, because live tone and recording tone are two different cups of tea.

    The live tone, that you would use on stage or in a rehearsal room is just the basement and is already pretty complex ... I already explained the topic "tone chain".

    Recording tone is a fine tuning of the live tone, that is achieved by compressors and EQ in a DAW as the video showed.

    Maybe let's start with baby steps: Which artists do you like the most because of their tone? Any Youtube examples? It might be interesting, when you compare their recordings to live videos in HQ as far as they are available.
     
  8. Clebby

    Clebby SS.org Regular

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    At the moment I'm really into Periphery and Animals as leaders.

    - I love the clean tone at the start of 'On Impulse'.
    - I'll be getting an 8 string very soon, so would like a thump-y tone like 'Physical Education' or 'The woven web'.
    - Then for heavy tones, I'm a fan of most periphery stuff, like 'Letter Experiment', 'Light', or 'Luck as a constant'.

    I'm not trying to copy their tones 'word for word' so to speak, I'd just like to understand what has gone into them, and what each effect sort of does.
     
  9. Aymara

    Aymara SS.org Regular

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    Search for Misha Mansoor on Youtube ... he posted many videos about his signature guitars, be it the Jackson or the Mayones, he seemed to use in the studio.

    All these guitars have something in common ... they have a crisp high end, which is achieved by the chosen woods, pickup and string choice. It might be a good idea to search for swamp ash guitars with high gain passive pickups.

    But the Schecter Hybrid with it's mahogany body and maple neck combined with an EMG 57/66 active pickup set can also be interesting, when used with bright sounding strings like Earnie Ball Slinkies.

    Regarding effects you might be interested in slight chorus for clean tones ... but the keyword is slight. Many chorus are too strong ... the best example is what Nirvana used back in the days.

    You might also have noticed, that Tosin is a featured artist of Positive Grid's BIAS FX, so it might be worth downloading the demo and trying it out e.g. in a DAW like Reaper, which you could freely test for 60 days. But BIAS now also comes with a standalone version, which can be used without a DAW just for jamming and tone creation.

    I think, these researches and tests are a good starting point for your tone seek journey.

    PS: I forgot to mention, that Tosin uploaded some of his tones to the PG soundcloud, so that you can download and use it in your copy of BIAS FX. If you will like them is a different story though ;)
     
  10. Zeno

    Zeno SZ Hunter

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    One thing I'd do honestly is find a suggestion someone gave with a certain setting on the 11r to get close, but don't follow them word for word. One of the best tones I made on my POD HD was one someone said "Hey, I discovered I really like the Line 6 Epic amp model with the master volume cranked, it turns it into a very different amp" And that was all they said. I went and tried it, and it took me a bit of experimentation to get just right, but now? God damn does it sound good.
     
  11. Clebby

    Clebby SS.org Regular

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    Thanks for the advice guys, I'm making some headway now in making tones and I'm not feeling as overwhelmed. Cheers!
     
  12. Aymara

    Aymara SS.org Regular

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    That sounds good, because this "journey into sound" can be quite interesting and enjoyable.
     
  13. SomeChump

    SomeChump Just a Chump

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    Working with white noise generators and EQing the white noise always helped me learn more about frequency range and how to listen to the spectrum.
     

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