#1
I recently started getting into recording, but I've been having some trouble getting a good distorted tone. My cleans sound fine, but anytime I try to play something with distortion it sounds muffled/muddy/fuzzy. I've played around with amplitube for hours, watched countless youtube videos, and done a lot of research, but my tone still sounds meh. Does anybody have any suggestions on how I could make it better? :/

I'm using:
Focusrite Scarlet 2i2
Amplitube 3
Reaper
Ibanez RG421 (or occasionally an ESP LTD)

I don't monitors (I want to get a pair once I have some more money), so I'm monitoring it through a pair of Panasonic headphones. I've also listened to my recordings over my computer speakers, but it still sounds the same.
#2
https://postscriptma.bandcamp.com/track/s13-using-pg-bias
above is a song i made using only DI guitars and bass.
i used positive grid's bias on there, but originally i used amplitude 3(no difference in sound just messing around).

for the rhythm i recorded the guitar part 3 times, on low gain.

for the lead i did slightly higher gain, i can't remember if i overdubbed another guitar with the leads or not.

for DI guitars, less gain is more. you aren't going to get a very big metal tone unless you layer the guitars like i have. jimi page(i know, not metal) used to overdub his guitar parts sometimes 5 times to get that sound.

for amps on amplitude i was using the fake 5150 and the Thunderverb models. i used what ever cab it defaults to for each amp, and 2 sm57s, one on the cone and one midway between the cone and the edge of the speaker. for the rack stuff i used that tube compressor thing that adds a bit of overdrive.

i hope that helps.
#3
Quote by -tempest-
for DI guitars, less gain is more. you aren't going to get a very big metal tone unless you layer the guitars like i have. jimi page(i know, not metal) used to overdub his guitar parts sometimes 5 times to get that sound.


Just to comment on this, double tracking is absolutely essential for metal. You can go higher, up to four or even eight tracks, but your playing has to be TIGHT for this to work. If you aren't tight enough it will just sound even worse. My suggestion is to double track and pan hard L/R to start, and if you want to experiment with more layers go for it.

This is on the presumption that you are looking for an ideal metal tone.

A helpful tip regardless of what you are trying to get is to high pass. For metal I generally go between ~80Hz-120Hz but you can go further either way. The reason is that the bass guitar has a job to do, and if you are swamping the bass frequencies with low end rumble on the guitars then it isn't going to sound very clear.
#4
Shure SM57 on a Eminence or Celestion speaker, do it the right way with real amps, cabs and stuff not that modelling crap.There's a reason pro's still do it that way.All that computer wizardry still doesn't factor in all the physical elements of that sound equipment wise and variation in mic placement and all the experienced technicians knowledge for doing something.
#6
Quote by -tempest-
^useless comment imo, if he wanted/could do that im sure he would lol.

Thank's kid, being useless is what i'm all about.
#7
Quote by King Shredder
Thank's kid, being useless is what i'm all about.


TS has recently got into recording. He can't afford monitors, and plays using Amplitube and a pair of headphones.

Suggesting that he spends £100 on a microphone, £150 on a speaker cabinet and however much more on an amp is kinda useless advice.

You may as well be suggesting that he buys a Kemper or Axe-FX.
#8
Here are a few tips that I have to offer:

1. Make sure you have a speaker/cab sim activated in your software. You can download an impulse loader and cab sims for free online as well. If you dont have one on, right off the bat your distortion will be ruined
2. Contrary to much of what people say, ive found that a lot of mids on the guitar isnt really a good thing in recordings. Yea, with a lot of mids your guitar will cut and be really audible, but it will also sound weak and muffly because it wont blend enough with the kick and bass.
3. A high pass filter is a good idea as mentioned above; however, I think 80-150hz is too high. Somebody phrased it really well in a youtube video that I watched. 60hz is an important frequency range for heavy guitars (and sounds in general); if you attenuate it (or remove it) too much, you are really cutting the balls off of your recording. I usually run my guitar HPF right at 55 or 60hz and ive noticed an improvement with thickness. Again, if your guitars are too loud, you will drown out the bass and muddy up the lows.
4. Double track your riffs and pan left and right 100%. Makes a huge difference.
5. You can use a little compression to even out the volume between your palm mutes (loud&bassy) to your regular riffs.
6. Equally important to having a good guitar tone/mix is paying attention to what the other instruments are doing. I love guitar, but it isnt the most important thing in the mix and its weak on its own. You need your drum kick at the right spots so your attack has a lot of punch. Your snares will make your overall sound feel faster or slow&heavy. The hats are also pacing and your highs/air. Your bass guitar is your body /thickness and grind.

