Why can't I record a guitar tone for shit?

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submute
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Why can't I record a guitar tone for shit?

Post by submute » Sun May 05, 2019 9:43 pm

Help me out. So my playing is what it is, not great, but for the life of me, every time I try to record guitar, the tone just sounds weak af, and lifeless.

I have a modular w/ a Pico input. I have a pedal board w/ a Strymon Flint and other delectables.

I have a Clarett 4pre, a DI box, all kinds of stuff. Everything just sounds so lifeless.

What do I do? Help!

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Post by Idunno » Sun May 05, 2019 10:01 pm

It's the hazard of DI-ing guitars. At least to me, and I never do it. I always either record with a guitar amp and a mic or two, or DI it and later re-amp it through a guitar amp.

The EQ contour is so different through a guitar amp and speaker. You could try an Amp Emulator pedal I guess, but I've rarely got on with them either. If I use them at all I'll plug the output into a real amp.

A decent EQ to boost the mids and lower highs, a touch of overdrive, and some compression might get you some ways, but probably not something I would be happy with the results of.
Last edited by Idunno on Sun May 05, 2019 10:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by sduck » Sun May 05, 2019 10:20 pm

Stick a mike in front of a good sounding amp. That's the easiest way. You want a real guitar preamp at least, or a software emulation.
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Post by JohnLRice » Sun May 05, 2019 11:42 pm

submute, if you can post a short audio clip of the results you are getting now I bet people could give you more focused suggestions? 8-)

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BailyDread
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Post by BailyDread » Mon May 06, 2019 8:39 am

get yourself an amp and two SM57s

set the amp how you want it, and then put one of them at the front, aimed at where the speaker cap meets the speaker cone, right up close to the grill or back a few inches, whichever you prefer, either facing straight ahead or with about a 45 degree angle. put the second mic behind the amp. aim the second mic at either the back of the speaker cone or the wall of the cab at 45 degree angle. flip the phase of the rear one and use your headphones to move the mics around until they're in phase.

now your front mic is your "focus" and your rear mic is your "body" and you can blend the two for just about anything you need. if you pan them opposite from one another, the rear mic helps to serve as a quasi-room mic and adds dimensionality.

cheers and happy playing :tu:

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Post by kcd06 » Mon May 06, 2019 1:37 pm

Glenn Friker/Specter Media Group has several vids on recording and mixing guitar on youtoob. I dont have a guitar, nor do I record much that isnt straight to digital so I cannot vouch for his methodology in practice, but the guy is a reasonably good--albeit shouty--teacher.

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Post by shaft9000 » Sun Jun 16, 2019 10:40 am

Good advice so far. The speaker and cabinet is a crucial ingredient in real electric guitar sound.
Focus on mic technique and how you are tracking multiple guitars along with other instruments (or merely overdubbing guitars).


The MIX is what rules, ultimately. Don't be afraid to go to extremes, but DO understand what you are giving up in order to go there!

So it's very good to listen to multitrack stems of classic tunes you already know. What may seem to be a 'huge' guitar in a mix is often a tweezy little thing when heard in isolation, or vice-versa. The MIX rules.
For example - when you've got a kickdrum and bass thumping hard, then the guitar's low freqs can - and often should be - shelved way down. If frequencies reaching under ~100Hz from guitar are still in there, it creates mud and/or just steals available headroom and spectra from the instruments that should have it.

Also be sure your room and monitors are not doing anything weird acoustically, so you can hear the mix as neutral as possible.
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Post by mmm.guitar » Thu Jun 20, 2019 7:41 am

Unsure if you are going distorted but sometimes I find people but too much gain on and it can flatten out the sound, sometimes dialing it back can give the sound a little more punch, get a little creative with double tracking or you can find ways to help beef it up.

I've never managed to record a good DI distorted signal, closest I got was using a Radial JDX on my tube amp (strips the signal from the speaker lead after the amp) with a THD hotplate as a fake load.

