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my guitars sound like ****

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by xMannequiNx, Jan 8, 2009.

  1. xMannequiNx

    xMannequiNx Guest

    I've been workin on this cover to try and learn how to use my gear. So far, everything has been sounding great! But now that I am on guitar, I can't seem to get it to sound good at all. It sounds like a muddy mess, and no matter what I do it will not cooperate.

    We did one guitar part today, and I placed an SM57 on the sweet spot at a bit of an angle, then my LDC (sterling audio ST55) on the same sweet spot and got the mics in phase.

    Its a Krank Revolution 200W head running into a b52 4x12 cab in a small dead-sounding vocal booth, with a power attenuator in between so I can crank the volume to make the amp sound good but not blast the cab speakers.

    What am I doing wrong? There can't be anything messed in the signal chain because everything else sounds really good! (unless maybe I am overdriving something making it muddy? Of course then the drums would sound bad too since they are just as loud)

    Here is a sample of the song I am doing UNMIXED and UNFINISHED:
    Only one guitar part is recorded as we did not have time to do two.

    Here is a sample of the same guitar/amp recorded in a larger semi-treated tracking room:
    Again this is unmixed and unfinished, and had a different mic setup (sm57 pointing straight at sweet spot with condenser floating a couple feet away to get a more overall cab sound)

    Mixing has helped with some of this, but I just can't get the crisp, warm sound that I am looking for with the guitar. If you listen to the original version of through struggle by as I lay dying (the song posted above which I am covering) you can tell it is a rather clear sounding guitar.

    Any help would be appreciated.
  2. hueseph

    hueseph Distinguished Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    First of all, tune that guitar or have it set up properly for your tuning. The intonation is out. The room has a lot to do with it but it also may be re-amping in the actual song. I would ditch the distant condenser. Just go with the close mic. It might not be a bad idea to try to get the cab off the floor. Try it. It may not work. If you have a combo amp around try that instead of a 4x12. Combos are easier to make sound good imho.
  3. jordy

    jordy Active Member

    Aug 25, 2008
    Reedsville, PA
    Home Page:
    yes- tune....and maybe, probably, more than likely- double track (record 2 seperate times) and pan them opposite
  4. corydeshane

    corydeshane Active Member

    Nov 19, 2007
    my 2 cents... put the amp in a new room, get rid of the attenuator, and crank the amp for real (but be careful, obviously).
    the guitar sounds painfully dead and somewhat lifeless. your techniques for getting the BEST sound are right-on, but unfortunately, in this situation, the BEST sound is subpar at best.
    put the amp in a livelier room, and as mentioned before, possibly raise it off the floor a bit. then apply your 57 technique.
    Also, as far as the ST55 is concerned... using an "ambient" mic in a dead room basically accomplishes nothing. If you have no reflections and ambience to work with, all you're doing is providing a second signal that's just quieter and creating phase issues.
    Might I add that after only a brief listen, you've certainly got some workable drum tracks there! Did you soundreplace or other-such-replace the kick drum, or was that a live signal?


    EDIT: i just realized how horribly redundant it was to say "painfully dead and lifeless." oh well... point made. lol
  5. xMannequiNx

    xMannequiNx Guest

    Ok Ill try doin some different techniques with the guitar. I also read this very vulgar yet insightful article on recording heavy guitar sounds, so I'm gonna try and pull some pointers from that.

    jordy: I know about the double tracking, we just ran out of time to do the second track haha

    cory: thanks for the compliments on the drums! They are a live signal and I added a small amount of eq and compression (just used factory settings on URS strip pro VST) I'm a drummer myself, so I am more familiar with mic placement and eq on the drum tracks. But when it comes to guitar I am clueless haha
  6. natural

    natural Active Member

    Jul 21, 2006
    I concur with the others.
    It's not clear where you thought the 'sweet spot' was, but I would start with 1 mic about an inch in front of 1 speaker.
    Some engineers will also try to baffle off at least 2 of the other speakers to negate any additional phase problems. But I rarely run into this if the mic is close enough.
    If that gets you into the ball park, try adding the 2nd mic, either on the same speaker or a different one and adjust for phase. Be careful if it's on a separate speaker that the speaker itself is not wired out of phase. (it seems to happen more often than you would think)
    If you can't raise the cab off the ground, you can either try tipping it back a few degree angle or Mic one of the top 2 speakers. (or both)
    Let us hear the results.
  7. Try backing off the gain of the amp just a little. I've found that you don't need as much as you would think to get that really distorted sound. Also, it helps with the clarity of the notes you are playing, so they don't sound like they're running together.
  8. xMannequiNx

    xMannequiNx Guest

    Ok I'll definitely keep all these tips in mind!

