#1
Hey guys. I've been working on a new song lately and have been extremely frustrated with my results in trying to capture a good lead sound. I have pretty much written the song entirely and can play it start to finish no problem. The song opens with these kind of "shreddy" lead lines and then breaks down into blackened death metal. The latter sections are not giving me any trouble -- I just play them three times, layer them panned left, right, and center, and it sounds good.

But this will be my first time trying to capture a fast solo run. The problem I'm running into is that though it sounds great in the room, when I play it and listen back to the recording, it sounds nothing like it does in the room. I've been trying to blend two tracks of it and even after making 8-10 different versions of it and trying various ones blended, it doesn't sound as good as a single take of what I'm hearing in the room.

I'm almost wondering if I should back the mic away to where I normally stand to try to just capture what I hear. Close-micing just seems to lose too much audio information.

Do people normally use just one track for solos/leads? I'll admit, it's been extremely difficult to play this line twice to the degree that I can blend the two tracks. Should I be EQing the amp differently and just try to get one killer track?

Thanks for any advice.
#2
I'll try and give some general advice but it's kinda hard to say without hearing.

Unless you are EXTREMELY tight, double tracking solos is going to be an exercise in futility. I have seen that Steve Vai has done it on at least one track but you need to be ridiculously tight to pull that off.

If there are harmonies etc then yes layering multiple takes would be common practice but for a single lead I would say no.

I wouldn't suggest moving the mic away from the amp because that will just increase background noise and reduce clarity.

I wouldn't necessarily EQ the amp differently but I would suggest maybe low passing at like 7k, so that the lead tone has less high end than the rhythm and stands on it's own a bit more. Also I would suggest process it independently of the rhythm guitars, because you may want to EQ/compress it differently.

Other tools like doublers and stereo delays can help.
#3
Use a second mic and capture more of the room sound. One close mic, one room mic, pan and blend to taste.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
#4
Quote by Random3
I'll try and give some general advice but it's kinda hard to say without hearing.

Unless you are EXTREMELY tight, double tracking solos is going to be an exercise in futility. I have seen that Steve Vai has done it on at least one track but you need to be ridiculously tight to pull that off.

If there are harmonies etc then yes layering multiple takes would be common practice but for a single lead I would say no.

I wouldn't suggest moving the mic away from the amp because that will just increase background noise and reduce clarity.

I wouldn't necessarily EQ the amp differently but I would suggest maybe low passing at like 7k, so that the lead tone has less high end than the rhythm and stands on it's own a bit more. Also I would suggest process it independently of the rhythm guitars, because you may want to EQ/compress it differently.

Other tools like doublers and stereo delays can help.


That's kind of a relief, actually. I consider myself a pretty tight player, especially on my rhythm playing, but I am definitely not tight enough to play this kind of lead run exactly the same twice. I didn't know how much I should have expected out of myself until you said it's quite difficult to double track solos. Great advice processing it separately, I'll definitely do that. I think part of the issue is that it is the song opener, and there are no other sounds going on at the same time. It's just a raw lead run that I plan on maybe adding some reverb and delay to later. So since it is by itself in the mix, it has to sound perfect.
#5
Quote by Cajundaddy
Use a second mic and capture more of the room sound. One close mic, one room mic, pan and blend to taste.


That sounds like a good idea. I have a second mic but will need to go pick up another mic cable.

Do you think I should set the room mic at about the same place that I feel is the "sweet spot" when standing in the room? Because there's definitely a sweet spot (to my ears) about 8 feet away from the amp at standing level.
#6
Quote by KailM
That sounds like a good idea. I have a second mic but will need to go pick up another mic cable.

Do you think I should set the room mic at about the same place that I feel is the "sweet spot" when standing in the room? Because there's definitely a sweet spot (to my ears) about 8 feet away from the amp at standing level.


Yes. Trust your ears. Every room has acoustic nodes where your guitar will sound awesome or awful. Choose awesome. If you don't get the results you are looking for at first, move the room mic around.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
#7
Well, I went to buy a mic cable from the local store and explained the issue I was having. They ended up renting me (for free, lol) a super nice condenser mic and cable as well as giving me a cheaper mic cable (they said it would likely fail when I needed it most, so they couldn't charge me for it).

Anyway, I placed the condenser mic at about head level in the "sweet spot" in the room as well as close-micing how I normally do with my GLS ES-57.

I now have at least three takes that sound great, maybe more. I recorded the ~1.5 minute lead run about 15 times. I may make a frankenstein version using the best parts out of several of the tracks. But at least I think I've finally got something I can use!

