Old 06-22-2013, 07:43 PM   #1
metallicaguy1
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Default Taking the "fuzz" out of metal

I've been playing around with my UX2, the different settings, Gearbox, and S Gear. And my Fender Mustang 1. When I record in Reaper, I found that my amp has the best tone when it comes to trying metal. I do have a question for the metalheads out there who record. How do you make metal sound "cleaner?" Mine just sounds so fuzzy--especially when I play power chords. Single chords, a little, but anything more than one string and it's too much. It loses quality and sound in the process. If I decrease the gain, it doesn't sound much like metal anymore but more like crunchy clean tone. I don't know what it could be. I was just kind of curious about this.
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Old 06-22-2013, 08:17 PM   #2
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I've been playing around with my UX2, the different settings, Gearbox, and S Gear. And my Fender Mustang 1. When I record in Reaper, I found that my amp has the best tone when it comes to trying metal. I do have a question for the metalheads out there who record. How do you make metal sound "cleaner?" Mine just sounds so fuzzy--especially when I play power chords. Single chords, a little, but anything more than one string and it's too much. It loses quality and sound in the process. If I decrease the gain, it doesn't sound much like metal anymore but more like crunchy clean tone. I don't know what it could be. I was just kind of curious about this.
Hi metallicaguy1, I'm somewhat surprised by your question but I think it's a good one. I'm not sure what you mean by power chords but basically I've always hated the sound of distorted chords. Using the 1 & 5 (is that what you mean by power chord?) with distortion is okay and can even sound good, but more notes than that is usually pretty awful.

Keep in mind that I'm an old fart and that's just my own personal opinion.
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Old 06-22-2013, 08:25 PM   #3
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Well, I don't tend to use VSTs for my metal tones (although, I've had some good results with some HeadCase stuff (acmebargig)), I really like the various tech 21 boxes for direct recording. For rhythm guitars in metal, I tend to at the very least double track the guitars, sometimes quad track them, and lower the gain and beef up the mids a bit more than you'd usually do just jamming around.

also, from a physical perspective, make sure your guitar is intonated properly around the chords you are playing (ie finger the chord and tune/intonate to that chord so it's in tune). This helps metal stuff come out a lot cleaner with less of the disonant harmonic distortion stuff happening. It's not something I always do, but it is useful at times.
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Old 06-22-2013, 08:34 PM   #4
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I tend to record like Moliere - heavy on the mids - but the cleaner "modern" metal sound usually has almost no mids (this is where the Fuzz lives), with highs and lows cranked all the way. Usually through high gain heads like a Mesa Boogie or something. I don't think backing off on the gain a hair while recording is a bad idea though - try pulling dialing back the gain and double-tracking if you're not already doing that. Two guitars playing the same thing with slightly different tones can sound much heavier than one.
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Old 06-23-2013, 03:30 AM   #5
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...all great suggestions here.

In my experience, amp sims have always tended to be fuzzy on hi gain settings. One thing you can try is running your direct signal through a tube preamp...this can actually make a difference. If you don't have the $ for one, running a channel strip VST (I use Nasty VCS by Variety of Sound occasionally) can take a bit of the fizz away. Turning down the gain usually isn't an option when it comes to metal but maybe back the gain down a bit and use higher gain settings for solos?
I'm not familiar with s gear, but I have had Line 6 Pod Farm and it seemed to be fizzier than other sims in my experience...I use Amplitube and I don't seem to have that problem as much.
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Old 06-23-2013, 04:14 AM   #6
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A hybrid system of stompbox and ampsim can work ok, takes the workload off the ampsim somewhat. I use a TM5 Ibanez [$25 ebay]pedal, its called thrashmetal but that's a misnomer, its not so high gain, really a kind of tube screamer with altered mids reminds me of old Judas Priest sound, its punchy so the pwr chrds sound good without a lot of added gain from the ampsim imo.
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Old 06-23-2013, 04:58 AM   #7
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A hybrid system of stompbox and ampsim can work ok, takes the workload off the ampsim somewhat. I use a TM5 Ibanez [$25 ebay]pedal, its called thrashmetal but that's a misnomer, its not so high gain, really a kind of tube screamer with altered mids reminds me of old Judas Priest sound, its punchy so the pwr chrds sound good without a lot of added gain from the ampsim imo.
Yeah, AFAIK seasoned metalheads like Devin Townsend or that dude from Killswitch Engage used to split their distortions between their amps and some overdrive stompboxes like tubescreamer, setting low gain (like 3/10) on both sides. Apparently it works quite well, so maybe digital model of said setup works too. Hard to say, while I tune my guitars to B I wouldn't metal my way out of a paper bag