    Can there be phasing issues when micing two separate speakers of the cab up close? If so how would I take care of that?
  9. hueseph

    hueseph Distinguished Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Not likely to happen but if it somehow does, it's just a matter of moving one of the mics.
  10. I think the biggest problem is how the amp is sounding. It has too much gain, and when you double track it you're gonna want way way less gain. Turn the lows down a bit too. Get the amp sounding in the room first.
  11. I agree with pfactionbrett. I just don't think you've got your amp set up right to get the sound you're looking for. It's somewhat close though, don't get me wrong. Remember that guitars' frequency usually sits in the low-mids to mids. That's where all your tone is going to be. For the type of music you're going for, it can be scooped out a little bit but you don't want to scoop it out so much that you've lost all your tone. Also, if you're looking to double-track your guitars, one method you could try doing is splitting your guitar signal...one to the amp with the mic on it and the other DI'ed. Then when you are happy with the recording from the amp, take your DI'ed guitar signal and reamp it through and entirely different amp (if you're able to) and set that amp up to compliment the sound of your first guitar recording. This will help thicken your guitar tone and will be spot on with your recording from the amp (if that makes sense). If you don't know what a reamp box is check out http://www.reamp.com Good Luck!
  12. xMannequiNx

    xMannequiNx Guest

    Ok, were doin more tracking today, so I'm gonna try and take all this advice

    i never thought about reamping, but now that you mention it it does seem like a really good idea! The only issue is that there are multiple guitar parts in this song and they play different things. So re-amping would kind of be redundant :/
  13. NCdan

    NCdan Guest

    Here's some other suggestions that you might try; you might already have done all of these things, but just to make sure...

    EQ, EQ, EQ. If you don't know how to use active EQ then learn. Hardcore guitars need to be extremely tonally sculpted. Krank amps are very "fat" and seem to have a lot of lows and low mids (I've heard them described as "it sounds like a fat kid is sitting in front of it"), so turn those lows and low mids down if you haven't already. Do not ever scoop your midrange, in fact, you might try boosting 1,000 to 2,000 Hz for more cut and clarity. Once you have a good take, go in and put a moderate to aggressive highpass somewhere at 150 to 250 Hz. Be sure to use only your bridge pickup for distortion. As others recommended, make your L and R tracks different: make one thick and one crisp, pan them slightly differently, offset one of them a bit if you don't do two separate takes, etc... Good luck and God bless.
  14. xMannequiNx

    xMannequiNx Guest

    Ok so we did some more tracking today. I took all your advice, and i have to say the tone turned out MUCH better. But It still isn't getting that clear sound that I'm looking for.

    Heres what we did. There is compression and eq on the guitar.

    It was recorded in the vocal booth again, this time raise up about 3'. Also used 2 mics; one sm57 on the top left speaker and one on the bottom right speaker.

    Any more advice?
  15. hueseph

    hueseph Distinguished Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    If you're going to double the track it's going to need to be a lot tighter than that. What you can try (and this is not a recommendation necessarily) is using a multi-tap delay or some sort of tape delay emulator (just because I personally like the sound of those) set the delay to 20ms +/- a few milliseconds. Set the feedback fairly short but long enough to get a few repeats. This will give you a pseudo double tracking sound. It works for me......sometimes. I think you still need to work on that tone from the amp though. It's still not quite right.

    Also, what gauge of string are you using? You should use at least .013s. Heavier would be better. This alone can improve the tone immensely.
  16. xMannequiNx

    xMannequiNx Guest

    I'm not sure exactly what gauge they are, but as far as I know they are the heaviest you can buy for guitar.

    As far as the tone on the amp goes, what would you recommend? We tried messing with the gain, but any lower than 6.5 and he would complain cause he couldn't do pinches (even though there are no pinches in this song haha).
  17. hueseph

    hueseph Distinguished Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Can I be honest? I would try a different cab. That cab is putting out a lot of bass. Too much maybe. If you can locate a 2 x 12 or even a 2 x 10 it might help. Otherwise you can try moving the amp to a different spot in the room. Make sure you're not in a corner. Move the mic to a different spot on the cone. Try putting the mic off axis.

    Have you tried isolating the cab altogether? If you have the means. We used to use gobos. to completely enclose the front of the cab or the whole amp if it's a combo. This doesn't always sound good but you can try it.

    You can always mess with eq a bit more. Try and scoop out those low mids bit more. Careful that you don't cut the sac off the bull so to speak. 400-500Hz is boom and mud but it also has some of the body.
  18. Hey man! Your definitely heading in the right direction. Huge improvement over what you originally had going. Good job! I agree with hueseph about the thicker strings. It will definitely tighten up the sound, but be a little weary...I've found that using thicker strings also tends to dull down the higher frequencies of the guitar. And if you're doubling tracking each guitar part...I still highly recommend using a DI and reamping, that way when you go to do your double of one guitar part with the reamp you're spot on with the original if that makes sense.

    Keep up the good work though!
  19. natural

    natural Active Member

    Jul 21, 2006
    YES, You're definitely in the ballpark.
    That mic technique is fairly textbook, so you're in good shape there.
    You can fine tune that by pointing the mic more toward the center of the speaker or more toward the cone to adjust tonal balance.
    Also, depending on the age of the cab, some speakers might sound different than others. Especially if you've had any of them re-coned. Sometimes you have to try all 6 combinations (when using 2 mics) to find the right pair that works.

    The rest comes down to player technique, type of amp, cabinet, strings, alignment of the stars and karma.
  20. xMannequiNx

    xMannequiNx Guest

    I'm a little confused about how the whole re-amping works. Do you record clean and then re-amp it? Cause there is no way a guitarist is going to want to record clean...

    I'm thinking about buying a line 6 podxt pro, which has re-amping capabilities. Would you use that and record one clean track and then one simulated track?

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