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  1. #1
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    Aug 2010
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    Default Audio engineer guitar players...

    Hey doods!

    A forum search for "Guitar tone" turned up nothing useful, so starting a new thread.

    After 10+ years of mixing, I feel like I'm sort of "getting it." My mixes sound pretty good to me. The band is happy with their monitors. The audience is happy with the band. The club owner is happy with the volume. So, generally speaking, I feel like I'm doing a good job. I've addressed the "elephants." Now it's time to address the "ants."

    As you can imagine, I work with a myriad of guitar players. Tone ranges from "glorious" to "horrid." I've always shied away from coloring a guitarist's tone, because I assume that that is the tone he wants. But as of late, I'm rethinking that.

    As a drummer, I've come up with a pretty flawless formula for getting good drum tones through the P.A. I've reached a point where, with the right tools, I can make almost any kit sound good. So I started thinking the other night, "Maybe guitar player / audio engineers have the same skills when it comes to getting good guitar tone."

    The problem...

    What I'm seeing a lot is thin tone. I know WHY the tone is thin, and I've coached a couple guitar players. As much as I hate to ask, I'm looking for a general cure-all. Just something general to massage the tone a little more towards "palatable."

    As much as I hate experimenting during a performance, I toyed with boosting the low mids. I generally high-pass the channel @ 100Hz because I don't think that's where the "meat" lies. After messing around, it kind of sounds like the "meat" may be a fairly wide, gentle 3dB boost around 400Hz??? I don't know. I'm just guessing.

    Here's a video of the band with the offending tone. Ironically, the stage left guitar player (who is playing piano in this piece) has awesome tone. It's not loud and I can hear every note. The stage right guitar player is the exact opposite. I feel like he's too loud, but I can't hear what he's playing. There's no "meat" in his tone.

    I should qualify this by saying that Joey is a really nice guy and a great friend. He's also a smart guy and open-minded. But he's very adamant about his rig and his on-stage tone. So, before I push too hard, I'd like to see if there's something I can do at the console.

    I know some guys are going to cite, "Junk in, junk out." I get it. But for now, I'm looking for the magic egg that will generally phatten up thin guitar tone.

    The mic he uses is an SM57 on the outer edge of the bottom right cone, pressed against the cabinet. Perhaps different mic placement can help? I'd prefer to stay with that mic, as it has worked well with other guitar players. So, in my mind, though a different mic might help, I'd like to try to repair the tone in the channel strip or with different mic placement for now. I know this may paint me into a corner, but I'd like to have an initial plan of attack before moving on to actually fixing their tone at the source. Some casual gigs, I honestly don't know the guitar players well enough or have the time to coach them through better tone. I DO have time to turn some knobs....<;^)

    https://youtu.be/rJ-BQ7xVDeQ

    The guitar solo starts @ around 2 minutes.

    Thanx for any help you can give!
    Last edited by Donnie Frank; 06-19-2018 at 09:36 AM.
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
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    SF Bay Area
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    Default Re: Audio engineer guitar players...

    Here are some options
    1. try different mic placement
    2. try a different mic
    3. lose the mic entirely and take the guitar direct.

    I almost always do number 3. Losing the mic reduces the stage noise clutter, removes one more source of feedback and gives you a source signal that your now much more free to control (you can even add an amp sim as a plug in if you want).

    If you want something relatively simple that should get you in the ballpark than get a DI designed for live guitar use like a Radial JDX Direct-Drive (https://www.sweetwater.com/store/det...amp-direct-box)
    ---------------------------------------
    Philip G.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Audio engineer guitar players...

    Quote Originally Posted by cgrafx View Post
    Here are some options
    1. try different mic placement
    2. try a different mic
    3. lose the mic entirely and take the guitar direct.

    I almost always do number 3. Losing the mic reduces the stage noise clutter, removes one more source of feedback and gives you a source signal that your now much more free to control (you can even add an amp sim as a plug in if you want).

    If you want something relatively simple that should get you in the ballpark than get a DI designed for live guitar use like a Radial JDX Direct-Drive (https://www.sweetwater.com/store/det...amp-direct-box)
    #3 may be an option. I will explore that. I believe the stage left guitar player is sending a direct signal. They set up the whole mess. I just show up and turn knobs, so I'm not as familiar with the interfaces as I normally would be.

    Thanx for the advice.
    DF

    http://soundaddy.com

    Intel DG965OT Motherboard (11/17/08) - Intel P4 LGA-775 651 (Cedar Mill) 3.4GHz CPU
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  4. #4

    Default Re: Audio engineer guitar players...

