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brandon

Recording Electric Guitar - not successfully

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Hi - In the past I have only recorded acoustic guitar (strumming and picking) with Cakewalk and I assumed it would be a breeze laying down some rhythm tracks from an electric guitar. The track I am recording will be a rock guitar with some distortion applied. I have tried the following methods but cannot get the sound right. 

1) Direct insert of the guitar through a Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 audio interface and recorded dry. I find it difficult to play a guitar dry when it is supposed to distorted and the resultant recording did not lend itself to being processed with software effects.

2) Through an amplifier speaker that was recorded with a mic plugged into the Focusrite. 

3) Through an effects pedal (distortion) plugged into the Focusrite.

Each of the recordings was done with just the right amount of gain and without the signal peaking yet the recordings sounded so muddy, very loud and they lacked clarity and were overly distorted and did not sound like they did through my headphones when I was recording them. For info I tried both the Instrument and the Line level sockets on the Focusrite.

If anyone can shed any light as to why I cannot obtain a decent recording I would really love to hear from you.

 

Thanks

 

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I forgot to add method 4. I also tried playing it straight through the Focusrite onto a Track through a software amp with distortion. Same outcome.

 

 

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There are a bazillion ideas you're going to get from this group, but let me add a couple ideas that are just my opinion.

First, I don't know what kind of sound you're looking for other than distorted guitar, and that's very generic. I've tried both DI with modeling software and micing an amp, and I very much prefer the overdrive sound of my little Boogie combo amp hands down.

I don't know what kind of amp you have, but if you can dial in a sound you like, just make sure you're not adding too much gain at the interface or CbB stage. That's what comes to mind when you say your headphone mix sounds good.

Another trick I came up with long ago was with a cable splitter, or a Y adapter where all 3 sides are 1/4 inch females. With two of them and enough guitar cables, you can split your guitar signal where only half goes through a distortion box and the other goes into your signal unprocessed. Sounds a little like a Franken-setup, but it gave me a cool parallel sounding distortion without being too much.

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Some interesting ideas. The levels in CbB are not clipping which is why I couldn't decide whether or not gain may be the issue. The headphone sound comes straight back from CbB so I assumed it would be the same as what was being recorded?

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CbB always records the signal at the track input.

CbB has no control over audio levels coming into the DAW. This level must be set before the DAW.

Plug-in effects are not recorded as they are applied after the track input.

 

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related to hearing your effects while recording guitar, I *think* this video describes a workaround that defeats (bypasses?) latency. His main topic is latency, but related to it, he shows a way to copy a track, put ur effects on that track, and enable monitoring on that track, but not recording. When I listened, I could not give it my full attention :( , but I definitely heard him describing this. If its not in this video, feel free to check his other nearby vids: I've heard this in the last 2 weeks. Remember, to set ur gain/levels going into CW going IN, because CW doesn't have the ability to control gain at the recording. Afterwards, yes. Make sure ur not clipping, recording in.

 

 

 

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Good sounding electric Guitar is possibly one of the more elusive sounds to capture and there might just be as many ways to accomplish this as there are brands of guitars and amps. 

Easiest method by far is to mike up a great sounding guitar/ amp combo using a SM 57 or equivalent.  

Any audio interface with a mike input set at the proper input gain will record more or less the sound of that amp. 

Best to wear headphones to play along with the backing tracks so they don't bleed into the new track.  

This is a very easy recording process that is worth the time it takes to get it to work properly.

 

  Electric guitars respond best when interfaced with a proper pre amp gain structure. DI sound typically can sound thin or wet noodle. So feeding a wet noodle tone into a A/D converter is not going to ever sound like feeding it into a hi voltage tube pre amp. Think about it,,   Some people like the sound of processed wet noodle guitar, each to their own. Most of us want that tube amp overdrive that only a good amp delivers. There are some excellent guitar pre amps as well but expecting a A/D in the box emulator to sound the same as hardware??? close but no banana. 

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If miking amp does sound muddy and I came to think if what I did at the time I had situation to play amp at normal levels to mike up.
Miking position is the key, to get this right I did
- play at very low volume and had headphones on, so I get very little bleed right over to phones, you should clearly here through phones at least
- try angles and distance and position of mike in front of cab
- different distance give different low end more than anything(almost 20 years ago so don't remember details)
- angle just a few degrees and change position to cone also is a trial and error
- then when getting the amount of low, mid and highs balance - do at normal level and do recording

So being muddy in you case, could be too much low end, increase distance to cab with mike.

At the time I liked like 10-15" distance and not angled much.
Some just put right at cab slightly from center of cone, but I did not like that at all.
You should be getting the most of the mike like this.

There are various attenuators out there to get volume down and still crunch you want.
I got the www.tedweber.com attenuator elements long ago and use Radial JDX DI which is connected between amp and load.
JDX also has speaker emulation that I am happy with. So no fuss recording at all, like with mikes.

Edited by LarsF

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I go direct from my Boss GT100 into a Focusrite and then into CbB. I have no issues getting the tone correct. It just needs setting up correctly before hand.  I record at a relatively low gain and then normalise the signal if really necessary.

