Pro Guitar Sound



Hi guys,

My current situation is, I have an M-Audio MobilePre USB preamp, which I use for my mic / guitars. I'm using Guitar Rig 3 for amp modeling, inside of Cubase SX 3.

I want to know, what is a relatively inexpensive way that I can achieve near-professional quality tone, with either this setup, or a new interface. I'm looking to play primarily with high gain tones such as those you would hear in the metal/hardcore genre.

With my current setup, I often notice that with both my LTD Viper, and Fender Stratocaster, there is quite a bit of excess background noise, with nearly all guitar rig presets, in addition to this, if I enable a threshold on Guitar Rig which prevents excess noise, it is difficult to play with certain techniques. Also, even though Guitar Rig has MANY different presets, I'm not exactly jumping for joy in excitement over any of them. None of them seem to meet my needs for the kind of tone variety I'm looking for, and when recorded, they all sound like crap.

I was considering purchasing a Line 6 Spider III amp (which I would use the recording out slot on the amp to connect it to my Mobilepre), however I'm not sure which amp is best for my needs, or if I could achieve better recording quality from a modeling interface.

If anyone can suggest what would give me near-professional tone/quality when recording, at a relatively affordable price, I would appreciate it greatly.

P.S., any tips or links to useful information regarding proper guitar recording, as well as what I should do after I've recorded it to improve it, (when it is a direct input rather than mic'd) would be appreciated greatly.


Well-Known Member
Oct 31, 2005
Vancouver, BC, Canada
First of all, the key word here is presets. Don't rely on presets other than to get you in the ball park.

Secondly, since you are using guitar rig I'm assuming that you are plugging in directly which means, there is no background noise. There is a reverb effect or delay that you don't like.

Even when you are using modeling software, you need to think like your micing an amp. Mic distance, position, type will affect your sound. You should be able to make those adjustments in guitar rig.

As far as sounding near professional, I don't know how you are going to sound any closer than using professionally modeled amps. First you need to know what sound you want to hear. That's the only way you are going to know or figure out how to get the tone you're looking for.

If you are talking about hum, that is inherent with single coil pickups. Use the 2 or 4 position on the Strat or make careful use of a noise gate.


Well-Known Member
Mar 20, 2008
currently Billings
If anyone can suggest what would give me near-professional tone/quality when recording, at a relatively affordable price,

hueseph was being nice. He can't help it though since he's Canadian ;-)

Professional tone really isn't achieved in a computer simulation.

It is achieved by micing a great amp most likely in a great room being fed from a great sounding guitar with a musician that knows exactly the kind of sound and style that s/he wants to achieve. Period. Oh yeah, by an engineer that understands mic placement and gain structure.


Well-Known Member
Apr 4, 2006
Blacksburg, VA
Professional guitar tone comes from a professional guitarist's fingers. A really great guitarist can get a wonderful tone from just about any rig you can imagine. Part of this is knowing your tools - whether it is a tube amp or a modeling device. As noted above, presets almost never give you the sound in your head. It takes a lot of careful listening and playing to tweak the tone in a modeling device. But most of all, tone is in the fingers - touch, dynamics, vibrato. Can't get it by pushing a button or plugging in to a boutique tube amp.

While I like the tone of a miced tube amp as much as anyone (and use it in my recordings almost exclusively) you certainly can get great tones out of modeling devices and plugins. Moreover, they are much cheaper than an amp; you don't need a great room to record them in; you get a completely isolated sound from them while playing with, say, a drummer; and you can use them when everyone else is asleep. But more than that, pros use these all the time. Look at the effect racks of studio musicians in your favorite guitar magazine. Most of them have a POD or some other modeling device. They don't put it in the rack to look cool. They put it in because they use it to make money. There are all kinds of songs on commercial radio that use digitally modeled guitar tones.

Now I'm several years behind in research on modeling devices - so take this with a grain of salt. I have a Line 6 POD XT and Bass POD XT Pro. I like the computer interface with USB and being able to tweak the tones on my computer screen. These devices have a huge amount of depth - dozens of parameters that can be adjusted. You really have to get deep into them to get what you want. You also need make adjustments to their sound depending on the mix and the band. For some reason this seems to be more the case for a modeling device than it is for a tube amp, but maybe I'm imagining it. At any rate - shop around, and when you get something experiment a lot.


Hate to bump my old thread, but I guess it's appropriate since I still have basically the same question. I thought about the suggestions you guys gave me and went searching for more information.

