My guitar recordings sound terrible...why?
Old 2nd August 2009
  #1
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My guitar recordings sound terrible...why?

Hey guys

I mostly recorded acoustic stuff in the past, so this hasn't been a problem, but lately I've been recording indie rock type stuff and I just CANT get a decent sound. I know its probably a combination of things, but I'm wondering what you think is the BIGGEST thing holding me back.

now before you say that its because DI is terrible

The samples I've heard from other users on this forum, as well as from the logic / guitar rig website absolutely blow away my recordings. I feel like its maybe because I'm using such a crummy guitar? the only electric I have is a squire strat.

also, I'm not looking for a "great" sound. I'm looking for something kind of lofi, but not the complete mud I am getting.

here are some samples of the sound I want

YouTube - Summer Babe
YouTube - Polar Opposites - Modest Mouse

heres the terrible sound that I have.

I made this using logic 9/amp designer and pedalboard (for the distortion) as you can hear, I can get an ok clean sound, but the distortion is abhorrent.
Attached Files
File Type: mp3 test guitar .mp3 (2.09 MB, 2994 views)
Old 2nd August 2009
  #2
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You won't get a sound like the 2 youtube videos you posted unless you mic up an amp. I don't know what you used for the second half of your sample you posted, but you're right it is pretty ugly...It doesn't sound like it's out of an amp at all. Try a demo of Amplitude Fender. I put a link below. It's my favorite amp simulator.

AmpliTube FenderĀ®
Old 2nd August 2009
  #3
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Barish's Avatar
 

Change one of these until you get it right first acoustically, and then in the electronic domain:

Arrangement
Amp/FX chain
Position in the room
Room
Guitar
Guitarist
Mic position
Mic selection/combination
Mic cable
Mic Pre
Recorder
Engineer
Song
Occupation

B.
Old 2nd August 2009
  #4
901
Gear maniac
 

I have the feeling, that there is no speaker simulation applied to it. I just ran it through Voxengo Boogex with everything left flat except for the speaker impulse response and it sounded much better instantly.
Boogex is free I believe.
Old 2nd August 2009
  #5
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Umm something is clearly wrong here. I can hear the clean guitar underneath the distortion. It sounds like a blend of clean/dist rather than a full-on distorted tone. It's also reaaaaally grainy and digital sounding.

You can mess around with amp simulation software all day long, and in fact, ive had some good luck with Amp Farm, Sansamp PSA-1, and Amplitube in the past, but IMO nothing is going to sound like a guitar plugged into a cranked up amp.

Also, there is something to be said (actually quite a bit to be said) about where the sound originates and how. This being your fingers, your playing, and your instrument.

I hear a lot of GREAT distorted guitar recordings done by guys here on Gearslutz as well and i'd be willing to bet that the majority of them were done with well-crafted and at least semi-expensive guitars. If not straight up bad boy guitars.

If you have the ability where you live to crank up an amp and record it, by all means i think that is your next step. Small amps are good for recording, and also not terribly expensive. So go for it. And after that, if you at some point add a high-quality guitar to the mix, you can expect a big smile on your face as your tone and recorded sound improves that much more.
Old 2nd August 2009
  #6
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I do have an amp and a 57...I've never tried it though. A mix of not wanting to piss off my neighbors and just sort of hoping I could replicate it with DI. I have a Line 6 spider 2 30w...someone told me it was ok but Idk anything about amps...soo....
Old 2nd August 2009
  #7
RTR
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iankaravas View Post
I do have an amp and a 57...I've never tried it though. A mix of not wanting to piss off my neighbors and just sort of hoping I could replicate it with DI. I have a Line 6 spider 2 30w...someone told me it was ok but Idk anything about amps...soo....
You don't necessarily have to crank the amp to get a good sound!
Old 2nd August 2009
  #8
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The best indie sound is achieved by splitting the signal and using 2 different amps together with different mics.

If you are using software only I would split the signal or copy it to different tracks and use different instances of the amp sim with different settings and play with panning and slipping by samples. Even though slipping tracks by samples will only mimic minimum of 3mm movement of a mic, good results can be had..

Then do a double track.


