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Recording thick rock/metal rhythm guitars

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by Nacek-O, Dec 8, 2014.

  1. Nacek-O

    Nacek-O Guest

    Hello all!

    I am pretty much an amteur recording engineer, I've done some good work in the past with good results but nothing really exstensive so far. Anyhow I am getting ready to record an album with my band and I've been thinking for the past coupšle of months how to do it, especially with guitars. I am going for a thick but clear distorted guitar tone but I don't want tha mesa boogie high gain fizz or something like that so I've decide to do it like this:

    - 2 guitarists in the band
    - use 6 amps (high gain, mid gain and low gain)
    - use 6 guitars
    - hexatracking or whatever

    So here's the deal:

    First of all I am very fortunate to have many guitar playing friends that will loan me their great amps and guitars to record with them...anyway here's the thinking

    Both guitar players record:

    - 1 High gain (well not that much high gain if we're talking about a 5150 then the gain setting is aar 4) rhythm track each using different high gain amps and guitars with hot output pickups
    - 1 mid gain track using same method as above only using guitars with medium output pickups
    - 1 low gain track played with the basic notes (single note bass style playing) also guitars with medium output pickups (maybe a strat :D)

    Now here's where I need some tips:

    - Do I use the same 4x12 cab for all heads or use matching cabs for each head or find a matching cab eq wise ie a cab with great bottom end for high gain, a cab with good midrange for mid gain and a cab for the single note low gain stuff
    - Do I use one mic for all of the tracks or do I use 2-3 mics to cover the "whole spectrum" of sound
    - Do I sculpt the sound as I am recording the ie high gain mid scooped, mid gain low cut and so on or do I record each amp the way it sounds best to me and as i blend the amps I cut the unwanted frequencies

    I am aware of all the phasing that can happen but that can be easily corrected. Anyone tried this recording method before, I'd love to hear some samples and get some advice on this topic from people who have experience with this kind of thing. Now maybe some of you will say use a TS808 through a 5150 and you have your perfect metal tone but I've already tried the one amp one guitar method and it doesn't work for what I wish to achieve because of the narrow stereo field and plus you get better seperation if you have different sounds on the left and right speakers.

    Thanks in advance have a good one!
     
  2. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    Let me start with this : Anything you do that works is good.
    If you have time to experiment, take your time to do so and find your own recipe.

    About the options now :
    I know that with Rock/metal musician, it's common to use Guitar layering and I'm not against it. But You already know that the result can be blured by phase issue or performance timming.

    To me there is no reason, one guitar can't sound HUGE. It depends on how and where it was recorded and how you mix it.
    As a personnal preference, I'd rather have one solid guitar recorded with phase coherent 2 mics (a dynamic and a ribbon) or playing through 2 cabs which will be panned in the mix.

    You could go wild and send the guitar through 4 cabs with 2 mics each. if the cabs are some how isolated to avoid phase issue this will sound 200% more solid than record the same part 4 times.

    You're not saying what mics you have at your disposal, it could help to be more explicit with other options.

    What ever you do, everything can change with just the way you place your mic(s). The key is to move it around until it sounds good !
     
    niclaus likes this.
  3. Nacek-O

    Nacek-O Guest

    Some good advice already :D

    I think I will try the method you describe only not on this recording because the rhythm guitars are not the sam all of the time in some parts one guitarist plays a third above from the other or a fifth so I'll be doing at least double tracking. I'm not worried about phase or performance timing too much, phase can be corrected and the playing on time is going to be trial and error right :D The thing is almost all of the songs have drums, bass guitar, 2 guitarists, keyboards, vocals and backup vocals so I need clarity and thickness as far as guitars are concerned the last thing I want is a sound like let's say Lacuna Coil has no definition what so ever but that's the bands fault for having not the best arranging skills too much going on at the same time :D

    p.s. I have at my disposal 3x shure SM57, 1x Audix i5, 1x Sennheiser e609, 1x Rode NT2A, no ribbon mics I'm afraid but am trying to get my hands on a Shure SM7B

    Thanks for the advice so far.

