Guitar Sound

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by eyedol47, Apr 20, 2003.

  1. eyedol47

    eyedol47 Guest

    Hi all,

    *In case anyone cares, I thought about posting this in the 'guitar' forum but I think its more of a mixing problem myself*

    I don't know if anyone can help me but I'm struggling to achieve a big metal guitar sound (hehe - I wonder how many people have asked something like this before!). I am using 4 tracks of guitar (2 occupying higher frequency ranges, 2 lower) each panned hard left and right, recorded with 4 individual tones.

    Now I have experimented with the Haas effect and reverb quite extensively and have spent considerable time playing around with compression but so far I have failed to achieve a sound even remotely close to that of professional mixers. If I had to classify my sound, I'd describe it as being very 'one-dimensional'. The sound is generally in the right frequency range but it seems to lack any sort of depth whatsoever. I was always under the impression that reverb was needed for depth but I have had no luck at all with reverb so far (and I have used many different reverb programs and settings as well BTW).

    Lastly, I am recording direct with a POD and GT3 and using a Jackson with EMG81 pickups. Now, I know I can't achieve *exactly* the same sound as the pros using this setup but surely there must be a way to achieve roughly *comparable* guitar sounds.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated, even if its just a couple of hints to steer me in the right direction.


  2. israelsonny2

    israelsonny2 Guest

    Try EQ-ing and compressing the guitar within a context of a mix, instead of by itself (if that is what you're doing)

    Even if you do acheive a "big" sound outside of a mix, chances are that in the mix it wont fit at all. Most "big" guitar sounds a surprisingly deceptive, they dont have to have large amounts of bass etc to sound heavy - it just has to fit well in the mix.

    Keep fiddlin around :)
  3. falkon2

    falkon2 Well-Known Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    If you're using the PODxt, mess with the room sound settings and add a medium amount of plate reverb.

    I suppose its covered in the above post, but if it helps any, the sound of the bass in a mix can greatly affect the perceived guitar tone. Maybe the bass needs to be stronger. (Bass guitar, not bass boosting the guitar parts)

    Hope that helps.
  4. eyedol47

    eyedol47 Guest

    Thanks for the tips guys. Israel, from your comments it sounds like the only true way I am going to get my desired sound is through a lot of experimenting and trial and error. Damn. I guess I was hoping for an easy, or "quick fix" solution.

    BTW, I've noticed that there seems to be different views (from what I can tell anyway) as far as the number of guitar tracks used. Some pros seem to only ever use a fixed number (ie. around 4) and really concentrate on getting the desired sound by directing much of their focus on mic placement whereas others tend to use an approach whereby they keep adding tracks until it sounds "big" or "full" enough to their ears, using 20+ tracks in order to fill gaps in the sound.

    What is your view?
  5. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    Major Metal releases usually use real amps and speaker cabs with multi mic set ups to achive that feeling of depth. Taking a di line from a POD ain't gonna do it. You might get close to that sound by using very short small reverb rooms to add a roominess to the recordings. As you double track change the setting for each track. When mixing add a small amount of chorus to the guitars, enough to add a little "edge" but not so much that you can actually hear a chorus effect. Best solution, get a half stack, some great mics and pres. The best sound a POD can make is when it hits the bottom of the dumpster. Kurt
  6. jdsdj98

    jdsdj98 Active Member

    Jun 8, 2002
    Denver, CO
    A good friend of mine has been playing through a POD for a couple of years now and has been constantly struggling to achieve a full sound, both when recording and playing live. I hope you'll post back on this thread as you work through this problem, as I'll be recording his band's next project. I've told him from the start that I will not use the direct signal from his POD exclusively, and I'd like to know if using a real amp and real mics solves your problem. There is no substitute for moving air.
  7. I would try not panning all 4 hard left or right, try the 2 bitier ones hard left/right, and the 2 others somehwere in between. Just enough to widen the sound. As already stated nothing really compensates for a real amp with a mic on it.

    I have both mesa boogie rectifier and 5150, and both sound great with a 57 on them. Sometimes (depending on the tuning) I'll use a 58 on one of the bottom speakers also.