Jerry

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21 minutes ago, Jeremy Oakes said:

I go direct from my Boss GT100 into a Focusrite and then into CbB. I have no issues getting the tone correct. It just needs setting up correctly before hand.  I record at a relatively low gain and then normalise the signal if really necessary.

Jerry

I have the Boss ME80 (I was using individual pedals in my above description). Would you have any advice as how best to set it up i.e. what to do/not do for example? 

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24 minutes ago, Jeremy Oakes said:

I go direct from my Boss GT100 into a Focusrite and then into CbB. I have no issues getting the tone correct. It just needs setting up correctly before hand.  I record at a relatively low gain and then normalise the signal if really necessary.

Jerry

Do you find you get a lot of unwanted noise when you normalise from a low level of gain?

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2 hours ago, Jeremy Oakes said:

I go direct from my Boss GT100 into a Focusrite and then into CbB. I have no issues getting the tone correct. It just needs setting up correctly before hand.  I record at a relatively low gain and then normalise the signal if really necessary.

Jerry

Do you use the Line or the Inst setting on your Focusrite?

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One of the simplest choice for a good electric distorted guitar is by TH - U  Overloud or by Guitar Rig 5 Native or any other plug in dedicated to recreate dozen and dozen amplifiers and digital effects to obtain a real good  electric guitar.

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I agree that sending a clean guitar signal to Cakewalk to record and a separate guitar signal to your amp (using a splitter cable or some other means) will give you the monitoring grit you need for inspiration as well as a nice clean signal you can manipulate later.  You can even record the amp with a mic simultaneously on another track.

I also agree that setting relatively low gain levels going into Cakewalk gives you the best chance as getting the sound you want, especially if you are recording at 24-bits.

Brandon, you ask: "Do you find you get a lot of unwanted noise when you normalise from a low level of gain?"

No more so than if you have a lot of gain going in.  In digital recording at 24-bits you can increase volume significantly and the only noise you are going to notice is what your guitar, amp and background noise are producing.  You'll get that same relative noise level (plus possible problems with overload) if you try recording "hot" level going into Cakewalk. 

Years ago I was initially disappointed when recording  some of my outboard gear using SPDIF outs that levels were so low and that the waveform in Cakewalk track view was so tiny, but it has really never presented a problem, even after applying gain increase of 20 dB or more .  Better way too soft than even slightly too loud in my book.

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20 hours ago, brandon said:

Hi - In the past I have only recorded acoustic guitar (strumming and picking) with Cakewalk and I assumed it would be a breeze laying down some rhythm tracks from an electric guitar. The track I am recording will be a rock guitar with some distortion applied. I have tried the following methods but cannot get the sound right. 

1) Direct insert of the guitar through a Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 audio interface and recorded dry. I find it difficult to play a guitar dry when it is supposed to distorted and the resultant recording did not lend itself to being processed with software effects.

2) Through an amplifier speaker that was recorded with a mic plugged into the Focusrite. 

3) Through an effects pedal (distortion) plugged into the Focusrite.

Each of the recordings was done with just the right amount of gain and without the signal peaking yet the recordings sounded so muddy, very loud and they lacked clarity and were overly distorted and did not sound like they did through my headphones when I was recording them. For info I tried both the Instrument and the Line level sockets on the Focusrite.

If anyone can shed any light as to why I cannot obtain a decent recording I would really love to hear from you.

I forgot to add method 4. I also tried playing it straight through the Focusrite onto a Track through a software amp with distortion. Same outcome.

 

First are you listening to the recording setup the same as playback? Make sure you're not direct monitoring your signal. What you hear when you are setting up recording should sound the same when you play it back. If they don't what is the difference?

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12 minutes ago, rsinger said:

First are you listening to the recording setup the same as playback? Make sure you're not direct monitoring your signal. What you hear when you are setting up recording should sound the same when you play it back. If they don't what is the difference?

Good point. I believed I was until I now have doubt. Any advice as to how I may do that? 

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It depends on your setup. Are you in a studio where the console is in an isolation booth? If not then if you are recording an amp with a mic you're probably using headphones. If not the speakers will create feedback with the mic and that creates problems. If you're mic'ing an amp and monitoring with headphones record a couple bars and listen back on the headphones - it should sound the same. If not why not?

If you're recording direct a similar thing applies - you're either listening with headphones or speakers. Record a couple bars and play it back - it should sound the same. If not why not?

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Once recorded, set the low EQ to roll off below around 200Hz at about 12dB/Oct.

Edited by twelvetone

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2 hours ago, brandon said:

Good point. I believed I was until I now have doubt. Any advice as to how I may do that? 

Make sure the Direct Monitor knob on the 2i4 is turned fully clockwise to Playback while you set everything up.

Edited by rsinger

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8 hours ago, brandon said:

Do you use the Line or the Inst setting on your Focusrite?

If you plug the guitar straight into the interface, use Inst. It presents a high-impedance and that is what an electric guitar needs, else you will get less high frequencies.

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