Getting pro-quality guitar sounds

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by WRX07, May 16, 2005.

  1. WRX07

    WRX07 Guest

    What am I missing? Right now I'm using Vintech X73i's a UA 1176 and a Distressor into a Rosetta 800 into my digidesign 002. So far I've only really done acoustic guitar, room mics, and direct bass with good results. But last night when I mic'ed up both my Orange AD30TC and Vox AC30 using a SM57and MD421 right against the grill and an Audio Technica 3035 a few feet back the results were pretty poor. The acoustic guitar I recorded sounded awesome but the amps didn't. Now I was recording the Orange by the computer instead of the sound-treated tracking room so I couldn't really hear my mic placement in the headphones. But still the results sounded really crappy. I have a Royer R-121 I have yet to use also...So what's wrong? The pre's, compressors, the 002? The Vintechs sound better than my old gear but still doesn't match up to a professional quality in my mind. How do pro's get that full in-your-face rock guitar sound? I don't think mic placement is the problem(but I could be wrong). It just seems like the setup Im using just lacks the sonic quality and fullness that pro's get. My amps and guitars sound good...The tones I'm going for are kind of like The Get Up Kids' cd "Guilt Show."
  2. Tommy P.

    Tommy P. Well-Known Member

    Jan 10, 2002
    Something like Elvis Costello meets Squeeze?
    You're going for that garage band playing the jangly guitar-high energy rock at the High School dance type stuff? Guitar with fresh strings 10's or bigger, unpotted vintage pickups, slight compression, a touch of early reflection or slap back echo (less than 120ms), midrangy sound turned up just loud enough for the chord strums to "tink"(thats why non-wax-potted microphonic pickups) with a little dirt. Track it in a big room, then double another track over it. That would get a big sound, I think. You gotta be in the same room as the amp.
  3. Tommy P.

    Tommy P. Well-Known Member

    Jan 10, 2002
    Is the guitar setup with a strobe tuner for excellent harmonics? You need to control a psychoacoustic resonance between guitar/pickups and room...the amp is a thruway.
  4. WRX07

    WRX07 Guest "Sympathy" and "In Your Sea." http:// "Pin Your Wings" These aren't really "huge" though. They seem like they have air and space in them.

    I'm not really good at describing what I write or what genre it falls in. To me it's just rock. Crunchy and distorted(but still distinguishable) with sustain and balls. I'm sorry I don't know any of Squeeze's songs, but I like Costello very much. I believe I have D'Addario 10g nickel strings on that are only two weeks old. Since it's a combo amp and I was recording by myself last night I had to do it by the computer. We have a spare bedroom setup with Auralex to create a dead room. I would have liked to have my girlfriend/ friends whatever there to do the recording at the computer, though. Unfortunately I don't have a rackmount tuner but after recording an out of tune telecaster, out of tune p-bass, and my out of tune strat and listening to the crap it created, it's next on my wish list. Whats the best way to use one? Just patch it in as an insert in Pro Tools I would guess. Tommy P, I'm not sure I understand what you mean by psychoacoustic resonance between guitar/pickups and room.

    Last night the electric wasn't doubled and it was panned dead center, but still the quality didn't seem good enough. It lacked the sonic richness and timbre of "pro" recordings. Im still very new to recording and I hope the quality of my recordings are increasing over time. Sorry for such a long post, I was just a little dissapointed after trying the Rosetta and Vintechs on electric guitar.

    Oh yeah and for really compressed in-your-face "huge" tones I think Refused's "The Shape of Punk to Come" is perfect
  5. Tommy P.

    Tommy P. Well-Known Member

    Jan 10, 2002
    OK, on "Pin Your Wings", hear the "tink, tink" of the rhythm guitar ? Thats the vintage pickup sound I was talking about. You won't get that sound easily with modern wax potted pups. And the compression brings it out more, and then lets it dissapear behind the crunchy chord work.

    The psychoacoustic resonance is the right balance of volume to make the room and guitar sound alive and big. Too much volume will crush it, and too little won't let it happen. If your tone needs some crunch but getting it requires too much volume for the room, then you should slam the front end of your amp with a booster or mild overdrive pedal. Once you get it tweaked just right, you control it with your brain and your fingers.

