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Troubles Tracking Guitars
Old 9th December 2012
  #1
Gear Maniac
Troubles Tracking Guitars

I have been running a "nice" project studio equipped with an Ensemble and a Mac Pro. I don't have the ability to turn my amps up in the evenings and just cannot seem to find anything I can handle in regards to direct guitar recording. Being used to a nice variety of tube amps and sweet pedals I just can't seem to handle the harshness that comes out of my Pod HD or any DAW simulator plugins I've found. I have tried hard to like them and although they sound fine come mixdown, they're just uninspiring and frustrating. Am I crazy here?

I play rock, pop, funk, indie, rnb styles of music. So, lots of cleans and mid gain distortion... No brittle, no boxie, no muddie no compromise - usable, inspiring, professional, no sacrifice...

I have researched a lot and thought...

a. I could get an iso cab (or build one which for lots of reasons, i don't want to). after a lot of research the Hermit Cab is the only one that seems legit and high quality (which is what I'm after by the way).

2. I could maybe take a shot with the Kemper .... or maybe Axe Fx?

c. There is no way to get what you want without micing up your amps

3. Use a ridiculously small amp and mic it... gotta get air moving?

I posted here and not on a guitar forum since I need this to work for both my studio production hat as well as my guitar player side, which are two very different sides... I've tried for years and still frustrated with getting something that is really inspiring. Again, I can record and produce a pretty good end product but where I fall short is plugging in and getting that satisfaction I'm looking for as when I plug into a good low wattage tube amp with a really nice speaker and mic it up with a Royer into a Neve.

Thanks for reading!
Old 9th December 2012
  #2
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Octopussy View Post
I have been running a "nice" project studio equipped with an Ensemble and a Mac Pro. I don't have the ability to turn my amps up in the evenings and just cannot seem to find anything I can handle in regards to direct guitar recording. Being used to a nice variety of tube amps and sweet pedals I just can't seem to handle the harshness that comes out of my Pod HD or any DAW simulator plugins I've found. I have tried hard to like them and although they sound fine come mixdown, they're just uninspiring and frustrating. Am I crazy here?

I play rock, pop, funk, indie, rnb styles of music. So, lots of cleans and mid gain distortion... No brittle, no boxie, no muddie no compromise - usable, inspiring, professional, no sacrifice...

I have researched a lot and thought...

a. I could get an iso cab (or build one which for lots of reasons, i don't want to). after a lot of research the Hermit Cab is the only one that seems legit and high quality (which is what I'm after by the way).

2. I could maybe take a shot with the Kemper .... or maybe Axe Fx?

c. There is no way to get what you want without micing up your amps

3. Use a ridiculously small amp and mic it... gotta get air moving?

I posted here and not on a guitar forum since I need this to work for both my studio production hat as well as my guitar player side, which are two very different sides... I've tried for years and still frustrated with getting something that is really inspiring. Again, I can record and produce a pretty good end product but where I fall short is plugging in and getting that satisfaction I'm looking for as when I plug into a good low wattage tube amp with a really nice speaker and mic it up with a Royer into a Neve.

Thanks for reading!
What do you have for an interface? I found when I upgraded my interface my guitar tones instantly improved. No more harsh sound. Also Mic preamps are a big part, especially with dealing with digital harshness.

As far as Axe fx or kemper goes, those are very expensive and not that great. In fact Axe dist. tones are very very harsh. You can get better guitar tones with a $100 Korg pandora. It's hard to believe but it's true. Check out the PX4. You can buy them for $50 on ebay and they are no worse than Axe or kemper. Don't egt me wrong they are not great like a well miced amp but they are usable and cheap enough to experiment unlike axe or other expensive modeling units.

I just picked up a Hughes and Kettner tubemeister this week and it sounds great so far. Only 18 watts and the DI sounds really good, light years better than axe fx or any plugins. It is very harmonic and warm.

Lastly you don't need to crank an amp to get good tone. Just listen to Queen. Brain May used a 8in speaker with a 15 watt amp on most of the classic Queen records. Jimmy page used small supros at low volumes. You have to experiment. I'm able to get my tone at really really low volumes. In fact my only issue is my guitar amp(s) are so low when I record I can't get enough gain on the mic pre. I have to pretty much only use Neve 1073 mic pres since they are one of the few great sounding mic pres that can give me 80db of gain since I need all of it. I use ribbon sometimes and those are especially tough to get good gain.

good luck
Old 9th December 2012
  #3
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RCM - Ronan's Avatar
If you want to get real miked amp sounds, use real amps.

