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Distortion vs Sustain Effects Pedals, Units & Accessories
Old 1 week ago
  #1
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Distortion vs Sustain

Hoping there might be some suggestions. When I am recording guitar I'm running into a loop hole of plenty of gain but it's too distorted with no attack or dynamic through the speakers, or good distortion but no sustain. Using a JCM800. Does anyone have some advice? Thanks.
Old 1 week ago
  #2
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maybe something like a more modern Dod based compressor pedal. with a wet dry mix.
Old 1 week ago
  #3
I was also thinking compressor but you might wanna check out a clean boost as well.
Old 1 week ago
  #4
Gear Nut
 

Indeed, a compressor with a function to mix in the dry signal would be my advise as well. I still use my old barber tonepress (which by the way can also be used as a booster when with the mix all the way dry and the level up), but nowadays, there are many compressor stompboxes with this functionality.
Old 6 days ago
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jasses View Post
Indeed, a compressor with a function to mix in the dry signal would be my advise as well. I still use my old barber tonepress (which by the way can also be used as a booster when with the mix all the way dry and the level up), but nowadays, there are many compressor stompboxes with this functionality.
I use a Xotic SP compressor pedal. It's based on the Ross comp, except a LOT less noise (it's very quiet), and it has something like 18dB of makeup gain, which is way more than it needs to get to unity. So it's not only a good clean boost, but you can add compression for sustain. The "sustain" or "compression" knob is actually a blend, which lets you have your original attack, just with the sustain of the compressor added. It might be just what you're looking for.

I use it for a boost for leads, with just a bit of comp for a little extra sustain. It works quite well.
Old 6 days ago
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Muser View Post
maybe something like a more modern Dod based compressor pedal. with a wet dry mix.
I don't think the adding a compressor is going to help with a lack of dynamic range. Quite the opposite. Might help a bit with the sustain, but it sounds to me like there's a more fundamental problem.

I'd like to add that neither gain nor distortion will compensate for trying to record at too low a volume, and that compression won't help much either. If the strings aren't vibrating a compressor won't help and if there isn't enough level to add some energy back into the strings there won't be any sustain.

Last edited by John Eppstein; 6 days ago at 10:32 PM..
Old 6 days ago
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikhael View Post
I use a Xotic SP compressor pedal. It's based on the Ross comp, except a LOT less noise (it's very quiet), and it has something like 18dB of makeup gain, which is way more than it needs to get to unity. So it's not only a good clean boost, but you can add compression for sustain. The "sustain" or "compression" knob is actually a blend, which lets you have your original attack, just with the sustain of the compressor added. It might be just what you're looking for.

I use it for a boost for leads, with just a bit of comp for a little extra sustain. It works quite well.
Sound a bit more interesting. I'd still like to know more about the rig itself, maybe hear a sample.
Old 6 days ago
  #8
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Both Xotic SP compressors I’ve tried were very noisy. Gigged with a borrowed one for a long time. Didn’t bother me too much but still. Tried another one recently and just couldn’t believe how noisy it was! Who knows...?

I currently have an EP boost and an SL drive on my board. Both quiet and both awesome! Not sure what’s up with my SP experiences...

Best sounding compressor I’ve heard lately... and totally silent... the new digital Boss pedal. Just wow
Old 6 days ago
  #9
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I agree that there seems something weird about having the [somewhat vaguely] described problem with a JCM800. Doesn't make sense or sound typical, unless I am misunderstanding something.

Throwing a bunch of pedals at what seems to be a more fundamental issue may be chasing one's tail

Maybe describe the chain in detail [guitar, amp, mic, console, recorder, outboard, monitors, all that].



Best,


audioforce
Old 6 days ago
  #10
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Halfstackstudios View Post
Hoping there might be some suggestions. When I am recording guitar I'm running into a loop hole of plenty of gain but it's too distorted with no attack or dynamic through the speakers, or good distortion but no sustain. Using a JCM800. Does anyone have some advice? Thanks.
I think you answered your own question - with-in the question itself. The answer is " too distorted " . Tube " PRE-amp distortion will compress with the amount of distortion produced. Less distortion will give you greater dynamics. If you're looking toward some other production for comparison - then you might want to consider what the other elements in the mix are doing. Also some productions will feature stacking different but lesser degrees of distortion. Some times it's more of a crunch kind of distortion that has the transients compressed so volume wise it's less dynamic - but it's turned up much louder in the mix giving an appearance of more dynamics. Just my opinion of course, but most pedal compression does not have discreet attack and release envelopes. That is key to any compressor setting.
Old 6 days ago
  #11
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Or, after reading you post again, I seems like you may not even want a JCM800 for what you are doing. That's a a high gain, distorted amp.

