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How do I get that crystal clear dist guitar sound?


James Composer

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There's lots of ways to get that sound, but if you're looking for petrucci's sound, I know that Mesa Boogie Rectifier amp's play a big role for his very 'tight' distorted sound. JP also uses DiMarzio pickups, most of which have a very 'hot' compressed sound. I'm not sure what he uses for external distortion effects, but he does use a fair ammount of delay to thicken up his sound...and I'd bet he uses at least some compression. There are the basics, and it'll get you close to that sound.

 

There's a music man signature guitar that JP uses, you can find it here (there's also a much cheaper OLP version, but you said money wasn't an issue):

 

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/product/Music-Man-John-Petrucci-6String-Electric-Guitar?sku=515568

 

If you want to keep up on his whole rig, it's all on his website:

 

http://www.johnpetrucci.com/equipment.html

-Andy

 

 

"I know we all can't stay here forever so I want to write my words on the face of today...and they'll paint it"

 

-Shannon Hoon (Blind Melon)

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I'm not sure that this is the sound you are after, but Pete Townshend went from Marshall to HiWatt played thru HiWatt 4x12's with Fane speakers to achieve a "clearer distortion". You could look for a vintage rig. Also, check out Reeves, who makes what is supposed to be an exact copy of Townshend's custom HiWatt 100 watt head, called the Signature Head, and they sell a 4x12 cab loaded with Fane speakers.

 

http://www.reevesamps.com/amp_cp103.htm

 

http://www.reevesamps.com/cab.htm

 

I've got this rig, and it growls in a clearer way compared to Marshalls.....quality stuff, but VERY LOUD.....have your ear plugs handy.

Don

 

"There once was a note, Pure and Easy. Playing so free, like a breath rippling by."

 

 

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemusic.cfm?bandID=574296

 

http://www.myspace.com/imdrs

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Originally posted by Guitarzan:

Don, do you have any room left in the house? :D

you suprise me every day. :eek:

Well....I built my house to a proportion that would accomodate my extreme form of......

 

G.A.S. and A.A.S. (amps, of course!!)

 

And, I'm good at organizing.... :D

Don

 

"There once was a note, Pure and Easy. Playing so free, like a breath rippling by."

 

 

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemusic.cfm?bandID=574296

 

http://www.myspace.com/imdrs

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Well I could be an annoying person and say, "isn't that an oxymoron?" I dunno did I spell it right?

 

But cuz I am cool, I understand what you want. There are plenty of options for that kind of sound. What kind of budget do you have? For heavy metal tones VHT has some nice amps like the 50CL. I like em better than Duel Recs for that kind of sound (my opinion). Most of the tone is in your hands though. Take any great player you admire and thats what you are really admiring whether you realize it or not. Marshall DSL is a nice metal amp. Peavey 5150 is a cool metal amp (for the money), and of course the Peavey VTM series which is peavey's coolest metal amp ever in my book. THD makes some awesome amps too.

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What I'd like more than anything is idea's of how I could record the guitar from plug to computer through a hardware input (guitar to usb to computer rig). From there, I'd like to use digital amp simulation, with distortion. I have the software, I just need the hardware.

 

To clarify, I want:

 

Guitar >>> Pro Tools

 

Directly recorded right into a computer running Sonar 5, crystal clear quality, no static, and crystal clear distortion.

 

Here's an audio clip:

 

Distrotion Guitar Sample

 

All the songs, especially the second one (dream theator), have that crystal "clear as day" pro quality distortion sound that I want.

 

If I were to use the crap that I've got lying around right now I'd be plugging into a DAW's internal audio hardware, which would create static and muddyness. To top it all off, I'd be using a crap guitar with crap pickups.

 

I need Guitar to Pro Tools; no static, no muddyness, crystal clear distortion sound.

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Ah, well Line 6 is a big name for guitar-computer interfaces (I think it's called guitar port?). There's also a software called "Guitar Rig" that has lots of amp/effect modelling.

 

But the highest quality *guitar* for this is probably Brian Moore's "USB" guitar, because you can go straight from guitar->computer, without direct boxes or anything like that.

 

http://www.iguitar.com/

-Andy

 

 

"I know we all can't stay here forever so I want to write my words on the face of today...and they'll paint it"

 

-Shannon Hoon (Blind Melon)

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So you don't want the clear distortion as in Pete Townsend's Hiwatts... You are looking to make a high quality, crystal clear recording of a heavily distorted guitar tone.

 

I would imagine most of those samples that you posted were pro-players recording in high-end stuidos with pro-equipment and engineers. Its a big task to try to emmualte that completely at home. Maybe one of the recording gurus here will chime in with some advice to get started.

"Spend all day doing nothing

But we sure do it well" - Huck Johns from 'Oh Yeah'

Click to Listen to Oh yeah

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Nope, I've tried it both ways, and going straight into the computer and using an inboard simulator is definitely NOT cleaner than micing up an amplifier. It's not tighter, it's not cleaner, and it just plain doesn't sound as good.

 

Now, the post-distortion effects (flange, delay, chorus, etc) are definitely best saved for after the tracking is done.

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Does your computer have a Firewire input? If so, look into the Prosonus Inspire 1394 Firewire Audio interface. You can pick one up for between $150-$170, and it works great. With one of those, you can use a mic to capture whatever amp you want to push into overdrive, or track direct in to computer and add distortion later.