There are a lot of options to do this even if you live in an apartment. You can get a good iso cab, but also look at getting a good tube amp that gets most of its tone from the pre amp section of the amp. You can get cool miked amp sound playing the amp quieter than most people listen to the evening news on TV.
Old 9th December 2012
  #4
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mixerguy's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by RCM - Ronan View Post
If you want to get real miked amp sounds, use real amps.

There are a lot of options to do this even if you live in an apartment. You can get a good iso cab, but also look at getting a good tube amp that gets most of its tone from the pre amp section of the amp. You can get cool miked amp sound playing the amp quieter than most people listen to the evening news on TV.
+ 1 !!!

Old 9th December 2012
  #5
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funkycam's Avatar
 

sounds like your ears are in the same place as mine; real guitar sound comes from real amps.
Many of the examples of Iso cabs I have heard sound phasey & boxy but I always thought this guy seemed interesting AxeTrak Isolation Cabinets- The ultimate guitar recording device for professional and home recording
Old 9th December 2012
  #6
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GearAndGuitars's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RCM - Ronan View Post
If you want to get real miked amp sounds, use real amps.

There are a lot of options to do this even if you live in an apartment. You can get a good iso cab, but also look at getting a good tube amp that gets most of its tone from the pre amp section of the amp. You can get cool miked amp sound playing the amp quieter than most people listen to the evening news on TV.
the majority of my guitar amp recording is on low watt amps and at relatively low volumes.

listen to this guy:

http://www.amnesta.net/edge_delay/lanois.html

Quote:
In fact, a lot of Edge's sounds on Achtung Baby were recorded on this little solid state practice amp we had in the control room instead of the AC30.
Old 9th December 2012
  #7
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RCM - Ronan's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by GearAndGuitars View Post
the majority of my guitar amp recording is on low watt amps and at relatively low volumes.
I really like low wattage amps, but a lot of people make the mistake of getting low watts amps to record quietly. I have a 12 Watt amp from Jule Amps, that has two setting super loud and off. On the other hand my 320 Watt Rivera can shake concrete buildings, but also sounds great at levels lower than most people watch TV.
Old 9th December 2012
  #8
RiF
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RiF's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by RCM - Ronan View Post
You can get cool miked amp sound playing the amp quieter than most people listen to the evening news on TV.
Exactly! Have you tried micing your amp(s) at the lowest possible volume? I've tried it with my Dual Rectifier, which usually kills humans and animals around my house , wirh more than satisfying results and a zero bodycount :-).
Old 9th December 2012
  #9
Gear Head
 

You could record direct to your DAW and perfect the performance. Then later after happy with the performance, use a reamp box out of your DAW to your real AMP, and crank it for the duration of the song at a more appropriate time of day. Maybe not ideal, but allows you to work on guitar parts in the evening and end up with real tube amps recorded.
Old 10th December 2012
  #10
Gear Maniac
 

Another approach would be to use an attenuator out of your amp and run it into a speaker sim program. It's not as good as a cranked amp, but it's better than the digital amp sims by a long shot.

I use a Hot Plate direct out from a cranked Marshall or Vox or Deluxe Reverb. then into Guitar Rig. Turn off the amp sim and just use the cab sims.

Again, not quite a amp cranked in a huge room, but pretty good.
Old 10th December 2012
  #11
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Mr.HOLMES's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by RCM - Ronan View Post
If you want to get real miked amp sounds, use real amps.

There are a lot of options to do this even if you live in an apartment. You can get a good iso cab, but also look at getting a good tube amp that gets most of its tone from the pre amp section of the amp. You can get cool miked amp sound playing the amp quieter than most people listen to the evening news on TV.
This experienced man speaks truth.
I tried a lot and I ended with tube amps that are very much driven in tone by their preamp section. All sims I tried where just calling for new trouble.

So I ended up with the Bugera Vintage 5 Amp a 5 Watt Tube Amp, don t laugh, by Behringer. It has a power soak and this little amp has a lot of variety in tone. In conjunction with my pedal section it does everything I need - from CLEAN to HEAVY MEATAL.

