Help!! Thin Guitar Recordings

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by Sleightofhand, Oct 30, 2007.

  • AT5047

    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

  1. Sleightofhand

    Sleightofhand Active Member

    Apr 20, 2007
    I have been struggling to record a decent guitar sound to accompany a rather good drum and bass sound my band has put together.

    Some problems we have encountered are:
    Thin/very static-y/fuzzy guitar recordings eventhough the room sound sounds smooth/warm.

    or, very muffled, unclear and unpresent recordings that sound equally as awful.

    We've experimented with different mic setups and amp settings...I guess I should probably mention what I am using in terms of gear. It's pretty simple:

    A jackson solidbody electric run directly to a crate gfx1200 amp head on a 4X12 cab miced up by a shure sm-57. This is run into a presonus firepod and into the garageband recording software on a macbook pro.

    *my amp head has two gain settings, one more growly and the other more crunchy. It also doesn't have a mid range knob, which I'm aware is a pretty big setback.

    Does anyone have any suggestions for going about this tedious project of creating a good guitar sound? We haven't had much luck in over a year- off and on- of recording guitar. We've recently obtained a good drum and bass sound, however, which makes this an even larger pain for us.

    Do you think it's just my amp? I'm not oblivious to the fact that a crate solid-state isn't the best thing on the planet...Should I invest in better gear, or invest in more patience?

    Again, any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
  2. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    Perhaps its more of a volume thing.

    Sometimes, what we perceive in real time isnt what is actually going on. Especially if its LOUD. High levels in a room can mask the deficiencies of the room.

    I see you are using an SM57. This mic should NEVER sound thin, muffled, fuzzy, staticy, unclear, unpresent....etc....etc...

    Its just not in its nature of build.

    So rather than describing what amp and guitar you use, lets focus on the environment, the placement of the mic in this area and the various settings you re using to attain this 'bad guitar sound'.

    Unless you are having a cable problem....(yes, sometimes they sound like they work and then dont deliver the signal quite right!) we could maybe get you going in the right direction.

    Post this info up and lets see what the troops come up with.
  3. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    Wow, I would have never thought that somebody would have trouble recording electric guitar with an SM57. Although a transistorized amplifier would not be my first choice for fat rock-and-roll guitar. In that respect, it might be time to try some amplifier/speaker emulators? You might be able to take a direct out of your existing amplifier? If you can, I would try recording that and then utilizing a plug-in such as I. K. multimedia Amplitube. A really wonderful plug in that might get you closer to what you want?

    But then there is also the Chinese ribbon microphones which are highly affordable. It will give you a darker fatter quality on your guitar sound and you might want to combine both that and the SM57? The Cascades microphones Co. has ribbons starting at $160. Not quite like a Royer, Coles, RCA nor Beyer but a lusciously warm ribbon just the same. That might be just the ticket you're looking for.

    Guitar cruncher
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  4. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2005
    I would like some clarification here:
    Is it that the amp sounds thin & fizzy in the room? Or is it OK until you play back the recording of it?
    Ditto with the muffled tone.
    If the problem is at the amp, Dave may have hit on something regarding the guitar cable. It seems that the GFX1200 had issues with the input jack-it is soldered directly to the PC board and has little/no strain relief. The input will get squirrelly as the amp ages. Many times this will manifest itself as a tonal/gain change due to the fluctuating resistances.I've seen these amps come into my shop via the local Crate dealer. Sometimes they can be re-soldered, other times not, due to the fact that the PCB has been damaged from the flexing. This is easy enough to diagnose- simply wriggle the plug while you're playing and see if it changes. If this is the case, take it to your Crate dealer. Just don't send it to me!
  5. Well the pros have spoken I don't know why I'm even adding anything to it but I am a guitar player and experienced from that angle.

    I honestly can't see getting a good sound from that amp. But in most cases even a so so sounding amp can come out sounding awesome in a recording. Many sounds of the past were recorded with Pignose amps, Fender champ amps and low level Gibson amps. Either tubes and some solid state amps which would be considered bedroom practice amps. Most of those great sounds were with a Shure Sm57.

