Distorted Guitar vs. Everything else

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by jwschmidt, Mar 12, 2009.

  1. jwschmidt

    jwschmidt Guest

    When I track a guitar w. distortion, I seem to get different sounding results than when I'm recording almost any other type of sound. Basically, the track sounds flatter and less energetic to a far greater degree than most instruments.

    Let me explain this a little more... If I record a voice, when I play it back (before an mixing or EQ, lets just assume a single dry track), it sounds like the voice I recorded. Not as full, sure, but it never strikes me as an innacurate reproduction. Same for horns. Same for drums. Also, same for clean guitar with the same amp and mic placement. Playing clean and recording it gets me a fairly accurate recording that I'm more or less happy with.

    But the moment I kick in distortion, things change. When I hear the playback from some grunge guitar or something of the sort, my first thought it almost always "that sounds kinda hollow and dead." Again, when I cut the distortion off and use the same mic, I don't have that reaction - clean sounds fine.

    So would I be correct in assuming that there is something fundamentally different about how to capture a distorted sound than a clean one? What might that difference be?

    I double track guitars a lot, which helps. But this, in fact, makes me even more perplexed... why do distorted guitars need to constantly be double or triple tracked anyways? The amount of bang for buck that you get out of doubling a distorted guitar seems far less than what you might get for doubling a clean one. At least thats what my ears hear. Its like distorted guitars need to work extra hard to be interpreted properly in recording.

    Am I alone in thinking this? Or is this some well known and long understood quirk about recording guitar?

    My setup is pretty modest. I usually use a 57 up close on a Peavey Delta Blues amp (no qualms about the sound the amp produces), and run it through my firepod into DP5. I often use 2 mics in various positions, and have tried using my condenser mic as well as either a 2nd or 3rd mic.

    But, jeez man, I don't have to do so much work to get an accurate sax recording. Whats the deal here?
  2. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Scotland, UK
    The double tracking typically makes the guitar sound wider and fills up the soundscape, rather than being a single amp in the middle of the stereo field with everything else.
    I find that panning vocalists 5% helps with getting clearer mixes - by having the same guitar part at 100% width you get a wall of guitar, freedom in the centre of the soundscape and well, hell, I dunno. I've never recorded a guitar, just trying to chip in what is logical.
  3. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    Oct 16, 2008
    Frozen Tundra of CT
    Wow "it's like dejavu all over again" Yogi Berra

    You might want to bounce down to "Electric Guitar Recording" thread in the Home, Project Studio's, Newbies section which might be a jumping off point. A similar discussion anyways.
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