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Ryan

Tightening up Rhythm Guitars

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Hey everyone, I've been looking for some resources on tightening up some rhythm guitar parts but for the life of me I can only find drum tutorials using the audiosnap feature.  

Here is the issue I am having. I am working on a power metal track at just over 200 BPM and i'm finding that even after spending significant amounts of time with the comp tool, many of the 16th note chugs aren't played as evenly as I would like them to be.  i.e. compared to rhythm guitar parts on major power metal albums.  Much like the process involved in tightening up drums I would like to know if there are any tricks or considerations to tightening up rhythm guitar parts that go beyond just using the comp tool and recording multiple takes.  I'm finding using audiosnap even directly on the clean guitar DI's to be EXTREMELY hit or miss when dealing with such small and quick note values and i really don't want to have to program everything in a guitar VST like shreddage. 

 

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A trick I used to use 'back in the day', was to use a gate on the best track and have it trigger the other tracks.  (works in background vocals too, etc.).  When done, they will sound like they're very tight.  

 

Good luck!

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Posted (edited)

I don't typically use heavy metal style  guitars - but I do a lot track aligning. I still find that discreetly splitting tracks and manually aligning clips  is the best method. The new algorithm used in elastic audio is really very good especially in the context of small clips. With that- you can stretch small segments and clips to create the often needed sustained sections. The bigger issue with heavy metal guitars is that they are typically compressed like crazy and distinguishing between stops and starts gets more difficult. Once it's done with precision though - it's pretty amazing how good a semi good track can sound. Also - there's no such thing as a real sounding guitar VST - just saying.

Edited by RBH

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3 hours ago, RBH said:

I don't typically use heavy metal style  guitars - but I do a lot track aligning. I still find that discreetly splitting tracks and manually aligning clips  is the best method. The new algorithm used in elastic audio is really very good especially in the context of small clips. With that- you can stretch small segments and clips to create the often needed sustained sections. The bigger issue with heavy metal guitars is that they are typically compressed like crazy and distinguishing between stops and starts gets more difficult. Once it's done with precision though - it's pretty amazing how good a semi good track can sound. Also - there's no such thing as a real sounding guitar VST - just saying.

I agree with pretty much everything there. Splitting and manual stretching/aligning/crossfading will give the best results.

I believe Cakewalk oversold AudioSnap, it's fine for drums a la Beat Detective but can't differentiate transients with enough precision to be automatic for non-obviously-percussive material. However, manual labor is the solution. In the Edit Filter, choose transients, move the transients to the actual attacks instead of where they think they "should" be, then snap the transient.

As to a real-sounding guitar VST, you need EQ to tame the cabs, and you need to create ambience around it - guitars + amps exist in a space, and because you're moving around, the response is always changing. With many amp sims, I get better results by "building" a cab with EQ than using IR-based responses. I know how to mic guitar amps, but I use VSTs for almost everything because after I finally finish wrestling them to the ground :), I think the results sound better on playback. 

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Posted (edited)

As someone who does power metal guitars for my day job, practice is the #1 thing I'd recommend. 😉

But as far as getting the parts tighter in-app, I've had OK results using Audiosnap on DI guitars and re-amping/using an amp sim after the fact. You definitely need to play everything cleanly though, because any flubbed note or bumped string will give you bad detections. If you're already running distortion, the results are generally going to be not great.

Cutting up the track and either stretching parts or sliding is your best bet. It'll get you over the line but spending the time to actually play short sections dead on and comping together to make the full track will give you the best results by far.

Edited by Lord Tim
Autocorrect hates me 😑

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One other thing you might try is slowing the track down, playing the part, say, 15% slower and then speeding it all up. Elastique Pro gives some pretty good results on DI guitars, and can be surprisingly useful even on processed guitars.

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I don't play heavy metal but do play some clean and very fast staccato rhythm pieces on a strat. This was why I stopped using amp sims for anything fast, they were fine for the occasional chord or even general chord play and lead solo's but when rhythm got fast and staccato, the latency made it impossible to accurately record the part as I wished. On playback, timing was off. I use pedals now mainly, with direct monitoring from the audio interface, that took care of that problem.

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I do both.

If you don't have a fast enough machine to run at super low latencies or you like to track with plugins that add latencies into your chain, it can be painful trying to get your playing tight.

