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Getting that raunchy heavy guitar sound

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by Halifaxsoundguy, Jan 18, 2007.

  1. Halifaxsoundguy

    Halifaxsoundguy Active Member

    I have a monster '89 Randall Tube guitar amp it has 9 tubes in the bloody thing!! Its a 1/2 stack with a slant cabinet. I am a big fan of Hard rock and metal.

    I mainly use my Boss BR-8 to get all my guitar sounds, so its all digital. I just recently decided to power up the Randall and try and capture its monster sound. So i used my audio technica 3035 on a lower speaker of the 4 x 12 cabinet with the volume quite loud. I had to cover the amp with blankets as well so That i didn't piss my neighbours off. Note: occasionally the neighbours aren't home so i can crank it.

    But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get that monster sound. Any suggestions. I also wonder if somehow miking the slant speaker would help.

  2. SuprSpy79

    SuprSpy79 Active Member

    A few tips.

    Use less gain than you normally would when playing live.I learned this from interning, techinically im not sure what it does but you can def hear the difference.

    Also try double tracking the guitar and panning hard left and right.
  3. SeniorFedup

    SeniorFedup Guest

    try another mic and put it right close to it about an inch away,,, play it louder than you normaly do, then call me in the morning.
    and maybe raise some mids cut a lil lows and some verb.
  4. Rolo06

    Rolo06 Guest

    Well this is what works for me, i usually mic it with a sm57 in the middle of the cone, then i put a condenser mic in the back of the cab , i put a condenser microphone about 6 feet away from the cab, and pretty much thats wut i do. It might now work for u but for me it does.
  5. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    The Shure SM 56/57/58 is one of those microphones that has become almost universally accepted as the quintessential nasty monster electric guitar Cabinet microphone. One of the main reasons for this is that unlike your condenser microphone, you really can't overload an SM57 dynamic microphone but you CAN overload a condenser microphone quite easily. This really takes away from the impact that a raunchy guitar can produce. Couple that with the fact that most condenser microphones already produce a higher output level than dynamic microphones they can also easily overwhelm the front end of a microphone preamp of almost any variety, and you have limp puny electric guitar sound instead of the monster you're looking for.

    So what should you do? You should get an SM57. Make sure that you do not overdrive the gain adjustment on the microphone preamp, i.e. keep it lower on the trim control and push your fader higher. This will buy you headroom in your microphone preamp that will give you the solid fat sound you crave. I also find that a cabinet with only a single speaker will give me a bigger electric guitar sound than those cabinets that have 4 speakers in them. Why is this? I actually think there is small time smear that occurs, since all speakers are active, sound from the other speakers will still make it to the microphone capsule even if the microphone is positioned in front of a single speaker. This extra guitar speaker leakage will arrive at the capsule at different microseconds in their relationship to one another. This keeps the guitar from sounding as clear and solid as it does from a single speaker, so again my concept of LESS IS MORE applies here. One of the guitarists that I worked with in the past was so intrigued by this, he modified his cabinet so that he could switch on and off each speaker. Some folks feel the sound is better from a speaker that is mounted higher up off of the floor. Some folks like the speaker down near the floor. Most of these preferences are based around reflective sounds making it to the microphone capsule at different points in time, causing different kinds of frequency phase shifts to occur that can either smear the sound or accentuate the sound.

    Because a lot of the recording I've done is live, I don't have the luxury of anything more than a SM57 right up in front of the speaker. Placing the microphone further from the cabinet and/or including other room microphones tracked to other tracks is not an option. So in many ways, I must rely on the leakage from other microphones to supplement the guitar sound. This is where I really prefer the British expression "Balance Engineer" as opposed to the American "mixing engineer" because it's a very careful balance of everything to achieve a great guitar sound and solid live mix.

    Microphones placed inside of opened back cabinets, in the back, must be phase inverted, if it is combined with a microphone in the front. This must be done because if it is not, the sound that the two microphones pick up will acoustically cancel each other out over a broad spectrum of mostly lower frequencies, producing an awful thin puny scratchy sound, since the speaker is actually moving away from one microphone when it is moving towards the other. So in a sense, if you have something sucking and blowing at the same time, you really won't have much fun.......with the sound. With the rear microphone being phased inverted, the sound will now be added rather than subtracted with the front microphone. How do you faze invert? Try some coffee or better still, either press that little button that has the zero with a line slashed through it (which represents an oscilloscope display of a lisague pattern). If you don't have that button, you can easily reverse pins 2 and 3 on any microphone cable, on one end. If you do that, carefully mark that cable as being and out of phase cable. It's also fun to phase invert the bass drum microphone. Try that sometime also.