What are you using as a DI... A good quality DI with clean gain can make a big difference in the mud factor... and adjust the treble and choose the right pickup to get a non muddy sound...
Old 2nd August 2009
  #9
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You absolutely have to play the guitar through a tube amp and mic that.

The marriage between the guitar and the amp and mic is what you've been listening to all these years when you listen to your heroes.

Always correct problems at the source if you can, instead of recording it bad and spending weeks twiddling knobs.

I found this website that changed my life last year and he talks about the effect of lacquer on sound, and specifically if he can get a Squire to sound ok by finishing it in non-plastic, and I think he is right:

Mother of Tone - The Effect of Lacquer

Would you cover a violin in Saran Wrap?

It's a no brainer really, stupid obvious and Stradivarius and the great violin makers always talked about the importance of finish - it's true, the finish is ultra important.

Sand the guitar and refinish it, put on a wood pick guard, play it through a tube amp and mic it - that's my solution.

Last edited by DarrinStephens; 2nd August 2009 at 01:33 PM.. Reason: hi hat
Old 2nd August 2009
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DarrinStephens View Post

I found this website that changed my life last year and he talks about the effect of lacquer on sound, and specifically if he can get a Squire to sound ok by finishing it in non-plastic, and I think he is right:

Mother of Tone - The Effect of Lacquer
thats also the guy that invented Tube O Lator Lacquer

,,,,,,,,,
Old 2nd August 2009
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Teddy Ray View Post
thats also the guy that invented Tube O Lator Lacquer

,,,,,,,,,

I dont get it but I think its funny.
Old 2nd August 2009
  #12
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarrinStephens View Post
You absolutely have to play the guitar through a tube amp and mic that.

The marriage between the guitar and the amp and mic is what you've been listening to all these years when you listen to your heroes.

Always correct problems at the source if you can, instead of recording it bad and spending weeks twiddling knobs.

I found this website that changed my life last year and he talks about the effect of lacquer on sound, and specifically if he can get a Squire to sound ok by finishing it in non-plastic, and I think he is right:

Mother of Tone - The Effect of Lacquer

Would you cover a violin in Saran Wrap?

It's a no brainer really, stupid obvious and Stradivarius and the great violin makers always talked about the importance of finish - it's true, the finish is ultra important.

Sand the guitar and refinish it, put on a wood pick guard, play it through a tube amp and mic it - that's my solution.
why should i believe this guy. seems sort of excessive and rediculous. the resin he uses only costs a couple bucks...you think if it were so important the guitar makers would use it.
Old 2nd August 2009
  #13
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metalfan8806's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by iankaravas View Post
why should i believe this guy. seems sort of excessive and rediculous. the resin he uses only costs a couple bucks...you think if it were so important the guitar makers would use it.
yeah agreed....little too excessive of a suggestion. considering he said he has a SQUIRE STRAT...i doubt he's gonna put all that time and work into it haha


try using a JDI DI box...or hell...even a POD would get you in decent sounding. but in my opinion- I truly believe in the magic of a speaker and mic setup
but i understand the desire to be able to go direct.


and btw..there is absolutely no way you are going to sound like Modest Mouse with that setup lol
just thought I'd throw that out there
Old 2nd August 2009
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RTR View Post
You don't necessarily have to crank the amp to get a good sound!

this is true. but in either case- i would look into a better amp than a line 6 anyways.

but yeah...since we're not talking tube amps and such...the loudness is not such a large issue...
Old 2nd August 2009
  #15
Gear Head
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iankaravas View Post
why should i believe this guy. seems sort of excessive and rediculous. the resin he uses only costs a couple bucks...you think if it were so important the guitar makers would use it.
I think that the reason the guitar makers don't use it is the same reason Henry Ford went to DuPont lacquer - because lacquer dries in minutes and what I'm talking about takes weeks, and sometimes months to dry, so there's no money in it.

But the high end violin makers still spend lots and lots of time on the finish and don't use the suffocating plastic finishes.

The thought that the finish is crucial is something the fine violin makers have known for centuries. You wouldn't think it is important as it is.
Old 2nd August 2009
  #16
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[QUOTE=metalfan8806;4436768]yeah agreed....little too excessive of a suggestion. considering he said he has a SQUIRE STRAT...i doubt he's gonna put all that time and work into it haha... /QUOTE]

The website was exactly about doing it to a Strat, and about how it made even a POS guitar ok.