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Post by chvad » Thu Jun 20, 2019 9:28 am

tone wise... I'll also second/third/fourth the vote for amps and mics. i'll get lazy and use a sansamp from time to time and while i find i can get some passable tones, whenever i bother to dig out the amps... it's always better. for my ears anyway.

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JimY
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Post by JimY » Fri Jun 21, 2019 5:02 am

There is a lot of lo-fi in a guitar amp/speaker that is sorely missed if you try to do without it - and I don't just mean valve/tube distortion however subtle that is.

The tone controls are passive & shallow and most won't give you a flat setting even if you wanted it. Setting all eq to 12 o'clock is never flat but will have a mid-range scoop. That scoop is very important. Amp simulator pedals tend to copy a real amp circuit for this.

The speaker has a limited frequency response and depending on cabinet type (sealed or open back) an uneven curve tending to a "smile" shape. The limited top end of a guitar cab (around 5kHz but can start to roll off from about 3kHz) does a wonderful job of smoothing excessive distortion harmonics from the amp or FX pedals. Simple cab simulators try to reproduce the EQ curve.

The speaker cone is ribbed paper with soft suspension - it is highly efficient as speakers go, but produces some harmonic distortion of its own via "cone breakup" which happens even at low powers. Once upon a time, all speaker cones were like this, but now it's only guitar cabs that have this type of cone.
Cone breakup is VERY difficult to simulate.

12"speakers are generally best, but for focused & cutting tones, the small 8" such as in the famous Fender Champ combo can work very well.

Depending on what you want, a very simple approach is to use a distortion pedal that has its own mid-scoop EQ (although it only has one tone knob) such as in the Big Muff. Combined with your ordinary EQ and the controls and a little ambience reverb (I like spring best), you can get some very satisfying DI tone. ... but the mic'd real amp & cab is, of course, the premium approach.

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Re: Why can't I record a guitar tone for shit?

Post by ExtrasensoryPerception » Fri Jun 21, 2019 5:30 am

You don't mention any sort of amp emulation before your pedals/pre, so that's where I would start.

It can be done on the cheap, so you cans ee if you get any sort of improvement, before investing in something better or switching to amp.

the key is, I think, investing little to hear a lot of change from what you have now....you can always continue on that path if satisfactory and exciting.

That said, here's what i'd recommend to start with:

http://www.osiamo.com/osiamohome/Mooer- ... Amp-Pedals

Affordable and easy. check one out and see if it helps.


submute wrote:Help me out. So my playing is what it is, not great, but for the life of me, every time I try to record guitar, the tone just sounds weak af, and lifeless.

I have a modular w/ a Pico input. I have a pedal board w/ a Strymon Flint and other delectables.

I have a Clarett 4pre, a DI box, all kinds of stuff. Everything just sounds so lifeless.

What do I do? Help!

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Post by calaveras » Tue Jul 02, 2019 12:06 pm

I've used a bunch of amp sims which all sound kind of good. But then after listening back they seem a little too clear and clean. There isn't that floppy flabby indistinct zone that every real guitar amp in a real room has.
What I like to do instead, but often am too lazy to do, is just mic up a single speaker driven by a low wattage amp.
I use an Epiphone Valve Junior 5 watt amp. It's actually quite loud! But I crank it down to normal TV volume so my neighbors don't get too annoyed.
You can gain things up in the mic pre so it's pretty decent. Then just carefully move the mic around until you find a zone where it's both clear and throaty.
I like to aim for the seam where the dust cap of the speaker meets the cone. This is usually very mid forward.
Or aim for the edge of the cone for a bassier tone.

OTOH, sometimes all you need is a good compressor plugin.

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Post by powertran » Thu Jul 18, 2019 6:32 pm

You've got to mic your amp with decent quality mic. But unless you've got a 'dead room' acoustically speaking you'll end up with the room ambience on the recording as well, rather like an annoying unwanted reverb. A cheap way of overcomng that is to build a small house out of couch cushions around your amp and drop the mic inside it. Works for me.