If you're using it right, when you get it working hard enough to really sing, the sound is usually going to have a lot of hair around it.

So unless you're trying to record it at a low volume, you should have sustain, but if you are trying to work the power amp, but backing way off on the preamp to minimize preamp distortion, it may get weird.

Dunno, kind of guessing because you are not saying how you are using the amp.

Those are pretty kick ass amps though, and I would think you should be able to make it work for a rock sound. How do you have it set? You need to turn it up to make it do its thing.

Hope that helps.



Best,


audioforce
Old 6 days ago
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Halfstackstudios View Post
Hoping there might be some suggestions. When I am recording guitar I'm running into a loop hole of plenty of gain but it's too distorted with no attack or dynamic through the speakers, or good distortion but no sustain. Using a JCM800. Does anyone have some advice? Thanks.
The amp in the room doesn't have attack or dynamics? or the sound of the amp miced up, though your near-fields doesn't have attack or dynamics??
Old 6 days ago
  #13
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I find the Origin Effects compressors, either the Cali76 or the SlideRig, are really good for either transparently adding sustain or leveling out leads and rhythm. These really changed my attitude about compressors.

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
I don't think the adding a compressor is going to help with a lack of dynamic range. Quite the opposite. Might help a bit with the sustain, but it sounds to me like there's a more fundamental problem.

I'd like to add that neither gain nor distortion will compensate for trying to record at too low a volume, and that compression won't help much either. If the strings aren't vibrating a compressor won't help and if there isn't enough level to add some energy back into the strings there won't be any sustain.
This is literally true. But, if the question isn't actually one of dynamic range, but instead one of headroom, then a compressor can be just the right tool. It depends on playing and arrangement.

My example would be an amp where you're really singing in the leads, but without obvious overdrive or distortion, but when you push it with heavier chords it collapses into crunch. One might think this is a question of dynamics, but it can actually be understood in terms of headroom - that whatever your sound is for the leads doesn't have the same qualities when you push a heavier signal. A compressor can help maintain those qualities across a range of load.

Yes, you'd be right if you say this literally the opposite of 'dynamics'. But it allows a greater 'dynamic' to the part while maintaining drive characteristics and tone. So in that sense, it may be what someone really wants when they say they want greater dynamics.

When I talk about the Origin Effects being a game changer for me, at least with compressors, that's what I'm talking about. It's the first time that I felt that a guitar compressor was really helping in that respect without in some other way detracting from the tone.

Last edited by kafka; 5 days ago at 07:17 PM..
Old 4 days ago
  #14
Again, if you're trying to use a JCM800 for low volume, high gain recording it won't give you what you want. You have to turn the amp up to a certain point before it really starts to speak, and it has to be loud enough to interact with the guitar to really give you the kind of sustain you're probably looking for.

This is doubly true if you're looking for dynamics in your sound. A compressor will not help with dynamics - if a compressor is increasing sustain it does that my reducing dynamics. And it won't extend sustain beyond the point where the string is vibrating with enough amplitude to keep the level into the compressor above threshold. And if the speakers aren't feeding energy back into the strings the length of sustain will be exactly the length of sustain you get from the guitar unplugged - it just wont decay gradually, it'll go until it drops below threshold and suddenly farts out. So if you're after "sustain-y sounding" noted of relatively short duration it'll work but if you're after real long sustaining notes it won't. You'll need some volume.
Old 4 days ago
  #15
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OP MIA
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Old 3 days ago
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mertmo View Post
Both Xotic SP compressors I’ve tried were very noisy. Gigged with a borrowed one for a long time. Didn’t bother me too much but still. Tried another one recently and just couldn’t believe how noisy it was! Who knows...?

I currently have an EP boost and an SL drive on my board. Both quiet and both awesome! Not sure what’s up with my SP experiences...

Best sounding compressor I’ve heard lately... and totally silent... the new digital Boss pedal. Just wow
I don't get it. I searched through a lot of compressors to select the Xotic SP, and my two main areas of interest were that it was quiet, and had extra gain on tap (it replaced a DOD Milkbox, which was TRULY noisy). The SP was so good at those (and other issues, such as the "blend" capability) that I've bought two, and both are whisper quiet. I can't hardly tell mine are even engaged, until I play something.
Old 3 days ago
  #17
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I didn’t really get it either...

