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Best Guitar Recordings...


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I recorded 2 demos last weekend and ran direct through a Hughes & Kettner Replex and Tubeman through a Great River mic pre. The demo sounds great. But we did one track with tons of distortion and it just sounds TERRIBLE. Fuzzy. Putrid. Disappointing! I can't wait to get back to the drummer's studio and eliminate that track from our fair planet.

 

So I'm serious about tracking guitars properly. I want to ask youz guyz: 1) What songs come to mind that have brilliantly recorded guitars 2) What did they use to get that sound? (Amps, mics, techniques)

 

One example I have in mind is Incubus' Make Yourself (the song itself and the whole CD) which sounds to me like Soldano amps for the super heavy bits. Rick Rubin produced. Gobs of compression?

 

Eric Johnson's guitars on Venus Isle sound very nice.

 

Dominic Miller's guitar on Sting's Soul Cages album. The last song, When The Angels Fall.

 

These are only a few examples that I can come up with. The cleaner guitars are easier for me so far. Do you guys find that distorted guitars are difficult to record in general? I want a thorougly professional sound.

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Recording overdrive guitars direct is quite difficult. Here's the deal: guitar amp speakers are incredibly inaccurate and limited. There's no high end response. When you record direct, you are capturing all those frequencies above the range of a guitar amp and with overdrive, it sounds like mosquitos inside your ear.

 

I use an old Hughes & Kettner Red Box cabinet simulator. Before that I had a parametric EQ setting I dialed in to mimic the limited frequency response of a typical guitar speaker.

 

Your best bet is to mike a small amp cranked loud. If that is not possible, then a speaker sim or EQ as described before the signal hits the tape (or hard disk ;) ) will help. And use less overdrive to go direct than you might use through an amp. Listen to Malcolm Young with AC/DC - it's heavy as hell, but not really that distorted.

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Innocence Mission "Glow" (yeah, the entire album)

Led Zeppelin "Ten Years Gone" from "Physical Graffiti"

Metallica - Bob Rock-produced recordings

Nick Drake

The Cure "Disintegration"

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I always liked David Gilmour's guitars in all of the Floyd albums - Particularly the Animals period; Dogs.

 

Really? The guitar tracks sound really dry and antiseptic to me. A very strange distortion type. It's not bad, just different and strange.

 

Maybe it's the early Solid State sound? iirc Gilmour used MXR+ distortion pedal through HiWATT amps.

 

Good album though.

 

And use less overdrive to go direct than you might use through an amp. Listen to Malcolm Young with AC/DC - it's heavy as hell, but not really that distorted.

 

Interesting post. And i agree that it's very easy to overdistort your guitar when recording. However there are a bunch of songs i've heard where i think they backed off just a little too much. Just about any Wishbone Ash, some Alice Cooper stuff ("eighteen" comes right to mind), some Deep Purple (the song "Fools" is so goddamned heavy but the guitar tone is a bit too weak on that).

 

For the record, i think a lot of modern recordings (circa right now), esp. the detuned grindcore stuff is waaay overdistorted and muddy sounding.

 

Thenagain, maybe it's just me :D

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Originally posted by phaeton:

Maybe it's the early Solid State sound? iirc Gilmour used MXR+ distortion pedal through HiWATT amps.

 

Good album though.

Hiwatt made tube amps.

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"Hey, I'm not Jesus Christ, I can't turn water into wine. The best I can do is turn beer into urine." Zakk Wylde

 

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Hiwatt made tube amps.

 

I know this, but i should have mentioned "in concert". Maybe he used something more SS in the studio, i dunno.

 

Doesn't really matter though, it's still all good :D

 

There is a part on that album, (the exact song and moment escapes me atm, but if you want i'll dig it out when i go home), at the end of a guitar solo where David hits a diad or simple triad chord and the distortion just sounds weird.

 

Not trying to hijack the thread! Honest!

 

(btw, your sig about hunks of meat and beer cracks me up)

Dr. Seuss: The Original White Rapper

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WWND?

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Originally posted by phaeton:

For the record, i think a lot of modern recordings (circa right now), esp. the detuned grindcore stuff is waaay overdistorted and muddy sounding.

 

Thenagain, maybe it's just me :D

I think that's one of the reasons I like the Metallica stuff. It's really distorted, but it sounds so massive and defined nonetheless. I do like some of the downtuned grindcore stuff, though, although my interest in that piqued a few years back and am a little more tired of it now.

 

And yes, I think the AC/DC guitars sound really great. I also really like the guitar sound on Van Halen I and II.

