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Acoustic guitar tone


Andre Lower

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Hi there,

 

I'd like to inform myself about he proper setting of EFX for my acoustic guitar. I play an Yamaha APX-4 on a cover band and am only now reaching the level I believe reasonable to play live.

 

One of the things that I still miss is proper setting of the EFX on my guitar sound. In order to focus on a practical example, we cover Bon Jovi's "Wanted Dead or Alive" (original studio version) and although it sounds OK, I'm sure I could improve the sound I get from my acoustic if I knew how to set the EFX properly.

 

I play it through my TC Helicon VoiceLive, which features a separated channel with individual adjustment for Delay and Reverb. I also have the on-board EQ controls on the Yamaha APX-4.

 

I wonder if the original recording of the acoustic guitar was simply double-tracked, and if it's actually possible to approach it using what I have.

 

My luthier and another guy who I asked about it told me that the APX-4 sound sucks whenever you scoop out it's mid-range on EQ, which is an inherent limitation of this guitar. I suppose it is quite a problem for this particular song...

"I'm ready to sing to the world. If you back me up". (Lennon to his bandmates, in an inspired definition of what it's all about).
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The acoustic guitar on Wanted, Dead Or Alive may or may not be double-tracked, but it's a 12 string guitar. You won't be able to approximate that sound with a 6-string acoustic without a harmonizer, and it still won't sound good. (IMO, at least.)

 

Stick with playing it straight on the 6-string unless you're in the market for a 12 or have other access to one.

It's easiest to find me on Facebook. Neil Bergman

 

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Now am I a deaf dope or what? I swear to god I've been listening to this song for years without ever realizing it was a 12-stringer! My ears are not as good as I thought :( ...

 

Anyway, I'll have to stick with the 6-stringer. I had a 12 once and it was extremely complicated to maintain, tune and play. Have no plans to get another anytime soon.

 

Regarding the EFX (and of course discounting the sound components inherent to the 12-string original), what would you guys use for approximating the original sound? Beyond proper playing technique (in which I'm improving step by step) I am limited to EQ, Delay and Reverb. Any tips? I am still not capable of coaxing a good tone out of my APX-4 live, and any direction you guys can provide will be greatly appreciated.

 

Is it really true that I should never scoop away the mid-range frequencies on this particular acoustic model?

"I'm ready to sing to the world. If you back me up". (Lennon to his bandmates, in an inspired definition of what it's all about).
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Hi Warthog!

 

I do like it a lot, but had to learn a lot of things not event briefly mentioned in the user manual in order to get it to sound as intended. It's definitely not "plug&play" for anyone without previous live mixing experience.

 

What exactly have you got in your VoiceOne signal chain? If you tell me I might be able to comment on a manner to get improvements on the delay problem.

 

BTW, the single biggest problem with 90% of VoiceLive users all over the world is that the fundamental issue of signal level is scarcely addressed in the User Manual and thus most people end up with very noisy results on live use. A pity TC Helicon did not tale the required care on addressing the issue on their manual (which is silly if you consider that the advertised simplicity and live use capability would inevitably push inexperienced "live mixers" like me into closer contact with this specific audio problem...).

"I'm ready to sing to the world. If you back me up". (Lennon to his bandmates, in an inspired definition of what it's all about).
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I think the Jellifish would be darn near impossible to use for individual picking such as that in Wanted, Dead Or Alive. ;)

 

Andre, don't know how you missed that he plays an acoustic 12 at the beginning of Wanted, but it's particularly notable because he had Ovation build the first, custom Adamas double-neck acoustic guitar to accomodate playing it live.

It's easiest to find me on Facebook. Neil Bergman

 

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Then I'm a double jerk!

 

Now if any of you gentleman could shed some light on the most suitable EFX setuf I'm all ears...the playing is almost perfect, but I have not nailed the acoustic guitar sound itself.

 

Thanks for any help you may offer.

"I'm ready to sing to the world. If you back me up". (Lennon to his bandmates, in an inspired definition of what it's all about).
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The acoustic sound will vary greatly with different PA's, so you'll have to tackle it on a case by case basis. However, you should plug it in and listen to the timbre as you make adjustments to know how that particular instrument's sound changes with a variety of settings.

 

I'm unfamiliar with the model, so I can't even generalize about the sound you'll hear acoustically, let alone using a variety of settings. Scooping the mids on an acoustic is a bad thing to do unless all you want to hear is some push in the bass and pick noise. (I can't stand those sounds, personally, but I know they're very popular in pop and rock music.)

It's easiest to find me on Facebook. Neil Bergman

 

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I use open strings as "drone strings" plus altered chord voicings to get that octave or doubled sound. It works quite well with rhythm playing. Not so much with lead playing.

 

Dude, A Yamaha APX 4 is an awesome guitar. Your should be able to make some great tones with that guitar. It's nice to have a 12-string, but never required.

 

Do you have any MP3s we can listen to.

 

(psst, I love Yamahas, I owe 4 now). I plan to buy an APX5 soon.

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Oh I forgot to mention: I hate the sound of effects on acoustic guitars. It really destroys the natural sound.

