Help with recording a marshall stack...

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by ocdstudios, Nov 3, 2009.

  1. ocdstudios

    ocdstudios Active Member

    Nov 3, 2009
    New here - limited experience. Posted some mixes in audio project section for ya'll to see where I'm at.

    Here's my issue.

    I have a guy that has not done much studio recording. I have a home studio. I have learned a bunch thru trial and error. It's the best way to learn... LOL!!

    It is my understanding that you need a pretty dry recording to be able to manipulate it in the mix (haas trick, depth of field etc.) I have also found by mistake that a bad sounding room reverb on your recording is not a good thing (made a fender strat sound like a wal-mart guitar in a 30ft long tin can - LOL!)

    So how are you supposed to get a dry recording of a dude playing a half-stack, cranked, in a 12x12 room??

    I tried blankets. Yeah, THAT worked...

    The guitarist refuses to believe that you can get his sound any other way than recording how he plays it live. (and maybe I can't) He likes to "work the amp" or whatever you would call it to introduce feedback during solos etc. and says that standing in front of it cranked helps him to play more aggressively - these points I can understand and are valid. But, I still need a useable recording to work with - there are also 2 other guitarists in the band that I'm sure think the same way as above. One is more sensible with a 2x12 cab, but it's still a cab and it's still cranked!! Same issue with room verb getting back to the mic.

    Let's stick with the first guy I need help with. He wants to play thru a Marshall JCM800 2204 or a Peavey 6505 head to a 4x12 marshall cab.

    Can I take a pre amp out signal for my dry track and then find a fat spot in the room and use that for his verb instead of an emulator (although, not sure how I'd control verb decay time, etc... Plus I think my room's reverb would sound like crap.

    Also, the tracks I tried to get with the marshall setup all came out VERY thin and scratchy. Pierceing and almost annoying. Amp was set how he liked it - standing in front of it. BTW - He plays a Les paul so to me it should have a nice tone, with good body to the guitar. I tried to get him to re-EQ after letting him listen to playback on the monitors.

    I am sure some of you have had this battle and wondering how you solved it. I know there is a way to get the dry track I need and let him play the way he wants... or is there.

    Most stuff I've done has been with a Strat thru a Fender Deluxe at medium volume and I think has come out good with really dry tracks to work with.

    Higher volume has never worked for me due to the introduction of the room's reverb on what went to tape. Direct recordings thru crappy multi-pedals have sounded better to me.

    I have also realized that distortion levels can be touchy. What sounds good while playing tends to be too much on tape. Is that normal or a preference thing??

    I really need suggestions b/c this guy is not giving up his stack and may not need to, but I don't know how to let him play it (versus a smaller studio amp) and get the tracks I need.

    All comments and suggestions are appreciated.

    Thank you so much for your help.

    Matt in GA
  2. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2005
    Well, sounds like the dude ain't gonna budge. You are definitely in a less-than-ideal room for a cranked 4x12 cab. You are right in wanting Jimi Wannabe to be riffin' through a DR in that size room...
    What alternatives have you tried? If you have that Deluxe Reverb around the studio, have you tried putting that on a chair so that he can have it blasting at his head? How about running the DR through the 4x12 cab instead of the Marshall head? You want to make sure that the guitarist BELIEVES that you are on HIS side, that you WANT to get the very best outta his stellar performance. He also needs to understand that it is in his best interest to try a different approach in the studio.
    I will assume that the following suggestion is probably not going to be practical for your situation, but you never know. Are you in a residential area or a warehouse park? Can you get away with taking this guitar god OUTSIDE? All it takes is a couple of long cables ('phones and mic) and available AC power forthe amp. Ihave done this with GREAT results, because the building next door acted as a big echo chamber. And it always took at least 20 minutes for the cops to show up, just enough time for that perfect take! LOL!!!!!
  3. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    Oct 16, 2008
    Frozen Tundra of CT
    Ah the endless battle/question. I have found that it is difficult nigh impossible to get get a great recording from a huge cranked amp in a small space, it is still difficult in larger spaces especially a room that has not been treated for high spl. Close micing does help but sound must go somewhere the higher the volume the more it will reflect.
    I have been recorded in quite a few pro studios before venturing into project studio recording and learned very quickly that a studio sound and tone is different than what I might use live, if you can't convince the artist of this then your space/equipment might not be suitable for your mutual needs and desires. As a guitarist I can understand his dilemna, in order to get certain sounds (esp. feedback) the amp and the guitar pups have to be set just so. This is as you stated the reason why so many recording artists use small amps in the studio. They can be cranked w/o the problems you are dealing with, still allowing feedback etc. In my case less distortion is definitely a plus to get a great sound in the studio, I also dispense with reverb, chorus, delay, all time based effects. Reamping later can get you those that are endemic to a particular amp, for example the fender surf sound reverb, and dial them in to exactly what is needed once you have a full mix.
    I had a guitarist in just the other day and after recording with his rig suggested that we try a track through the tiny tube amp I bought for the studio. I set it up for him and he said OMG way to much bass and low mid. I asked that he bear with me and both of us loved the recorded sound. So short of a different room I am not sure that you will be able to let him blast his Marshall.
    Remember that increased volume is often percieved as better tone, which it is not and mics only hear what's actually there, if his sound is thin then it probably really is and tweaking the amp knobs is usually the first place I go. Of course different mics and placements (might try near the edge of the cone) can help but really can't make up for the right amp/speakers/settings/room.
  4. natural