I have to agree about high-gain models in Line6 being reeealy high gain. Models in both POD farm and my old POD 2.0 are on average much more distorted than even the free stuff I leech from the internet. Actually I remember my old cheapo digitech RP doing the same thing - it probably sells better, will make problems when recording, but sounds great when tested in store
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Old 06-23-2013, 10:56 AM   #8
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I am assuming you are trying to emulate Metallica's heavy metal sound. As far as I know, they still use Mesa Boogie's. In other words to get that sound you must actually mic a speaker cabinet with a real amp head. And that amp has to be turned up to about 10. The fuzziness comes from too much preamp gain and not enough power tube gain. Power tube distortion is much less fuzzy and a bit more focused. AC/DC is a perfect example of power tube gain. But Heavy Metal recordings do both power tube and preamp distortion. By cranking the amp to 10, you have power tube distortion and you don't have to dial in so much preamp tube distortion.

Now that we have this out of the way, how do I accomplish this from my apartment where there is no way in hell I can crank my amp to 10? I bought an attenuator. Specifically I have the Rivera Rock Crusher. This allows me to turn my amp's volume to 10 so as to really get those power amps cooking along but the volume is at a reasonable level. The amount of preamp gain I use is not a lot to get a heavy metal sound. I can mic the cabinet or take a line out of the Rock Crusher and record that. After recording that track, I insert speaker Cabinet impulse responses.

I get a good heavy metal sound, but since I am attenuating the volume, I am not getting the speakers in my cabinet to distort slightly and push hard. Oh well.

Another option would be to buy a low power tube amp such as the Blackstar or Marshall 5W amps. I have heard those things give a great heavy metal sound and the volume is much much lower. Hell, you can get an attenuator to use with that for even lower volumes, but the amp will be cranked.


Bottom line, if you want things to sound more professional or less fizzy, you have to use a real amp. And use what they use: Marshall, Engl, Mesa Boogie for example. Get an attenuator to reduce the volume but crank up the amp's volume to max.

At this point, I don't think software is able to get those heavy metal tones you desire. And small solid state amps definitely won't get you there.
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Old 06-23-2013, 02:20 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by metallicaguy1 View Post
Mine just sounds so fuzzy--especially when I play power chords.
Lots of suggestions here, but consider posting 2 short clips:
D.I., and processed.

Otherwise it's guesswork.
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Old 06-23-2013, 04:11 PM   #10
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Turn the gain down
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Old 06-23-2013, 05:22 PM   #11
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Turn the gain down
What he said. What you hear on a record is much less distorted than you think it is; its a different ball game when you are the player not the listener. IE: It sounds/feels cleaner as the player laying the raw track than it does hearing back as a recorded and compressed track (especially Metallica). The best distorted tones feel a little too clean to some players if their reference is other band's recordings; bring it down to a near uncomfortable level (as a player) and see how it sounds.
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Old 06-23-2013, 06:27 PM   #12
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lm6pv...ature=youtu.be

this is a link to a small clip I recorded. Please ignore the poor playing. I used my Fender Mustang Amp connected via usb to comp and recorded in Reaper. First 30 seconds is low gain. Last 30 is high gain.

I will record more later (via UX2, which, IMP doesn't sound as good as the amp sounds.)

Let me know what you think. Thanks.
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Old 06-23-2013, 08:57 PM   #13
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Hi metallicaguy1, I'm somewhat surprised by your question but I think it's a good one. I'm not sure what you mean by power chords but basically I've always hated the sound of distorted chords. Using the 1 & 5 (is that what you mean by power chord?) with distortion is okay and can even sound good, but more notes than that is usually pretty awful.

