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Better Guitar Tones For Bedroom Recording Effects Pedals, Units & Accessories
Old 1 week ago
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Thread Starter
Better Guitar Tones For Bedroom Recording

This is for those who cannot blast away with a mic'ed cabinet and want to improve their guitar tones. Please try to hit on a few price points say 500, 1000 before going to Kempers etc.

I want to step up my game with recorded guitar tones. I live in an apartment and can't wont bug my neighbors. I'd really like to put out a 2nd album with more pleasing, complex, interesting sounds.

I don't need a lot of extra bells and whistles - I already have those. Just a good amp/cab tone to build on.

I see 3 approaches:

1.) Amp/cab simulation with a plugin.

2.) External amp emulator.

3.) Real Amp >Cabinet Emulation
3a) line out into something like a Torpedo CAB
3b) speaker out to something that can "step down" the signal

....

1.) Amp/Cab sim plugin - I've used these and they're ok. Currently I use Ampire because it comes with the highest tier Studio One. My results were a little harsh sounding. I sometimes go layered, think Queen or Explosions in the Sky guitars and I wonder if the stacking of guitar tracks emphasized the suposed harsh quality of amp sims?

Do I simply need to work more diligently at mastering this tool which I already have, which is potentially as good as the other options?

2.) Dedicated outboard amp modeler -- is there ANY merit to this for someone with a good DAW with a decent amp plugin? (And if so at what price?) If I get a $1000 Headrush, looks like I get a lot of bells and whistles I don't need.

I've got, for instance, an ol DG Stomp. I've come across some assertions that the new THR is just a DG modeler stuck on a speaker. Idunno. Has amp modeling improved in quality or has it just become cheaper, more varied, and more shrinkable? I mean, I keep seeing products the size of a stomp pedal promising 20 customizable amp types. Are they BETTER? Or are the manufacturers getting better at giving us more models of the same quality? I honestly don't know.

3.) Amp head > cab emulator. --- I don't need a gosh darn $1000 head for playing Madison Square Garden. I just need to record.

I could imagine getting a BluBox or Torpedo CAB, and then what, some Hotones, joyo Bantamps, orange microterror, bugera t5, vox mv50, maybe one of those biyang wang micro amps. A guy could end up with a versitile stable of amp sounds. With a seperate cab emulator, you could replace it as technology improves. As for the amp side... an amp is an amp.

I got really excited when I found the Freyette Valvulator GP/DI - I was thinking yes, this is the analog product bedroom studios need. Then I saw it was from 2015, maybe 2013 and started to worry about cab simulation... how far have we come in 5 years? Maybe it is better to have a seperate cab component.

is a mini amp to cab simulator setup likely to be any better than a decent plugin?

Is there any difference between running out of the speaker out into something that steps it down vs running from line out/headphone into more of a preamp type cab modeler?

are there sub $300 or even sub $200 amps that would be good for running through, say, a BluBox for recording to give a BETTER quality recording than an amp sim in the box? Or does it require a good $1800 minimum outlay between a full amp head and torpedo type product?


In closing, I hope people can range around on this subject a bit - different price points, musical styles.

I will say for me, trying to shop around using demos on youtube, you get a lot of metal guys - fine if you are a metal guy and more power to you - or a lot of doodledoo I'm so bluesy demos. Or "rock" that is just british blues invasion.

I was especially taken with the idea of the Yamaha THR because it seems to be as much a direct recording interface as it is anything else, but every review I come across only evaluates it as a "bedroom practice amp" or they ignore the USB and mic it up for recording. And I wonder if I plug in my Yamaha DG to a speaker do I already essentially have a THR?

personally I am trying to be sort of er... fugazi crossed with explosions in the sky trying to be queen... (if you want shorthand for that think Jimmy Eat World's 2nd and 3rd albums) so I have little use for metal and blues demos.

I want clean twinkle-y tones and fairly rough but not metal distorted tones. I'm wondering what will help me specifically but I think this is a topic that ought to be covered more anyway. Do we need real amps to get the job done WELL? can mini amps or normal amp heads with a cab emulatordo the trick? Do people just not work hard enough at dialing in plugins?
Old 1 week ago
  #2
There are different definitions of apartment volume with guitars. It ranges from being able to use an amp or not.

