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Tracking guitars to DAW: What have you learned that made them go from "ok" to "WOW"?
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guittarzzan
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18th February 2007
Old 18th February 2007
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Tracking guitars to DAW: What have you learned that made them go from "ok" to "WOW"?

When you guys first started trying to track guitars straight to disk, what things did you do or learn that took your tracks from being average to really having a "wow" factor? What was your turning point where you really felt good about the tracks and how they blended with a itb mix?


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18th February 2007
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Proper mic'ing, double/triple/quadruple tracking, good amp, proper set up on the amp itself, and a good player. Really there are more variables but once you get it down you should be able to get the guitars to sit in the mix with little work after the tracking stage. Man there's so much I left out but I'm sure other people will be in here to add on. Oh yeah, less gain than you think, assuming they're dirty guitars.
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18th February 2007
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I aim for a darker sound than what I really want. And use heaps of transformer micpre gain. I find that the next day that "almost too dark" sound is "just about right", and the added harmonic distortion from the trannys makes it sound think and creamy (SCA N72's, usually).

heath.
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18th February 2007
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In my experience it has very little to do with the recording medium - 2" or hard disk or whatever. It's all about getting the best tone before it hits the convertors. Modern convertors and DAW software is pretty good at preserving the tone it captures. For me it starts with a great guitar and amp run into a Germanium or Neve pre. The other stuff is up for grabs depending on taste and the requirements of the tune.
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18th February 2007
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royer 121 into tg2
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18th February 2007
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Is there a difference between tracking to disc and tracking to anything else, other than the way analog deals with transient info? It's just a storage medium, no? In other words, what does a DAW have to do with how effective the guitar sound/part is?
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18th February 2007
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421 into v72 into EQH2 into LA 4 makes for some good metal sounds, I agree about the "not as bright as I think" type sound turning out to be better the next day, the high end on the Pultec is addictive and it's easy to over do.

Also the 1073 is god like on guitars, also with 421. The Royer 121's are sweet too but I seem to like them better on cleaner stuff, more punchy than "chuggy" for metal
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18th February 2007
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1: Reamping
2: Getting the cabinet off the ground and away from the wall
3: Ribbon mics
4: backing the mic off the amp
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18th February 2007
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Adding a ribbon mic.
Warm LDC room mic in figure 8 aimed at the walls, not the amp.
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18th February 2007
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Well for specifically rock guitars...

The amp is probably the most important thing.

I always multimic and I always sweep the mics for phase.

I usually find that something tube in the path is nice. I quite often blend the mics and run them through a chiswick reach. It's not about compression because they're already so compressed by the amp, its more of a saturation thing.

J
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18th February 2007
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Most of this has been said, but here's my philosophy.

1. Obviously good player,then guitar, then amp.

2. Get the cabinet at least away from walls. I sometimes get it off the ground but not always.

3. Test all the speakers! On a 4X12 there's usually 1 speaker that really stands out. What I do is I grab 4 57s and put one dead on the middle of each cone. Feed them all to the same pres, match levels....and listen. It's amazing how much better it can sound if you start with the right speaker.

4. Check phase when using multiple mics, and check phase especially on MULTIPLE CABINETS!

5. I don't know if anyone else does this, but I found (especially with HEAVY stuff) that if I track my levels a little lower then normal in PT ( say.... -10?) that it actually ends up sounding way better when I quadtrack. The lowend of the guitars doesn't eat up all my headroom.

6. I'm a big fan of the ross hogarth (first person I saw do it) 57/421/121 combo. I'm a HUGE fan of the chandler pres, and can't wait to try the new germanium stuff.
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18th February 2007
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In addition to the above comments, get to basics: Have your guitar set up and make sure that you have your intonation in line and a new set of strings.
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i agree that you should go for a darker and less distorted sound than you'd normally want. why you would do this is totally about the transient response thing with digital. Also... if you can't recreate the tape vibe then create a new vibe. I always track my guitars with a mult going to two different amps... I alot two tracks and try to have an interesting stereo picture that compliments the song.

I use a 57 through a tube pre on one amp in an iso booth.... and a 414b-uls through a vintage transformer style pre, backed off an amp thats turned up so loud the box starts rattling on sympathetic tones in a small room. blend the two together and it sounds not tapey but still is something cool all its own.
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18th February 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by supaheef View Post
I aim for a darker sound than what I really want. And use heaps of transformer micpre gain. I find that the next day that "almost too dark" sound is "just about right", and the added harmonic distortion from the trannys makes it sound think and creamy (SCA N72's, usually).

heath.
Yeah, listening with my ears instead of watching the knobs. It took me a long time (and I'm still working on it) to trust that the sound coming from my monitors was what was going to sound good, regardless of settings. I record em a little darker, a lot less gain-y, and with far less low end than I used to.