    As you may have also realized? Placing a microphone in the center of the speaker Cone will generally yield a brighter sound than facing it towards the larger body, off the side of the Cone, which generally produces a more mellow quality.

    So in many instances, a microphone with more limited bandwidth such as a dynamic microphone like the SM57 can actually yield a bigger guitar sound than a condenser microphone, which has a wider bandwidth. For certain instruments like electric guitar, bandwidth limiting is good, i.e. filtering out some of the lowest and highest frequencies. Something an electric guitar actually doesn't produce much of and so, there isn't really any need to try and capture frequencies that it really can't produce.

    Take your microphone and stick it!
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  6. SirZeusor

    SirZeusor Guest

    there are a lot of factors to consider
    the slant or straight cab realy dosent matter that much, there the same speakers, only cab resonation
    what kind of guitar, and pickups

    i get a huge live sound out of a 87 randall cab thats snakeskin white, and an ibanez sz with Dimarzio pickups running it through a cheap marshall mghdfx100 head ( yes its the cheap one, i believe in simple stupid, and if my gear gets beer spiled on it i wont care as much , if they roasted my jcm800)

    when were the tubes last replaced, and what kind

    the guy that said back off the gain live is right on
    let the sound man do some of that for ya

    a lot of sound comes from the fingers and not the equiptment
  7. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    REMY = RIGHT ON!....

    Here we have a short and precise dissertation about the very thing that causes 'smear' in multi-speaker'd cabinets in the studio.

    Phasing. Time after time I tell these guitar slingers that bringing a huge stack to the studio isnt going to get that live onstage sound as they think it should. The conditions are such as to amplify all the anomilies present in a complex signal like a distorted guitar sound. A single mic, especially a condenser, is only going to amplify these phase problems and the associated loss of depth and tone due to these issues.

    A single speaker works well.

    Less signal to the mic. Its amazing how huge a sound one can get at a normal converstion level.

    There are several reasons for this.

    First and most important. If you are recording in a room without a lot of sonic control in place, at high db levels, you risk enhancing all of the problems, frequency-wise, associated with the space. Standing waves, phase shifting, bass build-up etc etc. Combine this with the single mic on a multi speaker'd cabinet AND an ultra-sensitive condenser to boot, and you have a large stew of crap. None of which is going to give you any chance at 'large/huge guitar noise'.........

    Big amps work well on large stages and venues where there is enough square footage on stage to justify having them. This is from someone who spent a lot of years hearing the Marshall stacks in several pairs.

    My advice is to work this amphead until you find that perfect distorted tone at a low level. Then get the afore-mentioned SM57 and stick that on the one speaker. Record and see just how huge it gets with very little change to your overall setup other than what you can easily control.
  8. SeniorFedup

    SeniorFedup Guest

    totally true,ddog l have a marshall jcm and 5150 with a 4x12 cab 0.5 stack. l also have a fnder amp with a 1x12 cone and wont go as loud as my stack would. but l plug that bad boy up with my boss distortion, let it w/theharmonic feedback it gives out. l always look forward to recording the fender with one cone for in your face guitars.
    Now other times l would also frequently use for a less in your face, but yet warm and super crunchy dist. guitar track would be micing a 4x12 cab using a 5150 head with minimal distortion on those , and if anyone here owns a 5150 EVH they know what l mean by low amounts of gain. Both setups l would use sm-57's
    please, forgive my spelling.
  9. separation

    separation Guest

    Hello to all. This topic hits very close to home for me for several reasons. 1. I have a live room that fits your explaination of one that isn't 100% acoustically fit. 2. I play guitar and really enjoy the BIG sounding guitars 3. I want to learn more about the tracking of these guitars especially the super-heavier guitars in a lot of the metal music today.

    You mentioned micing this 1x12 speaker to get the punchy guitars in your face but are you saying that you would record a left and right track for them? I'm wondering if you are considering these the "stabs" as I call them, ie. the points where the guitar would run a line by itself?? Or are you saying that if you want a more in your face guitar sound you could record this 1x12 speaker for the left and right side.

