#1
Hi, guys. I was playing some random powerchords (real real basic stuff) and i had an idea to record a demo/song just for fun and just because my amp has a function of plugging it into the computer with an usb and recording it. So ive got sampled drums and bass and i must say its very simple but it sounds (the quality of everything) very good/proffesional (for my standards) so the last piece is to add the guitar, right? Ive tweaked the settings to match the punk rock vibe and pasted it into my daw, hit play, hear the drum fill, the bass kicks in annd ewww.... that sounds so muddy and so "low - quality like". Its just because its raw i thought, and added compression, EQ, and some reverb, and sure it sounds better but still somewhat weak and even for a demo unacceptable. So i thought its the fault of my guitar (listed on the bottom just like everything else) or my amp. Or maybe i cant master things ;(. So i am really thinking about selling the one that is causing the muddiness (and maybe the other one too) and buying new gear aswell as a reamping software + a focusrite scarlett to record everything and reamp it later. I think the plan b would be just to buy the audio interface, record the old guitar through it, if its muddy sell it, buy the new one, record it through the amp if it sounds muddy then its the amps fault too. But the better way would be to know which one is causing the muddiness straight away so i would be thankfull if someone would know which one is causing it.

SHORT: My guitar or my amp is sounding very muddy in the mix, dont know which one, need help, gear below.

My gear:

Guitar: Jackson JS22 Dinky
Amp: Fender Mustang
DAW: FL studio 12

What am i planning to buy:

Guitar: Fender Standard Jazzmaster HH
Amp: none (at least not for the moment)
Audio interface: Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 2nd gen
Reamping software: Amplitube or Overloud th3

So what are your thoughts on the cause of the muddiness, and on the gear i want to buy (maybe better alternatives in the same price range)
#2
First of all it is very hard to judge without hearing what you have recorded. The way you describe things my mean different to me so it is very difficult to answer this question. And simply throwing money at the problem would not fix it. You need to get the right settings of all the gear which can amplify a defect if set incorrectly.  

The Jackson is a budget instrument. You cannot expect it to sound like the ones you listen to on records with huge budgets. But do not let this discourage you, you can still achieve reasonable results if you are able to get things right. Standard Fenders (Mexican made) tend to vary a lot in quality. A good one would be serious improvement on the Jackson but if you get a bad copy you may not notice any improvement while costing 3 times as much.

The Fender mustang is a great practice amp as with the digital features and modelling. It exposes you to a lot of different gear models and is a great practicing tool. But it does not sound as great as a tube amp. A good punk rock amp would be a AC15 but it is expensive!

I have limited experience with different DAWs, but most full featured DAWs should do the trick.

The Focusrite stuff is great, I use a 1st generation 18i20 and it is a workhorse. If you plan to record the guitar direct you should use high impedence inputs (high Z). I have used Amplitube, but did not like it. It is a great solution for demos as it is cheap compared to an amp, but I found it noisy and it is easier to work with an amp and gear. If you get an amp, which is the ideal for a great tone, I would recommend recording with an SM57 microphone.

A final note, Amplitube is an amp simulation software. Reamping is when you record your guitar into a DI (a transformer that reduces impedence from an instrument level to a microphone level) then you would record using the 2I2. Then later you would re-amp. This is done by using a re amp box (a transformer that increases the impedence) and you plug the transformer into a guitar amp. Then you can record your amp with a microphone. This is a common practice to use to save the take if the amp is set incorrectly while also reording the DI. The amp is recorded in conjunction to a DI track at the first take. If something is wrong but the guitarist had a great performance, you can re-amp.

Here I mentioned serious amount of gear and cash. You may not need to get all this stuff for a decent tone. If you are considering to record I would get the 2i2. There are not so expensive and are a great tool for recording. if you can afford to get a 2i4 or even something with 4 mic inputs it would be better for future use but a 2i2 would work fine too. Then, I would start by downloading the free Amplitube demo/trial or a similar software and record using the Jackson connected to the 2i2 and using an amp model on the amp sim. See if it works and decide from there.

Good Luck!
#3
USB outs on lower-end modeling amps tend to sound not-so-good. The Mustang series is one of the better amps at its price point but I would not really use the USB out for recording. I would try micing the speaker with an SM57 and an Audio Interface first. Also the frequency response that you hear from the speaker is likely different than what the USB out is producing. So if you mic the speaker, which sounds good to you, you will bypass the USB out which you cannot really monitor in real time like you can the amp's speaker.