    The funny thing about certain amps is that what comes out in the room cannot be recorded. I had this problem with live sound reproduction. Certain amps could not be reproduced. I had to find the right place for the mic and it wasn't in front of the speaker. I had this problem with most of all, Crate amps.

    I would first double check all cables and connections including the input on the amp. It is correct about those inputs and PCB boards. Many times the companies that use that setup will give you a new amp under warranty rather than fix it because it's actually cheaper to do that. Once that happens the whole board could be ruined and to trace it down costs too much in terms of bench hours.

    Getting back to the sound. Let's say the amp and cables are fine. Try the amp with a different cabinets. Like a 1-12" speaker cab, make sure the impedance matches. Even a 2-10 or 2-12. Try it with better speakers, those crates use really cheap Eminence speakers, even the one's that use celestions use the lower model ones.

    You don't talk about your setup much. Do you use pedals? What setting and effects do you use on the amp?

    I don't think Crate makes those anymore. If you read around the net you will find a lot of people having problems with those amps. Recording them and them breaking down a lot!!!!

    There could be 1000 reasons you cannot get the sound you are looking for. My guess is that either your mic placement is off or your amp sounds good to you in that room because it's loud, what the mic is picking up is completely different. It could be getting more noise than actual guitar tone.

    I would try another amp, a small one that you can really turn up without being too loud. Even something like a PV solid state practice amp. Use a RAT pedal or other distortion pedal and keep the amp clean. Try the mic anywhere from the middle of the speaker cone to as much off axis as you want to get the best tone. Maybe add a room mic and record that too. That can be added later to give a bigger sound to the recording.

    You'll have much more control of what you are doing with a smaller amp and lower volume levels. If your sound is fizzy and the distortion unnatural it will be recorded that way. It may sound OK to you in the room but coming out of those speakers it could be a terrible sound and you might not realize it because of the volume in the room. Using a smaller amp you give you a better idea of what is being recorded.

    In all honesty I think that amp is a POS. I used to sell Crates at my friends music store and never played one that sounded descent, even the tube models.
  6. Sleightofhand

    Sleightofhand Active Member

    Apr 20, 2007
    Thanks everyone for the suggestions. A couple of things I would like to add:

    The point of the amp being loud I think may be the problem. I have it on a very loud setting when I record, say level 6 and up (which is the level I use when playing with a full band). I do possess a smaller, 15 watt amp (unfortunatley also a crate) so I could give that a shot, too.

    One big issue my bandmates and I are having is getting our recordings to attain a certain volume. About two weeks or so I posted an article entirely based on this question. When we record, everything when played back compared to normal CDs sounds waaaay too soft. So, being inexperienced and a tad bit stupid, I decided to crank my amp waaay up to perhaps try and acheive a bigger sound. Ooops. The amp did sound good in the room at the time. I record in my basement with my amp on top of a fuzzy rug to try and rid some of the reverberations.

    Someone mentioned I didn't go into detail about my setup, but honestly, what I've listed is basically everything I use. I don't have any effects, pedals or on amp, that I use-- it's a very stripped-down sound. The only thing is the use of some shape to "soften" up the ear-piercingly harsh crate "signature" white noise tone. FYI I hardly use any gain--around the 1.5-2 area at max.

    I guess my question is: when recording at a lower volume, should I bump the gain up or keep it real low as I have been. I'm looking for more of a growly tone that breathes rather than a heavy-metal crunch if that's any help.
  7. Set your amp to a cleaner sound and use an old RAT pedal, that will get what you want. Use the smaller amp.

    If the smaller amp and the 4-12 cab have the same impedance try the small amp through the big cab.

    The thing I like about the RAT pedal is the distortion is soft and not the buzzsaw metal sound, it has to do with the harmonics if I am not mistaken. There are many things you can do and like I said when the sound of the amp if correct for the room size you have much more control. You can get different sounds and try different combinations of pedals and amp settings.

    I would try using more than one mic so that you have a few different choices of tracks to choose from.
  8. RTL89

    RTL89 Guest

    The benefit of using the smaller amp would be reaching the speaker cones distortion point which will color the tone of the sound and add some thickness to the sound. You should be able to actualy see the speaker cone distorting. Going much above this point can be bad for your amp and probably wont sound too great. Its a fine art finding the sweet spot in terms of volume level.