    natural Active Member

    Jul 21, 2006
    Yes, this is a common problem.
    A few more things to try (including all what's mentioned above)
    - Ask the guitarist to provide a recording of what he's hoping to sound like. Or at least what guitar recordings he likes. Then go about trying to match to that sound. Explain that this is an experiment. Turn his knobs, volume, use blankets (This really should be helpful, even if it didn't work for you before.- maybe a little less or different positioning) Whatever it takes to match the guide. Once you both agree that he's matched the guide- allow him to do whatever he thinks will improve the situation.

    - Is the cabinet on the ground? If so, then the sound he's hearing from a standing position will be quite different than the sound that the mics are hearing. (usually not nearly as bright) - My trick here is to either have the guitarist sit down in front of the amp. (this usually doesn't work- they prefer to stand for the first couple of hours) The better approach is to elevate the cab. Or tilt it back somehow so that he's hearing what the mic is hearing. At this point, he might start dialing down the hi end. And the big plus for you is that you don't get as much reflection off the floor which might also help.

    - Are there Headphones being used? How is he hearing the track over the raging amp? Since he needs to be near the amp for feedback and to 'work the amp', how can you possibly get the headphones louder than his guitar?
  5. acoosticzoo

    acoosticzoo Guest

    +1 yes indeed. Recording outside has no reverb so it's a good method if you have no neighbours.

    Also you may like to try:
    Ribbon mic infront of the stack recording performance.
    Record the DI from Guitar via direct out from Amp. then re-amp after guitarist has finished performing.
    Later, blend the two signals (Ribbon + ReAmped performance) together when mixing.

    Josef Horhay
    Acoostic Zoo Recording Studio
  6. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    This is the war we all fight at some time in our recording careers. Mostly with half-witted guitarists who are stuck on the one thing they think they know.

    The ONE TRUTH here is, MICS DONT LIE. If the sound is thin and overly distorted with a closemic'd cab and a 57 then it IS THIN AND OVERLY DISTORTED.

    There is no way around this. If you are recording flat at the recorder and not manipulating the sound in any way then he has to see that the source is the problem.

    My dollar says he wont.

    Its harsh having to be tough love about this kind of situation but at some point it becomes the artists responsibility to listen to the recordist about what is going on and why. Its not like you're telling him to change styles or rewrite his songs, but in order to capture what he wants he has to realize the MAJOR differences in live sound as opposed to studio conditions.


    (this is usually where the .357 named appropriately 'Uncle Nasty' comes out and finds a place on the console.....)

    I'm sorta kidding but I have been through this war a million and two times and sometimes you get someone whos resonable and able to understand reality as opposed to wants and then you get the experts who dont hear anything except the foolish voice in their head telling them that everything they think is completely right.

    If you find yourself in an uncompromising situation then thats when you cut the project loose and move on. Theres really only so much a person can do with a limited room and gear.

    I will tell you that even a great sounding room would require some changes in his philosophies about the reproduction of guitar sound.
  7. steppingonmars

    steppingonmars Active Member

    Mar 6, 2008
    Brandon, MB Canada
    How about this?

    1) Hook up a DI, record the guitar dry before it goes into the recorder on another track, then re-amp it later using another amp of your choice. Show him the difference of sound in the recording. I always do this anyways as it can save a steller take from a unsuitable guitar tone.

    2) Do the same as above, but don't tell him :)

    3) Make a guitar fort or make a gobo and put him in it, buy some high density insulatiion ( roxul safe and sound or I think it's owens corning 703?) Let the guy blow out his ear drums inside the fort. That will reduce the yucky early reflections to a degree. If your room isn't properly sound treated you might have to work on that as well. Blankets do nothing for low frequency sounds, there isn't enough mass.

    Your guitarist is right about one thing, you'll need some volume especially if you want heavy guitars. the speaker has to push some air to sound loud, but just enough to get the cabinet thumping. It's hard to get a bad tone out of a marshall and a les paul, but I guess anythings possible. Do some experimenting with the mic placement an 1/4 inch on a 57 can make a drastic tone change.

