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The chiming of electric guitars...

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by Team, Jan 19, 2012.

  1. Team

    Team Active Member

    Hello everyone,

    My first post here, I hope it adds something useful to this forum.

    Within the context of the music I make, I record electric guitars a lot.
    Mainly solid bodies, from a selection of maybe 6 or 7 different models. I use a number of different amps, solid state and valve-based, from small sized combos to bigger stacks. I use both dynamic and condenser mics, depending on what I'm recording and what I'm going for in terms of sound.

    I feel my technique has improved over the years, and that I'm able to acheive results that more or less match what I set out to do.

    One thing consistently happens however. I find that when it comes to mixing, I am always obliged to get rid of certain frequencies bewteen the range of 2.4 and 2.9 khz.
    Whatever guitar or amp I'm recording with, whether the sound be clean or overdriven, 2.8 khz is a frequency that just seems to stick out and have to be dealt with, with some precision EQing. Once I've dealt with that one, I can hear others, harmonics, that just seem to be way too present, and aggressive to the ear.

    Of course, once you start EQing out too much of these, the guitars seem to lose their chime, and sound dull. So I try to get the balance right.
    I'm sure the ear can trick you into hearing some of these frequencies to be too present simply because you are focusing on them...

    I'm curious to know to what extent others have this kind of problem, and if they are able to deal with this at the 'mic placement' stage. We've had the luxury of precision EQs for less time than people have been recording electric guitars...

    Any opinions?
  2. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    I think you need to take a wider view than "mic placement". The sort of factors that come ahead of placement of the mic are: choice of room, model and power of amplifier for recording, type of microphone to use, placement of the amplifier (both in the room and height off the floor), acoustic level at which to run the amplifier.

    I used to have this sort of problem when I just miked what the guitarist wanted. The thing that changed it for me was my first re-amping session. I had dutifully recorded the player's amplifier in the way that he wanted but I had also taken a DI signal. After the player had gone home, I replayed the DI track into my choice of small amplifier, which I set up to make a miniature but similar version of the original sound. I could then move this easily around the room, set up gobos, set up multiple mics and record the tracks I wanted. The thing that made the most difference was to get the amplifier well off the floor to avoid reflections. I combined more than one mic in the final track. When I played it to the guitarist, he was very pleased with the way his amplifier had come out. He didn't believe me when I said it wasn't his amplifier.
  3. Team

    Team Active Member

    Thanks for your insight Boswell,

    I'm also a big fan of reamping, it's really great to run a re-record a guitar through a number of different effects corresponding to different parts of a song. Getting a variation of tone and colour from just one guitar part, instead of recording multiple parts, makes a nice change in approaching the recording of a song.

    With regards to my original post, I suppose I'm interested in finding out to what extend people get rid of certain frequencies on recorded guitars, or before hitting the tape. I'm also wondering whether it isn't my hearing that's ultra sensitive to certain frequencies, but that's a whole different story...
  4. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    By your description, it sounds more like a monitoring issue? Of course we are also not quite clear on what kind of musical genre you're speaking about? Chainsaw sounding guitars might be what you are referring to? We don't know? I don't usually find it necessary to be cutting out 2.8 kHz on a regular basis. Though, I frequently cut a little around 200-300 Hz on numerous drums of a drum set. And I find myself boosting upper midrange & 12 kHz on a lot of sources. It sounds to me like you're going for the sound of the smile curve? Bass & treble up or, bass and treble flat with a cut at 2.8 kHz to basically create the same thing. But also with your description, it sounds to me like you're mixing through headphones? That's where Monitor speakers can be so important. And I'm talking virtually any Monitor speakers designed for control room applications. So what's the signal chain you are using?

    Have you also utilized some kind of reference CDs by major groups & engineers to listen to that first before you begin mixing? What is your starting off reference? I have had people indicate to me they believe their Monitor speakers were perfectly fine and could not understand why they would need to listen to some reference CDs first. Well, DUH. That would be like having an auto mechanic perform brain surgery on you just because they were known to be good at fixing things. And that doesn't cut it. It drills it, to the core.

    Brain surgery six years ago by an actual neurosurgeon
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  5. Team

    Team Active Member

    Well, I'm mixing on monitor speakers, using headpones for the occasional A/B. I usually run a 421, an SM57 or an RE20 in front of the cab, sometimes adding a condenser at the back of the cab. Recording through an ANT mixer or Lawo channel strips into a MOTU 828 and straight out to KRK V6 monitors. No compression before recording. A hi-pass filter from time to time. The headphones I use are Sony MD 7506s.

    I think I should have been more precise in terms of what sort of EQing I was applying. When I stated that I find the need to cut certain frequencies, I really mean that I'm zoning in as precisely as possible (usually using Logic Pro's basic parametric EQ plug - with the tightest possible Q settings) on certain harmonics that otherwise just seem to ring out. These harmonics are, in my experience, always situated between 2.4 and 2.9 khz.