    Though I do question whether this will work with a 15-watt crate amp... I cant imagine It would sound as good (as good as a crate will sound) as your head/cab combo.

    As far as distortion goes... Metallica used to use Ibanez Tube Screamers on the leads and pro co rat distortion on their first album.

    (Dead Link Removed)

    (Dead Link Removed)

    I would suggest keeping the rat over a clean amp sound since your amp distortion isnt too great (it is afterall a crate) and using the tube screamer for solos mostly, although I do think that if used right, the tube scream used ontop of distortion can add a really mean color to the sound. Bad Ass is the only way I can describe it. It takes talent to do it right though. Take a listen to the example auio clips.

    As far as volume levels you want the amp to be pretty loud so that you dont need to turn the gain on the mics up too much. Too much gain on the mics and not enough volume on the amp will cause ambient noise to be recorded, so unless you have an amp room, you will want to keep it at a decent level.

    With all of this said... rather than busting $200 bucks on pedals, why not save the money and buy a really nice head? A pedal will never match the sound of amp distortion, and if you are looking for a professional sound... just remember that most professional recordings you will hear do not feature pedals to get their distortion.

    Here are some thoughts that arnt too hard on the pocket book.

    (Dead Link Removed)

    (Dead Link Removed)

    (Dead Link Removed)
  9. nickeveslage

    nickeveslage Guest

    ^^^ scratch the Marshall MG idea. In my experience it's been worse than any Crate I've used. The whole MG series is garbage.

    The Hughes and Kettner is a pretty solid amp. They have an Edition Blue series (pretty sure that's what it's called, don't know if they make them any more either), but they are probably my favorite transistor amplifier.

    Hughes and Kettner also makes a an over drive pedal called the Tube Factor which is a great unit.
  10. dear dude, in my experiences i have always found jackson solid body electric guitars to sound thin and lack tonal character.especially the neck through ones. my buddy owns two of them and i used to own one. His skull-graveyard paint job cost him around 1600,and it is awesome to look at,but sounds just like mine and any other jackson i've ever heard.(thin for sure,no clarity,and just bored to death with the tone)
  11. nickeveslage

    nickeveslage Guest

    ^^^ That's one of the many reasons to have at least one Les Paul in your collection. :)
  12. SonOfSmawg

    SonOfSmawg Well-Known Member

    Sep 10, 2000
    First ... do you like the sound that is coming from your guitar speakers? Never try to polish a turd ... all you'll end-up with is a piece of shyte! Whatever you want your guitar to sound like on the recording is the sound that you need to have coming from your guitar speakers. If the sound coming from your guitar speakers is exactly what you want on the recording, but it doesn't sound like that when you record it, then the problem isn't your rig, it's in the recording gear.
  13. tifftunes

    tifftunes Active Member

    Jan 13, 2003

    +1 ^^^

    If you like your guitar sound, you need to get THAT sound recorded. It really should be as simple as recording what you hear.

    Play your guitar the way you like to hear it, and walk around the room and listen for the sweet spot, and put your mic there, and record that. Try it up close with the mic pointed at the best speaker in your cabinet. Move the mic toward the center of the speaker cone for more highs and cutting sound. Move the mic toward the edge of the cone for a mellower, smoother, bassier sound. Adjust to taste.

    An SM57 will do nicely. Your Presonus is more than sufficient, as is your guitar and amp.

    When setting levels don't overload your input. Turn down the Firepod input. Try a different input on your Firepod. Try a better quality mic cable...

    Like anything else, it takes practice and experimentation. Use your ears and common sense. And DON'T GIVE UP! You'll get it. :cool:
  14. Sleightofhand

    Sleightofhand Active Member

    Apr 20, 2007
    With every passing attempt, I can honestly say that I do hear an improvement in my guitar sound. It's a more clear, "popping out" of the speakers instead of the contained sound that doesn't breathe or punch, and I'm a happy camper! Thanks for all the suggestions guys!
Similar Threads
  1. icequake
  2. Cosme
  3. ab2490
  4. japz
  5. Dale Paterson

Share This Page