I understand why people are skeptical, and realize that very few people will put in the time.

I've never done a guitar, but have done several speaker cabinets and it's the biggest sound improvement I've ever come across - the sound is completely missing any harshness - a night and day difference.
Old 2nd August 2009
  #17
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[QUOTE=DarrinStephens;4436818]
Quote:
Originally Posted by metalfan8806 View Post
yeah agreed....little too excessive of a suggestion. considering he said he has a SQUIRE STRAT...i doubt he's gonna put all that time and work into it haha... /QUOTE]

The website was exactly about doing it to a Strat, and about how it made even a POS guitar ok.

I understand why people are skeptical, and realize that very few people will put in the time.

I've never done a guitar, but have done several speaker cabinets and it's the biggest sound improvement I've ever come across - the sound is completely missing any harshness - a night and day difference.
the thing about this guy is that he doesn't even bother to mention the effect of the crummy pickups the squire strat comes with. I cant believe that you can get a great sound out of a squire strat just by changing the finish alone, and leaving those bad stock pickups in there.
Old 2nd August 2009
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by metalfan8806 View Post
try using a JDI DI box...or hell...even a POD would get you in decent sounding. but in my opinion- I truly believe in the magic of a speaker and mic setup
but i understand the desire to be able to go direct.

and btw..there is absolutely no way you are going to sound like Modest Mouse with that setup lol
just thought I'd throw that out there
why is a pod going to be so much butter than my interface? I cant imagine using one would make any substantial difference. Also, The lonesome crowded west was recorded In Issac brocks apartment on really crummy gear. maybe your talking about the new modest mouse which is pretty high-fi stuff...but Im talking about the old modest mouse...not exactly a sound that requires any sort of budget to replicate.

and whats so bad about my setup?

as far as I know amp>57>my interface is more than enough to get a great sound.
Old 2nd August 2009
  #19
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allencollins's Avatar
 

the first part of the clip sound good
the second half sounds like some type of clipping of sorts
Old 2nd August 2009
  #20
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u b k's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by iankaravas View Post
but Im talking about the old modest mouse...not exactly a sound that requires any sort of budget to replicate.

That was '97, which means that if it was done on crummy gear it was a different kind of crummy gear. Namely, analog.


Quote:
Originally Posted by iankaravas View Post
as far as I know amp>57>my interface is more than enough to get a great sound.

As far as you 'know', or as far as you 'think'? Knowledge is born of experience, and it sounds like you have yet to experience the getting of the great sounds you're after.

Here's what I hear in the old modest mouse that is absent from your clip: energetic, uninhibited performances by multiple musicians in a collaborative environment resulting in completed works. There are no guitar sounds, there are only songs. In contrast, what I hear first and foremost in your clip is an isolated guitar track played hesitantly, with a lack of conviction. No gear in the world will save you from a lack of conviction.

If you're going to evaluate a sound, what matters most is having a context within which to put it. Only then can evaluations be made that are useful, because a single piece of the puzzle is meaningless and worthless without the other pieces. When you've got a few dozen or a few hundred completed songs/mixes/arrangements/performances under your belt, you'll have the experience and knowledge to know in advance what a sound needs to be. Until then, I urge you to not get hung up on the tiny details of sonics and instead keep your focus on the larger picture.

And work with other humans. Modest Mouse did not, and *could* not, have made that record without every other member of the band adding their part, and a separate engineer, and (I'm guessing here) a producer as well. Of all the records you own and adore, how many were made at home by one guy? Maybe there's a reason for that?


Gregory Scott - ubk
.
Old 2nd August 2009
  #21
Gear nut
 

hey man,

I'll try to give you some honest advice since your a newbie and at least your trying to get some help.

You will never get the sound you want with the setup you have. The first thing you need to do is get a decent amp. This doesnt mean a big amp. Just a good one. You could get a small one or two speaker combo amp of quality that could do you well with. DI will never get you rock n roll guitar sounds. I dont care what type of amp sim you have.

That guitar you have sucks. I think there are more important things in your chain that you could change first before the guitar, but you should look at another guitar. With that said, there are a lot of guys that use cheap guitars for that lo fi sound, but still have a good recording chain that gets them a certain sound.