    The last thing I would want to do is to try to tell the guitar player how he should shape his tone..... He's setting it the way he is for a number of reasons that are import for him to feel comfortable with how he hears it on stage and how he senses it blending with the band from his own perspective. Of course, there could be a number of reasons why the placement of his speaker cab relative to his ears are making it sound "bad" off stage, but unless he has the freedom to place his cabinet in any position he wants to, to achieve his ultimate tone (from his perspective), then he has little choice - make it sound good for his ears, or make it sound good for the room and probably suffer a lack of connection and feeling for himself.

    If you can suggest a way for him to reposition his amp and/or himself to maximize the good tone you seek, while also keeping it for him, then fine... maybe the two of you can find that solution. Otherwise, I'd say that your solution is going to lie in the previous suggestions given - mic placement, mic vs. direct and/or eq settings at the board. It's doubtful that he'd be offended or put off if he should happen to hear a bit more beef bouncing back to his ears from the room, unless it muddies up or jumbles up the onstage blend with the bass and/or keyboards.
    SAW/SAC - finally retired a P4/2gHz after ten great years! Burnin' rubber in 2015 with an Intel Core2 Duo e4700/2.6GHz and the trusty RME Digiface/PCI pack.

    2013 Iowa City JazzFest sets recorded/mixed in SAW with SAC as a front-end mixer for live streaming radio!
    Dr Lonnie Smith Trio w/Jonathan Kreisberg on guitar
    Pharoah Sanders Quartet
    Fred Hersch Trio

    These are post mix sets to single camera video (by Rich Rauch).

  5. Default Re: Audio engineer guitar players...

    Have you experimented with parallel compression/saturation? I started doing this with drums, but then added guitars, vocals, etc. I have other aux buses setup that I can route these inputs to that are parallel and feed into the main mix. I put compression, saturation, stereo delays, reverbs, etc. to fill out the sound. It thickens the tone and makes it come forward in the mix. You could also boost EQ in ranges that don't conflict with the vocals. One thing I do on guitars anyway is the have the stock SAC delay, with very short delays, like 17ms on one side and 23ms on the other (or similar). This pulls the guitar out of the center. On a typical mix, I have the lead vocal, kick drum, snare and bass in the center and use various approaches to get the other stuff out to the sides to wrap around the center elements. Most of how I do this relies on shot delays or reverb vs. panning. I don't want a guitar to be on one side , keyboard on the other side, etc., such that someone sitting to the side doesn't hear all the mix elements.

    There is a VST saturation plugin that I use, EpiCentre.dll, that I can put on a parallel bus and it will really make things, like guitar, bass, vocals, etc. pop when just a little of this is added back to the signal. Having it on a parallel aud bus allows it to be barely added in. If you put this thing across the actual signal, it could easily sound like total crap, but just a little in parallel makes a huge difference.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fu8xi8Kaje8

  6. Default Re: Audio engineer guitar players...

    I do another version of this philosophy with backing vocals. The lead vocal gets typical reverb and delay, but the backing vocals are bused to a parallel bus that has short delays, Discord3 by Audio Damage (an Eventide-like pitch plugin) and reverb. This makes it sound like there are 3x the singers, wrapped around the main vocal. With some of these stereo, wrap-around enhancements I even add the Waves S-1 Stereo Imager to widen those up.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wzc2IkVikdY

    I have the Discord set to just slight pitch detune, different on each side, emulating the old Eventide .99/1.01 trick.

  7. Default Re: Audio engineer guitar players...

    If only you could persuade your guitar players to use the Fractal Audio Axe-FX units. I have an Axe-FX II XL+, but I am on the waiting list for the Axe-FX III. These things have stunning tone for miles and can emulate just about any amp rig/pedal setup. You can run a stereo feed to the PA and have a separate powered stereo wedge mix, if you so desire. I recommended these to the Del Castillo brothers and now they both have the Axe-8 floor pedal units.

    https://www.fractalaudio.com/

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Albuquerque, N.M.
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    Default Re: Audio engineer guitar players...

    Quote Originally Posted by cgrafx View Post
    Here are some options
    1. try different mic placement
    2. try a different mic
    3. lose the mic entirely and take the guitar direct.

    I almost always do number 3. Losing the mic reduces the stage noise clutter, removes one more source of feedback and gives you a source signal that your now much more free to control (you can even add an amp sim as a plug in if you want).

    If you want something relatively simple that should get you in the ballpark than get a DI designed for live guitar use like a Radial JDX Direct-Drive (https://www.sweetwater.com/store/det...amp-direct-box)
    I tried #3. The results were good.

    https://youtu.be/l3uDj5s05A8
    DF

    http://soundaddy.com

    Intel DG965OT Motherboard (11/17/08) - Intel P4 LGA-775 651 (Cedar Mill) 3.4GHz CPU
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    RME HDSP 9652 (x2 - 1 spare) - Behringer ADA8000 (x5 - 2 spares)
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  9. #9
    Join Date
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    Location
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    Default Re: Audio engineer guitar players...