    Once I've tamed these 2 or 3 frequencies, then I'm ready to start using more relaxed EQ settings for the overall colour of the guitars, adding and subtracting a little here and there.
    I'll add that this phenomenon seems to occur on both overdriven and clean guitars tones.

    I hope that gives a better idea of the problem I'm describing. Maybe it's not a problem...
  6. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    I too have the KRK V6's and love those. You got all the right information in your equation. Perfectly good, perfectly sane. This is a 100% pure subjective art form, business and so, you may just like taking out those frequencies. You find it necessary so it's necessary. Are you unhappy with the sound that you are obtaining? Or was it just a rhetorical question? We all polish the audio up before we release it. That's audio engineering. Getting it to sound right, your way. I will also sometimes pull those frequencies out of guitar tracks if I feel it necessary. You can only do so much correction with a Neve 3115 equalizer. No Q control, no sweep. If I need more than that, it must be done in software, after recording. You may also be detecting something you don't care for in your V6's? It could be crossover notch distortion you are hearing? As that is quite close to the crossover point from Tweeter to Woofer. That's another reason why I personally wanted to start off with large electrostatic, full range, panels. But those blowout too easily. (The Quad Electrostatic Speakers, that is). So we have to deal with crossover networks that can present these types of aberrations in monitoring. But if you're also detecting it on the Sony earphones, it's just something you don't like to hear. So you've corrected for it. Nothing wrong with that. You roll it the way you like to smoke it.

    I have rarely smoked a speaker. They really taste awful when you do.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  7. Team

    Team Active Member

    Thanks for the encouraging words Remy.

    I suppose my main concern is trying to avoid unecessary processing if possible. It always pains me to see plugins starting to pile up on the DAW channel, especially when they are of a "corrective" rather than "creative" nature...
  8. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Have you tried radically different equalization for each of the individual layered guitar tracks? I'm not just talking about dynamically processing for loudness maximization through plug-ins. By creating individualized spectral placements which also require the use of bandwidth limiting (bandwidth limiting is not referring to the dynamics but total overall frequency response). This will aid in keeping similar guitar tracks more readily noticeable, individually within the mix. And you can still add all of that plug-in dynamics processing on each guitar. But same stuff on top of same stuff layered on top of more same stuff yields a big nasty heap with similar response to resonances all competing. So that's all based on being a mixologist, which also requires application of some alcohol.

    You have to be drinking between the tracks... otherwise you'll get run over.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  9. Team

    Team Active Member

    Yes, indeed... It's an interesting point. We were talking about re-amping a few posts back there, which I do a lot of. Running the same guitar part through different amps, with different settings of overdrive/tone/mics.

    But something I just remembered is that, when listening to the layered guitar tracks, I'll sometimes hear those ugly harmonics, which, when soloing each track, seem to dissapear somewhat, or be less pronounced. So yeah, sometimes it's definitely also a case of different yet similar frequencies competing and creating some kind of harmonic miasma that may be avoidable with radically different EQing applied to the different parts.

  10. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Distresser. LA-2A. 1176 with all the buttons down.

    Seriously. All your problems solved.

    And no EQ's were harmed in the process.

    This is a hardware issue. Its in the chain. I feel your pain when you dont want to 'correct' but rather create.

    Maybe a UAD card with the real good plugs. The Kramer pack of the Waves is very very nice. These are your best bet software solutions. Or but that special compressor. I've already listed the ones that work every time.
  11. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    Interesting. I don't typically find myself attenuating that region much if at all. I find 2k-3k is useful for clarity in decent sized doses, it's the area from 4-5k that I find most needs to die in a corner. We're talking distorted guitars right? At first I was thinking monitoring issue as well, since it's across the board with everything that you do. What's your guitar rig? Maybe it's a piece of your chain that just doesn't agree with you, like speaker or cabinet choice. Have a clip?
  12. Team

    Team Active Member

    OK, thanks for your replies everyone, helpful words indeed.

    Although, Davedog, could you possibly explain a little further about the advice you gave concerning those limiters/compressors?

    Is it a case of squashing the guitar sound, resulting in certain frequency ranges being beaten into oblivion by others? I'm curious...
  13. Mo Facta

    Mo Facta Active Member

    I can empathise with the OP. There are times that I find myself notching out frequencies in that same range but other times it serves the music and needs to stay. The most difficult thing to achieve with distorted electrics, IMO, is clarity in that range without it becoming strident.

    One thing though.

    From the Hyperphysics website:

    "Closed tube resonance of the auditory canal enhances 2000-5000 Hz"

    This means that our ear is most sensitive in that range and we'll be more likely to pick up a bothersome frequency there. Depending on the size of your ear canal, the most sensitive frequency may vary. It just may be that the OP's ear canal corresponds to 2.8kHz if he finds himself cutting it on all his recorded guitars, regardless of the settings, mic placement, etc.

    It's just a theory.

    Cheers :)

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