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Clear Distorted Guitar Tone

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by Voiceofallanger, Jan 12, 2011.

  1. Voiceofallanger

    Voiceofallanger Active Member

    Hi guys. Sorry I didn't post any replies in a while, or help anyone out with stuff. I've been mega busy trying to build my new studio and get some stuff in there (stuck for cash as always).

    I do however return with a question about distorted guitars....

    Now then..

    So I'm recording my Bugera Valve amp with a Shure SM57. The tone out of the amp is lovely, I listen to it with my ear next to it and it sounds just great. I've tried multiple placements etc and the way I tend to record my guitars at the moment is.. Record 2 mono tracks of that one signal from the SM57 and pan them left and right (usually around -80 +80 to -50 +50 depending on how much attack I want on it). Then overdub parts if necessary...

    So my issue is that the tone is really unclear and doesn't really cut through the mix.. If I push it forward it overthrows the vocals and drums and if I sit it back to where I feel it should be then I don't really hear enough definition in the tone. Is it A) My mic placement being rubbish. B) The pre-amps in my little MBOX2 not being good enough to process the tone properly without an outboard pre-amp. C) My mixing of the guitars not being correct or D) Something else/sinister ? :p

    Any help would be appreciated. Hope you all had a good new year and christmas. I wasn't around much.

    Best wishes.

    - Dan
     
  2. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    A great example of 'smearing'. This isnt always really evident in solo but becomes very clear when placed in a mix. Sometimes. The beautiful sound we hear and love at the source simply has too much harmonic content to allow it to play well with other sources. This is when we begin to carve out spots with the EQ. Another thing might very well be the mic pres. If you have access to something with some serious 'iron' in the circuit you might find the ability to punch through other things without overwhelming them much easier. I'm a big fan of API pres for distorted guitars.
     
  3. boxcar

    boxcar Active Member

    This would be slightly different for every amp i guess but with my deluxe reverb, if i hi-pass it around 80 and give it a bump with a fairly wide q at around 1k.(sweep around there,but not soloed, you'll hear it).
    Then i use a small amount of ITB comp. just to tighten it up, it cuts through very nicely and clearly when distorting.You may have to get the bass out of the way a bit too between 100 and 250 somewhere.(another sweep around there).
    Something you could try for free anyway.
     
  4. Voiceofallanger

    Voiceofallanger Active Member

    Yeah I've messed about with the EQ a hell of a lot.. It might just be my pre's ... I'll have a look into a half decent pre when I can afford it :(!!! Crap that reminds me.. need to sort my presonus entry.. Blah!!!

    Thanks for the advise guys.
     
  5. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    2 things, when you pan an identical signal L/R it is still mono, just louder. to get around this, i used to drag one of the tracks back or forward a little, creating a pseudo stereo effect. A short delay panned opposite a single track accomplishes the same thing, and is what i do now, because i have more options/control. I personally prefer to record 2 different performances of the same part, panned L/R, if my goal is to 'thicken' a rhythm track.
    Turn your gain knob down. Get your sound the way you like it in the room, then turn the gain down a couple notches, the articulation/clarity will increase in the recorded sound. Ever play a solo line that sounds slammin' with tons of gain, then on your clean channel? when ever i do, i end end practicing more LOL. But the truth is you hear what your 'really' playing. Also you might be interested in recording w/ a smaller amp, cranked, so you really get those speakers moving. i love cranking my full stack w/ a 57 on the cloth, just off the cone tho!!
    Your current pre's aren't anything magical, but they won't ruin a recording.
    Your concerned about mic placement, but did not mention what you did.
    Your room influences what you hear/record sooo much. Treat it (no pun) like an instrument itself.
    Also, make sure your recording levels allow for enough headroom to eq/compress without peaking, otherwise your sound will shrink.
    EQ- make sure you monitor your sound w/ the rest of the instruments, and that it sits well raw. Eq adjusts phase, and phase can thin your sound as easily as enhance it. if you have to add more than a 'little', your incoming guitar sound likely isn't up to par, unless it's for a special effect.
    i think that's more than 2 things, sorry. Good luck!
     