I generally use a real amp. I find an amp in the 12watt range to get me great sounds. This could be something like a Princeton reverb or a box AC15. I have found this to be the best way to get nice sounding clean guitars.

I have yet to be in love with any clean amp emulation. But, with that being said, the Fuchs amp models for the UAD Apollo are pretty good.

I have found the UAD amp sims to be my favorite in that world. They have done some really clever things with gain staging and recoeivgin guitar sjbgnals. Basically, you can use the Apollo like you would an amp. Put a booster or treble booster in front of it and it won’t clip. It sees the signal like your amp would.

There are also some solutions from clear sonic that basically allows you to build a fort for your guitar amp. This can really allow you to record the air of a real amp buy contain the volume.

I always go back to using a real amp. I recently did a 9 hour series on recording electric guitar. It’s call recordproduceguitar.com

I tried a bunch of different methods in the series. A lot of things work. My fav, is using an amp attenuator and a real amp with a mic on it.

You would be surprised how good of a sound you could get from a tube fender champ or pro junior.

The UAD amp sims can sound really good. But you have to work them a little. They’re getting closer, but there is a level of dimnerion that can’t be captured. The air around a mic.

So, for some production for TV, I use amp sims. But for records I often use real amps and a ribbon mic. I live in a NYc apartment.

With the attenuator, I can get a pushed amp tone at lower volumes.

I’ve also tried amps into impulses. Not my fav method. It’s fine, but I still don’t think it sounds like my amp. But, for me i’m Usually pretty specific about the amp.

For apartment recording, I try to just do an hour or two of real amp per day in the afternoon. I find people will be more forgiving if you don’t abuse the option.

You can also check out a product from aurelex that allows you to decouple the guitar amp from the floor. It not only makes it sound better, but keeps it from resonating through the floor to neighbors.
Old 1 week ago
  #3
Gear Nut
 
howseth's Avatar
Quote:
With the attenuator, I can get a pushed amp tone at lower volumes.
I'll add -
I have tried several amp sims for "apartment guitar recording." Other people seem to make them sound good. But I did not like the sound of my own playing - with any of the amp sims. I ended up getting a Fender Tweed tube amp and also an attenuator (Iron Man Mini II) and a ribbon mic... I find it simpler - I don't want to keep trying out a 100 different amp sim models endless tweaks. Got to many other things to do, writing the songs, playing the various instruments, multi tracking and mixing - Don't like fussing with amp sims that never satisfy.... I am beginning to feel like that about DAW plugins too - all the fussing... (Maybe, It's also my crappy ears and I am missing some nuances at 60... I lose patience - if I was younger?)
I want to narrow - not widen the options. I would prefer one or two - at the most - guitars, one banjo, one or two mics, one reverb pedal, (My amp does not have reverb) one hardware compressor (don't have) one EQ... etc...and one magic machine to reduce my tinnitus.
I'm an amateur - I think of home studio recording as a folk art... for the 21st century.
Old 1 week ago
  #4
Gear Head
 

I would steer towards option #3 . Although I must say I always get the best sounds out of the real format i.e : Real amp mic up with a dynamic.
If the pre and mic are good even a substandard amp can sound full with the right sort of tweeking.
I would mic the speaker right up close and put a blanket over the whole mic stand enveloping the mic and amp together .It doesn't have to be loud just isolated and dead.
Old 1 week ago
  #5
Have you ever considered renting a studio?
Old 1 week ago
  #6
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swafford's Avatar
 

I use a variety of low watt amps that may (or may not!) fit what you want to do and budget. If I lived in an apartment (disclaimer - I'm 60 and have never lived in an apartment) I'd think about tracking my guitar direct. You can use a ****7y amp or pedal sim to monitor with if need be, but keep a clean direct signal in the DAW. I'd then reamp the direct to my amp of choice at a time that doesn't disturb my neighbors. Some of my favorite low watt amps:

Vintage 47 - modern builds of classic 50's circuits, great awkward clean tones and really interesting distorted tones

50's Gibson BR9 - amazing round clean tones (also a great low watt keyboard amp! We always run the Nord through it) and nice distortion

60's Silvertone 1481 - if there is a clean sound in this amp, I have never found it. But great, messy, bleeding all over the floor distortion.