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Post by calaveras » Thu Jul 25, 2019 1:10 pm

Or you can embrace the room sound and use it.
It really depends on the kind of music you are doing and what your goals are. But the U2 records Eno produced had tons of ambience on the guitars, bass, and drums. And those are the only U2 records I can listen to.

If you record using mid/side mic technique you can effectively control the amount of room sound in the recording. Or get creative and compress the sides and leave the mid untouched for a novel 'rushing in' guitar sound.

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Re: Why can't I record a guitar tone for shit?

Post by Rex Coil 7 » Thu Jul 25, 2019 1:44 pm

submute wrote:Help me out. So my playing is what it is, not great, but for the life of me, every time I try to record guitar, the tone just sounds weak af, and lifeless.
... cuz you SUCK! ...







:mrgreen: :hihi: :lol: .... kidding, of course ...


SM57 (perhaps two), 2x12 cab, set up just as you would at a live gig ... click record ... play.

Sometimes putting one mic close to the cab while placing a second mic a few feet away can provide you two channels of recorded sound that you can mix to suit your needs. Big shot engineers will also record a clean track to mix with the dirt ... that trick provides some note clarity and more pick attack that can get lost with distortion due to all of the compression.


Done. :tu:


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Post by naturligfunktion » Thu Aug 15, 2019 6:05 am

BailyDread wrote:get yourself an amp and two SM57s

set the amp how you want it, and then put one of them at the front, aimed at where the speaker cap meets the speaker cone, right up close to the grill or back a few inches, whichever you prefer, either facing straight ahead or with about a 45 degree angle. put the second mic behind the amp. aim the second mic at either the back of the speaker cone or the wall of the cab at 45 degree angle. flip the phase of the rear one and use your headphones to move the mics around until they're in phase.

now your front mic is your "focus" and your rear mic is your "body" and you can blend the two for just about anything you need. if you pan them opposite from one another, the rear mic helps to serve as a quasi-room mic and adds dimensionality.

cheers and happy playing :tu:
Im gonna take this advice and try it right away. Love the idea of having a mic behind the speaker, sounds interesting :)

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Post by joeTron » Thu Aug 22, 2019 2:36 pm

Excellent advice all of the above. Remember you might not need compression on heavily distorted guitars. They're already clipping!
Also beware of 1000 plugin-itis. You'll drown in choices! Find one or two good basic tones and use that as a starting template.

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Post by Deepwave33 » Thu Oct 10, 2019 10:52 am

Yep, if going direct, roll off lots of top and deep low end to sit in the mix a bit better like a speaker.

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hex
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Post by hex » Sat Oct 12, 2019 5:23 pm

DI/loadbox to a good impulse response (mic'd speaker sim ex. two notes wall of sound) would be the way I'd go if I wanted to get my actual amp sound to the computer as conveniently as possible without all of the practical issues surrounding recording a cranked amp in a residential area. Line 6 also has Helix native which is like a vst version of their Helix modeler. You can get a free trial of that.

Was going to go the DI/IR route to get my 100 watt marshall to the box but I've now been entertaining picking up a pedal sized modeler (fractal fm3 or hx stomp) or a good pre-amp pedal (origin revivaldrive).

The added bonus of a modeler is usb straight in and you can also run your modular and synth gear into it.

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Post by K2000 » Sun Oct 13, 2019 1:07 am

I don't know what genre of music is being discussed. But the big guitar sounds you hear on records are usually not achieved with one single guitar track. People typically multi-track guitars to get a massive sound.

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Post by Kent » Sun Oct 13, 2019 5:33 am

Take it easy on yourself. Buy a used Fractal Audio AX8 or Axe-FX XL. The prices have been dropping lately.