    Rather than adding too much reverb later on i like to move the mic back a bit (6-10 inches) from the speaker, and mess with the distance from edge to cone. What has worked most often for me if the 57 about 1.5 inchs from edge of speaker pointing back in towards the cone. (just slightly).

    Those 2 amps are also quite brutal and i find that even just 2 tracks, each done with a different amp / guitar sounds huge.
  8. godotzilla

    godotzilla Guest

    Too funny, Kurt! And too true. Modelers offer convenience and variety, they do not offer quality and oomph. Only real tubes and real speakers do that.

    The first thing is to get an amp sound that sounds good to your ears. The next step is to capture that sound. Playing around w/ different mic positions. Getting a "big" sound also involves a judicious application of effects. As Kurt noted, a touch of chorus will help set parts off from each other. Very short delays will also do this. I would also use some compression to bring the overall level up higher, creating the perception of "bigness." EQing around the 800-2K range (mid/hi-mids) can also create a perception of size in guitar sounds. Lots of track layering doesn't necessarily mean you'll get hugeness--you could end up w/ a mushy mess of indistinguishable noise. Quality usually wins out over quantity in the good tone game.

    Like you guessed, a lot of it is trial and error, playing around w/ different configurations, different mixes until you get what you like.
  9. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
  10. falkon2

    falkon2 Well-Known Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    Kurt, what if Line 6 made a simulator that simulated the sounds of a POD hitting the bottom of a dumpster and it was totally digital. Would you use it?
  11. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    I might ... I'd want to do a review of it at least! :D Kurt
  12. falkon2

    falkon2 Well-Known Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    Different POD sims for different sounds. Simulate different dimension dumpsters for varied timbres! Combine different micing techniques for limitless sounds!

    Try out our new 2ft zinc allow trash can, or go for the vintage 3x8 top-lidders. Also included are three models of garbage trucks with varying degrees of fullness.

    Simulate close-spaced reverb and add in room sound!

    Wait a minute... I OWN a POD and I like it. Why am I typing this? :(
  13. downflow

    downflow Guest

    I'd like to have a modeling-amp-hitting-the-dumpster digital simulator, too, but I want it to have all the classic modeling amps hitting the dumptser sounds, not just the POD, cause that would limit my creativity.
    With just a twist of a knob, you could instantly have ANY of the greatest modeling amp sounds!! And all for a fraction of the price of any ONE of the real amps. No messy tubes burning out on the night of your major gig!!
    I do have a serious question though. My friend has an amp modeler on his boss gt-6 guitar effects processor. It has a lot of the classic amps such as twin 'verb, mesa, marshall, 5150 etc.. but he plays it through a real 5150, so how can it supposedly sound like another amp? What happens if he puts it on 5150? Super 5150?
  14. falkon2

    falkon2 Well-Known Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    Well, you're actually instructed by the manual to plug it into the return of the FX loop so you only make use of the speaker, rather than the circuitry of the amp. It makes for less coloration (depending on the type of amp and cabinet, of course).

    I'm not too big a fan of Boss' modelling. It sounds pathetically thin. And it pains me to say this, because I have a GT3 AND I refused a GT6 after messing around with it some.
  15. mixman77

    mixman77 Guest

    There's no set way but it sounds like a mixing problem to me. As I stated in another post, a lot of pro's are using them these days. Check out the user list on the POD, quite impressive.

    Also take a look at the SanAmp by Tech 21. It is also the choice for many pro's. And yes some still use the micing a guitar cabinet approach as well. Just my .02 cents.

