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I've encountered the struggle

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Guitarfreak, Jun 9, 2009.

  1. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    Between guitarist and engineer. I currently run my guitar through a ten band EQ and distortion pedal through clean amp. I have trouble finding a balance between my guitarist and engineer side.

    Guitarist - Wants to set the EQ to accent the lows and highs while cutting the mids in a pretty standard 'V' shape. Sets the gain on med-high and the volume high enough that I'm not losing tone from lack of juice.

    Result - Recording sounds too bassy.

    Engineer - Wants to use the EQ to shape the guitars tone in a way that is not as 'destructive' as the guitarist wants. Which entails leaving the EQ relatively flat and just using the bands to "edit" the signal rather than shape it. Maybe a mere cutting the 125 and 256 bands is enough, or dropping the sub lows entirely. Maybe a slight boost at 4 kHz for clarity and maybe 8kHz too for good measure. Cut the 'bass' knob on the amp to about 2-3 so I don't overload the mic/pre with too much bass noise.

    Result - The guitar sounds like $*^t

    Do I start with a good guitar tone and then go from there? Or do I start from square one trying to get the best recording I can? I'm really not schizophrenic I swear....right? (No you're not) ok, good.
  2. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    The hell does he need your tone for? Tell him that he should take whatever he gets, and clear it up for the PA.

    The idea is to capture everything of the band and communicate it effectively to the audience.

    ("effectively" will frequently be used to mean "at great volume" over "with great intricacy")
  3. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    LOL, the point is that there is no 'he' involved. I am acting as guitarist and engineer in this equation, and it is an internal struggle. That made me laugh, I don't know why :D
  4. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    I try to reproduce the guitarist's sound as honestly as possible.
    I let him do all the settings on the amp/guitar.
    Anything I do is essentially mic placement and HPF. If you also have bass guitar, I wouldn't worry too much about losing the bottom end of the guitar.

    Try doing DI and mic on the guitar. Roll off the lows on the mic after recording, and don't touch the DI EQ. Mix it in to add a little more of that bottom. If your amp has a lot of distortion, this won't work as well, but it should still help provide bottom end.

    Summation - get a good guitar sound to tape, whatever that is. Just remember that a good sounding guitar alone may not be what's required to have a good sounding guitar in a good sounding mix. Be the guitarist when getting it to tape, then become the engineer.
    It's easier to pull bass out of a track than add it in.
  5. blaumph2cool

    blaumph2cool Active Member

    LOL I just picture GF muttering back and forth to himself like a person with a split personality.

    Always start with a good tone, then try your best to capture that tone.
  6. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    I know it is the rage to scoop mids on guitar, but since the guitar sound for the most part is in the low/midrange freq. I am not certain exactly why.

    When I have been recorded by great engineers they have always asked me to get my tone first. Once that is where I think it should be I have been asked to cut the bass a little on occasion and sometimes the treble, this has more often been with certain guitars. I find that my bass control on the amp is 3-4, mids vary but 5-7 is not unusual, treble really depends on the axe. Are you running the guitar pots wide open, volume especially? When recording I only use the volume pots for pick up mix or dynamics and then as open as I can because it definitely affects tonality. I have been asked to keep a little lower overall volume from my rig but almost all other changes (to get a better recording) have been mic placements or mic choices. No one has ever asked me to set up my amp or guitar so they could get a good recording where I was not real happy with the tone I was hearing.

    Simple answer get great tone and figure out how to capture it!
  7. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    Hmm, I didn't know you weren't supposed to EQ the DI, why is that? And how exactly do you do your DI processing? Do you use software amplification or do you send it back out to the same amp? Or to a different amp?
  8. NCdan

    NCdan Guest

    I think we need to establish the definition of what 99% of people (both musicians and listeners) consider good tone. The cold, hard truth is that when it comes to distorted electric guitar, good tone is tone that has no subs, very few lows, neutral mids, moderate treble, and attenuated extended highs. That is good tone, period. Now, before the 16-year-old, we-love-Metallica-army starts attacking me, let me state that the guitar, pickups, amp, tubes, speaker(s), and even the mics used will drastically affect this tone. Metallica was able to do the "super scoop" because Hetfield played with ceramic EMG's through a Mesa Boogie; and you'd better believe that his gear wasn't standard, off the shelf stuff. :wink:

    I used to think I needed an active EQ to get the tone I wanted. What I really needed was the proper pickups, tubes, and speakers to get the tone I wanted. I still have an active EQ in my effects loop, but I only turn the 2 sub bands all the way down, and the rest is in neutral. I use my amp's tone controls to get where I want to be. The tone controls on just about any modern amp are more than capable to provide the sound sculpting one needs to achieve just about any tone. An active EQ just lets one apply faux high and low pass filters (three cheers for analog!).

    Let's see if I can list this out in an easy to follow guide.

