Improving Elec Guitar Sound

Discussion in 'Mixing, Post-Production, and Effects' started by DanPhaseMusic, Mar 2, 2019.

  1. DanPhaseMusic

    DanPhaseMusic Member

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    Hi

    I’ve got a decent enough guitar, decent pick ups etc and I’m a reasonable player but I always find my recorded guitars a bit lacking.

    I’m looking mainly for a solid rock type sound but I do a variety of styles. I’m happy enough with the mixing part so I’m just looking for advice on improving the di signal. Also I’m not going to go down the real amp route.

    I’m just going straight into my RME baby face and then into various sims. I use Scuffam, Gtr Rig for more fx stuff and various others.

    I’ve researched the matter several times over the years and read about the merits of using di boxes pre interface. Some say it makes a difference some say going straight into the interface should be fine. I’ve heard about people using various pedals pre inteface to get a better di sound pre sim.

    When I listen to the di sound from the shreddage virtual gtr it sounds a lot better than the di sound I’ve got. This makes me think this is where I could make an improvement.

    So the question is....high end di box ? A secret sauce pedal ? Is it all in the guitar and pick ups ? Do I need a Kemper ?

    Any advice much appreciated.

    Thanks

    Dan
     
  2. wst3

    wst3 my office these days

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    Tricky business that!

    I would not run out and buy the Kemper, or even a Helix, they are both nice, and very capable, but I don't think they'll necessarily solve the problem.

    There are several very cool guitar libraries, Shreddage among them, and most of them were recorded via DI. Near as I can tell the actual sound we purchase is the result of mucho processing, not the DI (developers may correct me as necessary).

    I've used two of the most iconic direct boxes - the one from Sigma Sound and the one from Motown. Even if I could afford to own either of them I'm not sure I'd buy them. They are cool, they sound great, but they are no replacement for a good amplifier and microphone.

    As far as I am concerned (one man's opinion only) there is no substitute for a good amplifier and microphone. I record almost all my guitar tracks this way. I have a nice enough collection of amplifiers and microphones to provide some variety, so that's what I do.

    What would I do if that was not the case? Well obviously I'd record direct. And sometimes I still do.

    All of the major amp sim plugins offer some interesting (if not thoroughly realistic) sounds, and sometimes I want interesting, so I'll turn to Waves GTR or NI Guitar Rig, or my former secret weapon, Flying Haggis from db-audioware (it is amazingly cool, and maybe the closest thing to an AC-30 I've heard.)

    If I'm in a hurry, or lazy, and I want realistic I use the UA plugins. These were the eye-openers for me, especially their 5E3 plugin. These are as close to the real thing as I've heard, especially when used in conjunction with their Ocean Way room plugin. There have been a couple of times when I played back a track and could not remember if I used plugins or recorded it live (easy enough to find out of course) - they are that good.

    If you choose that route you have to buy a Unison equipped Apollo interface, the Apollo Twin is pretty reasonably priced, but this probably represents a big investment. They also have their own DI (the OX) which provides emulation of loudspeakers, microphones, and rooms, I'm not sure how useful that would be, but based on their other plugins I imagine it sounds pretty darned cool.

    Not sure if this helps, but there you go...
     
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  3. Bassious

    Bassious New Member

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    X2 for wst3’s statements. My flow is much the same. I have Helix and the UA stuff and the OX and still use scuffham and gr5 as well. Guitar pizazz is a deep rabbit hole.
    A good resource is Tim Pierce on yt. His focus is recording and he works in many genres. He has several vids on signal chain and gizmos. If anything they are a good warning about what someone with GAS looks like.
     
  4. OP
    OP
    DanPhaseMusic

    DanPhaseMusic Member

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    Jun 24, 2011
    Thanks v much for the responses. I’ll check those vids out.

    Dan
     
  5. scoble08

    scoble08 New Member

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    As a guitarist, Scuffham S-Gear has the most amp like feel for the money.
     
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  6. GtrString

    GtrString Active Member

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    Denmark
    Try working on the gain staging. Often a boost pedal like an MXR Micro Amp or and Xotic RC or EP can work well. Or just try boosting the input volume in the plugin. You may find that it can add a little more dimension and fatness to the sound...
     
  7. Zoot_Rollo

    Zoot_Rollo Throbbing Member

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    Radial J48 into the mic preamps of my RME Babyface Pro.

    Sims all the way.

    And decent pickups.
     
  8. neblix

    neblix Music, Math, Cats

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    This is not correct, Shreddage libraries are recorded DI. There isn't processing done beyond our normal sample editing processes such as normalization and noise reduction. The quality of your DI signal is greatly dependent on the quality of your pickups. For example if you listen to a set of Fishman Fluence pickups recorded DI, they almost sound like a mic'd acoustic recording because of their exceptional clarity.

    The exception I believe is Shreddage Bass 2 which was recorded into a very nice preamp with additional color.
     
  9. OP
    OP
    DanPhaseMusic

    DanPhaseMusic Member

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    Jun 24, 2011
    Interesting stuff. Could I ask what the set up ( gtr/pick ups/di box) was for the Shreddage libs ? It’s a really great DI sound....

    Also thanks to everybody for all the thoughts on the matter.

    Dan
     
  10. Yellow Studio

    Yellow Studio New Member

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    I was in your position a while ago. Never satisfied with my guitar tone. Babyface together with IK amplitude 4 and fender 2 collection. Quite nice but I always had to sit for hours to mix a tone I couldn't get. I bought a Kemper and finally it sounds real.
     
  11. James H

    James H 01001000 01101001

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    I've owned numerous (is not every) vst and mostly use TH3.
    Owned a Kemper and loved it.

    But after years of the same "holy grail" search I found these things are biggest factor in a great sound:
    New strings.
    IR's. For me, most difference. Every sim I use my preferred ones as stock one's re not always that good.
    Bass guitar. Take that out and my tone sounds like crap.
    Tight as hell playing. Like tighter than tight... then some.

    Used a 7 string, Les Paul, £100 dog and other guitars using these steps and the sound is generally the same. So gear (for me) isn't the defining item... although guitar shops would argue different :)
     
  12. 80% of the tone is having a good Impulse Response file. Get STL Tones Amp sim and get some custom IRs and you'll be golden.

    Or get a Kemper or Axe Fx
     
  13. MrLinssi

    MrLinssi A glorified bedroom musician.

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    It all begins with the player, of course. And gain staging is super important. Just my two cents...I used to use my Focusrite interface and Positive Grid Bias. Then I got myself a Torpedo Reload to use with my ENGL and I use the IRs in their Wall of Sound plugin, and I tell you, Bias sounds like crap now. :D
     
  14. OP
    OP
    DanPhaseMusic

    DanPhaseMusic Member

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    Jun 24, 2011
    Thanks for the advice. Could you recommend any specific IR’s ?

    Dan
     
  15. James H

    James H 01001000 01101001

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    Been a while since I was twanging the strings. I think Guitar Hacks Impulses were the name of them and the main one people used was s-preshigh. I'll see what my favourites still hold and let you know.
     
  16. Divico

    Divico Senior Member

    I doubt you need a DI Box:
    Try out this one. Its free and really good. You get the amp and IR loader with some starting point IRs. Imo the amp is much better than what my BIAS FX produces (mainly hizz and noise :P).
     
  17. OP
    OP
    DanPhaseMusic

    DanPhaseMusic Member

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    Jun 24, 2011
    Good stuff. Thanks for all the info.
     

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