And the best of it all people ask me how many amps I have.
I say 2 but I use one most often.... they don t believe me that I used the Bugera.

The Vintage 5 by Bugera is very versatile in getting different sounds and I owned amps which where costing 15 times the money of this little beast.

To me its the goto amp for small project-studios which cant run a 100 W stack.... and I bet when its tracked once no one can tell which amp you used.heh
Old 10th December 2012
  #12
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Kaoz's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by RCM - Ronan View Post
If you want to get real miked amp sounds, use real amps.

There are a lot of options to do this even if you live in an apartment. You can get a good iso cab, but also look at getting a good tube amp that gets most of its tone from the pre amp section of the amp. You can get cool miked amp sound playing the amp quieter than most people listen to the evening news on TV.
This.

If you get the right amp, you won't need volume to create tone. If you're using volume to create tone, you're going about it the wrong way imo.
Old 10th December 2012
  #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by emitsweet View Post
As far as Axe fx or kemper goes, those are very expensive and not that great. In fact Axe dist. tones are very very harsh. You can get better guitar tones with a $100 Korg pandora. It's hard to believe but it's true. Check out the PX4. You can buy them for $50 on ebay and they are no worse than Axe or kemper.


This is, of course, complete nonsense, and I can only assume that you've never actually used either the Kemper or Axe-FX.
Old 10th December 2012
  #14
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Mr.HOLMES's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Podgorny View Post
This is, of course, complete nonsense, and I can only assume that you've never actually used either the Kemper or Axe-FX.
It not nonsense its an opinion.

Here is another opinion.
Amp sims dont sound bad, but you should not expect that they behave like an HW amp - while you play with them.
They do something very different in some cases to my ears.
For some things you can use them; for others they call for new trouble.

Further another thing is... before you get a great tone out of a sim you need a lot of time for tweaking knobs ( at least it takes me a lot of time ).
Most often longer than 30 minutes and the result is compromise I do not love, or like.

If you ask me for a Clapton like Blues sound I know exactly what to do with my amp, and I know which mics I choose for it to track it.
I am ready within 15 Minutes.... because its experience....and instinct.

Same goes for me with plug ins in mixing.
It takes too much time before I get what I want.
Old 10th December 2012
  #15
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mcgruff's Avatar
 

If you don't want to use an ISO cab, crank the amp into a Palmer load box / power soak.
Old 10th December 2012
  #16
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Podgorny View Post
This is, of course, complete nonsense, and I can only assume that you've never actually used either the Kemper or Axe-FX.
Yeah I have owned both. Axe FX is especially bad with distorted guitars. There are lots of modelers out there as good. Korg PX and VOX ToneLab are as good as Axe fx for pure crunch tone. Axe fx is cool and has alot of effects but the distortion is
horrible and unusable in production IMO very very harsh. It works if you flood it with effects. If you want old school Metallica, AC/DC or Zeppelin tone is is useless. If you shred and cover up with delay and chorus Axe Fx works great. But that's how they fool everyone. Fact of the matter is it is simply not capable of good Marshall or fender tube tones. But in its defense it is not really fair since it is a modeler. Kemper is a fantastic concept with the profiler and the dist tones are OK but for $1900?
it's not that good. I only had the Kemper for 2 weeks and I just could not get my marshall 800 tone out of it. I had to return it. I had Axe for a year and sold it. I have not used the Axe II, I had the ultra so maybe I'm wrong?
Old 10th December 2012
  #17
Lives for gear
 

The Fractal is wonderful; I wouldn't hesitate to use it in a pinch, and I say that as a working producer in a studio filled with dozens of the best vintage, modern, and boutique amp collection this side of the Klamath River.

But real amps are still better.
Old 10th December 2012
  #18
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Sofa King's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by emitsweet View Post
Yeah I have owned both. Axe FX is especially bad with distorted guitars. There are lots of modelers out there as good. Korg PX and VOX ToneLab are as good as Axe fx for pure crunch tone. Axe fx is cool and has alot of effects but the distortion is
horrible and unusable in production IMO very very harsh. It works if you flood it with effects. If you want old school Metallica, AC/DC or Zeppelin tone is is useless. If you shred and cover up with delay and chorus Axe Fx works great. But that's how they fool everyone. Fact of the matter is it is simply not capable of good Marshall or fender tube tones. But in it's defense it is not really fair since ti is a modeler

Am I missing something, you say you owned both the Kemper and the Axe, but dont see any mention of your Kemper experiences?
Care to share?