If you are trying to compare your solo'd guitar track (whether it is double tracked or not) to a full mix, you will get nothing but disappointment trying to get "that" sound. There is a lot that goes into it
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#9
Agreed with all of the above.

Just to clarify on why I high-pass at, generally, around 100Hz is because I record with a 4x12 so there is a lot of rumble even at low volumes. If I had no high pass it would overload the compressors on the master bus which turns the low end into a spongy mess. If the bass guitar is being utilized properly then there isn't much need for much/any sub-100Hz rhythm guitar content, at least in my experience. 60Hz is incidentally where I tend to high pass my bass guitar.

Whatever sounds good works though, and what I am referring to is strictly what I have found when mixing metal.
#10
Quote by Random3
Agreed with all of the above.

Just to clarify on why I high-pass at, generally, around 100Hz is because I record with a 4x12 so there is a lot of rumble even at low volumes. If I had no high pass it would overload the compressors on the master bus which turns the low end into a spongy mess. If the bass guitar is being utilized properly then there isn't much need for much/any sub-100Hz rhythm guitar content, at least in my experience. 60Hz is incidentally where I tend to high pass my bass guitar.

Whatever sounds good works though, and what I am referring to is strictly what I have found when mixing metal.


This also depends on the range / key of your guitars. If you are doing 7string guitars and/or have a low string that is around A or B, then yea it probably makes sense to bring the hpf up because you will naturally have more information below 100hz from the instrument. I usually record in D standard through a 4x12 micd midway between center and edge of speaker.

I also high pass my bass guitar at around 60hz like you; that seems really high compared to what I read others recommending, but ive found it to be necessary. I like my bass to have a grind to it and I want to feel my kick down low, but I also want there to be a noticeable difference between when the bass guitar is muted or unmuted in the mix. If, as a mixer, you dont notice a big difference when the bass is muted then you have a problem. But it can be tricky in metal because when the bass is active, it isnt the most immediately apparent instrument in the mix, but it pulls a lot of weight.
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#11
i find with an sm57 i need to high pass at 175hz or 200hz because of the rumble, im also using a 4x12. off topic though. everything above is still 100% right.

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ok kiddo
Last edited by -tempest- at Nov 11, 2015,
#12
Quote by King Shredder
Shure SM57 on a Eminence or Celestion speaker, do it the right way with real amps, cabs and stuff not that modelling crap.There's a reason pro's still do it that way.All that computer wizardry still doesn't factor in all the physical elements of that sound equipment wise and variation in mic placement and all the experienced technicians knowledge for doing something.


Some pros have actually used amp sims

I would love to get a nice tube amp and mic it up, but being in high school with no job that seems to be out the question for now.
#13
Quote by Random3
Just to comment on this, double tracking is absolutely essential for metal. You can go higher, up to four or even eight tracks, but your playing has to be TIGHT for this to work. If you aren't tight enough it will just sound even worse. My suggestion is to double track and pan hard L/R to start, and if you want to experiment with more layers go for it.

This is on the presumption that you are looking for an ideal metal tone.


I've tried double tracking, but my timing was a little off. I still have to work on getting it to sound really tight. If I'm using multiple tracks should I lower the gain or change anything?