    The strobe tuner( doesn't have to mean rackmounted) is an essential part of setting up your guitar for a pro sound. Peterson makes two excellent digital strobes for under $200USD.
  6. WRX07

    WRX07 Guest

    I actually just received a modded TS9 and a vintage ProCo rat this afternoon that we plan on using. :) Yeah my friend and I use the Boss tuner pedals with out setups but were too lazy to last night. Tommy, do you prefer Petersons better than the Korgs?

    Any Gibson Les Pauls you could suggest? Or pickups. Right now I have a 2003 standard and I'm really unhappy with the sound I'm getting out of it.

    Am I just setting my hopes too high? I'm using a nice converter, a nice pre, nice compressor, a nice mic and the source sounds good... What else do the pro's really use? Besides talent I mean :D
  7. Rider

    Rider Guest

    theres lots of aspects in recording a distored guitar. i think your problem is confusing the matter.

    i mixed this up today
    gibson SG P90s > boss overdrive pedal (gain increase, clears out muddy tones) > trace elliot (solid state amp) > 57 beta > logic express 7

    not great gear eh. but the sound isnt too shabby considering the setup. from what i understand, orange amps have a very good tone as well.

    ditch all those mics, why throw a handful of mics at an amp when you might only need one maybe two. im not familiar with the other mics, but a 57 is just fine for miking an amp. just try each one on its own and see how it reacts to the amp, then work on combinations.

    unless you want a real grainy tone, dont point the mic dead center. the smoothest spot is between the center and the very edge of the cone. top, left-right, and bottom areas of the cone also seem to give different tones as well. i angle mine slightly away from the center as well.

    if you cant use headphones, use the next best thing, your ears. move your head around and get an idea for what the different parts of the amp sound like.

    lastly, why do you need to compress a distorted track? its already a compressed signal before its fed into the mic. if its sounding thin try cranking your amp up.

    also remember guitars sound WAY different in the mix than they do stand alone. listen to any song where the band cuts out and the guitar plays power chords (kutless - treason, nightwish - nemo, breaking benjamin - follow me, lot of grungy songs). the guitar is pretty thin on its own, added with the bass and all the other brickabrack going about thickens the tone up though. follow me is a good song to get an idea for how guitars sit in a mix because it starts with a mono guitar (left), then 2 guitars, then with bass. guitar sounds somewhat muddy and yucky, but added in with bass and sdrums it sounds HARD.

    best way ive found for a huge sound is to just record left, then a seperate right track. ive tried using delays, ive tried using different types of compression, best way there is is to get 2 takes and pan them left and right (i dont like to hard pan guitars, about 45* is fine).

    oh and another thing: try not to EQ your guitar. if theres a tone problem it can likely be fixed on the amp or with the mic.
  8. WRX07

    WRX07 Guest

    I compress very little if at all when recording electric. Sometimes I really crush the room mic though. I mess with the Vintech's EQ a little if I want it to sound different than the amp and guitar(spacey, hollow, boomy, etc).

    I don't know if mic'ing is the problem, however. I think it's just the QUALITY of the sound that isn't doing it for me. Is it my gear? What stuff do pro's use to get such good results? I read in an article that Ed Rose the guy who recorded The Get Up Kids recorded with a Royer R-121 through a Vintech X73 and a 1176. But if I use that same setup it's just not the same. Then again he is a veteran producer yada yada yada... :)

    Also, I would still appreciate suggestions to some Les Pauls to check out. I would order it because I hate trying out guitars at GC. Its like if you do one pinch harmonic it summons a dozen metalhead salesmen who won't leave you alone.
  9. Rider

    Rider Guest

    id rather go to a shop and tell the salesmen to F off than order one, kinda like buying a car. i think just about any paul you get is gonna be fine though.

    so is there any way you could get a sample of playing whatever so we can know more what you are talking about.
  10. WRX07

    WRX07 Guest

    I only have acoustic recordings right now but we're supposed to record tomorrow night so Ill post clips tomorrow of electric.
  11. Jonesey