    When I record guitars I do two tracks with the same sound. One panned left, the other right. I then have another track set up panned either right OR left for my "stabs". I do however mic my 4x12 cabinet in several different places and then pick which one of the positions I like the best once the song starts getting recorded. I find that as I record the track it isn't till I get our keyboardist and bassist in the mix that I can pick whether I want to use the SM57, e609, or MD421 at different angles and positions.

    Another problem, is that I have a Mesa Boogie Triple Rectifier and it sounds completely different at higher volumes as the tubes warm up as compared to lower volumes. I tried on our latest recording to lower the volume down as much as I could while keep the same "sound" that I'm looking for. Most importantly I did turn down the gain as much as I could as well. The result was a much more clean guitar tone that mimics bands such as say "Lamb of God", "God Forbid", and "Byzantine". Its not quite to their level but its inching closer everyday.

    I'm just wondering how I could garner better results using this theory of a single 1x12 recording. What about trying a single track micing the 4x12 cab in one room and then the 1x12 in another room.

    I really think that I'm getting a lot of these phasing (smear) problems in my tracks. RemyRAD has listened to my last recording of a band here in Richmond and I'm sure she can hear the problems that we were having. I think my biggest mistake was not forcing the guitarist to turn down his rig and his gain. He's an unreal player but I got caught up in the moment and didn't really make it happen and we ended up paying for it in the end. While the guitars sound good, most of the sound was created by using the direct line signal through Ampfarm and a PODxtpro.

    I remember seeing an article in recording magazine that had Satriani recording at home with a little 2x12 combo amp OR what might have been a single 1x12 speaker in a box!! I'm going to dig this up again and read some more about it. I know that as I have tried 2x12 cabs for live stuff in the past my guitar sound changes dramatically with a 2x12 cab compared to my 4x12. Mesa is the only cab that I have found that sounds CLOSE to the same whether 2x12 or 4x12. I have no idea what a single Vintage 30 would sound like but I'm very interested in hearing more about this. I long for the tones of the big bands and feel like I have the mics and preamps and gear to get it done, minus maybe the room. I'm sure a lot of the sound is from a distance mic with a super sweet sounding room and I won't be able to get the room to work no matter how much new gear I get.

    thanks to all,
    C.B. Smith

  10. CoyoteTrax

    CoyoteTrax Well-Known Member

    Remy's post should be made a "sticky". Classic!
  11. lucky1

    lucky1 Guest

    Hi yall, I have been recording for many years. I agree with everyone who likes the sound of ONE speaker when recording. The best amp that I ever had to record with was a peavy artist with a black widow speaker.
    For a real real quick sound in the studio. Get a marshall jmp pre amp and go out of the speaker simulated outs straight into your board. then it is s o easy to cut left and right guitar tracks.
  12. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Thanks CoyoteTrax!

    separation as you know, since you are a guitarist, you can certainly go crazy with different ways of miking your guitar for both mono and stereo applications. I certainly prefer the fast and simple way of slamming a SM57 onto a cabinet and if desired, some other Mike's for the room if I don't create a room electronically/digitally. Even when you don't believe you have a terribly good sounding room, a room microphone, with a little delay on it sounds a lot different than without the delay. Plus you can also send that room microphone into a digital effects device, adding some early reflections, delay, extra verb and turn it into something that never was.

    Of course the bottom line is how it blends with the rest of the instrumentation? It's difficult to reproduce the instrument as it appears live so we are trying to reinvent it, in an acoustically compelling way. You never really end up doing what you think should be done because nine times out of 10, it won't sound right with everything else.

    I'll blow an amplifier before I'll blow.......
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  13. separation

    separation Guest

    While I agree with you that getting a quick and dirty sound out of a jmp pre or even a PODxt which I have, I don't want to go that route. I've heard some bigger bands in Richmond, most notably MENSREA who are members of GWAR who record right here in Richmond. They are amazing musicians and their material is just crazy. However, their last cd didn't quite do it for me a 100%. It sounded SUPER UBER polish and prestine and glassy. If that makes any sense at all. I felt like the whole cd was recorded direct in. When I talked to them about it I found out that in fact all the guitars and bass were in fact directly recorded and the drums triggered. I would rather stay away from that method because I feel like I could get that fairly easily. I really want to do this the right way and actually learn how big metal bands record their guitar parts. I've learned quite a bit on my own and reading material but I just wondered what processes y'all have done in your years of experience. I'm still quite the newbie although I've been recording now for about 5 years. The differences in my mixes over the years is incredible. Granted when they are THAT bad its hard NOT to improve...lol!

