1. Register NOW and become part of this fantastic knowledge base forum! This message will go away once you have registered.

Recording saturated guitar

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by Groff, Dec 13, 2004.

  1. Groff

    Groff Active Member

    Hy everyone,

    I am not happy with my digitaly recorded hi-gain (distorted) guitar sounds. In the recorded signal, I always have some junk (scratchy, crackle, harshiness, fizzy, grainy...or whatever-however we could call) in upper mids and high freq, positioned behind the signal. It becomes more obvious and nasty when more amp saturation is applied and after the mastering process (Waves LinMB, L2).

    I tried with different mics, pres and converters, spending weeks on tips & tricks. :? Colours changed but the junk remained the same. :evil: Somebody gave me a recommendation on FATSO. After some investigation, I heard many good words about E.L. FATSO jr. but I'm not sure. Would this box with tape simulation be REALLY helpful to get rid of ALL those junk problems (and not turn it into muddines, without enough highs) or I have to buy another pre for tracking distorted guitar.

    I used few mid-crap preamps (now sold) and got Sebatron VMP 2000, but the problem remained almost the same.

    The recording path is: Shure 57 - Seba - Manley ELOP (slightly, only a few dB reductions) - AD - PC.

    My guitars: Shecter custom (with T.Anderson pickups), PRS sandard, Gibson ES 335, Ibanez custom (PAF pro)

    My amps: Soldano Atomic, Fender Deluxe Reverb, Pevey 5150 (sold, but also tested), Carvin Legacy (combo)

    Others: TS-9, DS-1, SansAmp, W-twin, C.Martin, ADA mp-1.

    Unfortunaly, I don't have the oportunity for try-before-buy option.

    New mic pre or FATSO or somethyng else but realy efficient? Can you give me a hand here? :roll:

    And to mention just as a reference (not to copy), one of my favorite modern drive guitar sound: Steve Vai's "Tender Surrender" - big, bright, upfront, dynamical, detailed, aggressive.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    Can you back off on the gain? Most wonderful rock tones are "crunchy" - not "fuzzy." Use the extra gain for leads, but back off on the rhythms.
  3. heyman

    heyman Guest

    well, last I knew Steve Via used an API Legacy console on alot of his albums.... Not your run of the mill shitbox by any means.

    It could be a number of things, mic placement, conversion from A to D...

    Also see if you can get your hand on an API micpre to try out.
  4. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Sounds like something mechanical....bad cord....something in the recording room....a piece of amp that you cant hear when its on but is being picked up by the mic(those that do a lot of heavy-hitter drummers know that one).....try to get your saturated sound at a very low volume and see if thats your problem...or it could be the 57...if its a newer made in Mexico one, I've heard that they have loose fitting capsules that tend to buzz a bit when hit with an intensive high SPL.Try another mic...see if it continues...and you might try using a minimum of effects...Like John said, a driven guitar sound is usually achieved with a very simple setup....I use a small amp with perhaps one pedal and get most of the gain from the amp...Fender Blues Jr > LD condenser >pre or board pre > recorder.....done. Lots of overdriven if you need it...no 'fizz'...Another chain is Carr Hammerhead > LD condenser > pre >recorder...lots and lots of tone with only a Keeley modified blues driver....
  5. boheme6

    boheme6 Guest

    try recording as far away from your computer monitor as you can get.. and face away from it..

    Computer monitors and guitar pickups to NOT play well together... hummmmmm
  6. Big_D

    Big_D Well-Known Member

    You got that right, I had a hum I couldn't find until I tracked it down to tracks I laid sitting in front of my PC. I stay as far from the monitor as possible now and also find turning my back to it helps.
  7. boheme6

    boheme6 Guest

    Big-D -
    I figured it out really quickly... when I first started using a DAW (SAW under Windows 3.1!!) I had an old Grover Jackson custom with SCREAMING hot electronics.... if I turned toward my monitor from within about 10 feet, it was REALLY obvious... *bzzzzzBZZZZZ*
  8. Tigerfolly

    Tigerfolly Guest

    I'll jump on and support this bandwagon too. Every time I track guitars at home, I turn off my monitor for the tracks. It's a definitely noticable difference.. especially with one of my guitars which is particularly sensitive to 60 cycle hum. Since many monitors have a default refresh rate of 60hz as well, it's ten times worse with 'em on.

    Another possibility is that you're getting just a touch of input distortion somewhere along the chain, and you're not detecting it until you really put it under the audio microscope.