    Also read slipperman's guitars from hell,

    There's lots of swearing on this one :D
  8. ocdstudios

    ocdstudios Active Member

    Nov 3, 2009
    WOW. Love all the responses! You guys are great.

    Looks like it's time to buy a gun, pre-warn the neighbors and local police department and tell this dude to take his crap outside... LOL!!

    That tread you game me the link to is pretty good. I don't get half of it right now but I understand where he's going with most of it. Some of his techniques are out of my experience and equipment range - and I'm not cutting a CD for a major label... But I do want to learn every bit of what he is saying.

    I really appreciate the reponses.

    This guy wants to sound Like GNR on Appetite for destruction... I wouldn't exactly say that's the band's overall sound so not sure how'd that'd sit in a mix. The are a mix of 80/90's rock, southern rock and blues. Hard to describe but cool sounding. A song will have a bluesy solo then later followed by a 80's solo. Kind of wierd but cool.

    Even listening to GNR the guitars sound really warm - not bright. Would someone agree with that or am I missing that one. Help.

    So, "his sound" - The cab on the floor (and vibrating his pants and the paint off the walls - while making my pets ears bleed 3 rooms over) and not pointed at his head is why he thinks it's warm. B/c it comes out very bright and harsh. With a huge bottom hump at certain Hz.

    The mix (sm57) was pointed at the lower speaker to the outside edge of the cone. I did not screw w/ mic placement as I did not realize a SM57 was That sensitive to this.

    I think the outside thing is out of the question. Too many songs to do with too many overlays. I'd know the cops by name and probably end up spending the night at their "house" after their third trip out... But it was an idea I had already thought of - good to know I was on the right track with that one...

    It seems the best option is going to be to take a track from his pre-amp out - it would be colored by the tubes just not by the speaker. Correct?
    One question on this - does dist. warmth come from the pre-amp tubes or the power tubes? Am I defeating my seld by taking a pre-out signal?

    Steppingonmars... you are saying take a di signal before it ever gets to the marshall head, right? But, don't I want the marshall or peavey coloring? Also, if I need volume to get heavy guitar - will i be ablt to get a sound he's going to like re-amping thru a small studio amp? Also I would not have his distortion as it would come from the head, correct??

    I would then re-amp this signal - possibly with a line 6 to emulate the 4x12 cab???? Or use something like a fender deluxe that I'm familiar with...??? Suggestions??

    This would be so much easier with the guy(s) using a small studio amp to begin with... There are two other guitar players I have to convince after him. Maybe I should just suck on the gun and end this nightmare before it begins...
  9. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    Oct 16, 2008
    Frozen Tundra of CT
    This might interest you also

    OCD"It seems the best option is going to be to take a track from his pre-amp out - it would be colored by the tubes just not by the speaker. Correct?"
    Yes. Not as full. This still won't solve the thin tone settings on his amp mostly just the reflections issue.

    OCD"One question on this - does dist. warmth come from the pre-amp tubes or the power tubes?"
    Yes, both. The distortion effect most guitarists refer to as "crunch" or such is mostly from overdriving the preamp but a lot of the "warmth" comes from the power amp tubes overdriving as well.

    The main reason for taking DI guitar before pedals and amps is to have a guitar signal unaffected by the end chain. This can be reamped but does require some signal impedance changes to work properly.

    I am going to assume that you are not primarily a guitarist. You can not easily get a Fender to sound like a Marshall w/o effects or pedals. When reamping you can get distortion using a smaller amp, you can absolutely use a Line 6 to get the sound. The problem with either a smaller amp or amp sims is that they require a good deal of tweaking and your ability to dial in "his sound" w/o him is questionable but viable. You can take the Line 6 through the Fender get the sound and record with speaker warmth but again this is an art because the settings on the Fender also tailor the sound.
    Finally if you think this will be an ongoing problem you might consider something like this

    Or you could just use the last option, though I wouldn't let some guitarist (like myself) ruin your life LOL. Davedog's advice that he really must trim his sound out for recording is sage. You need to convince him that he has to dial in a sound that sounds great in the monitors not what he perceives as a great sound from the amp.
  10. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    Feb 21, 2009
    That 6505 can sound pretty bitchin at only 2 or 3 and doesn't really need to be cranked to get a great sound like the Marshall. You could do that and have Dimebag Darrell stand in another room in front of a pair of cranked studio monitors for his feedback stunts.

