Electric Guitar Pre-Production: Getting a Sound for a Metal Mix

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by Toothgrinder, May 9, 2012.

  1. Toothgrinder

    Toothgrinder Active Member

    May 5, 2012
    Oklahoma City, OK
    Sorry if this is the wrong place for this. It seems there are other threads of this type here, so...

    I am working with a modified Yamaha Pacifica (new compliment of passive pickups and heavy gauge strings) played through a VOX VT40+ practice amplifier:

    40 watts
    8 inch speaker
    Amp modelling as well as the traditional Vox AC30 sound (or so they claim - sounds good, whatever...)

    I've started with the preset amp model based on Dimebag Darrell's setup for Vulgar Display of Power. I'm not dumb enough to believe that's what I've got, but it is a place to start. I've turned the distortion down to the 2:30 - 3:00 position and instead cranked the master volume to juice the tube on the back end (one small tube on the power amp section of this amp.)

    Bass - 2-3 (out of 10)
    Mids - about 4
    Treble - around 8
    Gain - 6-7 (just enough to get the growl I want), still maybe too much?

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    I have it miked in the "traditional" slap a mic in front of the cone style, and am using a Sennheisser 421 positioned about 7-8 cm off-center.

    What do you think of that in terms of sitting in a future mix with bass and vocals? In my opinion it is a bit thin still, and I could probably add some mids. I don't want to do that, though, until I have a scratch bass and maybe a scratch vox track to compare it with. I want to keep the guitar in a narrow range and then expand it to improve the sound when I have my songs written and am recording for real (this is a scratch track for writing and editing my tune.)

    What I'm shooting for is to minimize the post-production, especially EQ I will have to do, and to make my mixing job easier. I do not have a proper mixing environment nor do I have actual monitors where I am mixing. That said the more time I can spend getting the right sounds up front the less mixing I will have to do and hopefully the better this will sound at the end. I might even rent out an actual studio to do the mixing since that would be less expensive than designing/building my own. I appreciate the input!
  2. Voiceofallanger

    Voiceofallanger Active Member

    Nov 18, 2010
    Birkenhead, UK
    I know that amp well. I would personally cut the treble to about 5 and make up your treble by layering the guitars. If you want a nice big metal sound then double your guitar (at minimum) panning One track 100% L for rhythms and one 100% R .. Then make sure you record them separately and the differences in timing and such will give you that big wall sound. It is a mean feat to try and achieve this with an amp like that but it can be done. Also if you have access to an outboard EQ then I'd get the nicest sound you can with placement (not too central I wouldn't have thought, I'd probably actually go about 5 inches off centre and also below centre as a starting point) and then try adding in some clarity at 1.2hz, just a touch and cutting everything below 75hz and above 10khz. When you wall them together it should sound ace. Try it and see! :D The thickness in a guitar tone tends to come from layering in these kinds of mixes. The original tone should have clarity and body but NOT rumble. Then you can layer the guitars to turn the rumbling you cut out into a nice tight low-end. Gain sounds a TINY bit too high methinks as well :D It doesn't sound BAD as you have it at the moment, in fact it's pretty cool. I just think it could sound tighter and BIGGER :D And to be honest, if you are using a drum machine you have already eliminated a lot of the problems with guitars sitting properly. It's usually where the kick drum/guitarlowend/bass overlap that things get messy anyway and using sampled drums makes it a lot easier because they've been processed in such a way that they aren't too much of an issue really. Just make sure the 8-10hz is pretty clear for the vocals and try get your clarity at 1-2khz (as a suggestion) and you're good to go ^_^ Good luck mate! If in doubt, listen to a Periphery mix! ;D
  3. Toothgrinder

    Toothgrinder Active Member

    May 5, 2012
    Oklahoma City, OK
    Hey, thanks for the feedback!

    My decision on how big or how much to layer, etc., will come from how the style and writing develop. At the moment I am just using two tracks panned about 36% L and R, and I have them grouped so the panning volume is linked and the panning is opposite.

    This track is more of a thrash piece, where this newer track is more of a death metal feel:

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    THAT guitar sound is the VOX Amplug metal direct-in unit. It's not bad for what it is, but not something I am going to use as my actual recorded tone. It's big and beefy and metal enough that I can imagine how the song will sound and then edit, write lyrics, tweak the drums, etc.

    For example on this track the riffs need to be changed up a little. I think I have a verse, chorus, and bridge here that could comprise most of a song with a breakdown of some kind yet to come.

    Don't ask me why Vox. This decision mostly came out of having a baby! I took one look at my 5150 into my custom Black Widow full stack and said, "You know I love you, but we're going to have to say goodbye!"

    That was not the abrasive sound I want anyway, the 5150. It was warm, and my god the lead tone!! I will always remember the way guitar solos sound on that, even just one track recorded with a 57.

    I sold that and bought some gear that was more compact, and wouldn't either fall over and crush my son or cause him to go deaf. I'm also borrowing from the Fed to pay for school right now, so the $$ for my current rig had to come from somewhere (a trade-in, essentially.) This is dental school so it will pay off later, and when it does you can believe I will be buying some legit gear.

    This Vox stuff is impressive for what it is, though. As far as the clean tone? It's great. I've even played with a drummer, and was asked to turn DOWN!


    That right there is proof the the VT product line is legit. It is a compromise, though.

    Oh, and I have agreed to not do the death vox when my son is present. My wife is afraid it will scare him. Funny story; she said regular "heavy metal" was okay, so Maiden, Metallica, Ozzy, whatever was fine.

    I put on "Countdown to Extinction," and he has growled, "MAH-MAAAAHHH!!!" ever since. Who'da thought? Kids love Dave Mustaine! He's got good taste, I guess.

    Anyway I am working with what I've got and doing the best I can. It's more fun this way! Peace out.

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