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Originally posted by billster:

[QB] Your best bet is to mike a small amp cranked loud. [QB]

Why does this work do you think? I know Jimmy Page recorded some with a Fender Champ or something similar. I think David Gilmour did some of that too.

 

Most modern stuff is just a big wall of compressed mush. Incubus and Tool have better guitars sounds for some reason.

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Originally posted by LanceM:

Originally posted by billster:

[QB] Your best bet is to mike a small amp cranked loud. [QB]

Why does this work do you think? I know Jimmy Page recorded some with a Fender Champ or something similar. I think David Gilmour did some of that too..
I think it's because of several reasons. The amp distorts quicker but is not as loud so you are not having to worry about distorting your mic, mic preamp, etc. Also, louder volumes tend to bring out imperfections in the room, the guitar cabinet itself, and cause rattles and such.

 

Now, that said, some people get awesome sounds from really large cabinets, so it's not a "rule" as such.

 

BTW, I am recording a lot of my stuff with a Carr Rambler. It has two modes, pentode and triode, either 28 or 14 watts. I often record at 14 watts because it breaks up a little quicker but also sounds slightly warmer and buttery for reasons that Miles can explain to you and I cannot! :D I also record with a Fender Super Chorus, which is a much larget amp, but we get awesome tones from that as well.

 

Jimmy Page recorded a lot of the stuff with a Supro amp. And a lot of people have recorded stuff with Pignoses, Fender Champs, and other small amps.

 

I don't know what Brian May records with, but maybe that's a small amp as well? It's a nice tone, whatever it is, and he seems very adept at mixing and matching different tones (and obviously, Page was absolutely masterful at this).

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Originally posted by LanceM:

Originally posted by billster:

[QB] Your best bet is to mike a small amp cranked loud. [QB]

Why does this work do you think? I know Jimmy Page recorded some with a Fender Champ or something similar. I think David Gilmour did some of that too.

 

Most modern stuff is just a big wall of compressed mush. Incubus and Tool have better guitars sounds for some reason.

What Ken said :thu:

 

Listen to my Fender Champ blasting lead guitar

 

spam>

 

Keith Richards once said that small amps being pushed have that tension, like something could go haywire at any moment.

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Bigger is not always better;)

 

http://www.voxamps.co.uk/images/products/deacy.jpg

 

 

Brians original Deacy battery-powered amplifier

one input, no controls!

Brian and VOX Amplification have enjoyed a long association, and the guitarist's wall of AC30s is a spectacle that's thrilled concert-goers for years. Along with his "Red Special" guitar, VOX has become a part of his stage presence. But, in the studio, another device has contributed mightily to Brian's enviable guitar tone. It's called the "Deacy" in honour of its creator, John Deacon, Queen's bassist, and it's an unlikely combination of a piecemeal amp, built of parts salvaged from a refuse heap in the early 1970's, and Brian's handcrafted "Treble Booster" pedal. Along with his guitar, this entirely original, homemade system, has created a stunning and unmistakable sound.This Deacy amp is one of his most prized possessions, and, due to its age, an irreplaceable treasure. The electrical components have all fallen out of production, and the batteries are no longer readily available.

 

Reference (Vox Amps)

Lynn G
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Extreme II - Pornograffitti has, in my opinion, some of the greatest heavy guitar sounds of all time.

 

Of course, the player has a lot to do with it as well.

 

Another example of great guitar sound is the Beatles Abbey Road - again, the Pink Floyd connection.

 

Most Bad Company illustrates the "not as distorted as you might think" point.

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What you know, an actual music thread...this should be OT.

 

Anyway, great topic. I was using the POD XT for half of my album until one day we decided to go with an amp and mic it because the POD wasn`t giving us what we wanted.

 

Anyway, we use a Shure 57 at a 45 degree angle about 2-3 inches from a Fender Princeton Amp. We also have the amp in a shower with tiled walls (though I`m not sure we actually usemuch of that sound) facing upwards torwards the ceiling. I do this because the space is limited horizontally but we can go up!

 

Recording guitars is one of the most rewarding instruments. Once you find a good player with a good amp and mic position, you are on your way and that setup will always work.

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Another example of great guitar sound is the Beatles Abbey Road - again, the Pink Floyd connection.

 

Most Bad Company illustrates the "not as distorted as you might think" point.

 

What's the connection between Pink Floyd and Abbey Road? I'm curious.

 

As far as Bad Company, at least for the song Bad Company, i full-on dig that type of guitar sound, and use it a lot. With a stratocaster no less..