  6. Jonathor

    Jonathor Active Member

    Question, when you say gain ... you're talking about the gain/drive control on the amp correct? not the pre? I've had someone once tell me that once recording distorted guitars, it'll sound like it has more distortion in the recording than when you listen to it in the room. They correct on that? I've not really had much practice with doing heavily distorted guitars myself, so was just wanted to clarify after reading that.
     
  7. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Yes. Gain on the amp head. Its very telling to discover just how little gain you Dont need to achieve that high-gain sound.

    Then you need to look to the micpres. Remy wrote a nice article on this referring to gain staging and ESPECIALLY gain staging lower end equipment in the Recording Vocals forum under "Headroom". I'm going to sticky this one as it has a lot of info in it.
     
  8. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    +1 gain on the amp head. Ever tried to stand up in a bunk bed? don't kill your pre levels either.
     
  9. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Dave, "how little gain you Don't need..." Is that a typo, sarcastic? Not trying to be a jerk here, but confused with the use of a double negative.
     
  10. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Without putting too many words in Dave's mouth: Too many people have the amp turned up too high because they THINK that is what is required to get a good distorted guitar sound.
     
  11. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    I love the English language because you can explain how things work in recordings much better. There are these sayings, what's old is new again. Then there is what goes around comes around. It's larger-than-life. Keep it simple stupid. Less is more. And when you follow all of the above, you can have clean distortion. Of course many of us know there are also good little distortions & bad little distortions. And you can use both of those little distortions together if you're careful. You can use multiple little distortions from different sources along the way. Or, you can take a bunch of distortion from just one source. Have you ever noticed that when you order an " ICED TEA" that frequently all you get is a tea with ice. Well that's not an iced tea. Semantics make the difference in so many things that we do or listen to. And yet those little things can make such a big difference. It's no big deal which makes a big thing a little deal. The way we manipulate our recordings is the same thing. The way we make our recordings is the same thing but different. So what have I said? What haven't I said? Is that the same sentence? Or is that sentence the same?

    I keep saying the same thing I've always said whether I'm saying it now or saying it before which is having said it. My brother has a degree in English and I have a degree in dropping out of high school followed by an actual degree to thwart the previous degree.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  12. Jonathor

    Jonathor Active Member

    New favourite post. Ever.
     
  13. EricIndecisive

    EricIndecisive Active Member

    LOL. Remy, have you seen the movie I Heart Huckabee's? The way you talk reminds me a lot of Dennis Hoffman and Lily Tomlin in that movie.
     
  14. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    clean distortion = direct using SS processing.
     
  15. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Yeah....a double negative..... and I'm never sarcastic ....except when I am......
    Perhaps we should look at the use of the word 'clear' in this instance. Perhaps this is an abberation of the real meaning of the phrase and it should read 'clean distortion'.

    In use, capturing a distorted sound source isnt that hard. Using it with other sources can be....
     
  16. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Clean and Clear distortion still = direct to me. More times than not when we are using a DAW and virtual sounds and then add an acoustic ingredient into the mix it throws us off. Its hard to get it to fit no matter what you do. It takes high end, or hybrid to make that work well from what I'm starting to figure out.

    Could be the OP is having this problem trying to find that sound. When this happens, try direct. I have an active AXE with EMG for this very reason.
     
  17. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    got it dave. just didn't know you were joking around.
    i'm sure you haven't been surprised by the amount of musicians that say the opposite of what they want by accident. Like when the bass guitar is overloading the guitarist's headphone and he says 'turn me up' when he means turn the bass down.
    i'm sick of english, I'm going to go learn irish.
     
  18. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    At this point this evening I'd recommend Scottish. Single Malt. Slightly older than jailbait if possible.
     
  19. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    OK. The Macallan it is. You coming by to join me Dave?
     
  20. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Much as I'd like to.....(the locals wouldnt really like us much!!!) I'm into the the Glen Morangie LaSanta tonight.

    ( I'm saying that the biker/marine combo might
    be a bit much for em....)


    Its always good for me .......
     

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