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I overcompressed my guitar during tracking
Old 2nd August 2005
  #1
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BradM's Avatar
I overcompressed my guitar during tracking

I've been in the process of recording some songs with my band. I've been getting some really great tones since I've been able to take the time necessary to dial things in correctly (no clock to watch at my own studio). However, I starting to think that I botched up one of the electric guitar tracks by laying on a little too much magic sauce. Yeah I got a little over-zealous with the Distressor. The guitar part is a hard picked rhythm part. The chain was this:

70's Fender Telecaster Deluxe-->blackface Fender Dual Showman amp-->2x12 repro Fender cab-->MD421-->A Designs Pacifica-->Distressor-->Mytek AD

If I recall correctly the Distressor was set to 2:1 ratio, Dist3 engaged, with the attack probably on about 4 or 5, and the release somewhere around 0 or 1. I think I was hitting about 5-7 dB's of gain reduction on peaks, which is more than I really wanted in hindsight.

So my question is this. What would you guys recommend trying in order to restore some depth and life to the guitar track. It sounds audibly squashed right now and lacks some bigness that it had in the room. Expanders? Transient designer type plugins? More/different compression? There's not enough time to re-record it at this point.

thanks,
Brad
Old 2nd August 2005
  #2
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six_wax's Avatar
 

Oxford Dynamics (edit: whoops. meant TransMod) were useful last time I had to rescue some guitars like that.

I may or may not have been involved in the tracking...

If you have time on your hands, you can draw in pretty convincing chugs via automation. Yes, this sucks.

Last edited by six_wax; 3rd August 2005 at 02:46 AM.. Reason: typo
Old 2nd August 2005
  #3
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macr0w's Avatar
 

I was going to say re track it but hey.
Old 2nd August 2005
  #4
There is only one
 
alphajerk's Avatar
 

replay it.
Old 2nd August 2005
  #5
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jpupo74's Avatar
RE-TRACK!

Hey Brad,

Ask yourself how long will you spend sitting on your computer waiting for posts on this thread + the time you´ll need to fix the tracks + the time you´ll be regreting why didn´t you re-track them!

Go for it, you´ll never know if this is the chance to show a great work from your band!

I hope I don´t sound like an asshole, but I´m sure there´s nothing as good as re-tracking!

Good Luck,
PUPO
Old 2nd August 2005
  #6
There is only one
 
alphajerk's Avatar
 

replaying it takes what? 5 minutes at most?
Old 2nd August 2005
  #7
Gear Guru
 
RoundBadge's Avatar
Save youself the time and frustration..
Just retrack it..
Old 2nd August 2005
  #8
Gear Guru
 
Drumsound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad McGowan
I've been in the process of recording some songs with my band. I've been getting some really great tones since I've been able to take the time necessary to dial things in correctly (no clock to watch at my own studio)
thanks,
Brad
RE-TRACK
Old 2nd August 2005
  #9
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BradM's Avatar
Rats...I was afraid everyone was going to say that. I the reason I didn't want to retrack was because it took my guitarist way too long to get a good take. I listened to the track and it's really only the second half of the song that needs retracking. The compression works okay for the first half because he plays much lighter so not as much gain reduction is happening. So maybe it won't be so bad having to do it over. Hmmm...

Brad
Old 2nd August 2005
  #10
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Ruudman's Avatar
 

I would like the others suggest retracking, but if you're on either
ProTools or Powercore platforms, you can experiment with Sony TransMod
at the second half.

If it's a keeper performance, that is..

ruudman
Old 2nd August 2005
  #11
Gear Nut
 
TedF's Avatar
 

Nahh.... retrack it..... and throw away the Distressor; you really need optical for guitars!
Old 2nd August 2005
  #12
There is only one
 
alphajerk's Avatar
 

fwiw, i never compress guitars on the way in... but i do comp them in the mix at times [sometimes a lot] but at least i havent commited something bad on the way in....

dist3 is pretty toxic, was this a clean tone or a dirty tone? also try opening up your attack more next time if you are comp'ing on the way in. and the distressor has that HPfilter right? make sure thats in as well so you dont get that "sucking" sound from the low notes to the highs.

also, when in doubt, mult.


oh, and guitars use only optical comps?
Old 2nd August 2005
  #13
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BradM's Avatar
Thanks for the good tips Alphajerk! I could use some more advice like that. I usually never compress guitars on the way in either, but like I said I was getting a little overzealous with the Distressor. On all the other tracks I was doing I was only hitting like 1-3 dB's. On this particular track the Distressor settings were working perfectly for the beginning of the song, but then in the second half he was really laying into it and the compressor sound was just all wrong. But the take was a keeper so I just went with it.

Can you please explain what you mean by "Dist3 is pretty toxic"? I was recording a clean Fender tone with just a slight hint of break-up when the player really hit the strings hard. I think for other guitar tracks I actually did have the attack up to like 7. I'll have to check my notes to see if I had the HP in for the Detector. I know I did for some tracks. But this one may not have had it and that's probably what makes it sound overcompressed to my ears.

thanks,
Brad
Old 2nd August 2005
  #14
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doorknocker's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruudman
but if you're on either ProTools or Powercore platforms, you can experiment with Sony TransMod
at the second half. ruudman
The TransMod is a really great tool and might be the ticket here.
What about making the second part of the guitar solo WAY different with say SansAmping it or something, perhaps it makes musical sense...if not, do it anyway heh.

What about looping the part, is it harmonically way different from the good part?