    Cheers
     
  4. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    For guitar cabs, the SM7B won't do much more than the sm57.
    With different partitions, you get less phasing problems when layering.
    You can still change the mics and/or cabs and/or heads for each guitar parts. What is does is helping the parts to have a different sound and keep some seperation and avoid masking or mud.
     
  5. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Actually, the 57 would probably be a better choice, because the SM7 has a pretty low output - even for a dynamic.

    The disclaimer here is that if you are cranking your amps way up, you probably won't have much of a problem. But I still prefer 57/58 or Sennheiser 409e's for guitar amps.
     
  6. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Great tips. The only issue I have with this the OP said that he wasn't worried about the TWO MAIN THINGS that make this happen. Phase and timing. If you PAY ATTENTION to these things AT THE CAPTURE you will succeed. If not, you will struggle with this. Getting the clarity you describe from distorted guitars is not easy and requires time and patience and NOT SETTLING for "okay" or "I'll fix it later".

    Whatever you do on every track of guitar, do yourself a huge favor and take a DI as well as the mics on the amps. And learn to reamp.

    It will change your life.
     
    kmetal likes this.
  7. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    Don't be so sure. One mic on two amps at different distances (inches matter) will pick up phase interactions that can't be removed. One inch difference in distance will put the two amps out of phase by 180° at about 6kHz all else being equal.

    If I were doing this I'd probably gravitate toward using one amp per guitar and one mic per amp, then double tracking with small adjustments to the mic positions and amp settings. Hard pan doubled tracks away from each other.

    Decent players can match their own timing well enough, and the minor timing imperfections will add to the bigness.
     
  8. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    If your looking for a modern metal sound timing and phasing are evrything. Loose metal recordings don't happen well. I've experimented in the studios w the method you described in you OP, I've found things that I prefer, that accomplish the end result better, in an overall sense of the recording and a reasonable time frame.

    It's great that your aware of arrangement, one of the most important thing people take for granted in 'pro' recordings. sonic space for everyone is the first thing to the clear mix you seek, then play it clearly.

    I think as far as recording there's some technical things you can do to help these, if you want to keep a more elaborate micing setup manageable, and not end up blurring things. Since it seems to me your after different sounds and tonal textures, there's no need to focus on numerous performances, just get one magic performance for each guitarist. Between editing and the awsome stuff you've been practicing, your set, you got the ingredient, the driver, the captain. These are your guitar foundation. So rythm stuff, the. Song. Think of any other parts and layers, as accents, in an arrangement sense. So you want a thick layered sound for this, but tight. Make it thick sonically, keep it tight, by tracking one performance. Set up 3 tracks for each guitarist, and one guitar stereo bus. Pan the guitars where you want, and really it depends on where the keyboards, but usually pretty wide or gard panned guitars l/r in most the thousands of hours of metal I've heard.

    Record, two amps, in separate rooms, and take a DI. For each guitarist as a foundation.

    (Sylvia Massey takes a high gain like a bonger, Mesa, or diesel, and a mid gain like a plexi, or an 800, and)

    I've blended a 5150 an 800 recently, but I preferred the Mesa and marshal/peveay cuz of the mesas enormous lows and the peavey bite that night. youve already shown you know about keeping the gain a bit lower. To avoid the dreaded fizz. I also like to use boost like a tube screamer in front of the dirty channel of an amp, it always sounds bigger to me than the dirty channel alone w that much gain, or a clean channel w a distortion pedal.

    Make sure your familiar w the basic "track groups" functions so workflow stays creative.

    put a 57 on one and the i5 on the other, or the 609, which is not the 906, and there is. Very very big diffrence between the two. 906 excellent mic.

    so now I'd think arrangement, and figure I'd need a high and med sound, clean is coverr w the DI for now.

    So blend the two amps, for a nice thick high gain sound, with a clear pick attack. Record the three tracks and setup up w your gtr L, same thing for guitar R but with his rig, or a variation of the others.

    Now you've got your R and L high gain master rythm tracks. Repeat w the medium sound(s). Or just record the med and high gain at once, in separate rooms.