Btw, I play Rock/Metal.
#14
Quote by -tempest-
for amps on amplitude i was using the fake 5150 and the Thunderverb models. i used what ever cab it defaults to for each amp, and 2 sm57s, one on the cone and one midway between the cone and the edge of the speaker. for the rack stuff i used that tube compressor thing that adds a bit of overdrive.

i hope that helps.


I was using the fake 5150 too with either the metal T1 cab or metal V1 cab, a sm57 and a dynamic mic (I tried different mic placements), the tubescreamer pedal, and the tube compressor. I tried all different settings for the gain/lows/mids/highs/bottom, but I couldn't get anything that sounded really good.
#15
So can I make my okay tone sound more clear and full by double tracking (or more) and EQ, or is still gonna sound crappy?
#16
For a Distorted sound that will fit well into a mix, Try a good deal of treble and Mids. A tone that sounds good in a Mix isn't always nice on it's own. Double or quad the guitar parts, Route them through a bus and slightly compress. Then EQ to taste
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#17
Quote by AwakeandAlive
So can I make my okay tone sound more clear and full by double tracking (or more) and EQ, or is still gonna sound crappy?


Yes. As for whether it will sound as good as you want it to is a different question.

Do yourself an experiment. Record a riff, and then copy and paste it so you have one copy going left and one copy going right.

Now record the same riff twice, and pan one take left and the next take right. The difference you will hear between this and the first part is the difference double tracking makes.

When double tracking, the whole idea is that it is a different performance on each side so there will naturally be differences, which is what makes it sound the way it does. Not to say you shouldn't be tight, but you don't need to be anywhere near as tight as you do when quad tracking, for instance.
#18
Quote by SquierLolz
For a Distorted sound that will fit well into a mix, Try a good deal of treble and Mids. A tone that sounds good in a Mix isn't always nice on it's own. Double or quad the guitar parts, Route them through a bus and slightly compress. Then EQ to taste


So my tone that sounds bad on it's own will sound better in the mix? I'm mostly looking to start recording guitar covers, so I want my guitar to stand out more and sound good.
#19
Quote by Random3
Yes. As for whether it will sound as good as you want it to is a different question.

Do yourself an experiment. Record a riff, and then copy and paste it so you have one copy going left and one copy going right.

Now record the same riff twice, and pan one take left and the next take right. The difference you will hear between this and the first part is the difference double tracking makes.

When double tracking, the whole idea is that it is a different performance on each side so there will naturally be differences, which is what makes it sound the way it does. Not to say you shouldn't be tight, but you don't need to be anywhere near as tight as you do when quad tracking, for instance.


I tried some double tracking with different riffs last night; it sounded a lot better even though my timing was still a little off. I still have to tweak my tone some.
#20
All about EQ, really.

Super distorted guitars (like those in metal) require a few things.

You need to high pass them (I usually do so around 100 hz), low pass them (somewhere between 8-12k, play with this to taste), pull out some of the low midrange (~2-500Hz), and then sweep around 3-5k to find the really nasty whistle/fizz nodes and notch them out.

A little bit of compression (~3dB or less gain reduction) can help tighten them up as well but isn't really at all necessary.

OP, posting a clip of your guitar tone now that you've learned how to double track would be useful.
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Quote by Anonden
You CAN play anything with anything....but some guitars sound right for some things, and not for others. Single coils sound retarded for metal, though those who are apeshit about harpsichord probably beg to differ.
#21
Quote by oneblackened
All about EQ, really.

Super distorted guitars (like those in metal) require a few things.

You need to high pass them (I usually do so around 100 hz), low pass them (somewhere between 8-12k, play with this to taste), pull out some of the low midrange (~2-500Hz), and then sweep around 3-5k to find the really nasty whistle/fizz nodes and notch them out.

A little bit of compression (~3dB or less gain reduction) can help tighten them up as well but isn't really at all necessary.

OP, posting a clip of your guitar tone now that you've learned how to double track would be useful.


Okay, thanks for all your help! I'll try to EQ it like you said and post a clip later if I can.