Andi

www.doorknocker.ch
Old 2nd August 2005
  #15
Yep the Sony or Waves transient plugs might help.
Old 2nd August 2005
  #16
Aphex 612/622 expander. I use mine for this exact problem. If there's just a couple of db moving the 612 will grab it and then restore the dynamics.

Call it a magic box.

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades
Old 2nd August 2005
  #17
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Berolzheimer's Avatar
 

You might also try Waves C1 compressor but use it as a linear expander. To do this turn the ratio DOWN past 1:1, you can go as far as .5:1 which is essentially 2:1 expansion- doubling the dynamic range. you probably will want less than that but your ears will tell you.
Old 2nd August 2005
  #18
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audioez's Avatar
 

as others mentioned, PLAY IT AGAIN SAM!!!!

and stop compressing guitars during tacking, maybe try a limit, acting as a safety net, no squash soup!!!
Old 2nd August 2005
  #19
Gear Nut
 
BradG's Avatar
 

I won't say "play it again", cuz I think it's been said already, just once or twice. But the only way that I've ever had any luck "un-compressing" anything (and it's usually vocals), is using a multi-band plug-in. The Waves C4 has been really good for this. Contrary to it's name, you can't really use an expander to undo compression. (Unless maybe you could build your own multi-band expander using multiple channels.)
Old 2nd August 2005
  #20
Gear Maniac
 

I agree with everyone else that you should retrack it, but if you can't or really don't want to tutt , I'd put another compressor on it and play around with the attack to bring the life back into it, then draw the dynamics back in if you still need more. This is a problem I've ran into WAAAYY too often, and I always wish I had the opportunity to retrack.
Old 2nd August 2005
  #21
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BradM's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by doorknocker
The TransMod is a really great tool and might be the ticket here.
What about making the second part of the guitar solo WAY different with say SansAmping it or something, perhaps it makes musical sense...if not, do it anyway heh.

What about looping the part, is it harmonically way different from the good part?

Andi

www.doorknocker.ch
The part isn't a solo. It's a picked/arpeggiated part in the beginning (sounds good) and then a strummed rhythm part at the end (sounds too compressed). So unfortunately there is nothing to loop.

Brad
Old 2nd August 2005
  #22
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BradM's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by audioez
as others mentioned, PLAY IT AGAIN SAM!!!!

and stop compressing guitars during tacking, maybe try a limit, acting as a safety net, no squash soup!!!
Well I wasn't trying to create squash soup...just add some color and fatness with just a dB or two of compression. But unfortunately I was basing my settings on the softer playing at the beginning of the song. I basically did have it set as a limiter and was mostly just using the Distressor for the distortion. But then the guitarist really layed into it and the whole sound went to crap. But it was a damn good take and my ears were shot from listening to loud guitar all day so I didn't readily notice the overcompression.

Lesson learned.

Brad
Old 2nd August 2005
  #23
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BradM's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Williams
Aphex 612/622 expander. I use mine for this exact problem. If there's just a couple of db moving the 612 will grab it and then restore the dynamics.

Call it a magic box.

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades
Hi Jim,

Unfortunately I don't have this magic box. Anyone have any idea how close I can get using the Waves TransX (or whatever it's called) or the C1?

Brad
Old 2nd August 2005
  #24
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

Expanders never really feel right to me.

Chances are your guitar player can do lots better since the part is well defined.
Old 2nd August 2005
  #25
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BradM's Avatar
Yeah you are probably right. Thank God I took good notes of the setup so at least that part should be easily repeatible.

Maybe if I have time I'll export the track in question and make an MP3 so you guys can hear the damage I did.

Brad
Old 2nd August 2005
  #26
Get with the times and run it through Auto-tune.
Old 2nd August 2005
  #27
Jai guru deva om
 
warhead's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by alphajerk
fwiw, i never compress guitars on the way in...
Same here, it's one of those things that you never really know until mixdown piles everything on top...plus most rhythm playing should be pretty predictable and not in need of compression.

Lead on the other hand...

War
Old 2nd August 2005
  #28
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BradM's Avatar
Maybe it's just me, but recording a loud yet clean Dual Showman that is alternatingly picked and strummed seems to be a lot more challenging than recording a Les Paul through a cranked Marshall. There's some serious dynamics going on there since there's not a lot of compression happening at the amp. You'd have to hear our music to better understand what I'm talking about. When I say rhythm guitar I don't really mean it in the sense of someone playing a G-C-D chord progression. I would probably have to point you towards bands like Mineral, Cursive, Strictly Ballroom, Explosions in the Sky....that kind of stuff. I find that loud Fenders in general tend to be a little more difficult to get right than anything dirty and approaching square wave.

Brad
Old 3rd August 2005
  #29
Well, then you're band must be heavily reliant on dynamics and a compressor is likely counter-productive all around for you (as I guess you have now seen). The quiet and loud contrasts are probably as important as tempo changes and mood swings like a symphony. There's nothing quite as awesome as the opening loudness on Explosions in the Sky's 'Greet Death' where dynamics are pushed rather than squashed. You turn it up to hear the subtle whole note strokes that go on for a few seconds and then WAM it scares the **** outta you! I love that.
Old 3rd August 2005
  #30
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BradM's Avatar
Yes you are exactly right! However it's the dynamics between parts that I like to maintain. Within a given part I was using the compressor to achieve a certain tone and not really rob the part of the dynamics. Failed miserably on this one... Not to mention this particular song is pretty dense and rockin' so I wanted to bring out the subleties in the guitar picking amidst the other guitar and synth layers.

I love it when records are super quiet and you turn them up really loud to hear the soft parts then it gets extremely loud and you are practically knocked over by the volume change. More modern records should be like that. I think I need to start attending the symphony more often...

Brad
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