Ampeg Reverberocket - the classic, really nice cleans and 3D reverb and shimmering trem. Never heard the reissue.

I use to own a Vox AC15 reissue (one of the point to point ones) and it was a great sounding amp, just not my sound. Sold it to a friend at a local studio that loves it. He also uses a ZVEX Nano amp head for what sounds like pretty cool buzz saw amp sounds. Not my thing.

Good luck!
Old 1 week ago
  #7
Lives for gear
A friend recently got bias amp 2 elite. He owns amps like mesa, marshall, fender, boss katana...tons of pedals including ir cab. type newer stuff. For play/jamming he loves his gear but never really got the recorded guitar sound he wanted.

https://www.positivegrid.com/bias-amp/



What got us to like bias 2 was they sounded like loud recorded amps+ the celestion cab.s really makes a difference. I didn't feel any need for eq'ing when doing quick recording, they simply sounded like guitars from albums. Just a cab. and mic. change makes a whole lot of difference and thats what its about in the analog world too. With the elite, just go for the default amps in it when testing, no need for tone cloud (user created amps) as most are trash anyway.

Dowside is cpu usage is high compared to competition and non-celestion cab.s didn't impress me, so if you're going to try it only go for the expensive elite version.
Old 1 week ago
  #8
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Moonwhistle's Avatar
 

Pignose, on the floor and mic'd from above. It worked for Zappa.
Old 1 week ago
  #9
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Bob Ross's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonwhistle View Post
Pignose, on the floor and mic'd from above. It worked for Zappa.
True. But in fairness, Frank usually had that Pignose dimed, which would still be considered offensively loud by most apartment dwellers up- or down-stairs.
Old 1 week ago
  #10
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TurboJets's Avatar
Personally, I've never been impressed with the Line Out on any amp I've had or used. And the Hi-Z input on most interfaces are completely inadequate (with exception to the JFET input on the Audient boxes). There are a lot of DI boxes out there that are cheap, but they are weak IMO.

I would recommend looking into a proper DI box like a Hamptone HPDI (JFET) - $350, the DW Fearn PDB $350, or Countryman Type 85 - $180.

A proper DI box makes a big improvement in the signal you capture, making ITB amp/effects simulators (like BIAS Amp 2) sound much more dynamic and realistic whether you want clean sparkling tones or distorted tones.

The music I listened to on your Bandcamp site is really nice IMO and the guitars would sound better IMO with a proper DI box.

Personally I've always preferred mic'ing my amps, but lately the JFET DI on my Audient box has had me choosing the DI signal over my amped signal when I compare the tracks side by side. They sit better in the mix IMO. Not always of course but usually.
Old 1 week ago
  #11
Here for the gear
+1 to the suggestions above to use a top quality DI to improve the signal capture. The RNDI made that very clear to me.

In the apartment I have been using amp sims for years to not annoy the folks at night.
Amp by day when one can.
Old 1 week ago
  #12
Lives for gear
Iron man attenuators are great
Old 1 week ago
  #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Moondog007 View Post
Iron man attenuators are great
whatever amp attenuator one may buy (there are several great ones), make sure it's a reactive attenuator NOT a resistive attenuator.
Old 1 week ago
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonwhistle View Post
Pignose, on the floor and mic'd from above. It worked for Zappa.
The Pignose is widely overhyped, largely due to Pignose's own publicity campaign back in the day.

Also, a lot of Pig users simply used it to preamp another amp.
Old 1 week ago
  #15
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Moonwhistle's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
The Pignose is widely overhyped, largely due to Pignose's own publicity campaign back in the day.

Also, a lot of Pig users simply used it to preamp another amp.
I guess there is also the fact the build quality was always terrible and not all of them sounded good.