Keep in mind that I'm an old fart and that's just my own personal opinion.
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Old 06-23-2013, 09:12 PM   #14
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I've been playing around with my UX2, the different settings, Gearbox, and S Gear. And my Fender Mustang 1. When I record in Reaper, I found that my amp has the best tone when it comes to trying metal. I do have a question for the metalheads out there who record. How do you make metal sound "cleaner?" Mine just sounds so fuzzy--especially when I play power chords. Single chords, a little, but anything more than one string and it's too much. It loses quality and sound in the process. If I decrease the gain, it doesn't sound much like metal anymore but more like crunchy clean tone. I don't know what it could be. I was just kind of curious about this.
First: get a good, real tube amp (or even some solid state ones can sound good). Amp sims can get very, very close, but are not there.

Second: if you ARE stuck with using amps sims, lower the gain, and use a tight parametric EQ to find the "fizz" spot and reduce it. Can work wonders. Also, go for "aunch" instead of "punch", meaning dial the mids in right, not all scooped. Leave room for the kick and bass. If you're a decent engineer you can also use multi-band compression creatively.

Third: import a CD or MP3 track or a guitar sound you like, dial up an amp sim, and A/B back and forth, tweeking your amp sim until you're as close as you can get to the sound of the real amp. On both my current band's record, and the band prior to that, I found a couple spots where I had forgotten to track a couple parts. Rather than going back, carrying a bunch of recording gear, and setting it all up, I dubbed in the tracks with my UX2, after trying to match the sound of my VHT rig. I got so close that my own band couldn't tell.

I play through a lot of very expensive tube guitar gear. Nothing can replace that, but with a little work, amp sims can sound quite good.
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Old 06-23-2013, 10:58 PM   #15
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Bottom line, if you want things to sound more professional or less fizzy, you have to use a real amp. And use what they use: Marshall, Engl, Mesa Boogie for example. Get an attenuator to reduce the volume but crank up the amp's volume to max.
I'm pretty sure there's plenty of albums with guitars recorded digitally already and nobody complains. It's 2013 after all, we have flying cars 64bit wotsits for everything.

I think the precision of playing is worth noting too - if you properly line up not-very distorted guitar tracks with tightly played bass and drums it will sound heavier than the sum of the parts. OPs sample needs, um, a bit of work with it.
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Old 06-23-2013, 11:44 PM   #16
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...if you properly line up not-very distorted guitar tracks with tightly played bass and drums it will sound heavier than the sum of the parts...
I find that what sounds good by itself doesn't usually sound great in a mix. I like a punchy bass with a searing high mids and just enough mids to keep the guitar present in the mix. To get punchy lows I usually roll off the low end of the guitar from around 200Hz and then use a very fat, compressed and slightly distorted bass tone to get that punchy rhythm going. Searing high mids is what really gives the distorted metal sound and I usually try to make the guitar the prominent instrument in this range. Once the high mids and the bass are sounding great in the mix I then just add mids until the sound is fat.
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Old 06-24-2013, 09:35 AM   #17
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Here is what you should try. Lookup guitar cabinet impulse responss. I know Redwirez has free impulse responses. Download them and remember where you pu them. Now, record as you have with your Mustang amp but insert FX. Insert Reaverb. Don't create a reverb but use a file for your impulse response. Choose one of the cabinet impulse responses you just downloaded. You will notice a ton of fuzz and fizz gone.

Why? Your Mustang amp is recording the output the amp but not the speaker output. A guitar cabinet is an eq and it eqs out that high end fizz.

As I mentioned in my last post about using an attenuator with a line out, the sound is very fizzy. Once I insert a cabinet impulse response, I get a really nice and cleaner tone.