I've found that a producer who I respect greatly, and have a love for just about everything he produces, uses the modeling software "POD Farm" for many, if not all of his guitar recordings when he is recording bands, such as "Attack Attack!", "Asking Alexandria", "We Came As Romans", or "The Devil Wears Prada." These are all some of my favorite bands, and he produced all of them.

I realize that he is recording guitarists who do what they do for a living, however I also realize that it doesn't take much skill to do palm mutes with heavy distortion.

Since palm mutes are basically essential to all 'hardcore' recordings, and they are pretty hard to fu** up, I'll use those as an example.

I think I didn't express the issue I was having before appropriately, I wasn't experiencing "background noise" as I said, but rather maybe a 'hiss' in between the palm mutes, followed by a loud bassy roar after the palm mutes. So, the actual tone itself was good, however it just didn't sound right if I were to mix it down and play it through a stereo, or in my car. It would be overly bassy and annoying, no matter how I adjusted or configured the settings in Guitar Rig.

Another related issue, is how do I make the guitar track blend in with the drum track? Is there some trick to making the guitar smooth and crisp, rather than standout-ish and annoying? I've seen plenty of people with far worse setups than mine create crisp clean guitar tracks with amp models, so what am I doing wrong? Do I need to do EQ? Is there a tutorial someone can suggest meant specifically for the type of music I am into?

Any more insight would be appreciated.


Well-Known Member
Dec 10, 2001
Pacific NW
How about a sample ? Its easier to understand the program when the information is all available.

It sounds to me like theres a heavy compression in use along with a noise gate.

We'll assume its not your playing as you seem confidant in your abilities to perform the parts you intend to record.

The 'hiss' sounds like your gain stage isnt quite right as for the amount of input into your recording device as opposed to the amount of gain on the guitar program. Maybe tweak that a bit....

The low-end grumble would be a compressor cutting loose at the end of its attack and its make-up gain being too high....again in the program.

But lets hear an example and it'll be easier to flesh out the problem.

Yeah, you should be able to get a great sound out of those items you have to record with.


Mar 20, 2000
Nanaimo BC, Canada
For direct recording I always recommend low impedance pickups. EMG are what I use and would never go back to high impedance. Maybe that is the sound you are looking for.


Well-Known Member
Feb 21, 2009
It sounds like you are not having a problem getting a good tone, but rather you need to learn the basics of editing. If the bass frequencies are rumbly throughout the recording, then you can learn to use an EQ to take care of the bass rumble. If it is only at the end of phrases then it is something else. Learn to use an automation line to get rid of the hiss in between chugs. A sound clip would still help.


I'm a late comer in this conversation, but here are a couple quick tips to improve your guitar tone in the mix (a lot has already said about playing well and tracking properly).
EQ: If the low end is muddy and booming try rolling off the low end starting around 100 to 185hz. If you want more clarity try boosting around 3.2K

For a really thick tone and ballzy sounding rythm guitar do several tracks of the same part using different amps and tones. Since you have Guitar Rig 3 this is easy to do. When you record the guitar split the left channel and right channel into 2 mono tracks rather than a single stereo track. Record the guitar with a heavy distorion high gain setting, then do it again on new tracks using a good sustaining crunchy sounding amp, and then a third track with a more traditional classic rock distortion. You should now have 6 mono tracks of the same guitar part. To do this, you MUST be able to play tight with your self on the over dubs. Next, you can separate the mono tracks in the mix. I like to put 2 tracks fully panned, 2 a little closer and so on. Then use the volume controls to blend these 6 tracks as your ear sees fit.

Have fun!


as crazy as this may sound (because it seems completely ass-backwards)... one key to getting a good direct sound is rolling off a decent chunk of the bass frequencies. i actually high-pass at around 75 hz and let the bass guitar and kick fill out the low end. remember, you gotta make room for parts within the mix

use a noise gate, but be careful where you set the threshold and floor because it will destroy your palm mutes and start breathing if you don't use it properly. def don't use the gate in GR3.

also, be careful of some of the high gain settings in GR3 because they don't give you that crushing string definition on your palm mutes that you want. they just sound kind of blurred out and shitty.

another factor is gain stages. understanding gain structure is crucial and a pretty easy concept to grasp. a lot of people new to recording don't get it cuz they don't take the time to learn it. check this article out for an easy to follow breakdown:

a little bit tasteful compression never hurt anybody either. over-compressing can ruin your mix though, so be careful.

i will agree with you. tdwp gets some amazing guitar sounds, but you're not gonna be able to just dial in sounds like that, i promise you. it takes serious skills and years of practice to get there.

either way, listen closely and you'll hear they are NOT bass heavy guitar sounds and it sounds like he's using some side chain compression to punch out the kick drum which is a little bit more of an advanced tech.