I don't think a good example is overhyped.
Old 6 days ago
  #16
Lives for gear
 

Take a look at the Laney IRT Pulse - a lovely little pre-amp with USB recording. It can warm-up a modelling amp (in my case a Blackstar BEAM) and provides a controllable signal into an amp sim (I use Bluecat Destructor, which sounds fantastic IMO)

Although I have a decent selection of pedals, recently I've been running a Zoom G3Xn into the IRT pulse, and using just the wah, eq and distortion overdrive models to push the pre-amp. Delays and reverbs are ITB or from the blackstar.
I was initially disappointed with the Zoom, but careful tweaking - in particular dialing back the gains, brings out a huge range of tones.

I changed the stock IRT tubes for some Sovteks and I'm really happy with the results. A nice flexible setup for practice and recording which comes in around 500-600 euro total.
Old 6 days ago
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Our History View Post
are there sub $300 or even sub $200 amps that would be good for running through, say, a BluBox for recording to give a BETTER quality recording than an amp sim in the box? Or does it require a good $1800 minimum outlay between a full amp head and torpedo type product?
Save your money for the BluBOX and the AMP 1 Mercury Edition(once it gets released).
Old 6 days ago
  #18
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ProgFree's Avatar
 

If the OP lives in an apartment why are people suggesting attenuators and lower wattage amps? even a 1 W amp can be too much in an apartment.

The more realistic option is to use a cab simulator that has a loadbox included such as the two notes torpedo, palmer pdi, universal audio ox, etc. The line out to the cab sim can work with the two notes because they have a poweramp sim there, but taking the signal from the poweramp of your amp will result in way better tones.
Old 6 days ago
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ProgFree View Post
If the OP lives in an apartment why are people suggesting attenuators and lower wattage amps? even a 1 W amp can be too much in an apartment.

The more realistic option is to use a cab simulator that has a loadbox included such as the two notes torpedo, palmer pdi, universal audio ox, etc. The line out to the cab sim can work with the two notes because they have a poweramp sim there, but taking the signal from the poweramp of your amp will result in way better tones.
OP is aware of the BluBox which doesn`t need a load with Bluguitar´s AMP 1 which it has been designed for. He is not secure on the AMP 1 because it doesn´t get much love on GS I think.
Old 5 days ago
  #20
Gear Nut
 
howseth's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProgFree View Post
If the OP lives in an apartment why are people suggesting attenuators and lower wattage amps? even a 1 W amp can be too much in an apartment.
Amp sims... Maybe it's just my personal quirk... but I did not really like any of the ones I tried - nor the ones for bass guitar - other people sang their praises. I just prefer miking an amp to record. Though It's not a cheap device - my Iron Man Mini II (reactive attenuator) can get tone-full without apartment neighbors being bothered - or even noticing... I do point the amp towards a closet with some foam, clothes inside...

I use some plug ins in Logic Pro... for shaping compression, EQ... and saturation plugin for the bass (which I DI...so quiet)

If I could I would use more hardware less digital. It's already cramped in here though. Digital takes no space - and is usually less expensive... Those certainly plus's.

(Then again I have old weakening ears - and tinnitus - I wonder what a young version of myself would think of the sims and cab simulators? But a younger version of me - of course - may just be into hip-hop or synths and/or EDM... not guitar/banjo twang.)
Old 5 days ago
  #21
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Sorry but recording an amp in a small square room with no or little acoustic treatment will always sound boxy and bad. Always.

With experimenting + Amplitube 4 (imo it is the best sounding one) you will get much better results.
You can demo Amplitube 4 anyway. It will sound a million times better if you turn off the reverb and delay on the presets and use something like Valhalla VintageVerb.
Old 5 days ago
  #22
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norfolk martin's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Ross View Post
True. But in fairness, Frank usually had that Pignose dimed, which would still be considered offensively loud by most apartment dwellers up- or down-stairs.
Exactly. Several posters are mentioning low wattage amps that may be good for small gigs, but if the OP's apartment anything like the ones I lived in in the 80s, the 2W speaker on the television can be loud enough to cause complaints.