    This should give you a ver solid foundation for rythm tracks, that are thick but tight still, any accents and harmonies and all that are separate from these as a song element. But short of solos, I'd wait till the keys were done, before guitar overdubs. I like to have the rythm tracks bused to one stero bus, for metal and rock.

    The whole bueaty of this is tracking the DI and keeping things grouped during the recording and editing. Becuase now during the mix, you've got the ability to re amp, to fill in any missing content you might need tonally, in the guitars. This allows maximum tonal flexibility, but w manageable track counts, and even more importantly an excellent rytmically tight performance, of sonics mayhem! People don't have to commit like the old days to takes and sounds suring tracking, so organization is the only way I've found to keep the workflow similar. track groups keep tracking and mixing fast, and busing things, keeps mixing smooth, and sort of committed. Once you get the blend of all 5000 gtr L tracks nice, moving the bus fader up and down is easy, for more or less gtr in general.

    Lamb of god did it this way for ashes of the wake but w three amps. They had complained that some parts on the album before ( as the palaces burn) was too heavily saturated at some parts. Devin Townsend had track multiple performance of the same part and layered them in at certain points k. The song. They weren't necessarily satisfied coml,every withe the way this sounded, and Townsend is like militant when it comes to rhythmic tightness.

    You could replay the parts and layer each of the L and R guitar rythm parts, but it's gottna be done tight, and you might find its only best during heavy break downs. Usually I wait, and consider them overdubs, or record another 'keeper' just to have. But usually by the time it's mix time, those aren't necessary or get redone during overdubs.

    Also make sure your guitars and bass are in tune! New strings baby! as far as bass, I recently did a death metal ep and mic'd the ampeg head/cab w an sm57 at the suggestion of my boss/mentor, and it was perfect For that bands sound. Nice grit tons of deffiniton. Of course I took a d.i in case :)

    Also I am not shy with the editing. I will hammer the bass and kick together. Same for guitar pauses, everything. It's not blues, it's not about feel it's a raw agressive power, jagged edges. That's how you get jagged edges. The the Kik gtr and bass all go dchuuung at the same time, the the gtr and bass stop at the same time, it's nice, it feels good when played loundly too, like a huge machine! Modern metal and and most commercial rock, are not natural recordings, of a band live w over over dubs. I think metal is more relative to extereme hip hop and electronic music, than the lighter side of rock and alternative, as far as mix expectations. On eleven and clear as day!
     
    pcrecord likes this.
  9. simman

    simman Active Member

    Recording option that can produce a variety of different guitar sounds with one set up. Don't know you're gear but here it is.

    What you need is 1 amp (i. e., Marshall 100 watt) and two cabinets (i. e., 2x 4 12") and a ribbon mic (Royer 121 works great for this if you have one) . Technique is not really dependent on gear but you need to have both cabinets plugged into the same amp.

    Face both cabinets directly at each other about 6"- 1' apart (to start) place the ribbon equal distance between the cabinets (center horizontal and vertical - to start) so each lobe of the figure 8 is pointed at each cabinet. Now most important, you must reverse the polarity of one of the cabinets. To do this I built a cable that has the tip and rig reversed on one end (mark this cable so it is easily identifiable so you don't miss use in the future) .

    You can vary the distance between the cabinets as well as mic position to vary guitar tone. Have guitar player play while someone moves mic position until you get the tone you want.
     
  10. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I realize that this thread is a couple months old - if the OP is checking in for further comments, I'd be curious to hear how things turned out for you. Do you have a sample you can post via soundcloud?
    Just upload your audio file to soundcloud, copy the URL of where your track is after it's been uploaded, and paste the link here.
    If you do decide to do this, please don't delete or erase your file on soundcloud, as it leaves a dead link behind, and creates difficulties for the forum.

    I'd hope that you would get back to us - so often we get guests who pop in here and ask for advice, and then they never get back to us with the results.

    The purpose of this forum is for learning, so if other people - who may be facing a similar circumstance - would do an internet search and find this post, it helps them to see the picture from start to finish.

    d.
     
  11. simman

    simman Active Member

    Well stated and I couldn't agree more
     

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