It makes me wonder if I shouldn't explore using a second mic away from the amp more often. There is a bit of natural reverb that gets picked up, but it's not excessive. The stereo track that resulted sounds pretty good together too; nothing is out of phase or in need of time readjustment.
#8
If the room mic is working well for you, thats great. Personally, I tend to just send my lead tracks to reverb and delay buses to get some space with the lead guitar, but I try not to overdo it.

Some additional tips I follow:
yea, no need to double track the guitar solo as mentioned above. If there is a guitar harmony, I will record them both and pan them to about 25-35%, but otherwise, one lead guitar right down center.
When I mic lead guitar, i usually try to mic at the edge of the dust cap, or even a little more off of it with an sm57. I do this to roll off a bit on the harsh highs and also gain some mids. By the way, when you listen to your amp in the room and you say it sounds great, where are you standing? Unless your ear is level and straight on with your speakers, you probably arent hearing at all a representation of what your close mic is picking up. Try to get your ear in line with your speaker; if it sounds unpleasant, you need to eq at the amp more.
I tend to use a high pass on my lead guitars to around 100-150hz, somewhere in there. My goal is to leave the low end for the rhythm guitars/bass, and let the lead guitar "sing"
For this same reason, I dont use a low pass filter on the lead guitar. I think 7khz lpf is a little much; you would probably lose a lot of definition in your guitar. The only reason id do that is if the lead guitar was playing underneath some vocals; then id probably use a lpf to roll off the high end of the guitar so it doesnt get in the way.
I like to put a fairly wide band boost in lead guitars around 3khz to pull it forward in the mix and maybe give it some sparkle.
I also find that even just a 1-2db band boost around 1.5khz can make a lead sound a lot thicker or creamier, depending on what your tracked sound was from the amp
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Last edited by Watterboy at Aug 18, 2015,
#9
Quote by KailM
Well, I went to buy a mic cable from the local store and explained the issue I was having. They ended up renting me (for free, lol) a super nice condenser mic and cable as well as giving me a cheaper mic cable (they said it would likely fail when I needed it most, so they couldn't charge me for it).

Anyway, I placed the condenser mic at about head level in the "sweet spot" in the room as well as close-micing how I normally do with my GLS ES-57.

I now have at least three takes that sound great, maybe more. I recorded the ~1.5 minute lead run about 15 times. I may make a frankenstein version using the best parts out of several of the tracks. But at least I think I've finally got something I can use!

It makes me wonder if I shouldn't explore using a second mic away from the amp more often. There is a bit of natural reverb that gets picked up, but it's not excessive. The stereo track that resulted sounds pretty good together too; nothing is out of phase or in need of time readjustment.


It's a very useful technique to make the guitar sound bigger. Placement is important so trust your ears to find the sweet spots.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
#10
@Watterboy -- Thanks for the tips. I will definitely play around with some of that. I've already added some compression and EQ, but will probably change the settings 1000x before it's all said and done.

I'm gonna start on some rhythm tracks today and continue with the song. There's another solo at the end of the song, but I'm not that worried about it. It's a lot less technical/less 'shreddy' and will be playing during a heavy chord progression. For some reason, I'm finding that it's easier to get something to sound good within a mix than all alone like this intro lead passage.
#11
Quote by KailM
@Watterboy -- Thanks for the tips. I will definitely play around with some of that. I've already added some compression and EQ, but will probably change the settings 1000x before it's all said and done.

I'm gonna start on some rhythm tracks today and continue with the song. There's another solo at the end of the song, but I'm not that worried about it. It's a lot less technical/less 'shreddy' and will be playing during a heavy chord progression. For some reason, I'm finding that it's easier to get something to sound good within a mix than all alone like this intro lead passage.


Thats a good observation at the end there. When you introduce the other instruments in the mix, you will no longer hear certain aspects of your lead guitar; only certain frequencies will cut through. Your lead sound may sound very different than what you tracked when all is said and done, simply because of the clashing of all the instruments. This type of thing makes mixing fun but also a pain in the ass. As a beginner mixer, I try to keep an open mind with how things end up sounding and absorb as much information on the web as possible so I can learn to better harness all of the components of the mix
Quote by suckmahnuts
Watterboy, I love you.

Quote by davrossss
You are now my favourite person on UG.....You write cool shit.

Quote by wannabestoner69


#12
Double tracking a guitar solo will very likely allow you to achieve the results you are after, but as others have mentioned the tightness and precision required is insane.

That doesn't mean you can't use an ADT (auto double-tracker). There are many free ones on the internet, that's what I and very many others typically use to thicken up not just lead sound but vocals as well.