    BTW I am just skimming the thread but you mentioned that the cab was on the floor and that's not ideal. Try to prop it up on something to de-couple it, also if you are going to record at high volume get the head off of the cab so that the vibrations from the cab don't 'Michael Jackson' the tubes.
  11. ocdstudios

    ocdstudios Active Member

    Nov 3, 2009
    I am going to post a clip of one of the recordings. Compared to other stuff I've done (which was all done with small amps at a lower volume) this stuff, which was all recored with cabs at high volume, sounds really dirty and the whole thing sounds like it's in a hole. I can get any space in the mix w/o amping up the highs on the drums which makes them sound thin. and even then the guitars are fuzzy, blurry and in a hole w/o even adding reverb. (probably because there is room sound on the recording...

    I get it up today and let ya'll see what I'm talking about. Maybe it will also help ya'll zero in on what the isses are. Also I think they over did it on the distortion (hence the hazy fuzz) IDK -I need your opinions.

    All of the solutions so far have been great. I think re-amping may be the way to go. I REALLY need to get him to listen to the monitor and adjust sound from there like ya'll have said. He needs to adjkust to fit the end result, not the initial sound from the cab...

    agree - I will make sure I never record with anything on the floor again. Never realized it created such issues.
  12. ocdstudios

    ocdstudios Active Member

    Nov 3, 2009
    Ok Guys here's a link -

    There are two files - the song is called "dirty" and it unfortunately has explicit lyrics (one word each chorus)

    Anyway - ignore the lyrics - besides it's a scratch track anyway... One track is NO Effects on the guitars PERIOD. No delay to spread them no reverb. only a small 4-6db boos in the mids 500-1000 on each of them as they all lacked body. lead had a small narrow dip above 10k to help top end fuzz.

    2nd track has delay to spread (haas trick) but no reverb.

    Notice how it does not have much effect on the spread when it is used in the 2nd track. I have found that a reverb before a delay minimizes the effect of the delay greatly (that whole trial and error thing) which would explain why the effect doesn't do much due to the room reverb on the recording. Also, it sounds like there is reverb in each track but Only the drums and vocals have it added in either version.

    I personally think the guitars sound muffled, fuzzy and muddy/blurry if that's a description. They all sound like the are inside a box or comming from another room. I think some parts of the distored lead are so heavy w/distortion is has a nasty hissing/fuzzing quality. and that is with a pointed narrow q dip to try and rectify some of it.

    I attribute these problems to a) too much distortion -the cleaner solos sound somewhat better and b) natural room reverb on the recordings.

    Would anyone like to give their opinion. If this is indeed the case then at least I have a confimation that I am on the right path - and that I do need to get a drier recording at a lower volume with less distortion.
  13. natural

    natural Active Member

    Jul 21, 2006
    Yeah, THere's something strange there. Not as bad as I was thinking though.
    Something to ck.
    Are all the speakers in the cab in phase?
    Sometimes when speakers get reconed or replaced someone accidently reverses the wires. Also are all the speakers the same brand?
    Have you ck'd that all speakers are working and sound the same. (sometimes one will just sound so much better than the others.)
    Are you using a single mic?
    If the cab is not elevated or tilted back, try to not mic the bottom speakers, do one of the top 2. Keep the mic fairly close to the grill.
  14. ocdstudios

    ocdstudios Active Member

    Nov 3, 2009
    did not check the speakers, cab is fairly new from what i gathered. Did not check for sound diff between the 4. Cab was on the floor. single mic. I really think it's a combination of :
    1) too much volume, hence the "room" on the recordings
    2) too much distortion
    3) bad eq settings hence the need for the mid lift.

    Here are the head settings from the last couple takes.
    presence 1.5
    bass 9
    mid 9 (which I can't believe it still needed a lift!)
    treble 1
    pre-amp 10
    mast. 3.5

    this thing was LOUD!!!
    I also think he used a lot of bridge wide-open and minimal neck p/u only when I asked him to warm it up some. however, i can't confirm this and have no idea what his guitar settings actually were.
  15. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    Oct 16, 2008
    Frozen Tundra of CT
  16. ocdstudios

    ocdstudios Active Member

    Nov 3, 2009
    No pedals whatsoever. only the clean/distortion swich for the marshall.
  17. Guitarfreak

    Guitarfreak Well-Known Member

    Feb 21, 2009
    Well the preamp gain was on 10, which would explain why there really isn't much pick attack. Lowering that would also make the amp a tad quieter. What mic did you use?
  18. ocdstudios

    ocdstudios Active Member

    Nov 3, 2009
    sm57 within 2 inches of the grille cloth.
  19. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    Put it right on the grill. You're already 6" from the speaker cone and you want as little of the room as you can get. Close micing is just Close Micing.
  20. Try an amp brake. It has the tone of a stack, but with much less power. It kinda works like a capacitor, as in it regulates power.

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