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Passion and Warfare tone quest - part ii
Old 5th June 2017
  #1
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Passion and Warfare tone quest - part ii

My obsessive chasing-the-dragon Vai tonal quest continues here. Where previously (The Passion and Warfare tone challenge - prizes up to $777 USD) I wanted to do it mostly in the box with simulations, I feel like I hit a wall and decided to reach further with a full suite of analog gear selected from what Vai lists in the TAB book for Passion and Warfare. The gear has mostly arrived (photos below)!

I aim to only simulate reverbs and cabinet/mics (using either Torpedo Studio or Suhr reactive load and then one of Kemper/Axe FX/Torpedo/Plugins with cabinet IRs).

Based on the 1991 Guitar World interview "In the studio, I'm currently using a Series 900 head through a Marshall power amp" and the 1991 video of him first playing FTLOG, I've guessing he meant the 1990 JCM900 dual reverb and a Marshall 9005 power amp.

I've made some substitutions mostly for cost and rarity. Warm Audio for the LA2A and Pultecs. RND542 for tape simulation, RND551 instead of 'four band neve eq'. I didn't get all 3 types of API eqs - and I read the new ones aren't the same as the old ones. From photos of the mothership studio I have to guess that he had Rev H 1176s, so I have a pair of those.

Might take me a while to get this all built into the Argosy desk and wired up correctly. I messed up the cabling and bought DB25 extenders instead of snakes, so I can't plug much into the patch bay yet. And the H3000 hums. But I hope to share some results and compare to Kemper-only profiles and my previous attempts soon---I'll share those here.
Attached Thumbnails
Passion and Warfare tone quest - part ii-img_1030.jpg   Passion and Warfare tone quest - part ii-img_1032.jpg   Passion and Warfare tone quest - part ii-img_1033.jpg   Passion and Warfare tone quest - part ii-img_1034.jpg  
Old 5th June 2017
  #2
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Also: went with the Portico 5043 instead of a 33609, and didn't get a massenburg GML8200 or yamaha graphic EQ. Yet.
Old 6th June 2017
  #3
RiF
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Did I get it right that you will not use a real cab and mic but a cabinet simulator of some sort?

You went into deep detail but you skip the one part that has the absolute biggest influence on the tone (besides Mr Vai himself), imo.
Old 6th June 2017
  #4
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Thanks for your reply.

Yes, I've decided to still try to simulate Vai's cabinets and mics for several reasons:
1) I can't run a 4x12 cabinet with a JCM at 5 in my home studio.
2) Scott Henderson and Pete Thorn give convincing demonstrations of the accuracy of linear convolution IRs with a reactive load box (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kwFsqlPS4YY)
3) I think the gear list in PAW is wrong about speaker choice - Vai stated two 4x12 cabinets with 30W celestions and 57/421 mics, but I'm convinced he was using 25W greenbacks.
4) I don't hear the speakers crying with breakup, so I'm not convinced he pushed the cabinets to the point where non-linear speaker/mic response is a dominant factor.

I've only read one paper on speaker non-linearlity (Nonlinear modeling of a guitar loudspeaker cabinet. - TKK Acoustics), but the measured behaviours didn't look too extreme to me, so I'm hopeful I can get away with this approximation and get somewhere I'm personally happy with. I intend to reverse engineer a cabinet/mic response using the method described in my previous thread on the topic.

To summarize for new readers, I'm convinced he used greenbacks because this profile from redwirez of G12M w/ 421 matches spectra extracted from isolated guitar notes on PAW far better than any 30W celestion profile I tried (I have 1000s of them).

(up to low-frequency adjustments accountable for by EQ). I haven't found any 30W 57 or 421 profiles that fall off at 5k like that.

My method of reverse engineering the cab/mic IR from the 8th bar of The Riddle seems to get the sustained frequency spectra of Vai's notes reasonably close. Compare the top two tracks here:
https://soundcloud.com/eugtone/sets/...nes-on-passion
What I hear that is wrong with my take is (besides not playing like Vai) the attack and dynamics. I'm more pleased with the dynamics of real analog LA3As, 1176s, and tape saturation since switching from plugin emulations. I'm hopeful that adding the real Marshalls will take it the extra step, but I'll need to redo the IR solves with all this gear adding extra harmonics to the test signal.
Old 6th June 2017
  #5
RiF
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If I were as passionate as you, I'd get the cab and mic(s) and either shoot an IR myself or profile the whole thing with a Kemper to play the (approximated) tone later at reasonable volume.
Old 6th June 2017
  #6
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What's the end result of all this? Is this what you plan to play live or record with this? Just curious.
Old 6th June 2017
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RiF View Post
If I were as passionate as you, I'd get the cab and mic(s) and either shoot an IR myself or profile the whole thing with a Kemper to play the (approximated) tone later at reasonable volume.
I'd have to track down 1960A and 1960B JCM900 cabinets in New Zealand, with Vintage 30, Greenbacks each and try a zillion combinations of mic placements and room setups. That much passion would lead to some warfare with my neighbors and wife.
Old 6th June 2017
  #8
RiF
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eugtone View Post
That much passion would lead to some warfare with my neighbors and wife.
LOL!
Old 6th June 2017
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alndln View Post
What's the end result of all this? Is this what you plan to play live or record with this? Just curious.
Twofold: one is scientific - to better understand what I hear and reproduce it. I just really like those guitar sounds and don't hear anything just like it on any other album. (Slip of the tongue is the closest, but without the over-the-top compression that PAW has).