Ive not used one myself, but a acquaintance, Andrew Murdock AKA "Mudrock", swears by the thing. Hes made a few pretty strong guitar records, and has some great amps, so Im intrigued.


best,
Sean
Old 10th December 2012
  #19
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Mr.HOLMES's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by emitsweet View Post
Yeah I have owned both. Axe FX is especially bad with distorted guitars. There are lots of modelers out there as good. Korg PX and VOX ToneLab are as good as Axe fx for pure crunch tone. Axe fx is cool and has alot of effects but the distortion is
horrible and unusable in production IMO very very harsh. It works if you flood it with effects. If you want old school Metallica, AC/DC or Zeppelin tone is is useless. If you shred and cover up with delay and chorus Axe Fx works great. But that's how they fool everyone. Fact of the matter is it is simply not capable of good Marshall or fender tube tones. But in it's defense it is not really fair since ti is a modeler. Kemper is a fantastic concept with the profiler and the dist tones are OK but for $1900?
it's not that good. I only had the Kemper for 2 weeks and I just could not get my marshall 800 tone out of it. I had to return it. I had Axe for a year and sold it.
I can sign this its 100% the same experience I made.
As soon you want some old school sound you are lost with all he sims because they don't have balls...

I remember the Fender stuff sims. I owned my self long years a Fender Base man- the simulation was everything but not a fender baseman....
Old 10th December 2012
  #20
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mcgruff's Avatar
 

I don't think there's anything existentially better about tube amps compared to sims. Their advantage is simply that they've been around for a lot longer. The good ones are at the head of a long development process in which, for every classic amp which survived, a thousand other designs were dumped.

One day, I'm sure software will provide everything these amps can do, and more. We're not there yet though.
Old 10th December 2012
  #21
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Johnny Favorite's Avatar
 

I was skeptic at first, but since reading lots of praise around here, I got me a Sansamp Character Blonde, and it kills. Better than all my other late night exploits(small amps, attenuators, digital trickery).

I play it a lot and no regrets yet. Give it a try, less expensive than most of your other options.
Old 10th December 2012
  #22
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mcgruff View Post
I don't think there's anything existentially better about tube amps compared to sims. Their advantage is simply that they've been around for a lot longer. The good ones are at the head of a long development process in which, for every classic amp which survived, a thousand other designs were dumped.

One day, I'm sure software will provide everything these amps can do, and more. We're not there yet though.
If your assertion is true then why haven't solid state amps replaced tube amps? Solid state guitar amps have been around for near 50 years now and still tube amps are very very much the preference. I don't know if there is any way any amp sim will ever replace a tube amp in the professional production environment. There are some great solid state amps like Jazz Chorus, and Tech 21, Peavey etc.... but those are still light years more musical than Amp Sims.

In home studio circles amp sims are useful for demos but they are still very harsh and unmusical.

One could make an argument tube amps sound very harsh with cheaper recording interfaces and that the tube amps may sound as 'digitized' as amp sims in a poor recording environment. But as interfaces get better in coming years people will realize Tube amps are the only solution to good guitar tone even for home demos. These boxes like Axe effects and Kemper are novelty items, these will not take over tube amps on during the making of real rock records. Since no one ever really used solid state amps to make rock records. Sure people have, I personally like Diamond Darrell's sound but his sound is suppose to be abrasive so solid state works, but most people would cringe at the thought of EVH or Jimmy Page recording or playing live with an amp sim or a modeler.

I like fooling around with amp sims for fun but they are very harsh and ultimately sound bad. Also they are very very dangerous to your hearing especially when using head phones. Digital distortion is bad, for your health.
Old 10th December 2012
  #23
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Mr.HOLMES's Avatar
Just one example.
Sims don't compress the low end, amps do it.
They do not have the interaction moving air in the room and strings on the guitar.

The distortion on the sims is static to my ears ... you can measure this.
The user interface is time consuming!!!

To each his own!!
But again I did many A B comparisons and asked even friends what they think which file sounds more organic.