Just get a cheap sm57 to mic your amp up with. There are better options for mics but considering your setup, the 57 will be a major upgrade and will serve you well.

get a decent mic pre and conversion. Do some research and you will find one that will suit your needs.

This will cost you money. But, what if you sold your guitar and your amp to get some quick cash. This would get you some money to put toward your project. Then you would pay the difference for a better guitar and amp. Then you could just buy a cheap used 57 and come out good. Then just save your money for a good pre and conversion(your front end) and be in business. This will yeild you much better results. I record awesome rock guitar sounds all the time and I love a good guitar sound on a rock project. This is important to me and to most others that do the same.

Hope this helps and good luck in your journey.
Old 2nd August 2009
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vanman4254 View Post
hey man,

I'll try to give you some honest advice since your a newbie and at least your trying to get some help.

You will never get the sound you want with the setup you have. The first thing you need to do is get a decent amp. This doesnt mean a big amp. Just a good one. You could get a small one or two speaker combo amp of quality that could do you well with. DI will never get you rock n roll guitar sounds. I dont care what type of amp sim you have.

That guitar you have sucks. I think there are more important things in your chain that you could change first before the guitar, but you should look at another guitar. With that said, there are a lot of guys that use cheap guitars for that lo fi sound, but still have a good recording chain that gets them a certain sound.

Just get a cheap sm57 to mic your amp up with. There are better options for mics but considering your setup, the 57 will be a major upgrade and will serve you well.

get a decent mic pre and conversion. Do some research and you will find one that will suit your needs.

This will cost you money. But, what if you sold your guitar and your amp to get some quick cash. This would get you some money to put toward your project. Then you would pay the difference for a better guitar and amp. Then you could just buy a cheap used 57 and come out good. Then just save your money for a good pre and conversion(your front end) and be in business. This will yeild you much better results. I record awesome rock guitar sounds all the time and I love a good guitar sound on a rock project. This is important to me and to most others that do the same.

Hope this helps and good luck in your journey.
I appreciate your response, but it is annoying when people don't read the posters posts/any bit of the thread. first, I am not a newbie to recording, I'm just a newbie when It comes specifically to electric guitar. second, I have a 57, (actually I have two) and I have been through a fair share of other recording gear. I'm not looking to get a standalone mic pre right now, because as far as I'm concerned the pres in the profire are pretty damn good (ask around that's the general consensus, at least for the price they blow away everything in that range with the exception of the duet). Maybe a new amp is in order, I got both the amp and the guitar for free, so im not complaining. thanks for the recommendation.
Old 3rd August 2009
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by u b k View Post
That was '97, which means that if it was done on crummy gear it was a different kind of crummy gear. Namely, analog.





As far as you 'know', or as far as you 'think'? Knowledge is born of experience, and it sounds like you have yet to experience the getting of the great sounds you're after.

Here's what I hear in the old modest mouse that is absent from your clip: energetic, uninhibited performances by multiple musicians in a collaborative environment resulting in completed works. There are no guitar sounds, there are only songs. In contrast, what I hear first and foremost in your clip is an isolated guitar track played hesitantly, with a lack of conviction. No gear in the world will save you from a lack of conviction.

If you're going to evaluate a sound, what matters most is having a context within which to put it. Only then can evaluations be made that are useful, because a single piece of the puzzle is meaningless and worthless without the other pieces. When you've got a few dozen or a few hundred completed songs/mixes/arrangements/performances under your belt, you'll have the experience and knowledge to know in advance what a sound needs to be. Until then, I urge you to not get hung up on the tiny details of sonics and instead keep your focus on the larger picture.

And work with other humans. Modest Mouse did not, and *could* not, have made that record without every other member of the band adding their part, and a separate engineer, and (I'm guessing here) a producer as well. Of all the records you own and adore, how many were made at home by one guy? Maybe there's a reason for that?