For me, the worst of the two was used from an unknown source. Maybe it was just kinda hammered...?
Old 3 days ago
  #18
don't entirely understand this thread but that's never stopped me before... my understanding:

--- compression and dynamics are the opposite of each other, so if your problem is lack of dynamics you don't want to add a compressor

--- distortion is just an extreme form of compression, so the more you distort the signal, the less dynamics it has... reductio ad absurdum, a fuzz pedal removes almost all dynamics for an almost pipe-organ-like envelope shape -- full on or full off with every touch of the guitar

--- more dynamics means less sustain and contrawise -- more sustain means less dynamics -- by definition -- dynamics is the difference between the loud attack and the quieter sustain

so, you can't have it all
Old 3 days ago
  #19
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Just play loud[er].



audioforce
Old 3 days ago
  #20
Gear Nut
 

This is a really simple fix, and genuinely surprises me that most people's answer has been to throw pedals at the problem (although I spose this *is* Gearslutz...)


Turn the master way up, and the preamp gain down. A good 800 is one of my favourite amps, but it's an amp that was designed for large stages. It's also pretty bright, and will sound like tinny, buzzy crap if you're dialling up the preamp gain with the master set on like 2.

if you don't have the ability to record it when it's cranked up to wall-shaking volume, then you need to look into a smaller amp where you can push the power section at a lower SPL.
Old 2 days ago
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpicyPonyHead View Post
This is a really simple fix, and genuinely surprises me that most people's answer has been to throw pedals at the problem (although I spose this *is* Gearslutz...)


Turn the master way up, and the preamp gain down. A good 800 is one of my favourite amps, but it's an amp that was designed for large stages. It's also pretty bright, and will sound like tinny, buzzy crap if you're dialling up the preamp gain with the master set on like 2.

if you don't have the ability to record it when it's cranked up to wall-shaking volume, then you need to look into a smaller amp where you can push the power section at a lower SPL.
That's using acoustic feedback (from the speakers to the strings) to create sustain. It does usually come with some distortion as well, since you're pushing the amp hard, but it is The Sound most are after.

However, the days of massive stage volume are just about over. People are searching for ways to get that sustain without their ears bleeding. Plus, sounds are changing in popular music. Some are after unnatural sounds from the guitars. I'm firmly rooted in sounds from the 60s - 70s, but even then, I recognize the changes in sound and technologies. Not everyone will use the same roads to get to a destination, and more roads are available these days.

The times, they are a-changin'.
Old 2 days ago
  #22
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikhael View Post
That's using acoustic feedback (from the speakers to the strings) to create sustain. It does usually come with some distortion as well, since you're pushing the amp hard, but it is The Sound most are after.

However, the days of massive stage volume are just about over. People are searching for ways to get that sustain without their ears bleeding. Plus, sounds are changing in popular music. Some are after unnatural sounds from the guitars. I'm firmly rooted in sounds from the 60s - 70s, but even then, I recognize the changes in sound and technologies. Not everyone will use the same roads to get to a destination, and more roads are available these days.

The times, they are a-changin'.

Mate, I'm well aware of huge stage volumes being a thing of the past - I've played on quite a few "silent stages" where if there was a FOH failure, literally all you'd hear would be cymbals and vocals.

While I love a good cranked amp, 95% of my guitar sounds nowadays come from a Helix with IRs, with a Freqout in one of the loops to simulate feedback.

The OP specifically asked about a jcm800 - they're not exactly the most versatile amps, and most of the good tones from them come from having the master pretty close to wide open (certainly in the 7-10 kinda range).

They don't actually mention which 800 they're talking about, but even the little combo version is way too loud for most home/project studio situations if you're trying to get a cool tone recorded while still being in the same room as it.

Even if you're using pedals for drive, an 800 will tend to take pedals better with the master up high and the pre really low. - you can get a surprisingly nice clean out of it with the master on 9-10 and the pre barely on 1, (even more so if it's modded for KT88's).
Old 2 days ago
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mertmo View Post
I didn’t really get it either...

For me, the worst of the two was used from an unknown source. Maybe it was just kinda hammered...?
Are you sure that the compressor wasn't just ampligying noise from upstream of the compressor?

