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Eggsmack 28th January 2014 06:29 PM

Rock guitarrrr!!!!!

Every rock album you touch has the biggest, ballsiest guitars. How do you go about engineering a great, huge guitar sound? Do you have a typical approach, or does it differ from amp to amp? What do you focus on when mixing them?

Thanks so much for doing this! :amaze:

SylviaMassy 31st January 2014 02:02 AM

Thank you so much!!! There are few tricks I can share for the best guitar sound. First, you need a good guitar player (haha, duh). If they know how to fret properly, it will be easy to record them without fighting tuning problems. Then you need some quality instruments. They don't have to be boutique brands, just solid, consistent guitars like Gibsons or Fenders. It is nice if the instrument has been set up professionally, but remember, if the player does not fret properly, no guitar will sound in tune. If you find that every guitar the player picks up has intonation problems, it probably isn't the guitar.

Next, I like having the guitar plugged into a splitter box running to two heads and two cabs (as described in the entry about the System Of A Down guitar sound). Best if each head has a different character. For instance, the combination of a warm, round Marshall Plexi head with an aggressive VHT Pittbull head works well. One is midrangy and dynamic, and the other is tight and scooped. Take this into consideration when choosing speaker cabinets also. Having the Marshall Plexi going into a cabinet with vintage 30 watt speakers makes sense, and the VHT going into a cab with modern 75 watt Celestions is a good match. Watch out for too much gain on the guitar amps, let one of the two heads give a lot of note so you can really hear the chords being played without being clouded by distortion.

I put a Shure SM57 and a Sennheiser 421 mic on each cab, micing the speakers very close, at the seam in the center of the speaker cone. I bring up all 4 mics on the console. My preference for mic pre/eq is Neve 1073, just don't gain up the pre too much. Bus all 4 mics into one bus, so you can record a blend of the 4 mics to one track! Correct any phase problems if the blend sounds thin. You'll find that the 57s carry the edge and the 421s add the weight in each cab. Listen to the mic blend on each cab individually then blend both cabs and adjust the combination for each performance you record. For instance, if you want dynamics in a melody line, feature the Marshal Plexi, or if you want ripping rhythms, push up the VHT in the blend.

I like to create a landscape with guitar tracks, using the set-up described above. Here is how it's done:
Listen to the song from beginning to end, mapping out the sections where the guitar story is told by one voice, and where multiple guitars will add an exciting dynamic. I generally have one guitar performance running through a song, adding two more performances in the choruses split wide (and sometimes four). I call these the "doubles" and "triples". I try to have the player match his original performance on the doubles and triples, but we may try different guitars and heads. I especially like adding a pair of baritone guitar performances under the choruses for extra big impact.

Wow, I could just keep going! Thanks for letting me share this with you. Hope it makes sense. I will try to revisit this thread and add more tips and insight. :)

csiking 31st January 2014 07:19 PM

Hey! Thanks for going this.

Any suggestions for those who only have plugins available?


jstummbillig 1st February 2014 01:58 AM

Well, this Q&A is actually pure gold.

FFTT 1st February 2014 02:03 PM

You mention the Plexi and the Pitbull and two different common speaker types.

Any other favorite amp-speaker combinations that you found magical?

I've concentrated mostly on the sound source, Amps, Speakers, Cabs.

I've been testing a bunch of amps and speakers over the last few years, finding three particular speakers to work exceptionally well together in blended pairs.

Original 8 Ohm 200 watt OEM EVM12L blended with a Fane Medusa 150-C
I'm also blending a Fane 150-C with an AXA12 AlNiCo in an oval back hardwood cab as my Brit Jangle Box.

The EVM-12L + Fane AXA12 blend also works very well.

Just wondering if you've had any experience with these speakers?

You've totally spoiled us here!

Thank you so much for your time.

lowpassfilter 2nd February 2014 01:09 AM

Thanks for the info Sylvia. I hope to make it your weed, ca studio one day. Looks really nice and NorCal smaller towns are great.

Do you have Baritone guitars playing same part as regular guitars or for different voicings using the baritone's lower register?

421 is my new favorite guitar amp mic! Will try the blending technique with a 57.

kuasalogam 2nd February 2014 09:51 AM

How do you mic the cabs for room/ambient? (if needed)

FLUKE 5th February 2014 11:28 AM

+1 for the baritone. I do that too!
It sometimes fills the gap between bass and gtr.

Great stuff, Sylvia!
Makes me wanna listen back to some cd's I haven't heard in a long time!


TheLoud1Please 5th February 2014 03:34 PM

Agreed! The guitar sounds you get are purely amazeballs!!!!!

Thanks for sharing some tricks you use :D

feck 5th February 2014 11:59 PM

Thanks for the detailed info Sylvia. I'm curious as to whether you have had much/good experience with the Kemper Profiling Amp yet. I know many producers (myself included) have been using them to great success with multiple amps and heads.

Jsalant 6th February 2014 05:46 AM

Hey sylvia, ever use ribbon mics on your cabs? Or do you ever take DIs simultaneously just in case to reamp?

You worked with my good buddy lou of level six in the early 2000's and the guitars sounded massive, rocnroll!