A 10 or 15W amp pushed into distortion will certainly be enough to get you evicted from some places. The best method is just to use the room as far away from the adjoining wall as possible. I recorded guitar in an apartment with the cab miced, and then the whole things covered with several layers of comforters, No room sound ( which is almost always bad in an apartment anyway) and not much sound escape.
Old 5 days ago
  #23
Gear Nut
 
howseth's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by numero6 View Post
Sorry but recording an amp in a small square room with no or little acoustic treatment will always sound boxy and bad. Always.

With experimenting + Amplitube 4 (imo it is the best sounding one) you will get much better results.
You can demo Amplitube 4 anyway. It will sound a million times better if you turn off the reverb and delay on the presets and use something like Valhalla VintageVerb.
Uh. No. Better sound in my 'box' room with a tube amp than those amp sims. Also perhaps that Iron Man attenuator helps in this... Recording banjo into a mic here is a whole lot harder - need a barn - or something.

I do have 'some' acoustic treatment including bass traps - and I do have Amplitude 4 - 'Fender Collection' tried every one. No go. (Also I do use Valhalla VintagVerb - just a touch for my banjo mainly. I also tried S-gear -and do use their verbs a bit - not the amp sims - though, maybe prefer S-Gear amp sims to Amplitude - but not by much...dunno)

Different ears... and maybe yours are better.
Old 5 days ago
  #24
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norfolk martin's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by howseth View Post
Uh. No. Better sound in my 'box' room with a tube amp than those amp sims. Also perhaps that Iron Man attenuator helps in this... Recording banjo into a mic here is a whole lot harder - need a barn - or something.

.
Its pretty easy to put a pile of comforters or carpet over a mic'd cabinet and kill room sound.

However, if you do the same to a banjo player, they get annoyed.
Old 5 days ago
  #25
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by norfolk martin View Post
Its pretty easy to put a pile of comforters or carpet over a mic'd cabinet and kill room sound.

However, if you do the same to a banjo player, they get annoyed.


Not if they are passed out on your couch
Old 5 days ago
  #26
Here for the gear
A couple of thoughts:

If you have a line out on your amp head, you can try recording direct via a DI box. Of course, if it's a tube amp, for it to sound good, conventional wisdom says that you will need to crank the amp nice and loud to really get the tubes cooking. However, you NEVER want to play thru a tube amp without it attached to either a speaker cabinet, or a load box. So, don't forget to attach a load box as well (i.e. Marshall Power Brake, H&K Redbox, etc.).

If you try the above method, your results will probably sound like crap, unless you process the recorded result thru a speaker simulator. While you could use one of the speaker sims in your DAW with the amp section bypassed, I think a better solution would be to use an impulse response (IR) of a speaker cabinet. While it's still not the same as a mic'd up amp/speaker cabinet that turned up to 11, you should be able to get some very useable tones this way.

Some more thoughts: I have had good results using amp sims, along with a really good tube pedal as a front end. I use an H&K Tube Factor, but there are other good ones like the Koch Superlead, Mesa V-Twin and the Blackstar HT line of pedals (just make sure you look into a tube pedal that sends the signal thru the tubes at plate voltage, and not a "starved plate" design). When I do that, I use the amp section of the sim, but bypass the speaker cabinet, and use an IR instead. Recording like this allows me to sort of stack the distortion, as I can use some of the distortion from the pedal (which usually sounds really good), and then add in some from the sim if desired. One trick to keep in mind is, when it comes to distortion, I use way less than you would think to get a good distorted sound.

Oh, one last thought. Companies like Tech21 have really good products for recording direct. I have a Trademark 120 amp that has a direct out, that sounds very good (I still process that with an IR though). They also have direct recording pedals, that I have heard very things about (i.e. SansAmp, & Fly Rig).

Hope that helps,

The Kid
Old 3 days ago
  #27
The Monoprice 15 watt amp is cheap and has a very usable one watt setting. If that's still too loud, build a tunnel around it and the mic with blankets.
Old 3 days ago
  #28
Gear Maniac
 

I had "some" luck with plain old digital pedal boards either through a DI to tape or through DI or compressor with inst level input or interface with instrument level inputs when recording to Pro Tools back when I was an apartment dweller/recordist. Even got some decent clean tones after mucking about with the adjustments on the board, especially onboard eq's
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