Compressors do that, you know - it's why they're usually placed first in an FX chain.
Old 2 days ago
  #24
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpicyPonyHead View Post
This is a really simple fix, and genuinely surprises me that most people's answer has been to throw pedals at the problem (although I spose this *is* Gearslutz...)


Turn the master way up, and the preamp gain down. A good 800 is one of my favourite amps, but it's an amp that was designed for large stages. It's also pretty bright, and will sound like tinny, buzzy crap if you're dialling up the preamp gain with the master set on like 2.

if you don't have the ability to record it when it's cranked up to wall-shaking volume, then you need to look into a smaller amp where you can push the power section at a lower SPL.
Didn't I mention that already - and mentioned that a compressor isn't the answer?
Old 2 days ago
  #25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikhael View Post
That's using acoustic feedback (from the speakers to the strings) to create sustain. It does usually come with some distortion as well, since you're pushing the amp hard, but it is The Sound most are after.

However, the days of massive stage volume are just about over. People are searching for ways to get that sustain without their ears bleeding. Plus, sounds are changing in popular music. Some are after unnatural sounds from the guitars. I'm firmly rooted in sounds from the 60s - 70s, but even then, I recognize the changes in sound and technologies. Not everyone will use the same roads to get to a destination, and more roads are available these days.

The times, they are a-changin'.
It doesn't matter about "the times", the laws of physics are immutable, regardless of what "time" it is. You can only get that type of sustain with adequate level from the amp - which doesn't necessarily mean that the amp will be driven into distortion , depending on ther amp and speaker load, but it will have to achieve sufficient level.

You can't get a gallon of milk out of a pint carton.
Old 2 days ago
  #26
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
Didn't I mention that already - and mentioned that a compressor isn't the answer?
Yep, you did - but lots of others mentioned compressors.

I'm adding my own opinion/comments into the conversation because, well, it's a conversation, and that's how they work

Plus it's good to be able to gather the opinions of a variety of people, since at the end of the day the OP is asking strangers on the internet for advice, and especially when it comes to something like guitar tones, they're incredibly subjective, and someone's taste, their background, what genres they work in, their age, openness to new technologies, etc may all factor into an answer.

For example, I know you tend to be pretty against almost anything digital when it comes to guitar, meaning that from an aesthetic, subjective taste point of view, I actually tend to disagree with a fair amount of your posts in general (but I can still appreciate your knowledge and technical experience, and have learned quite a bit from you as well!) - if I was the OP and had read back over some of your past posts, there may be a chance I might disregard your replies based on my perception of your taste in gear, hence why it's good to get a consensus of opinion.

But on this issue it seems we're both thinking along similar lines
Old 2 days ago
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpicyPonyHead View Post
I'm adding my own opinion/comments into the conversation because, well, it's a conversation, and that's how they work
Quote of the week. *wipes beer from keyboard*
Old 2 days ago
  #28
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Sniff's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SpicyPonyHead View Post
Turn the master way up, and the preamp gain down. A good 800 is one of my favourite amps, but it's an amp that was designed for large stages. It's also pretty bright, and will sound like tinny, buzzy crap if you're dialling up the preamp gain with the master set on like 2.
^^^^ this but with a tube screamer for good measure
Old 2 days ago
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
Are you sure that the compressor wasn't just ampligying noise from upstream of the compressor?

Compressors do that, you know - it's why they're usually placed first in an FX chain.
Yes. I had it first thing in the chain. And I had other compressor pedals I was auditioning at the same time to compare with...

Anyway... this is all off topic to the thread, really. Sorry for starting a tangent
Old 2 days ago
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
It doesn't matter about "the times", the laws of physics are immutable, regardless of what "time" it is. You can only get that type of sustain with adequate level from the amp - which doesn't necessarily mean that the amp will be driven into distortion , depending on ther amp and speaker load, but it will have to achieve sufficient level.

You can't get a gallon of milk out of a pint carton.
It DOES matter about the times: the sounds modern players are going after are different from the ones we know and love. The days of the Yardbirds Triumvirate are just about (or completely) gone. Most of us lusting over those tones are living in the past. A few (like Joe Bonamasama or whatever his last name is) are still tempted by classic sounds, but even he's starting to get up there in years. He's what, 41? 42? Something like that.

We're dinosaurs, John. "The Times" referred to the younger people that don't care about the tones Paul Kossoff got. Or Ronnie Montrose. Even EVH ain't what he used to be to this next generation. It referred not to the laws of physics, but the people of the younger generations.

Maybe I should've been a bit more clear where I was going with that.
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