    Cheers All, :c:

  16. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    Ok! Ok! Ok! I have to say this... I own a Line 6 Flextone and I have to say it is pretty cool. This uses the same front end as a POD but has a power amp and speakers. I love this thing for live gigging and at times I have used it for recording. It can sound very good for certain applications. For a gig amp it is hard to beat. For a guitar player that doesn't have access to a room full of amps it can be a Godsend. These types of products offer a wide sonic palette for a musician to use. I started something here in an attempt at humor but really, these things can sound pretty good. Now I still think that moving air with a speaker and micing that is a killer way to get guitar tones, especially metal, but the truth is that many people can't afford a half stack and a plexi head or they live in apartments or neighborhoods where they cannot make a lot of noise. PODs and other similar devices are wonderful for these kinds of situations. They offer the gigging musician and aspiring recordist a path to varied textures of guitar tones. In the end, as I often point out, it has more to do with what you are playing, rather than what you are playing it through. In the hands of a skilled musician a POD can be a beautiful thing. Kurt
  17. cjenrick

    cjenrick Active Member

    Nov 15, 2002
    Supposedly ZZ Top (Billy G has been known to tell a few stories, but...) went to a wrecking yard to sample various sounds, like a door slamming on a 64 Chrysley, or the hood closing on a Lincon Continental, and some of the samples were used on one of the albums,.
    Hey Kurt, Standin in the Shadows is out on video, cause I know you never made it down town! Things gettin warmer up there yet?
  18. falkon2

    falkon2 Well-Known Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    Two more points I'd like to bring up:

    One of the reasons direct to the console sounds a little "cheap" compared to having it come out to the box is the phenomena I like to term as feedback coloration. Many people think that feedback refers solely to the piercing whine when you crank up the volume high enough. That's not entirely true. That only comes about when the gain provided by the amp setup EXCEEDS the attenuation of the air waves travelling back to the guitar and vibrating the strings (Thus making it get louder and louder to the point of distortion saturation).

    However, just because there's no piercing whine doesn't mean feedback isn't in effect. In many cases, feedback still affects the tone some, but the attenuation is greater than the gain provided by the amp. This causes a tiny bit of coloration to the tone by boosting certain frequency ranges, or more accurately, causing those ranges to decay slower than others. (Because extra power in that frequency spectra is provided by the vibrating air)

    Running the PODxt direct to the console and having the PA guys set up a colorless monitor for you to use as an amp cabinet (for feedback coloration, etc) works wonders. The cabinet modelling algorithms in the xt are far superior than that of the 2.0 or Flextone.

    Of course, I'm not going to say its a real match for the original, but I'll reiterate again -Nothing sounds like the original, but nothing comes much closer than this. :) (Well, so far, at least - I personally believe somewhere down the line we're going to be looking back at the current POD, SansAmp, etc products and remember how silly they were in comparison to todays stuff, much like the first wave of synthesizers. Then again, people LIKE the sounds of some vintage synths)

    Being able to "switch amps" at the tap of a button in the middle of the gig is also something I've gotten more than used to.
  19. wwittman

    wwittman Active Member

    Apr 28, 2003
    I'll say two things:
    One is that i agree that you don't get the sound of the real thing with the modelling boxes orplug-ins And that goes for mics, preamps, guitars, amps, reverbs, compressors, EQ's.. whatever.
    If you LIKE the sound of the digital box that's great. Go crazy. Have fun.
    but if you ask why it doesn't sound LIKE what other people get with great mics into great preamps recording great guitars into great amps in great rooms and so on.. well you get it.

    second, lots of popele endorse products or on on their user lists or even say they use them in interviews. What they SAY and what they actually use on their records are two different things.
    I've been on the inside of that one too many times to believe ANYTHING i read anymore.
    I've read the most amazing things written about records i made; often in the most authoritative and detailed voice, and they're completely from outer space.

    It always reminds me of John McEnroe playing with a Dunlop racquet spray painted balck so no one could see it wasn't a Wilson (which he endorsed).
  20. Hack

    Hack Active Member

    Mar 20, 2001
    Little Rock, AR
    Listen to Vertical Horizion's first record mixed by Tom Lord-Alge. Very big in your face guitar sound. Mono the mix and listen to the guitars. They all but disappear. Since this discovery I have played with multing guitar tracks and using the mult to mess up the phase on the guitar tracks. Panning, levals, delay times, EQ, compression, all that stuff can be tweaked and cause phase "problems" that sound cool. This can also (maybe more correctly) be done in the engineering stage of the recording by using two or more mics on a guitar amp.

    I used to worry alot about phase when using several mics on one thing until someone on this site, maybe Fletcher, told me
    "just throw up some mics and use your ears"

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