Knowing your amps, cabinets, and guitars is really important as well. I try not to think in terms of "oh, strat into Plexi" or "tele into Twin", but think "jangly into clean on the edge of breakup" which may mean my Gretsch Bo Diddley into a Hiwatt, a Danelectro into a Diezel (Einstein cleans, ftw), a tele in the middle position out of phase (snarky!) into a Marshall, who knows. I try to get the sound, and not worry about how I get it.
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19th February 2007
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On one song I am tracking the guitar is huge but at first I tried everything still didn't sound right. Time was passing and I still was trying to get the song going I then just went straight into the interface and concentrated on my playing watching my phrasing etc. The more control I played with the better the sound no bad notes taking up headroom.

I layered the first track but played it a little different each time about 3 tracks. Panned hard left and hard right and blended the last part with the left channel. Grouped those tracks and inserted Vintage Warmer and Roger Nichols Finis across that group buss and it was Wow! I watched a friend tame some unruly tracks he was working on with it so I went and bought it to use on a few things. I put it to work on that group buss and it was fat city.

Still the plugs didn't touch the signal until after it was recorded so it was mostly fingers that got the sound i was hearing in my head. I think I'm getting simple in my old age and i'm trying more a more musical approach to get what I want.

Smitty
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19th February 2007
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I started putting my POD XT through a Groove Tubes Vipre. No one has thought my guitar sounds were modeled since.
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19th February 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sprouseod View Post
royer 121 into tg2
yep. (add a 57 or 421 for more bite.. make sure they're in-phase)
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19th February 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by troggg View Post
I started putting my POD XT through a Groove Tubes Vipre. No one has thought my guitar sounds were modeled since.
Can you post some examples?
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did a session this weekend with some guys who wouldn't believe that they should track with the gain turned waaaaaay down and without reverb on the amp. Luckily I used the IBP's buffered output from the guitar to the amp in the other room and used that DI signal into the PodXT for 50%+ of the tracks. Sometimes I prefer good modelled to good tube amp with horrible settings.

Oh yeah, 57 and 121 parallel with speaker on the edge of the magnet rules.

Herwig
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My tones are 1000% better since i bought a pacifica and a royer 121 to pair up with my trusty '57.

Each mic into a channel of the pacifica, channel PAD IN, 121 dead center, sweep the 57 for optimal bigness.

Just a killer combo imo


I also learnt a lot from the slipperman tread!
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19th February 2007
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just to be contrarian....lol.....
yes ive had good guitar traks thru a nice pre etc.....a good chain....
but on several occasions ive had a recorded track i liked
when i was winking/fooling around. sometimes for giggles even........oh...shock.....horror....blasphemy.....useing a cassette deck mic pre.....
or some cheapo mic pre to boost the mic level on the way to the daw.
i'm not convinced its just the "having a 3k mic pre" .....
the amp n guitar n settings play a big part imho.
sometimes ive had great tracks out of junk guitars n amps also.
so ive come to the conclusion its about working hard to finding the magical settings that sound right...and mic positioning often.
just my freeezing up here in canada opinion.
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19th February 2007
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The only real wow factor to me is having a source that matches the song. Not every song is going to benefit from a big huge solo'd sound because you can't always fit it in the mix. If you have reasonably good gear the player and source will always be the key.

Concerning gear, a good DI track, re-amp devices and ribbon mics help acheive what I need in the mix.

War
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19th February 2007
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This thread is one of many making me want to splash out on the r121.
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19th February 2007
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Using the Royer and high end pres are great, but really, the thing that made me go from OK to wow, was actually learning to determine what a "good" guitar sound really was in the studio. You can spend hours dialing in the monster guitar sound, but really, is it going to sit well in the mix? Knowing what sound will work is so key to the process and often overlooked.

m
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my approach is simplicity. do whatever is necessary to get the amp to sound good in the room, and then sweep the speaker with whatever mic i feel like using that day. if i wanna get crazy, i'll spend a little more time to put up a distant room mic or a second close mic, but i've noticed (especially lately) that i'm using fewer and fewer printed tracks than i used to, and it's getting easier to work with.

oh, and i'm almost always taking a DI now "just in case" things don't work out.
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19th February 2007
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Quote:
Tracking guitars to DAW: What have you learned that made them go from "ok" to "WOW"?
AEA R-84

I am also a big fan of taking a DI for possible reamping.

my favorite thing about reamping is waiting until I am mixing to do it, and then tweaking the amp/mic in context as a way of eq'ing the track.
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Nobody's posted this yet so I'll chime in:

1) Hanging a LDC mic behind the guitar amp (open- or semi-open back amp), in addition to the dynamic on the cone.

Recording those two sources to discrete channels, panning to taste, EQing to taste.

As far as which mics, pres, etc., I don't torture myself over that stuff. Having a good guitar tech set up the axe makes much more of a difference than all those factors combined, AFAIK.

2) Hire a good guitar tech!

-Eric @ Studio Curve Dominant
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19th February 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by troggg View Post
I started putting my POD XT through a Groove Tubes Vipre. No one has thought my guitar sounds were modeled since.
ok, well post em'





hardcore anti-modeling slut sits back down.
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Another vote for ribbons. I've using the R-122 (for punch and body) and a Rode NT2 (for high end detail instead of EQing) and I'd never been happier with my guitar sounds.
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