The trick to getting a clear distortion sound is to make the amp distort less than you think it should. If you listen clsely to the recordings of the classic distortion sounds, most of them recorded between the 70's and early 90's, you hear that the amps don't really distort and crunch as much as they sing. With just enough push from the preamp, the power tubes distort in a much sweeter way than pushing the preamp tubes into distortion, and that is where that sound comes from. Get you a low wattage tube amp that you can turn way up, and find the sweet spot on the volume control where the amp starts singing, and that's where you want to be. Also, use a small speaker rather than a big 12" or 4x12 stack. When the speaker is really moving, you get that huge wall of sound thing, and a large speaker doesn't really move at low volume. Experiment with open and closed-back cabinets to see which you like better. You can also try different mics to see if they help you get what you're looking for. You can pick up large-diaphagm condensor mics for less than a hundred these days, and they sound really natural. And dynamic mics like a SHURE SM-57 are about the same price, and they are an industry standard for mic-ing amps.

 

Or, just buy you a Boogie. They do tend to simplifiy getting a killer sound.

Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else.

 

 

 

 

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Originally posted by Picker:

And dynamic mics like a SHURE SM-57 are about the same pricew, and they are aan industry standard for mic-ing amps.

OK, maybe I'm the only one dealing with this, but I figured I'd throw it out there.

 

How do you handle the mic breaking up at high input volume? These things have a max SPL of around 105dB - seems like every time I get an amp right there at the sweet spot, it overdrives the mic. Solutions?

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Back the mic away from the speaker. If you are distorting the mic by overexcursing the diaphagm, you have too much sound pressure going into the mic, and the only way to get it done would be to pull the mic away from the speaker. You should mic the cabinet more than once, and sread the mics out in a pattern around the amp. That would give you better sound anyway, but watch out for phase cancellation between the mics.

Or, you could get a PZM mic, and set it a few feet in front of the amp...

Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else.

 

 

 

 

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Its a big task to try to emmualte that completely at home.
This isn't just home recording, money isn't an object. I have to know how to get that sound. I have $5,000+ to spend on that distortion guitar sound alone.

 

Get you a low wattage tube amp that you can turn way up, and find the sweet spot on the volume control where the amp starts singing, and that's where you want o be. Also, used a small speaker ratherr than a big 12" or 4x12 stack. When the speaker is really moving, you get that huge wall of sound thing, and a large speaker doesn't really move at low volume. experiment with open and closed-back cabinets to see which you like better. You can also try different mics to see if they help you get what you're looking for. You can pick up large-diaphagm condensor mics for less than a hundred these days, and they sound really natural. And dynamic mics like a SHURE SM-57 are about the same pricew, and they are aan industry standard for mic-ing amps.

Thanks, this has helped so much. :)

 

In fact, thanks to everyone that has helped so far, your info is like candy to the brain.

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Close mic-ing will get you less room ambience, and tends to be a bit brighter. Those are about the only advantages I can think of.

Jimmy Page is fond of quoting an old recording maxim, "distance makes depth". Up close, the sound is more immediate and brash. The further away from a sound source you set the mic, the more sound reflected off the walls and floor of the room is able to get into the mic. Two great examples of him using that are;

1. The guitar intro to Heartbereaker on the second album. Page didn't pump it through a reverb tank, he used a big room and mic the amp from a few feet away.

 

2. The drum intro to When the Levvy Breaks on the fourth album. He miked Bonzo's kit high and low from accross a room with a tall ceiling, with no close mic-ing at all. That's why it sounds so massive.

Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else.

 

 

 

 

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There has been a lot of talk around here about the Epiphone Valve Jr head, which is a 15 watt amp. If you use one of those to push an 8" speaker, it will get what I was talking about. If you can find one, a Reverend Goblin is a great recording amp with a really wide range of tonal possibilities. Jimmy Page used a little Danelectro combo amp with maybe 15 or 20 watts and a 10" speaker to record his electric guitar stuff. Sometimes he would push it with a Sola Sound ToneBender fuzz, sometimes he just turned it up.

 

But, if you want to really get what you are looking for and money isn't an object, rent studio time in a good LA or NY studio with an experienced engineer, and play him a song with the sound from Dream Theatre that you want to capture. The engineer will listen to your example and either pull out or rent the right equipment to make it happen, and you'll have exactly what you want. Enough money and things like that are easy.

Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else.

 

 

 

 

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Originally posted by James Composer:

Its a big task to try to emmualte that completely at home.
This isn't just home recording, money isn't an object. I have to know how to get that sound. I have $5,000+ to spend on that distortion guitar sound alone.
To be flip, spend some of that money on an experienced engineer.

 

Get you a low wattage tube amp that you can turn way up, and find the sweet spot on the volume control where the amp starts singing, and that's where you want o be.
I really strongly agree with this advice. The guitar sound doesn't have to be overdriven/distorted all to kingdom come in order to sound heavy. Backing off a little bit on the distortion aspect will open up the sound to where you can hear the notes, not the amplifier exploding.

 

And BTW, make sure the guitar is properly intonated. Small tuning discrepancies will make for big clarity problems with those sounds. The overtones will beat against each other, not with each other.

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Originally posted by Billster:

Get you a low wattage tube amp that you can turn way up, and find the sweet spot on the volume control where the amp starts singing, and that's where you want o be.
I really strongly agree with this advice. The guitar sound doesn't have to be overdriven/distorted all to kingdom come in order to sound heavy.
Depends on the context. However, in most cases, less is more with distortion, even in heavy metal applications. The biggest problem I have with Guitar Rig is that its "presets" are completely unusable in recording applications. They're designed to sound good when it's just the guitar - which means they're far too fuzzy for a band mix.
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