    1. Keep amp mids in neutral
    2. Never turn amp's bass past 4 at the very, very most.
    3. Use the treble and presence controls to contour your sound.
    4. Use the active EQ to get rid of the subs and maybe attenuate the extended highs.
    5. Not there? Time to look in to getting new: pickups, tubes, and/or speakers.

    Of course, there are always some exceptions. Off the top of my head I can think of punk tone. You really want to hear what scooped mids sound like? Go listen to the first RKL record. I don't think most people want their mids scooped and presence cranked. Then again, I love it. 8)
  9. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    The reason I suggested not to EQ the DI was b/c (in this instance), you'll be mixing it in underneath to "fill out" some of those missing spaces you (guitarist) perceive in an "engineer's good guitar sound".
    It's the purest sound you'll get from your guitar. No amp, no speaker, no mic. Of course you could roll off the highs, or do other things to make it sound better from your perspective. I just find a flat (maybe less the subs) DI signal helps "fill the holes".

    That's typically how I use a guitar DI. I mix it in with a couple of mics (I like to double mic the amp w/ two dynamics, say a 57 and a 421, and sometimes also a room mic), and use it just to fill in underneath. Actually, usually I use it for reamping - but if I find the tone tolerable enough, I mix it in underneath for support.

    All of this is YMMV and DWWFY, of course. Just some ideas I have used w/ some success.
  10. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    I get the premise, but a DI signal is a dry signal. I don't think I'd want to mix a dry signal into a death metal rhythm section, it just wouldn't fit. You'd have to amplify/simulate to some degree right?
  11. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    Yeah, I wasn't sure how metal of a sound you were wanting.
    Does your amp/cab have a DI out on the amp section? If so, use that.
    If not, try an emu or just a distortion/fuzz plug.

    Even if this isn't going to work for you, make sure you get the sound you want at the amp FIRST. Like has been said by many, it's easier to take away something you've got too much of than to add something you never had.
  12. BDM

    BDM Active Member

    listen to your Producer side...
  13. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Lose the ten band EQ RIGHT NOW. Seriously, get it out of your signal chain. There is no such thing as a "Standard V" setting on an EQ. Amatuer DJs and other misinformed folks do this to abuse their sound and it always sounds awful.

    You need to get "This Standard V EQ guy" out of your brain, and stop thinking analog multiband EQ is going to do your guitar sound any good. It can't and it won't. Fix your sound elsewhere in the chain and you'll be happier in the long run. Seriously.
  14. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    Good point Joe.

    I used to use XX-band EQs a lot, not as a musician (3 knobs, right?) but in mixing. Even then it was more of a gently rolling hills thing - bump here, notch there, etc.
    Then to parametrics and 8-bands (thinking of Kajerhus' Classic EQ).
    I still use those two sometimes, but typically a HPF or LPF (or shelf) and maybe a touch mid boost or scoop is enough.

    The problem with having multiple pedals and options is that the "perfect" setup is so variable. Song to song, space to space. I'd rather have three or four things to worry about to get a good sound than 10-50.

    That said, I'll play the game. This is me in each role. I play bass.

    Musician: I've had a 5-string Warwick Thumb bass for around twelve years. I have since bought a 6 Corvette and sold it. I have a Boss multi-effects bass pedal, a separate limiter/enhancer, and a 4x10 cab w/ head.
    My active EQ on the bass has stayed the same - 60% bass, 50% to 80% treble (depending on style).
    The best sound I've ever had was those settings through my Carvin 1x15 combo. No compressor, no limiter (it's on there, but I don't use it). 4 EQ knobs, input gain, output gain. Pre/post EQ switch. Come to think of it, the thing has a 6 band EQ, too. All I mess with is the 4 knob EQ (low, low mid, high mid, and treble) and pre/post switch.
    Amp loud enough to push a little air, but not to overpower the room.

    Engineer: Get a good sound at the amp. I'll worry about what's needed to make it fit in the mix. This includes mic choice, placement, and post-tracking twiddling. In my case I'd DI the bass, and put a Shure 52 or my CAD KBM a foot or two out from the amp. In the mix, HPF and some slight sculpting. Accentuate that thumping bottom to accompany the DI. Still not happy? - see below.

    Producer: Your guitar (bass) sound just doesn't fit in this mix. Change the arrangement of the song or change your sound. Make it fit.

    Play the game yourself and you'll see it's a lot easier to take care of things at the musician stage. Get a sound that you're comfortable taking anywhere (w/ a little tweaking). Then worry about the engineer stuff.
    If you still can't reconcile things, go to the producer stage.

    It's hard to wear two (or three) hats at once. Much easier to worry about your one hat. Unless you're really comfortable wearing many hats. Then having that kind of control is wonderful.
    (I wear 1-2 hats. Still not quite comfortable w/ that 2nd one)
  15. BDM

    BDM Active Member

    i have been messing with EQ before distortion/OD in GR 3, not with 'real' amps, but i find it can really smooth out the distortion by boosting/attenuating frequencies that are too fizzy or not present enough...

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