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How to record heavy metal guitars.
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Ember2Inferno
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#1
25th October 2007
Old 25th October 2007
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How to record heavy metal guitars.

Hello everyone, I'm new to the site. I'm recording my metal band, and I'm having some troubles getting a good guitar sound. I've tried recording our guitars with live settings on the amplifier, that left the sound quite muddy, and it robbed some of the sound from the drums. My friend made a suggestion that I should record my amplifier with a weak sound, with the gain down to almost nothing, along with the other settings on the EQ. He's saying that if I record it like that, I would go back in post production and add everything to my sound that I took out. I'm not entirely convinced that it will work. If you guys could give me any input at all, I would be very grateful.

In case it helps, I'm using a Peavey 6505 head unit, with a Peavey Valve King cabinet. I have a PRS Standard 24 guitar. The mics we'll be using at SM-57s, and MD421s. The mixer that we're going into is a Yamaha O2R96.

Thanks in advance for all of the advice.

-Joethumbsup
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25th October 2007
Old 25th October 2007
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First off make sure the guitar and amp sound good.

Record with less gain. Double or triple tracking the guitars will add thickness from the multiple takes, but still keep the clarity since you're not destroying everything with too much gain.
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25th October 2007
Old 25th October 2007
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Really Heavy Metal Guitars???

I guess it would be a little different than recording really light wooden guitars.....

Sorry I couldnt resist....
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25th October 2007
Old 25th October 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Murasamee View Post
I guess it would be a little different than recording really light wooden guitars.....

Sorry I couldnt resist....

HAHA. so good.
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25th October 2007
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25th October 2007
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It's a good thing to keep perspective on what you've recorded by having some reference recordings of your favorite sounding metal bands.

You are talking about a few things at once...

You are talking about the balance between the drums and the guitars. And you are talking about guitar sounds as well.

When it comes to the balance you might come across mixes of your fav bands that have guitar and drums roughly equal in level or you will find some that have the guitars up a bit.

So when it's time to bring up your bands track on the board to set levels then try to get them close to that of a couple of the tracks from the bands you love.

As for guitar tones... things might sound great next to your amp or even on stage but out front of house who knows what it's like? Could be that the sound engineer is doing all kinds of fixing to make your band listenable?

Usually guitarists go for too much distort resulting in a tizzy top end that can sound small and a woofy low end that makes the guitars think he sounds huge.

Guitar is all about the mids and what is happening there! What you should be listening for in the mids are does this area give you enough pitch info on your power chords and does what is happening there add to the size of the guitar sound.

How to listen for mids... back off your gain until you've got a medium overdrive and put all your eq from the amp ie bass mid and treble on the middle setting if the nob goes up to 10 then set them at 5.

Turn your amps volume up until the amp sings in the room... maybe on third up or less.

Then put a mic on it and get someone to move the mic around whilst you play on headphones. Once you have placed the mic then start listening to the mids again whilst playing the part for the song you are about to record. Keep your headphones on and have a play with the mids on your amps eq. Fing the sweet spot.

Once you are there then start edging the distortion and the treble and bass eq towards your older setting a little bit at a time until it's got a little bit of that sound added to what you started with. Make test recordings and see if you are getting close on play back.

Have your amp head near you and the speaker box far away or even in another room.

Peace,
cortisol
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25th October 2007
Old 25th October 2007
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I'm just going to +1 Slipperman on this one.

My advise is in triple/quadruple/quintuple tracking the guitar and panning each around to make it sound full. LOW gain. The heaviest guitar sound I got was clean and 8x tracked.

slipperman knows more about metal guitars than you could ever hope to know.
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25th October 2007
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For tight metal sound I'll always go for 2 or 3 mic technique.

yesterday I got pretty decent mic'd sounds out of Mark IV. SM57 off axis about 3 inches from the grill, 421 also off axis about 2 inches from the grill. Phase inverted.
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25th October 2007
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Thanks for all the input guys, I really appreciate it. I'll let you know how your suggestions work.

This seems like a great community, I look forward to being a part of it!

-Joe
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26th October 2007
Old 26th October 2007
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I love metal guitars. I pop Kill em' all i nthe cdplayer the other night
that is still the crunchiest gtr sound ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

War without out end!!
crunch crunch crunch

no remorse no repent
we dont' care..........................
#11
26th October 2007
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The Current issue of Recording magazine has an article on this. Covers a lot of the same ground as above, but there are a few other good bits too (like mic'ing acoustics).
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26th October 2007
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WHEW! I just got done reading Slipperman's hilarious (because it's true) rant from hell. How is that not a #1 selling book? Publishers are slackin.
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26th October 2007
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well Micahel Wagener is a Master in Heavy Metal and Hard Rock!! I am sure he will give some of his knowledge and tricks!
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26th October 2007
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Cut your gain back to about half of what you normally do.

A good experiment is to put the vacuum cleaner next to your amp and turn it on. Then adjust your settings until you can hear the guitar distinctly over the noise. Record a few tracks and see how they fit in with the rest of the insteuments.
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26th October 2007
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My friend made a suggestion that I should record my amplifier with a weak sound, with the gain down to almost nothing, along with the other settings on the EQ. He's saying that if I record it like that, I would go back in post production and add everything to my sound that I took out. I'm not entirely convinced that it will work.

-Joethumbsup[/quote]

You can't boost what isn't there. You can always cut some of the low mid stuff out. I like to record at a moderate to loud level.
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26th October 2007
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#17
26th October 2007
Old 26th October 2007
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Use the 421. Point it, 45 degrees about 1/2 way between the center and the edge of the cone (as a starting point). Get him to track 2 takes, panned mid to hard left and right. The moment you first pan those tracks... its a revelation.