Further, for pop-punk sounds I would be sure you are using the bridge pickup position on your guitar. Use maybe a Marshall or Orange amp simulation with plenty of gain. Do NOT scoop the midrange. And even further, a lot of the "magic" happens at the mixing stage. Even multi thousand dollar rigs still require magic after everything is recorded. On guitars, I typically lightly boost the midrange from around 200-800hz, with a low cut around 80hz up to maybe 120-140hz if the amp is really bassy. 200-800hz can be the "muddy" frequencies if they are exaggerated, but they are the "body" and life frequencies of the guitar, which helps you stick out against the bass and drums. Possibly dip somewhere around 3k-5k if your tone is a bit abrasive. And here is a big key with distorted guitars as well- cut the highs. Start around 10k and move the cut back and forth and see where you reduce the really fizzy, nasty area. I bring my high cuts back to around 7k-10k. The cymbals will take up the highs, leave that room for them.

Lastly, you may just be outgrowing the Mustang. Maybe look into some used tube models like the Peavey ValveKing, Orange Tiny Terrors, Marshall DSL series, etc.
Last edited by Will Lane at Aug 7, 2017,
#5
the problem likely is that you are using the same settings that you do to play through the amp. when recording you need to use less distortion than you think or normally would when playing through the amp.  back off on the distortion (even if it doesn't sound the way you want it to) record a little and then play back. when the sound you want is there then you are good. readjust eq as well.  learned this the hard way when recording with my POD. 
#6
Thanks for all of the answers! For the guys that suggested that i should mic the amp, i tried it with my Samson Go mic, which i use for recording voice and it sounds great for the price, but the guitar track was identical. I tried hardpanning 2 guitar tracks playing the same thing to the left and right but i quickly dropped the idea becase i didnt like the feel of the hardpan, so in short the "final" demo has the guitar mono, the bass is panned a little to the left and the drums arent panned excluding the crashes, theyre panned to the right. Im recording some clear parts aswell as crunchy palmuted riffs for a new demo thing now, im gonna keep your suggestions in mind, and im gonna be a little bit more precise with my amp settings aswell as with my mixing.

Edit1: Im gonna post a link with the guitar sounds tommorow both distorted/clear
Last edited by m0n74g3 at Aug 7, 2017,
#7
Quote by m0n74g3
Thanks for all of the answers! For the guys that suggested that i should mic the amp, i tried it with my Samson Go mic, which i use for recording voice and it sounds great for the price, but the guitar track was identical. I tried hardpanning 2 guitar tracks playing the same thing to the left and right but i quickly dropped the idea becase i didnt like the feel of the hardpan, so in short the "final" demo has the guitar mono, the bass is panned a little to the left and the drums arent panned excluding the crashes, theyre panned to the right. Im recording some clear parts aswell as crunchy palmuted riffs for a new demo thing now, im gonna keep your suggestions in mind, and im gonna be a little bit more precise with my amp settings aswell as with my mixing.

Edit1: Im gonna post a link with the guitar sounds tommorow both distorted/clear


A good dynamic mic is best at achieving great guitar tones. Condensers and Ribbon mics work best in studios. Something like a SM57 would emphasis the cool part in a guitar tone and reject some unwanted stuff. double tracking and hard panning requires great guitar playing skill. You need consistency and great timing. Recording 1 track and panning it to one side than copying it to the other side with a small delay like 18-24ms would work better for intermediate players. 
#8
Quote by m0n74g3
Thanks for all of the answers! For the guys that suggested that i should mic the amp, i tried it with my Samson Go mic, which i use for recording voice and it sounds great for the price, but the guitar track was identical. I tried hardpanning 2 guitar tracks playing the same thing to the left and right but i quickly dropped the idea becase i didnt like the feel of the hardpan, so in short the "final" demo has the guitar mono, the bass is panned a little to the left and the drums arent panned excluding the crashes, theyre panned to the right. Im recording some clear parts aswell as crunchy palmuted riffs for a new demo thing now, im gonna keep your suggestions in mind, and im gonna be a little bit more precise with my amp settings aswell as with my mixing.