 

I would suggest you do yourself a favor and stick with the natural acoustic sound and completely forget about adding any thing but a smidge of reverb and maybe just a very tiny bit of chorus for recording.

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Originally posted by Pappy P:

Oh I forgot to mention: I hate the sound of effects on acoustic guitars. It really destroys the natural sound.

 

I would suggest you do yourself a favor and stick with the natural acoustic sound and completely forget about adding any thing but a smidge of reverb and maybe just a very tiny bit of chorus for recording.

...and a wah. Maybe a phaser through a ring tone modulator. Yeah.. that's the ticket! ;):D

It's easiest to find me on Facebook. Neil Bergman

 

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Originally posted by Pappy P:

...Dude, A Yamaha APX 4 is an awesome guitar. Your should be able to make some great tones with that guitar...Do you have any MP3s we can listen to.

I should, but am not. After so many years with this guitar I still have absolutelly no clue as to the right settings of the three band EQ (with adjustable mid-range frequency). I wish it was more complex than it is, because it is so deceptively simple that nobody actually believes when I say I can't get a good tone out of it and thus I never got any help...

 

I do not have any MP3 recordings of my guitar. However my experience with vocals taught me that setting it to sound nice on its own is sure to ruin the way it will sound in the mix (I mean live band situation), which only adds to my confusion.

 

If I knew for sure that I could pay someone to show me a way to get the sound I should be getting I would not mind paying for it. The way it is I end up playing much less than I should, simply because it sounds bad.

"I'm ready to sing to the world. If you back me up". (Lennon to his bandmates, in an inspired definition of what it's all about).
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Originally posted by Andre Lower:

If I knew for sure that I could pay someone to show me a way to get the sound I should be getting I would not mind paying for it.

I think it's just a matter of patience. Hold some rehearsals and make sure everyone understands that you are trying to get the guitar sound right. And keep playing the song until you are happy with the sound. Maybe you could get a long cord and stand in front of the band while you are rehearsing so you can hear what it would sound like to the audience. If four EQs are not enough, maybe you could get an EQ pedal, but try the rehearsal thing first.

 

There's no formula, you just need time and patience.

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Originally posted by fantasticsound:

Andre, don't know how you missed that he plays an acoustic 12 at the beginning of Wanted, but it's particularly notable because he had Ovation build the first, custom Adamas double-neck acoustic guitar to accomodate playing it live.

Well then it's going to be doubly hard to get that sound. Just mention "Ovation" on this forum and see how quick someone comes back with "too bright", "too trebly", "too plastic-y", "not enough bass", "too thin", etc. Either you like the Ovation sound or you don't. (I happen to have one.)

 

Now, having said all that, on your Yamaha 3-band EQ, try cutting the mids a little and the lows a little more than that. Keep the highs flat. (Or start with everything boosted and then cut as before.)

 

I also notice that my Ovation seems to have a pretty sharp attack. Maybe try a heavier pick than what you're using now?

 

Other than the actual equipment, some of that sound is going to come from technique. Keep working on it!

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Originally posted by Kramer Ferrington III.:

Originally posted by Andre Lower:

If I knew for sure that I could pay someone to show me a way to get the sound I should be getting I would not mind paying for it.

I think it's just a matter of patience. Hold some rehearsals and make sure everyone understands that you are trying to get the guitar sound right. And keep playing the song until you are happy with the sound. Maybe you could get a long cord and stand in front of the band while you are rehearsing so you can hear what it would sound like to the audience. If four EQs are not enough, maybe you could get an EQ pedal, but try the rehearsal thing first.

 

There's no formula, you just need time and patience.

Or a looper :idea:
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Originally posted by RicBassGuy:

Originally posted by fantasticsound:

Andre, don't know how you missed that he plays an acoustic 12 at the beginning of Wanted, but it's particularly notable because he had Ovation build the first, custom Adamas double-neck acoustic guitar to accomodate playing it live.

Well then it's going to be doubly hard to get that sound. Just mention "Ovation" on this forum and see how quick someone comes back with "too bright", "too trebly", "too plastic-y", "not enough bass", "too thin", etc. Either you like the Ovation sound or you don't. (I happen to have one.)...

 

...I also notice that my Ovation seems to have a pretty sharp attack...

:D Yeah... there are some exceptions to the Ovation rule, but they do seem to have their own sound. ;) I've played several Ovations that were wonderful and rather, for lack of a better term, non-Ovation sounding. The father of an old girlfriend of mine had a wonderful medium bowl. It was already years old when we were dating in the mid 1980's. But Ovations like that, IME, are few and far between.

 

The treble and sharp attack, in the case of 12 string guitar in general and Wanted, Dead Or Alive in particular, is not a bad thing. If you listen to the recording the acoustic guitar has a particularly sharp attack, bright sound and it works perfectly. ;)

 

BTW - I was careful to say, "for live use" because I have no information to say he used the doubleneck or another Ovation for the recording. It was, however, all over the live video and Ovation advertising at the time.

It's easiest to find me on Facebook. Neil Bergman

 

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