    Quote Originally Posted by UpTilDawn View Post
    The last thing I would want to do is to try to tell the guitar player how he should shape his tone..... He's setting it the way he is for a number of reasons that are import for him to feel comfortable with how he hears it on stage and how he senses it blending with the band from his own perspective. Of course, there could be a number of reasons why the placement of his speaker cab relative to his ears are making it sound "bad" off stage, but unless he has the freedom to place his cabinet in any position he wants to, to achieve his ultimate tone (from his perspective), then he has little choice - make it sound good for his ears, or make it sound good for the room and probably suffer a lack of connection and feeling for himself.

    If you can suggest a way for him to reposition his amp and/or himself to maximize the good tone you seek, while also keeping it for him, then fine... maybe the two of you can find that solution. Otherwise, I'd say that your solution is going to lie in the previous suggestions given - mic placement, mic vs. direct and/or eq settings at the board. It's doubtful that he'd be offended or put off if he should happen to hear a bit more beef bouncing back to his ears from the room, unless it muddies up or jumbles up the onstage blend with the bass and/or keyboards.
    We went direct, which means instead of hearing an essentially "band-passed" amp aimed at knees, he hears a high-passed version of his guitar aimed at his skull bone. So far, after one gig, I like the results.

    Note: If I were using SAC, I would consider running the guitar full-range through his wedge and high-passing the vocals. But because my clients own an X32 (with limited capabilities), and I'm forced to mix on that, I have to high-pass the entire wedge. No complaints from the guitar player thus far.

    He's the stage-right guy. Though the stage-left guitar player has a small amp, I've been getting a direct signal from him for a long time.

    https://youtu.be/l3uDj5s05A8
    Last edited by Donnie Frank; 06-24-2018 at 08:36 PM.
    DF

    http://soundaddy.com

    Intel DG965OT Motherboard (11/17/08) - Intel P4 LGA-775 651 (Cedar Mill) 3.4GHz CPU
    2.0GB 800Mhz RAM - 40GB Intel X25-V SSD - 500GB SATA "Spinner"

    RME HDSP 9652 (x2 - 1 spare) - Behringer ADA8000 (x5 - 2 spares)
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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Albuquerque, N.M.
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    Default Re: Audio engineer guitar players...

    Quote Originally Posted by dbarrow View Post
    Have you experimented with parallel compression/saturation? I started doing this with drums, but then added guitars, vocals, etc. I have other aux buses setup that I can route these inputs to that are parallel and feed into the main mix. I put compression, saturation, stereo delays, reverbs, etc. to fill out the sound. It thickens the tone and makes it come forward in the mix. You could also boost EQ in ranges that don't conflict with the vocals. One thing I do on guitars anyway is the have the stock SAC delay, with very short delays, like 17ms on one side and 23ms on the other (or similar). This pulls the guitar out of the center. On a typical mix, I have the lead vocal, kick drum, snare and bass in the center and use various approaches to get the other stuff out to the sides to wrap around the center elements. Most of how I do this relies on shot delays or reverb vs. panning. I don't want a guitar to be on one side , keyboard on the other side, etc., such that someone sitting to the side doesn't hear all the mix elements.

    There is a VST saturation plugin that I use, EpiCentre.dll, that I can put on a parallel bus and it will really make things, like guitar, bass, vocals, etc. pop when just a little of this is added back to the signal. Having it on a parallel aud bus allows it to be barely added in. If you put this thing across the actual signal, it could easily sound like total crap, but just a little in parallel makes a huge difference.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fu8xi8Kaje8
    I'm mixing on an X32 in mostly "combat audio" situations, so "plugins" aren't an option. Not only that, but I'm limited to 8 FX. Not only that, but GEQ counts as an effect. So that leaves essentially 4 channels left for FX...<:^/ That said...

    We may have solved the problem by getting a direct signal.

    https://youtu.be/hoGtKSn1Tzc
    DF

    http://soundaddy.com

    Intel DG965OT Motherboard (11/17/08) - Intel P4 LGA-775 651 (Cedar Mill) 3.4GHz CPU
    2.0GB 800Mhz RAM - 40GB Intel X25-V SSD - 500GB SATA "Spinner"

    RME HDSP 9652 (x2 - 1 spare) - Behringer ADA8000 (x5 - 2 spares)
    CM MotorMix (x3 - Host system) - Behringer BCF-2000 (Remote system)


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