Second: to record my own music in my studio with this gear. That's it.
Old 8th June 2017
  #10
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Urei compressors add a ton of harmonics

Didn't realize how much compressors were lighting up additional harmonics. Really changes the tone in a beautiful way.

These samples compare an old Kemper profile on its own (+EMT verb) vs the same take into an LA3A, 1176, and into a RND 542 tape saturator.
Attached Files

AnalogTone_AB_Kemper.mp3 (1.42 MB, 1988 views)

AnalogTone_AB_Kemper_LA3A_1176_tape.mp3 (1.42 MB, 1968 views)

Old 16th June 2017
  #11
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Happy with my analog LA-3As

It is NOT in my head, real LA-3As add a lot of interesting harmonic structure to a signal when it is being heavily compressed, and plugin emulations have this aspect wrong. details here: LA3A shootout: dual Urei hardware vs UAD / Waves / Black Rooster plugins - null tests

High gain distorted guitar is all about harmonic balance. Vai was likely slamming LA3A and 1176s on PAW and the harmonic overtones those add have a lot to do with the sound I'm chasing. I'm not convinced a Kemper could profile this, but if I can get closer with the JCM and marshall 9005 and this gear, i'll try a profile to see.
Old 16th June 2017
  #12
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Honestly, as a computer scientist, shocked with these results. Isn't a sine wave the FIRST thing you try when modeling hardware?
Old 16th June 2017
  #13
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Eug,

I think a bit component is Ibanez guitars with blaze II pick ups or paf pro into DS-1, or Tube screamer (or both in some cases) feeding marshall amp. I agree it sounds like greenbacks. Everything sounds closed mic to me.

After that is just too much passion fruit for me.

Also the DS-1 from that era have a different tone that then current production. MIJ DS-1 are less harsh and fatter overall. check out analogman for details.
Old 16th June 2017
  #14
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Also I seem to recall that blue powder was a bogner Ecstasy but I could be wrong.
Old 16th June 2017
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fusionid View Post
Eug,

I think a bit component is Ibanez guitars with blaze II pick ups or paf pro into DS-1, or Tube screamer (or both in some cases) feeding marshall amp. I agree it sounds like greenbacks. Everything sounds closed mic to me.

After that is just too much passion fruit for me.

Also the DS-1 from that era have a different tone that then current production. MIJ DS-1 are less harsh and fatter overall. check out analogman for details.
Agree for the most part, although I haven't heard Vai or others talk about tube screamers on PAW before.

I'm confident I have the right guitars. I have a 1988 JEM77FP and 1990 UVMC with edge trem. But my DS-1, SD-1, mxr distortion and cry baby wah are all new. Besides the DS-1, how different do you think these pedals will be from their 25-year-older versions?
Old 17th June 2017
  #16
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I think you are probably right. Tube screamer may be a late addition to Vai's rig.
I know for sure nothing sounds like the original whammy I since that chip is no longer made. I don't know about the others.

I heard the ibanez jemini, one side is basically a MIJ DS-1 but I don't know for certain.
Old 18th June 2017
  #17
RiF
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eugtone View Post
But my DS-1, SD-1, mxr distortion and cry baby wah are all new. Besides the DS-1, how different do you think these pedals will be from their 25-year-older versions?
My SD-1 is from 1984. You can send me DI-recordings and I'll "reamp" them through my unit on different settings so you can compare it to yours.
Not perfect, but it might give you a hint on how different they are (or not).
Old 18th June 2017
  #18
RiF
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P.S.: I would even borrow you mine, but shipping-costs from Germany to NZ (and back!) pretty much kill the idea.
Old 3rd July 2017
  #19
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JCM900 Dual reverb into Marshall 9005 rocks

I finally got my Suhr reactive load box today, and with two reactive loads, I can safely run both the 1990 JCM 900 dual reverb and the 9005 power amp as Vai described in the 1991 guitar world interview. First reaction after two hours of playing around: AWESOME. I think this is it. I understand now why he used the 9005 instead of the poweramp in the JCM. Something special happening here.

I have some work to redo the cabinet IR back solve with this setup, but I didn't get around to it yet because I had so much fun just playing into this signal chain. Tube awesomeness.

I'm now more confident than ever that this setup with the cry baby wah and DS-1, SD-1 and MXR distortion+ are the majority of the tones on PAW that I love.