    Also, someone mentioned backing off on the gain. If you really want great, non-fuzzy guitar tones, use as little gain as you possibly can. Only use enough to make the part work.. If you're doing big sustained chords and you feel like you need extra gain to sustain long enough, there are a few little tricks you can use like throwing a compressor in the input chain. One thing I used to help with sustain and get a little feedback while just putzing around at my home computer was use a small PC speaker and place it directly in front of the pickups. There was just enough room for my picking hand, but the guitar and tone reacted as if I had the amp much, much louder and took the sterile, home-recorded guitar tone feel out of the sound.

    It's all about power amp gain over preamp gain. Throat over fuzz. With the right compression you make a seriously dry, in your face guitar tone sound like it has a lot more gain than it really does.

    Oh yeah, one other thing.. if you're looking for a smoother tone, try swapping that SM57 out for a Sennheiser 421. That can help mellow out a tone and take a little fuzziness out of what goes to track.

  9. missilanious

    missilanious Guest

    first off tell us how the hell your micing the cab in respects to mic position, your EQ setting on the SEB ext....... It sounds like your mic placement rather than anything else, you have to many amp guitar combos to be giving you the same junk. Before you go out and buy something like a fatso check the basics first before blaming your gear.
  10. bap

    bap Member

    Take a look at the Nano Head half watt Tube Amp made by Zvex.


    It's made specifically for recording saturated guitar. It looks interesting.

    Bruce P.
  11. Groff

    Groff Active Member

    OK, thanks a lot my friends, but I already check those things before.

    John Massive:

    I know that. This was one of the first things I find out as guitar player many years before (have 20 years of playing, 6 as pro - hired for tourings, now quit with the road and make my studio). And yes, I know for "less means more". Crunch is the king for the rhythm (IMO sounds with good ADSR dynamic are big) and "fuzzy" .... is just full of flies box - on fire :lol: , so therefore is not my direction. But some lead parts needs extra saturation for the sound and technique (fast legato, arppegio, etc.) so I always try to use the "right" amp with good character on that point. Good sound comes from good guitar and good amp. And good hands too. What if I have all, but still with crackling background (specialy on upfront lead parts)?

    After burning the master (16/44.1) on CD (plextor, nero) for playing around it's even more obvious.

    All others sources: clean el. guitars, acoustic guit., bass, voices, saxophone, percussions, etc. are clean without cracklings at all. With some sustained pads from keyboards ("hardware" synths) I have the same problem.


    I'm thinking of API 512c or GR mp2nv and AMS 1073 dpa (and Averill or Vintech clones). 8) I wish I could buy them all - right now. For API, in Gear forum, I find from "can't go wrog with" to "very hard". In what I have to believe ? What if "hard" means more troubles for me. Computer recordings are already hard and I'm doing alchemy to soft the things. Vai also use Studer but I cann't afford. I remember (youngster) times when I did garage jam session recordings on old 4 ch. Tascam with sm 57/58 and pres from rusty noname-board. Not a sophisticated definition but no crackling even with ruined Marshall-copy, crapy guitar and home made fuzz box. Whatadays enyway ha,ha ! We was so happy. Now, we are still childern (inside), less happy, and all the toys we need are more expensive. :shock:


    I'm pedant person in all things related to music. Bad cords are out of a question and my amps and guitars are in perfect condition (no resonant parts, bad tubes, pots, fret buzz, etc.). I did lot of that tipe of testing and it almost turn me to bat. I never push amp master level hard for tracking. No more than 10-15 W or even less (two of my amps are around 20 W). Yes, my 57s are new and made in Mexico. I tryed to find new one with "made in USA" but get sales info that all new 57s now are made in Mex (!? it's all about profit, isn't it ?). I never do tracking with effects, just guitar straight to amp. OK, maybe wah or one analog drive pedal for little extra gain when needed. For me, adding effects later in mix is better and more controled way.
    Sorry, but what is LD condenser ? :? I guess it's mic, and...shame on me. :oops:

    Boheme6 & Big_D:

    Don't get me wrong, but playing any of electro-magnetic based instrument in front of VGA is a sort of beginner mistake (still far better than my english grammar/spell :oops: ). I'm lucky to have another room for playing guitar. I set all my connections, cabels and gear away from interference fields as much as I can (care of cabels lenght). I don't use any patch bay, all equipment is on one phase of electricity, there is galvanization with trans and stuff for filtering. I guess I did all by the book, best I know & can.