So the trick is to get a good DI box, run the direct out into your interface and record that, and run the passthrough output to your pedals and amp to monitor as you play. Then you have all the flexibility in the world to use sims or re-amp later.

I can't tell you the amount of sessions I've been given that's been saved by having a DI track as well as the effected guitar track. Sometimes the tone that feels good to track with absolutely sucks for when it comes to choosing the correct tone for the song - usually too much gain and even effects. You can't un-bake that stuff out of a track once you've commited to it. 😕

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20 minutes ago, Lord Tim said:

 You can't un-bake that stuff out of a track once you've commited to it. 😕

I have to monitor through the rokits or headphones and at low volume, I like to commit to what I'm playing, I find the workflow associated with too many choices the most destructive aspect of recording with a DAW. I use the pedals to get an amp sound and use the reverb (monitors only) on the audio interface to give it some space if it needs it, I might use some chorus but that is about it. For me it sounds much better than any amp sim I have tried. I play clean strat but even the light SRV type distortion from the pedal sounds way better than any amp sim I have tried. I used to try to add guitar VST effects to the recorded part after but they sound so shit I don't bother any more. And again, that's another thing to do. Guitar is pretty clean, just amp sounding pedal with some reverb and compress/eq into the mix.

 

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^ this. The Melodyne suggestion is a good one too, it does a pretty good detection job.

Be a little mindful not to make it too perfect, though. If you're doing any panning to get the stereo image nice and big with the rhythm guitars, having them super perfect will actually make the track seem smaller rather than bigger. Tight is important, especially in fast and slick modern metal production, but those imperfections are the things that make your mix big and exciting.

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10 hours ago, Skyline_UK said:

I use Melodyne timing adjustment to do this.

Do you have problems with the blobs running together and making it difficult to find attacks precisely? It's not easy with waveforms either, of course.

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Posted (edited)

Just did some testing then. Melodyne on a DI track is pretty spot on for the most part (as with any kind of transient detection, you'll need to do some cleanup work, of course - you can see below the chord at the start of the 3rd bar being a 16th late, and the mute at the start of the 4th bar being slightly late due to the transient being detected early): 

Melodye_clean.PNG.0d9473c9df4ee2146c2d723998707e77.PNG

On already distorted guitars (this is a super-fast thrash song), it's a complete write-off:

Melodye_dirty.PNG.104f2f51d86a211c1a87bc26b9b0046e.PNG

Audosnap was pretty similar results for both.

If you're not playing with a lot of gain and you have very clear definition between each pickstroke for your processed guitars, you migggghhhtt get away with it, but the moment you get past a certain speed and add on distortion... yeah, don't bother. DI guitar and reamp/VST after, or not at all.

Now this song was pretty tight already to my ear but I tried a section where I quantized everything. It was marginally tighter sounding, but it lost so much energy from the drums and guitar pushing and pulling against each other, it wasn't worth that extra 5% tightness. There is absolutely a time and place to get things super locked in, but I really recommend being selective about how far it's pushed for sure.

Edited by Lord Tim

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Wow, Apologies for dropping the ball on this one.  I was checking the forum here and it looked like my thread was deleted right after I made it so I didn't bother to follow up.

...but then I realized I had checked the old Cakewalk forums. So a big hearty "my bad" there.

After spending a decent amount of time with the comp tool, audio snap and snipping out and replacing individual notes to get the playing cleaner I stumbled across the solution and I'm fairly certain I opened up pandora's box of guitar taboo's with this one but,  

I just recorded it slower then sped it up using groove clip looping. 

Which gave me EXACTLY what I wanted and took almost no time to do when compared to the other mouse heavy method.

Thanks for the suggs if I run into anymore problems I'll give them a shot. 

 

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On 3/15/2019 at 1:24 AM, Lord Tim said:

As someone who does power metal guitars for my day job, practice is the #1 thing I'd recommend. 😉

 

+ 1

 

Too much editing sucks the life out of a performance. 

 

 

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8 hours ago, Byron Dickens said:

Too much editing sucks the life out of a performance. 

Absolutely! It will also suck the life out of YOU!

Sitting in a chair, hunched over staring at a screen trying to fix up a hundred broken up chords to get rid of everything that you think you need to (sometimes there will be nothing left).

Only to discover that when you stop zooming in on the guitar chords and rather just listen to them in the mix with everything else, the original files sound fine.

Timing is something you have to get right though.

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