Dr. Seuss: The Original White Rapper

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Lance, we got lucky and just hired a soundman who has a college degree in sound reinforcement. One thing I've noticed during our soundchecks is he'll jump up on stage and move the guitar amp mic (-57) an inch to one side or the other, then run back to the mixer to hear it. There apparently is a lot of difference just moving the speaker mic a very small amount (and this is for a 2-bit bar gig!) You might want to experiment a bit with this.

 

As far as well-recorded guitar tones, my favorites would be Neil Young and Dire Straits, but couldn't tell you too much about what they use.

Botch

"Eccentric language often is symptomatic of peculiar thinking" - George Will

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Botch-

on an amp's speaker cone High frequency is towards the center, and the lows are out toward the edge of the cone.(or maybe that's backwards)The soundman is probaly adjusting which slice of the tone you are putting in to the PA. makes things much easier to mix.

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I know this isn't the style of music or guitar you're working on, but I sure love the guitar sounds on Hendrix tracks like All Along the Watchtower and Little Wing (among others). Also, SR Vaughn's version of Little Wing (which I'm listening to now), sounds mighty sweet.

 

I have to admit I'm partial to guitars that are just on the edge of distortion (after years of trashing my own hearing with my big muff set to 10 all the way across... which has a lot to do with why I can barely listen to my 80s recordings.)

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Originally posted by greenboy:

It seems rather obvious why small amps are more often than not preferable. Even the ad copy for smaller amps often states that, or infers it.

 

What's being put in the drinking water these days anyway?

I dunno. I still get a few people who think that getting a big burly guitar sound means obliterating my living ro-, er, studio with a 250 watt Marshall set on "Kill". No matter how much you explain that it'll actually sound bad that way because it's distorting everything, "exciting" the room too much, and making everything including the drum set rattle, they go and do it anyway. I show them recordings I've made with huge guitar sounds that were recorded at low volume with small amps, and they nod, but don't want to do it. They want to play loud and feel their arm hairs move.
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One time when I was still using a lot of distortion I just couldn't get the sound I was looking for.

 

Finally, after reading a suggestion in a mag or in an audio forum on Compuserve (this was before the www, as I recall) I took the output of my skanky Peavey grinder amp and ran it into a 2" computer speaker mounted in a little cardboard box and put it in a closet. I played around with mic position and ended up with it about 3" away. After some fooling around, I took a jeweler's screwdriver and poked a tiny, torn flap hole in the cone.

 

It was a sound someplace between Pat Hare* and Blue Cheer and it sounded big and ugly in the mix.

 

 

[* Pat Hare worked with a handful of top bluesmen in the 50's including Howlin' Wolf. His hugely distorted guitar sound, according to All Music Guide, came from a "Sears & Roebuck cereal-box-sized amp." He may be best remembered, though, for his own track, I'm Gonna Murder My Baby, which anticipated the death of his girlfriend at his hands, for which he spent the rest of his life in prison. When he wasn't drinking, he was apparently a reasonable, quiet man, but...)

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There have been some great recording made with stuff like a Fender Champ cranked or even a Pignose on it's back and an SM-57 hanging from the ceiling about three feet above (a Zappa thang).

 

My very best recording experiences have come from Mesa Boggies when I discovered them in the early 80s. Yeah, Marshalls are great when you can crank them properly, but that's just not practical in most rooms unless you've got a power soak.

 

Give me a Boogie or my 60s Black face Vibro Champ for most things these days.

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I recently recorded some overdriven guitar tracks, and am incredibly pleased with the tone I got.

 

I've got a Bassman 70 with a Recording/Line Out, and a homemade 4x12 cab. One of the top speakers was mic'd with a 57 about a quarter inch off the grill, about 2 inches from the center of the speaker, and my newly acquired USED BLUE BABY BOTTLE (bought for snare drum, but was soon discovered to be a great mic for pretty much anything) on one of the bottom speakers, about 3 inches off the grill, a little further from the center of the speaker. Then I did the direct line out and lowered the volume of that channel to about -10db. The bassman was cranked to 10 on the master and normal channel input. Really sweet crunch, as some of you may know from hearing the amp.

 

I should actually finish those up and post them here.

 

Oh yeah, and do your best to find a used Baby Bottle.

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Cris Isaak's "Wicked Game" has a stunning long sustain guitar sound - very distinctive and well executed.

 

I agree - small is often better but I remember when recording in the early 80s trying for a sound and the only one that came close was a Marshall on 11. :) but we couldn't record it because to get a mike close enough to get the upfront version we wanted the mikes would all distort. we tried every one we had.

 

Then out of the blue this Neuman mike rep appears at the studio trying to flog us the new TLM series - what's so great about this new mike we asked?.... it will handle 130 spl...oh? well leave it with us and we'll see if we can give it a try.

 

It worked :):)

 

cheers

john

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