Gregory Scott - ubk
.
well...mr. pretentious.

first off all the guitar clip I recorded was just a ****ing sound clip. excuse me for not posting the worlds greatest guitar riff. I recorded it in a few minutes, and I was asking about the sound quality, not the performance. no one else seemed to have any problem with it.

second, I have written and recorded a good hundred plus songs. who the hell are you to judge how many songs I've made in my career based off of a 30 second clip?

third, **** you and the cult of "the real band sound". How many of my favorite musicians recorded everything themselves? nearly all of them.

elliott smith, sufjan stevens, zach condon (beirut), The microphones (phil elverum), Iron & wine, Bon Iver. each of those artist plays and records all of their own instruments (with the exception of the 2nd Beirut album and the new Iron & wine). are you going to tell me that Elliott smiths music sounds like shit because he wasn't playing with other humans? Sufjan played every single instrument on this first 4 albums. ( and over 10 different instruments were on his first album) **** other humans.

that being said I watched your fatso video and it sounds amazing. (especially when you thicken the drums)
Old 3rd August 2009
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iankaravas View Post
**** you and the cult of "the real band sound".
Easy does it there, lad.

You're getting some good advise here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by u b k View Post
I urge you to not get hung up on the tiny details of sonics and instead keep your focus on the larger picture.
Old 3rd August 2009
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unclenny View Post
Easy does it there, lad.

You're getting some good advise here.
I understand that, but the distortion sound I'm getting is so bad its like playing a completely different instrument. I'm not going to start writing tracks based around that sound. That would be like writing songs on piano to be recorded on banjo. Its fine for transposing melodies, I can do that with no problem, I actually write all my songs on my acoustic before I record them, but when youre trying to get a similar sonic quality its just ********. I want to have the sound first, so I can shape the songs around that sound.
Old 3rd August 2009
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iankaravas View Post
well...mr. pretentious.

first off all the guitar clip I recorded was just a ****ing sound clip. excuse me for not posting the worlds greatest guitar riff. I recorded it in a few minutes, and I was asking about the sound quality, not the performance. no one else seemed to have any problem with it.
I think the point that Greg was making and that you might be missing is that sound quality and performance are interrelated. A bad performance will often yield crappy sound quality. It just seems to work that way a lot.

Brad
Old 3rd August 2009
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad McGowan View Post
I think the point that Greg was making and that you might be missing is that sound quality and performance are interrelated. A bad performance will often yield crappy sound quality. It just seems to work that way a lot.

Brad
right, I think its a good point, but its not impossible to distinguish the two, in fact i think its very easy. I dont care how amazing your performance is, if your guitar is completely out of tune, its completely out of tune.
Old 3rd August 2009
  #28
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An electric guitar sound is a sum of it's part. If you subtract one of the parts, say an amp in this case, you are limiting yourself from getting a guitar tone you have dug over the years.

Since you have an amp and a mic, what is the big deal of trying to use those tools. You might find that they work better for you.

You can also try to use an amp sim, demo them all and see which one fits you best.
Old 3rd August 2009
  #29
Gear interested
 

If you must go direct (being in an apartment and all), why not try some real pedals before your direct direct-in. If I recall correctly Brock Isaac uses a Boss Blues Driver (BD-2) several Boss Delay pedals and ZVEX superduper 2 in 1. Adding some decent pedals might yield something closer to what you want.

I've seen Brock Isaac using a fender twin reverb and a super six reverb (with and a/b/y selector) and while I don't know what he used on Polar Opposites I would imagine it was something similar (fender w/reverb). The amps were played through 6x10. You could try one of those amps if you want (I'd imagine that the line 6 might have a fender-ish tone) and then try adding some verb and delay, which is a pretty big part of Modest Mouse's guitar tone.
Old 3rd August 2009
  #30
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by enfiladed View Post
If you must go direct (being in an apartment and all), why not try some real pedals before your direct direct-in. If I recall correctly Brock Isaac uses a Boss Blues Driver (BD-2) several Boss Delay pedals and ZVEX superduper 2 in 1. Adding some decent pedals might yield something closer to what you want.

I've seen Brock Isaac using a fender twin reverb and a super six reverb (with and a/b/y selector) and while I don't know what he used on Polar Opposites I would imagine it was something similar (fender w/reverb). The amps were played through 6x10. You could try one of those amps if you want (I'd imagine that the line 6 might have a fender-ish tone) and then try adding some verb and delay, which is a pretty big part of Modest Mouse's guitar tone.
great post, thanks

where did you find all this out?

im not looking to rip them off exactly, i just like that messy chaotic sound.
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