    Thanks for tips and fast replay. :cool: Any further opinions ?
  12. Big_D

    Big_D Well-Known Member

    Yeah, I recorded for years to R to R and of course it's not a concern there, but the switch to DAW revealed that little detail.

    I think you need to look at a few more things. First I would check your power. Dave is the expert here but make sure you don't have dimmers or flourescent lights on the same side of the panel as your amps and DAW gear. If you can get your hands on a UPS with a transformer you'll get totally clean juice to eliminate an A/C problem. You mention trans and filters, is this what you mean.

    Next I'd take a serious look at your PC. You didn't mention what DAC's you have but if they are in the PC that could be the source of your problem. Open it up and make sure all of the cabling is secured neatly away from the MOBO and cards. Hard drives and CD/DVD drives can put off a lot of EMI but good cable routing can cut down on some of the chatter.

    If you still turn up nothing I would revisit the mic and converters. Try a different PC with different converters and another mic. If it's quiet add your pieces back into the chain until the culprit appears.

    Hope this helped :D
  13. Groff

    Groff Active Member


    I doubt about input or chain distortion. No high SPL, no hard pushing pre or compressor. Sometimes I rerecord guitars through nearfield monitros with AT condenser mics in my control room and mix them with original dry sound. Lots of possibilityes. I have to try with 421. Once I did with AT condenser on amp speaker but it was to harshy.

    Guys, check "rock" demo mp3 from RODE site. Guitar amp miked with Rode NT 1000 through Neve 1073 to PT on 24/44.1. Not harsh at all. Mastered with TRacks. By the way, toms are killer. Drummer too (he, he !).


    It's standard closemiking procedure, everybody knows. From center to the edge of speaker. 1,5 to 3 inches distant from speaker (sometimes a foot for little room sound). Straight or angled on 45. Depend of guitar/amp combinations and sound settings. It takes little time to find a sweet spot.

    Bruce P. bap:

    I'm on the way to check the nano-land, thanks.

    Big D:

    I'm triple checked everything in and outside. Also no dimmers or floure-lights. I have new Zalman 400 W power supply and processor cooler inside PC, new passive graphic card (Radeon 9200), no additional fans. I couldn't find UPS with really good filtering stage, so friend of mine (very experienced in electronics) made some "filtering machine". This is 1 kW transformator for 220 to 220 (I live in Europe) A/C galvanization with some big condensers and little voodoo parts. Heavy and serious thing. I guess Dave would know what's all about in electronic way more than I. Big improvement in my cleaning mission.

    AD/DA converters are weakest part in my equipment. My first (3 years ago) was Yamaha DSP Factory with two AX 44. Now I have Echo Gina. I'm considering to go for Apogee Rosseta 200 with X firewire card.

    Thanks my friends. My battle goes on, but I'm tough.

  14. Big_D

    Big_D Well-Known Member

    The Echo DAC'S aren't to shabby. I've got a pair of Layla's and they're pretty sweet little DAC's for the price, granted they're not Apogee's but IMO they sound every bit as good if not a little better than the MOTU's and Aardvark's. I guess there's the chance you got a bad one though.

    Good luck with your search and Merry Christmas to you also!
  15. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Without other sources displaying this problem I would guess that the electricity is not the problem......Still makes me think its the 57......LD=Large Diaphram Condenser Mic....
  16. Jonesey

    Jonesey Active Member

    I find the 57 on my 4x12 cab to be bright and can sound harsh at times. I use a Royer -121 on 1 speaker and the 57 on the other and mix to taste. The royer just seems to round off the harhness and to me sounds great on saturated guitar tones.
  17. Groff

    Groff Active Member

    LD :oops: LD :oops: LD :oops: :oops: :oops: !!!

    Davedog, I'm sooooooo SORRY. Please forgive me. :cry:

    Oh, God.... :oops:
  18. neomystic

    neomystic Guest


    I have been finding that I have to cut the highs on my guitar tracks at mixdown in some cases. If I use my strat with a KSM32 I got way too much high sizzle. When I used a PRS Custom with a Senn 609E no high end EQ needed but very bassy (same amp settings). I tend to record without the eq and use eq at mix. Mostly due to my lack of experience recording makes me want to get it all and then cut versus miss a great track by not having enough high end. Anyway, the sound your are describing sounds exactly like what I am getting with the KSM32/Strat combo with no EQ.
    P.S. The tracks worked out very well after eq with good warm sound in the mix. This was for rythm/power chord sound only. No EQ on leads. I Let the highs rip on leads.


Share This Page