    If in a major recording environment the only real difference in getting those guitar tones is just the room and preamps I can live with that. I can't just run out and by a beautiful NEVE console, unless RemyRAD wants to hook me up with the deal of a lifetime...LOL! Just kidding, but you get the drift. So if I'm following the right thougths and all they are doing is just putting a nice SM57 on the grill and a nice room mic into a Neve Pre and into Protools or whateve. Then I can go to bed happy that I'm doing the best I can. However, if there is a whole other door that I just haven't opened in my mind as to how to do this then I would love for that door to be opened. I think that is my biggest hurdle! At least with recording guitars. All the other instruments are just insane and will take me years to figure out but since I actually play the guitar I feel like I want to step up my recording prowess a little in regards to them.

    Where there is a will there is a way. Right?

  14. CoyoteTrax

    CoyoteTrax Well-Known Member

    Along the lines of what madam Remy just said, sometimes if there's not enough seperation or "placement" in the sonic field happening with the electric guitar I'll do a little multing trick I love to use sometimes to really help create that live room feel.

    In your studio software, send one track to three different aux buses. In the first bus shelf everything above 250Hz then compress it, then splash it with verb. All three plugs in the one bus, right?


    Second aux bus - shelf the lows below 250Hz and everything above 6kHz, compress, add verb.

    Third bus - shelf everything below 6kHz and above 12kHz, compress, add verb.

    Then adjust how much of each aux channel you want in the mix.

    Once you've got this all setup you can bus other instruments to those aux channels if you'd like as well. It has a tendency sometimes to act as sort of a sonic-canvas-glue to help you place instruments on the soundstage.

    It may sound stupid, it may sound like alot of work, but it's an awesome way to emulate some very cool tricks were done in the motown days.

    Also, the single speaker thing is dead on. Some of the biggest tones I get with electric guitar are miking a single speaker on an old tandberg tube-driven RTR from the early 60's. Thick, lovely beefy signal with raunchy, roiling sustained harmonics and dynamics that you just can't immitate or emulate. Add a multi-fx processor in front of it and the sky's the limit.

    Something else that hasn't been mentioned yet (possibly for $$$ reasons) is the ever-magic and classic JMP-1. I haven't heard a guitar pre in the world that touches the sounds a JMP-1 makes. Even my Tubester DS-1 can't do what that thing does. But the Tubester creates the most obscene molten lava-style distortion I've ever heard, so...pick your poison.
  15. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Its a good thing that as a gitarwanker you're really interested in how to get that sound. This has been a very good thread, in that, you have been offered a look at particular methods which will work in many different situations. I cannot reiterate enough about the volume and the single speaker. And the dynamic mic, be it a 57 or a Sennheiser or an Electrovoice or a ribbon, this is where the guitar tone really developes. Your condenser just doesnt have the sound for a loud close-mic'd amplifier. As a room mic it will do just fine.

    Its been suggested a couple of times that 'layering' your guitar sound will get you closer to what you seek. Another positive. And dont shy away from the POD or your digital effects module. I know what you mean when you mention bands who have gone the pristine route and have consequently homogenized their sound in doing so.

    By layering the sounds, you can keep the live feel as well as augment its size with the digital gear. If you have enough tracks available, record two passes of the same sound using an amp setup. Then alter this slightly or even go to another guitar with different p/u's and record a couple more passes. Then find a sound in the POD of the effects rack and make yet another couple of passes. Subbus these as was suggested and sort it out from there.

    Chances are it'll be much more than you can imagine at this point.

    Compression and different EQ's on each pass will give you that 'glue' that brings it all into focus.

    Another helpful thing to consider when you're using a 4-12 cab in a room thats not controlled, is to use packing blankets or office dividers with blankets and create an environment for the cab to live in. This will cut down on a lot of reflections that may be causing your sound to shrink. A heavy cover over the cab with only one speaker totally exposed will also cut down on the amount of phasing created by the multiple speakers.
  16. separation

    separation Guest

    thanks so much to all three of y'all. Excellent information. This is certainly a great thread. I just wanted to state this again to make sure that you know how I'm doing this currently.