It always was the real amp, not the simulation.
I call it balls ... a round tone a little bit of real room form the mics...

To me a single real amp can create more sounds as any simulation with over 30 different amps....20 cabs etc....20 mic sims.....etc.
Old 10th December 2012
  #24
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by RCM - Ronan View Post
If you want to get real miked amp sounds, use real amps.

There are a lot of options to do this even if you live in an apartment. You can get a good iso cab, but also look at getting a good tube amp that gets most of its tone from the pre amp section of the amp. You can get cool miked amp sound playing the amp quieter than most people listen to the evening news on TV.
Thanks for the reply Ronan,

I'm really glad you mention this. I've tried before but never gave it a real go at it. I have plenty of valve amps to choose from and I'll definitely give this a real shot.

My only question is... Would this be keeper material for you if you tracked like this? I mean, is the quality to a point that can really be used at a high level?
Old 10th December 2012
  #25
Gear Nut
 

Brad's Guitar Amplifier Isolation Mark 2 Box Design, Build and Sound Test -2(of 3):The Build - YouTube

You could build one by yourself - put in a speaker and mic it. Then you also could use a SPL Cabulator to be able to get that tube saturation when amps are crancked up.

AxeFX II - I heard one and I think it sounds pretty sweet. I would use it more in a supportive way to a real amp miced up...

Also there are many 1-16 Watt Amps that have a decent Amp Simulation...Bugera, Vox, Blackstar, Hughes & Kettner...
Old 10th December 2012
  #26
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by RiF View Post
Exactly! Have you tried micing your amp(s) at the lowest possible volume? I've tried it with my Dual Rectifier, which usually kills humans and animals around my house , wirh more than satisfying results and a zero bodycount :-).
Thanks, this sounds awesome and I will try it asap. Really hoping this is the answer~
Old 10th December 2012
  #27
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Wayne View Post
Brad's Guitar Amplifier Isolation Mark 2 Box Design, Build and Sound Test -2(of 3):The Build - YouTube

You could build one by yourself - put in a speaker and mic it. Then you also could use a SPL Cabulator to be able to get that tube saturation when amps are crancked up.

AxeFX II - I heard one and I think it sounds pretty sweet. I would use it more in a supportive way to a real amp miced up...

Also there are many 1-16 Watt Amps that have a decent Amp Simulation...Bugera, Vox, Blackstar, Hughes & Kettner...

Yeah, considered building a little makeshift gutiar cave but I don't want to sacrifice any quality.

But the Hermit Cab in particular sounds like it could be very promising. Unfortunately, I don't know anyone that has one or heard one.... For that amount of cash which I'm willing to spend, I have to know it's gonna kill..
Old 10th December 2012
  #28
Lives for gear
 

Just picked up a fender champion 600 for quiet home recording purposes. Its a 2 tube 5 watter with low and high inputs and is very quiet and sounds surprisingly good for its size.

With only one knob i find myself using a clean boost before my OD pedal to control the level of crunch then use the amp vol as the master volume...capable of getting a good variety of tones

Sent from my GT-I8190
Old 10th December 2012
  #29
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stafs's Avatar
 

Real is the deal. Best cheap low watt amps:
Jet City - JCA2112RC for high gain sounds.
Fender Super Champ for Cleaner stuff.
Add dummy load to your arsenal for recording late, use speaker sims, like Recabinet and Yo will get killer tones. I promise. :D
No need to spend few thousands on digital stuff and hate the tone you get.
Of, course, there are a lot of other amps that will do the job, but in my opinion, these two will cover all your studio needs.
Old 10th December 2012
  #30
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sofa King View Post
Am I missing something, you say you owned both the Kemper and the Axe, but dont see any mention of your Kemper experiences?
Care to share?
As I mentioned I only had a kemper for 2 weeks. I tried profiling my JCM 800 2205 with poor results. I also tried profiling my Hughes and Kettner Duotone and it was not warm it was was a very digitized sound. I was a neat toy but not like a real tube amp. But who knows maybe it was operator error?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sofa King View Post
Ive not used one myself, but a acquaintance, Andrew Murdock AKA "Mudrock", swears by the thing. Hes made a few pretty strong guitar records, and has some great amps, so Im intrigued.
I know who Mudrock is but I like tube amps, If he likes digital amps that is his preference.
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