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Guitar sound that doesn't fight the vocal?
Old 16th March 2012
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jimcroisdale's Avatar

Thread Starter
Guitar sound that doesn't fight the vocal?

Hi all,

I'm in a three piece modern rock band.

We have done quite a bit of demo recording while looking for a drummer, and now that we have found one, we're starting to rehearse the songs.

The problem that i'm finding is that because our singer doesn't have an edgy 'rock' voice (he's more a Rick Astley type!), my guitar sound is swallowing him up when we rehearse live.

When mixing our tracks it was easy enough to pull some 3k from the guitars and add some 3k to the vocals to get some nice separation, but that's near impossible to do with the PA rig that we have.

In the spirit of making the band sound as good as possible as a whole, I'd like to tailor my guitar sound to suit this. At the moment I'm running a Washburn N4 into an Orange Tiny Terror and a couple of Marshall 1x12" cabs (a nice neat mini-stack). The sound is great, but quite 'throaty', or more accurately, 'middly', right in the frequencies where the vocals are. The amp has no EQ, just a 'tone' control, which I always have full up, or else the sound isn't bright enough. Even with the tone down though, the problem is still there. I'm not too loud either - I know it's a frequency problem.

So, I'm looking for an amp that has a sound that isn't going to fight the vocal. In the past I've used a 5150 half-stack with a more scooped sound, but for this band I wanted a more honest, 'grown-up' distortion, not to mention a smaller rig. Are there any amps out there that might fall inbetween the two? I'd certainly consider a pickup change as well, as I find the 500XL to be very thin sounding when compared to my Dimarzio Tone Zone equipped Ibanez guitars.

Any thoughts people?

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Old 16th March 2012
Lives for gear
What PA rig do you have for rehearsals, and what's running through it? For our rehearsals we have 2 guitars, sometimes 2 keyboards, bass, drums and 3 vocals, including 1 lead.

Everyone has their amps, and we have an old Peavey PA head with a 1x15 for both keyboards.

1 old Mackie 1202 mixer for the 3 vocals into 1 QSC HPR122i up on a stand so that the horn is 7' high.

All instruments match drum levels, with vocals above. regardless of frequency ranges, with the vocal PA speaker up high, it cuts through. That and turning down the amps.

If you can reply back with how your rehearsal area is set up, that may help. I don't think it's an issue of your amps or pickups.
Old 16th March 2012
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jimcroisdale's Avatar

Thread Starter

Drums unamplified.

Bass - Jazz into a Genz Benz Streamliner and Neox 212t

Guitar as mentioned.

Vocal - SM58, mackie mini-mixer, power amp, Carlsbro 1x15" speakers (on stands)


Old 16th March 2012
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are you set up concert style, or facing each other, and are the speakers facing the singer?
Old 16th March 2012
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jimcroisdale's Avatar

Thread Starter
15ft square room approx.

drummer on one wall.

Pa speakers in opposite corners to drums.

Guitar and bass amps inbetween the PA cabs.

Me and the bassist/singer in the corners (kinda) all facing the middle.
Old 17th March 2012
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pinkheadedbug's Avatar

Yeah that sounds like a recipe for disaster to be honest. You have the voice coming in form the corners and the guitar and bass dominating the center, and both of them have to be turned way up.

I would do it as follows -- if the drummer is on the south wall, put the guitar amp on the east wall facing west and the bass on the west wall facing east (or vice versa), and the PA speakers on the north wall. Or if you can get the extra speakers, run a couple as vocal floor monitors.

The closer your amp is to you the quieter it can be to be heard over the drums. Stick it on a chair to get it to ear level. The object is to play as quietly as possible, with everyone able to hear themselves and the drums. Then find a spot in the room that has a reasonable mix and put a stereo recorder there and use that to post-mortem the rehearsal.
Old 19th March 2012
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jimcroisdale's Avatar

Thread Starter
Ok, will try that at tonight's practice! Cheers!
Old 19th March 2012
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pinkheadedbug's Avatar

(another way of doing it is -- amps on walls to left and right, monitors behind drummer, everybody facing inwards, singer opposite drummer)
Old 20th March 2012
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jimcroisdale's Avatar

Thread Starter
Well, tried your initial suggestion and it worked great!

Also used a 4x12" instead of the 2x 1x12" cabs, and that helped the guitar sound as well.

Happy days!
Old 21st April 2012
Gear interested

Marshall 1936v 2x12 cabs w/vintage 30's suit it perfectly also running an eq pedal could help if the earlier suggestions didn't work, MXR do a 10 band eq pedal..
Would definitely make your head a lot more versatile.
And it sounds like your looking for a nice overdrive tone not necessarily distortion.
Good Luck
Old 21st April 2012
Gear maniac

Originally Posted by jimcroisdale View Post
Any thoughts people?

See our Soundcloud page here: See My Silhouette's sounds on SoundCloud - Create, record and share your sounds for free


Hi Jim,

It's a bit muddy. Try replacing the Dimarzio with a Barden humbucker, this alone with clear up the sound quite a bit, then ditch that gear (for recording anyway) in favor of either a 5E3 tweed Deluxe or 6G3 brown Deluxe. Early Ted Nugent, ZZ Top's first 3 albums to name 2.

For recording, you will never do better. When live, mic this rig, you will never do better.
Old 22nd April 2012
I hope I'm not overstating the obvious here, but "arrangement" and "mixing".

Your issue is frequency overlap, so change the guitar part to be lower or higher, it's as simple as making space for the vocals in the arrangement.

Next you need to lower that guitar in the mix, it's been set up as if it's an instrumental guitar piece. Go and listen to some tracks that you like and match the volumes for the instruments and vocals. Then you need to start being brutal with the hi/low pass and EQ's to carve out a slot for your vocals in their frequency range. Remember to mix to a low volume and then where needed raise an instrument or voice up rather than taking up all the headroom in the mix before you get there, you can't have every instrument being lead all the time.
Old 23rd April 2012
Registered User

I just wanted to say that it is so refreshing to read of a guitar player who is listening to the band not just himself and is willing to accommodate to help the mix.
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