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Post by shaft9000 » Sat Jan 11, 2020 5:23 pm

back from the dead-thread, i just thought of a nice little bit to use when setting up mics by yourself:

1. Get a looper pedal - the kind that records the input signal and repeats it: A TC ditto, Line6 DL4 etc...(not the 'fx loop' or 'loop-switcher' kind of pedal).
2. Place looper pedal 1st in your pedal-board's signal chain, or however you would go into the looper directly from the guitar.
3. Record your direct dry guitar signal into the looper, then let it play back what you've recorded. Pedals further down the signal chain can then be freely activated, adjusted, honed-in, etc.
4. Grab some headphones, put them on. Arm your DAW/recorder and....
5. ...while it's playing back you can now -hands free - adjust the amp, cab/speaker and mic positioning however you like! :ghost: :alien: :homer: :cthulhu:
calaveras wrote:
Tue Jul 02, 2019 12:06 pm

What I like to do instead, but often am too lazy to do, is just mic up a single speaker driven by a low wattage amp.
That's what I do for recording at home at night-time.

I use a Vox AC-4 and a square couch-pillow. The pillow - depending on the surface area it's baffling - cuts the total dB out of the speaker down on-demand, so I can run the full 4 watts (pow-aaah!) and keep some headroom for clean timbres. The mic(s) can go next to (or in front of) the pillow opening.

I've been doing it for ~10 years now. It works well for most anything short of jazz archtop timbres, tight 'modern metal' timbres, and open-air feedback. This is mostly due to the built-in 10" speaker, and the amp topology. Using the ext. speaker output it can drive a 2x12 pretty loud, it just always has that single-ended Vox-y breakup and brightness. This is where the 'tone' pots and capacitors and pickups can either help or hinder. Each aspect of the guitar+amp+room equation stacks OR balances with any other aspect, in relation to the timbre being pushed one way or the other.
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Re: Why can't I record a guitar tone for shit?

Post by Hermetech Mastering » Sat Feb 22, 2020 3:07 am

The chain is all just icing on the cake. Sure it can sound better through a nice amp with nice mics and pres, but I'd say 99% of the "lifeless tone" you are experiencing is in your playing. Invest a few months in a regimented daily practise routine, focusing on your medium term goal, whatever that might be, and then try again. Speaking from experience here, I always blamed the gear, chasing tone. When I stopped doing that and started practising the instrument like crazy, I found I could often get great sounding takes and tone, whether I was playing a beat up acoustic, an electric acoustically, or through a great tube amp, or DI straight into the H9 or PC.

It really is almost entirely in the playing. But people usually don't want to hear that. :twisted:

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Re: Why can't I record a guitar tone for shit?

Post by pekbro » Sat Feb 22, 2020 3:26 am

Recording guitars always sounded crappy to me until I started buying quality instruments.
When I was young I would buy every cool lookin cheap guitar that came my way, only once
I shelled out the coin for a good one, did I realize how shitty the cheap ones actually were.

*Of course cost is not always a measure of a good instrument, tho, unless you have access to
some specific knowledge, it's likely the easiest way to get one.

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Re: Why can't I record a guitar tone for shit?

Post by wuff_miggler » Mon Mar 16, 2020 3:47 am

ok so few things...

*We have no idea what guitar tone you're trying to record but what im going to say should still apply....

*You mentioned this youself - if your playing sucks...fix that up...no amount of the below will help.

*Shitty guitar pickups are going to sound shitty - so dont use shit ones. Some of the most lively sounds i've heard are from some Bare Knuckle PIckups i've got on my current guitar

*If you're using a tube amp...ensureing you're saturating the tubes ...even on clean settings at some point....will make the guitar sound way better.

*you can get great tones out of something like a Palmer Rack Speaker Sim. If you want to remove a few variables like mics, rooms blah blah. i've gotten great tones coming out of a Palmer Speaker Sim going into a preamp with really good iron transformer for some pleasing saturation.

EDIT:

*just have to add - a lot of shredder types...or younger clueless players think that their technical prowess will make up for learning about tone/guitar/amps/speakers....the guitar (acoustic) is an instrument....the electrical guitar is ALL these things (guitar, pedals, amp, speaker)....adding overdrive affects the touch required...playing without speaker breakup will influence your sound...not enough bass will influence your palm mutes...so on and so forth...

Many ways to skin a cat...my 2c.
Last edited by wuff_miggler on Mon Mar 16, 2020 4:28 am, edited 2 times in total.

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