    Guitar SM57
    Guitar MD421
    Guitar Direct Line signal for post processing

    Guitar SM57
    Guitar MD421
    Guitar Direct Line signal for post processing

    I typically will lower the volume and gain down as much as I can but that is always difficult. There is a really good cd that I have from a band that I really admire who went in the studio and turned down there gain so much that when you heard it they sounded like they had lost all energy, punch, and power. While its a must to reduce the gain and volume down its a fine line before the sound becomes so different from what you are trying to achieve that it stinks.

    The only professional recording that I've ever been a part of recorded their guitars in two separate rooms. One wood floored live room and another smaller vocal room. Both rooms had 4x12 cabs and they only used an SM57 on each cab. Nothing fancy. I know they recorded their guitars similar to what I mentioned uptop but I wasn't there for the whole process to see how it all fit together. I know they used two guitar tracks since they had two guitarists and each player had a different sounding guitar but the same amp. They would use a mesa boogie dual rectifier for the main guitars and then a 5150 head for the stab lines. I'm in love with their guitar tone and just recently have I come very close to it. My guitar tone isn't quite what they have BUT then again I don't want it to be exactly their tone anyway. Just a guide.

    I've even messed around with having one guitar track Eq'd differently than the other. Not a drastic change but enough to tell that its not the same guitar sound. Then panning them right and left and listening. When my brother mixes the signals he normally used the direct signal to feed Amp Farm and then uses that as the little more definition from the amp. I love the Mesa Triple Rec but it really is a little fuzzy and has a lot of high end to it. Sometimes that can lead to definition loss especially at low tunings. We tune to Drop C but I have recently had bands that are playing six string guitars tuned to Drop B!! Yikes. what a mess. Fortunately they are using Gibson Les pauls with those kickass pickups so they still really shred either way.

  17. SuprSpy79

    SuprSpy79 Active Member

    If you lower your gain then CRANK the volume, get that speaker moving.
    I love that.

  18. separation

    separation Guest

    Ok. I finally got some ROUGH and I do mean ROUGH mixes from our new recording. The drums were done by my brother with his ProTools LE rig and then he just sent me a stereo drum track back to me to finish the rest of the recording. The guitars in this case were straight from the board with no EQ other than I did drop 6 dbs under 50 Hz just to get rid of the mud down there. There are two guitar tracks one panned about 82L and 82R, then the bass was just finished but I didn't really even get a chance to do much with it yet. There is a direct signal through my avalon and then another channel into the A&H that is passing through his Sansamp rack preamp. The keyboards were just finished two nights ago and have NOTHING done to them. I just set levels. In fact, the ending section needs to come up A LOT!!

    There were 3 mics on each guitar track.
    1. SM57 on a 45 degree angle pointing from the cone and out on a horizontal plane (left to right).
    2. e609 on the cone.
    3. MD421 similar to the SM57 but instead of a horizontal 45 degree bend its more vertical (up and down)

    Here is an image of the levels set:


    You can check the track out at the following location:


    Maybe this will help explain where I'm coming from with our guitar recording.
  19. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    I found your song and mixing technically satisfying. I did seem to find one of the guitars a little left heavy?

    Your brother did a nice job with the drums. Your guitars did sound truly huge while I felt all of the metal and all of the death around me!

    I like the different progressions throughout the song and the different textures you created with your collection of chainsaws.

    I was most particularly intrigued by the vocal. Although I think your vocalist might be a little too timid for death metal? Did he start after the song was over, or was he 6 feet under??

    (Obviously a worthless review from a nutcase)
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  20. separation

    separation Guest

    REMY!!! Yeah we buried him out back never to see the light of day :shock: j/k. Vocals will be the last thing on the table. Hopefully it won't take too long to put them together but I fear the worst. I felt these guitars were A LOT more warm sounding than the last band we recorded. Most of that is just that we aren't using any of the direct signal for this recording. Just off the amp. We'll see if that doesn't come back to haunt us but I'm pretty confident it will be ok. This song will be a lot different than most anything we have recorded before. The vocals during the song are heavy screaming vocals but the ending part with all the keyboard stuff is a huge singing melody that really sounds kinda pretty. Ooopsss...did I say that for a metal song? LOL. Just something a little different. We like to layer different forms of sound and style together and see how it works. I guess we'll see once its done.

    So you don't hear anything so very wrong with the guitars that it would say "stop the presses"? I'm going to check into the left guitar being a little louder than the other, could just be a level set since it is a totally different track than the right side.

    thanks for the comments Remy!! ALWAYS appreciated!


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