    Jonesey Active Member

    Mar 25, 2003
    Western Pennsylvania
    Try using the Royer 121 a few inches from grill into the vintech and then into the distressor at a ratio of 2:1 with dist3 setting only catching about 3db or less. Do not scoop the mids on the amp and easy on the precense knob, although I think the VOX doesn't have one. record 2 takes of the same part, will need a decent tracking room, if not will need to add some ambience thru use of a delay. It is best to track 2nd take with slightly differnt tone or variation of the first track. To me ordering a guitar thru mail order is crazy. You have to try them, each LesPaul will be slightly different in my experience. I can't see you going wrong with a LesPaul standard. If you can't get a professional sound with that setup somethings wrong. Does it sound good soloed in the mix?
  12. WRX07

    WRX07 Guest

    Thanks for the tip, Jonesey. We track in a really dead room and then I had planned on adding reverb and delay in mixing. There's this small privately-owned guitar shop in town and I think Im going to get a guitar through them. I tried to update to Pro Tools 6.9 yesterday and it made my 10.3.9 OSX go BESERK. Had to uninstall everything and now I'm back to 6.4 because I can't find my 6.7 cd. Yeah, so I didn't get a chance to record anything last night. Thanks for the help guys I really appreciate it and I'll post clips soon.
  13. WRX07

    WRX07 Guest

    http:// it should clear by tomorrow. This guy recorded everything in three or less takes. It has a little compression going in and I haven't edited it besides a little panning and tossing an L1 on the Master Fader.
  14. WRX07

    WRX07 Guest

    Clips are up
  15. killersoundz

    killersoundz Guest

    Sorry to go off topic but what exactly is a strobe tuner?
  16. Rider

    Rider Guest

    hmm, what exactly did you need help with? this sounds pretty good to me. you mentioned something about the 'in your face rock' sound in your first post, i assumed you were talking about a distorted track.

    really the 2 songs sounded pretty good quality wise.
  17. You asked "what am i missing?" have you thought about missing an audio education. I'm not talking about schools necessarily (although I think they have their place), but have you tried to get an internship at a studio? I know in my career, the times when i was interning i learned more just watching people and seeing how pros do it. I'd say sell some of you gear and go to a good school (i can give you some suggestions, but please avoid the Conservatory, Full Sail, IPR, McNalley-Smith). Those schools are only student factories, i know from having many interns work for me from these places, 1 out of 19 so far have been decent.

    I'd also like to echo what someone said about just using one mic. While I prefer Great River pres greatly to Vintechs (which sound somewhat thin) you can still get a decent sound of out something like that and a 57. I work at a major studio in atlanta and we consistently just use a 57 into Mercenary Audio 1272 recreation and double/triple track the guitars. Same thing with another studio i worked for (which has recorded artist like Nirvana, Mudvayne, Alkaline Trio, Hey Mercedes, Live, PJ Harvey, etc) I just think your problem might be operator error (no offense, it takes a long time to develop an ear for this stuff). I would also disagree and say it's more than likely mic placement that's the problem, just simplify things and let us know how it turns out.

    There's also a great link to see how to use a Royer well.
  18. Rider

    Rider Guest

    howdy :lol:

    i dont think you even need internship or schooling for audio. a lot of digital art is easily learned from experementation and simply indulging within the community. just research what you dont know and mess with what you DO know.

    posting on boards like this is very good, dont hold back on asking questions (within reason, dont like flood the board with 20 topics haha). get friends with people who are also into audio. talk to people, ask questions, look for sites. is a very good starting reference, they cover from the basics and get to the meat of the art. their articles on compression are very good, they start with the bare basics of compressing and lead into multiband compression technique.

    personally, im surrounded by people who are into audio. im good friends with a signed band, one of my friends (also my bassist) has been in multiple bands and knows a lot about performance, another one of my friends has been on tour with said above band and has gotten to hang out with bands (breaking b, saliva), i talk to this one guy i met in a chat room that has been doing audio for many years.

    when you get into the music industry, you arent just another person at the computer dragging regions around in (insert fav DAW here), you are part of a very large network of people. get into the community and youll be fine.
  19. WRX07

    WRX07 Guest

    Thanks for the replies, guys (y) . I live in a small town so getting an internship here is pretty unlikely, but my guitar teacher runs a mid-level studio and he and I talk quite a bit. I read countless magazines, websites, and prowl recording forums daily. I've been "researching" recording audio for over a year but have only physically started recording in the past 6 months. The second demo I recorded the other night was the first time I ever recorded with the Royer. I just need to practice, practice, practice, and practice.
  20. Audio is an analog art. Digital editing and processing just makes it easier.

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