Edit1: Im gonna post a link with the guitar sounds tommorow both distorted/clear

About the bass: I would not pan the bass at all. At least not the actual sub frequencies- that should be in mono/even in both L and R. The top end sparkle and spank of the bass you could pan, but I would not really suggest it. Add a light chorus with plenty of width if you want the bass to have a stereo feel. Also another culprit of mud is a bass line with too much midrange. I typically scoop mids on bass tracks, which makes room for the guitar and vocals. Starting around 200-300hz and ending around 2k-3k, maybe with a sharp bump for the "pluck" or scratch of the strings around 3k-5k. Highs you can leave mostly intact.

Cymbals: Hats I would typically keep center. The actual crashes you can pan left and right to simulate your left crashes (ones near the hat) coming hotter out the left, and your right crashes (near the ride) coming out the right. But panning all cymbals hard right could mean your treble content coming out the left speaker is very lacking, making the left speaker sound "muddy" because there is no treble content.

Guitar: You can also give a mono guitar track a stereo image by adding stereo reverbs, delays, chorus, etc. A light delay that alternately pans every repeat would work great.

If you do not really have to hard pan things, don't. If two sound sources are fighting for the same frequency space, a way to help make separation is to pan them. But with drums, bass, and guitar, there is a lot of separation between their inherent frequency productions. Panning with minimal sources like that IMO is just to kind of make it "fun"- for example, panning the toms hard left and right so drum fills travel across the ears.
Last edited by Will Lane at Aug 8, 2017,
#9
So here https://soundcloud.com/m0n74g3/sets/demos youve got all of my demos including the original one i meant was muddy and a clean one i made today in 30min - 1h. The clean one is actually ok but you can hear what instruments are professionally sampled, and which one is my muddy guitar. On the distorted one is a little worse, but you can really hear the difference between the unmixed, and the mixed one. So the question is, now that you´ve heard it, would it be better if i bought a new guitar or is mine good  enough, and its the amps fault?

EDIT1: Excuse my cringy avatar please xdd
Last edited by m0n74g3 at Aug 8, 2017,
#10
m0n74g3 That is actually a really good foundation, I would just suggest a few tweaks.

For the first one, I think the main thing is the track is just a little bit too busy. You are competing against the snare for the sixteenth note rhythms. I would let the snare take the majority of the rhythm and put the guitar on just single strums with maybe a bit of arpeggiation. Let the notes ring out, and let the delay and verb fill the space. Play arpeggiation whenever the snare is not being triggered. Also I think the amp sim is kind of flat itself. Maybe try a VOX simulation with a bit of hair on the notes, and try to make your pick attack a bit harder. I would not really compress that part much, you want the attack of the notes to stick out a bit. Middle pickup position.

For the second track, the guitars sound surprisingly good but I can hear some "mud" and lack of clarity in the part. Your low end is really loose and its driven quite a bit, it is almost like you have a fuzz pedal in front of a cranked up Orange. Maybe try a Marshall amp sim boosted with a Tubescreamer sim. Your playing is kind of loose too which is not a bad thing, but it can attribute to mud or chunky low end. If you want a tighter, more clear sound, it could help to clean it up a bit. Bridge pup.

I would not really bother buying anything, you have a workable rig for where you are now. To me the main issues are just arranging the tracks and mixing, the amp and guitar themselves are fine. But looking into investing in a proper tube amp is always a good idea.
Last edited by Will Lane at Aug 8, 2017,
#11
I enjoyed them, but the guitars are a bit too busy and not focused. The bass is also not so punchy.  What I like to do is to double a clean bass. The first one roll it off the super lows (70Hz and lower) to avoid  problems with kick. Then I would roll off also anything above 200-250 hz gently. The the other track I would distort. I would also add a high pass at about 200-250hz. Then from around 300hz I would scoop out the midrange to about 2Khz. Boost 3-5kHz. Then I would also roll off anything above 7Khz.

Play around with the frequencies until you get them right. These are just guidelines or a place from where to start.
#13
I thought the guitar sounded pretty decent. The drums have that typical over-polished processed sound, which is why you probably think the guitar sounds muddy. The guitar actually is the best sounding thing on the track, the drums are kinda gross.
I'm just a kickin' and a gougin' in the mud and the blood and the beer.