The biggest bastard with mixing metal is getting the kick bass and guitar together. I usually cut everything from the bass below about 80 and everything from the guitars below... about 90 or 100. I just go as high as I can until you notice it in the thing your cutting.

If your used to doing pop type stuff, keep the vocal much lower than you think; the hooks are in the guitar parts for most metal. Many a metal record is massacred in my ears by having the vocal WAY to high.

Sure, you could take it in with low gain then run it through an amp sim... but, uh, why would you do that when you have a perfectly good amp right infront of you, and a ****ing good mic in your hand? Seriously, those mics sound great on any amp and any drum I have ever pointed them at.

Oh, and transient designer... WOOOOOOO, great for metal kick drum. If the band are saying "I want the kick to sound like a slap", then this will make them smile. Digitalfishphones make a free VST one, if your in the box.
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26th October 2007
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Kickflipper, you're right and wrong at the same time.

Basically you can't add something that isn't there. That means you need to make sure you have a well intonated guitar that sounds good and doesn't go out of tune. a good full tone out of the amp that sounds good in the room that it's being played in, and a well placed, good quality microphone that will pick up the entire specturm that you are looking for, don't use something with a hyped high end if you're looking for a dark tone.

After that, you need a good quality EQ that doesn't Phase distort the sound to take control of those extraneous frequencies (the very low rumble that competes with the bass and kick, and that very top end that just is hiss and bleeding ear drums) and a clear, transparent compressor to tighten up the dynamics...

Without these things, you're trying to add something that isn't there.

Just my $.02
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26th October 2007
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27th October 2007
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sm57 at the join between the center of the cone and the rest of it, turn your gain down; dont scoop all your mids out, and a tubescreamer in front just with barely any drive on it helps to clear up a lot of low end rumble.

in terms of eq, try high passing at about 80-100 hz, to get rid of low end rumble; dip a little 250-500 hz with broad eq or multiband compress that area, notch out some 2.3k to kill the ear splitting frequency, and low pass at 10-12 khz to get rid of the fizz
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28th October 2007
Old 28th October 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donsolo View Post
I'm just going to +1 Slipperman on this one.

My advise is in triple/quadruple/quintuple tracking the guitar and panning each around to make it sound full. LOW gain. The heaviest guitar sound I got was clean and 8x tracked.

slipperman knows more about metal guitars than you could ever hope to know.
Aye.

Must also try that technique! thumbsup
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28th October 2007
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Two SM57s setup in a combfilter configuration. One 57 up against the grill, and another 57 right beside it a capsule lengt's back. Solo the one track, then solo up the next one and fade the mic in, you'll hear the guitar grow balls instantly... Haha, atleast I've had great results with it... Here's a picture for a better idea.
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#23
31st October 2007
Old 31st October 2007
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someone who does a lot of metal records said in EQ (the 200 tips issue) said he hates pods, j-stations, all of those. Mic a good amp, they say. I dunno, i like my guitars dry, medium output humbucker, non-master volume amp 2 clicks from exploding, but that's me. Get a good setup and you'll just be choosing mics. I would look into a subwoofer too, bi-amp setup, if you're not looking at a mesa, XXX, or other crazy metal amp. worth a shot.
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31st October 2007
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The moral to this though is to accept the low end but keep it in control. Most metal guitars are bassier than the bass itself! The kick has no low end so you can hear that twappy double kick technique. But the slight offset of the multi tracking is what makes the thing grow great big balls.
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31st October 2007
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Find the best speaker on the cabinet.
Than take a cable and plug it with out guitar. Put your finger on it and off and hear where the speaker moves most air.
Than turna the amp louder and louder, till the point the speaker and the power amp got this special vibe, youll hear it.

For dialing the sound... its easier if you hear the rest of the mix while doing this.
Dont go mad with the preamp gain. One notes wave should decrease to the next if you want your guitars come through the mix.
Not enough gain? Reamp with much gain and blend it in.

1000 other ways, but this give me good results.
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2nd November 2007
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I have Just finished (Fingers Crossed) an Extended Play for a math Metal band all with 7 Strings..bass has A Low f# on the 7th String
All of the Guitars were recorded Via a Line 6 Vetta (one of the newer ones) and the Sound is Killer.Meshuggah use them, No cabinets, just Di..I went into my TG pre's, drove the transformers a little and Ocassionally used a pair of WBS (JLM Mod'd) 472 EQ's. I have neer Dug Pod's for the Real takes, But I am thinking of buying a Vetta to take to every Session..the Tone is amazing..

Rock
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31st March 2008
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Speaking of Meshuggah and their amps...

I recently interviewed Mårten from Meshuggah about their upcoming tour and him moving back home to his old home town.

He sent me some cell phone pix that I used in the article. They're just noisy ol' VGA images but you do get a feel for what their rehearsal space looks like. You can see the drumkits and their wall of amps. The article is in swedish obviously but a picture says more than a thousand words, right?

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1st April 2008
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pia
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1st April 2008
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Thumbs up

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my advice:

1 > put cab in middle of room, off the floor

2 > put 1xSM57 1" off grill, pointing at edge of dustcap

3 > amp in control room, adjust it to sounding good in control room mix

4 > keep gain below 60% on hi-gain amps like 5150, dualrec, etc

5 > use 1 guitar for each set of tracks or even per song (intonation varies)

6 > use 1 guitarist for all rhythm tracks (precision & technique varies)

7 > double track (quad track only if the player is adequate)

8 > filter everything above 12k

9 > allow the bass guitar to fill out the bottom end in the mix

10 > enjoy!

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