Audio samples soon.
Attached Thumbnails
Passion and Warfare tone quest - part ii-img_1183.jpg  
Old 5th July 2017
  #20
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I have 10X more respect for Vai's engineering than I do his playing or composition on PAW. Guitar tone and mixing seems impossible most days. I've done some pretty challenging things with great success before but just getting an exciting clear cutthroat guitar tone that I still love for 5 days in a row is the hardest challenge I've undertaken. Ugh. Just don't get how Vai turned this gear into that sound.
Old 6th July 2017
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by eugtone View Post
It is NOT in my head, real LA-3As add a lot of interesting harmonic structure to a signal when it is being heavily compressed, and plugin emulations have this aspect wrong. details here: LA3A shootout: dual Urei hardware vs UAD / Waves / Black Rooster plugins - null tests

High gain distorted guitar is all about harmonic balance. Vai was likely slamming LA3A and 1176s on PAW and the harmonic overtones those add have a lot to do with the sound I'm chasing.
No, it is NOT in your head.
And there are NO compressor plugins that really sound like the hardware they're allegedly modeling. NONE. Not even UA's emulations of their own hardware. The thing is that all hardware comps do things that are not in the design spec, so modeling what the box is supposed to be doing only gets part of it - and the other stuff can be fiendishly difficult to impossible to figure out, partly because it's unintentional stuff that just happens. You can't model something if you don't really understand what it is.

Quote:
I'm not convinced a Kemper could profile this, but if I can get closer with the JCM and marshall 9005 and this gear, i'll try a profile to see.
I very seriously doubt that you'll ever find a commercially available profile that will do what you want, you'd probably have to roll your own.
Old 10th July 2017
  #22
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DS-1 or SD-1?

Which one does it look like to you in the 1992 expo villa performance?
Attached Thumbnails
Passion and Warfare tone quest - part ii-screen-shot-2017-07-09-3.29.17-pm.png   Passion and Warfare tone quest - part ii-screen-shot-2017-07-09-3.29.26-pm.png   Passion and Warfare tone quest - part ii-screen-shot-2017-07-09-3.28.05-pm.jpg   Passion and Warfare tone quest - part ii-screen-shot-2017-07-09-3.28.15-pm.png  
Old 10th July 2017
  #23
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I assume what is next to it, besides the wah, is a midi switch for the H3000s.
Old 14th July 2017
  #24
Quote:
Originally Posted by eugtone View Post
I have 10X more respect for Vai's engineering than I do his playing or composition on PAW. Guitar tone and mixing seems impossible most days. I've done some pretty challenging things with great success before but just getting an exciting clear cutthroat guitar tone that I still love for 5 days in a row is the hardest challenge I've undertaken. Ugh. Just don't get how Vai turned this gear into that sound.
I would assume that he simply twisted knobs until it sounded right to him. It's actually MUCH harder when you're trying to match a preexisting sound.
Old 14th July 2017
  #25
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Thanks John, but I disagree. I'm not just after Vai's tone. Yeah, sure, its one of my faves, but I just want ANY sound that I love 5 days later.

1) PAW has a TON of energy in 400Hz - 1500Hz - I just don't get it. The first thing I want to do is scoop out the boxy/honkey sounds in that range, but it ends up thin and anemiac. Is there some trick with inductor EQs or limiting I am not aware of?
2) The attack of my notes just sounds like donkey s**t. I guess I gotta keep working on the finger side of tone. It IS getting better. I can be patient. And I do love the Zen of intense focused practice. But I keep going back to The Riddle and it sounds like he has two amps at once or something. There's a purer darker warmer mid range element that seems just completely missing from anything I can make this gear do.
Old 15th July 2017
  #26
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Try a modded ds-1, IMO there were limited options for drives back then and ds-1s sound like ****. The MIJ versions were apparently better. Vai was trying his best with the gear available.
Old 17th July 2017
  #27
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Originally Posted by WinnyP View Post
Try a modded ds-1, IMO there were limited options for drives back then and ds-1s sound like ****. The MIJ versions were apparently better. Vai was trying his best with the gear available.
Yeah, I'll order some MIJ DS-1 and SD-1s. Just in case. Cheap enough to try. There are some comparison videos on youtube of those, it is not night and day, but they are a bit different. So, they won't account for al that I'm missing, but might help.

I don't have a Drawmer Dual Gate. Anyone use those? Any chance the attack setting on the Drawmer was part of Vai's warm attack sound?
Old 17th July 2017
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eugtone View Post
Yeah, I'll order some MIJ DS-1 and SD-1s. Just in case. Cheap enough to try. There are some comparison videos on youtube of those, it is not night and day, but they are a bit different. So, they won't account for al that I'm missing, but might help.
I'd go with the waza sd1, the lower noise would help in standard mode. Also, I didn't read the whole topic but since you're using impulses did you try tape plug'ins?
Old 17th July 2017
  #29
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Originally Posted by cooker View Post
did you try tape plug'ins?
I'm using Rupert Neve Designs 542s (and also try UAD Studer plugin now and then)
Old 17th July 2017
  #30
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Originally Posted by eugtone View Post
I'm using Rupert Neve Designs 542s (and also try UAD Studer plugin now and then)
Cool, also just an idea but some guitarists those years used aphex exciters and prefered to keep it secret (no idea if vai used one or not). It would be worth trying imho, there are plug-ins you can demo before buy
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