Since I am assuming you don't want to spend the money for another amp, my suggestion above is absolutely free.
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Old 06-24-2013, 04:50 PM   #18
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Here is what you should try. Lookup guitar cabinet impulse responss. I know Redwirez has free impulse responses. Download them and remember where you pu them. Now, record as you have with your Mustang amp but insert FX. Insert Reaverb. Don't create a reverb but use a file for your impulse response. Choose one of the cabinet impulse responses you just downloaded. You will notice a ton of fuzz and fizz gone.

Why? Your Mustang amp is recording the output the amp but not the speaker output. A guitar cabinet is an eq and it eqs out that high end fizz.

As I mentioned in my last post about using an attenuator with a line out, the sound is very fizzy. Once I insert a cabinet impulse response, I get a really nice and cleaner tone.

Since I am assuming you don't want to spend the money for another amp, my suggestion above is absolutely free.
I just tried this, cyco. Whenever I click reaverb and insert any of the amp models, nothing changes or sounds different... I downloaded rewirez, too. Do I record, stop, reaverb, and use an amp file? That's what I tried
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Old 06-24-2013, 06:43 PM   #19
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Tone is in the hands more than the amp. Its impossible to disregard the playing in the clip posted because that is the main issue. Trying picking at a slight angle and really dig into the strings, make sure the timing is tight. Apart from that try TSE x50, it's my favorite high gain amp and it's free
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Old 06-24-2013, 06:50 PM   #20
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Tone is in the hands more than the amp.
+1000

You might get chastised for saying that though. However, I agree 100% for a laundry list of reasons. I didn't listen to the clips its just something I've learned over the years from direct observation and participation.
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Old 06-24-2013, 07:56 PM   #21
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I just tried this, cyco. Whenever I click reaverb and insert any of the amp models, nothing changes or sounds different... I downloaded rewirez, too. Do I record, stop, reaverb, and use an amp file? That's what I tried

Ahhhh crap. I forgot to mention one thing. Pull the dry level fader all the way down. Pull the Wet level fader up to 0db. That should give you a start. Your guitar track sounded the same because the dry signal was still there.

Anyway get rid of the dry signal, you want the sound of nothing but the cabinet impulse. This should take care of the issue.

Is the sound also in one's hands? Yes, but even the most skilled can't "unfizz" the sound of an amp's direct out at high gain. That is what the speaker cabinet is for.
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Old 06-24-2013, 10:15 PM   #22
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Ahhhh crap. I forgot to mention one thing. Pull the dry level fader all the way down. Pull the Wet level fader up to 0db. That should give you a start. Your guitar track sounded the same because the dry signal was still there.

Anyway get rid of the dry signal, you want the sound of nothing but the cabinet impulse. This should take care of the issue.

Is the sound also in one's hands? Yes, but even the most skilled can't "unfizz" the sound of an amp's direct out at high gain. That is what the speaker cabinet is for.
Okay, I tried this, and it really works! Thanks. Combining this with eq adjustment makes it sound drastically better. Wow. awesome advice
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Old 06-24-2013, 10:35 PM   #23
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I am glad you got the results you were looking for. I still play with the cabinet impulses, but I have decided that for my next song, I will record the guitar cabinet and see how things go.
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Old 06-25-2013, 03:58 AM   #24
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Pretty much everything cycosuicide said -- especially his first two posts.

Note also karbomusic: 'What you hear on a record is much less distorted than you think it is'. Quite normally true. The addition of other instruments changes the perception significantly!

This is not about tone in the fingers or playing technique, not by a long shot. This is all about those fizzy frequencies produced mainly in the high mids. It's largely the ratty preamp tubes over-distorting. Amp sims do the same, as they mimic closely the same behavior -- they model those tubes as well! Knobs and settings=YES. Fingers=NO.
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Old 06-25-2013, 05:01 AM   #25
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Pretty much everything cycosuicide said -- especially his first two posts.

Note also karbomusic: 'What you hear on a record is much less distorted than you think it is'. Quite normally true. The addition of other instruments changes the perception significantly!

This is not about tone in the fingers or playing technique, not by a long shot. This is all about those fizzy frequencies produced mainly in the high mids. It's largely the ratty preamp tubes over-distorting. Amp sims do the same, as they mimic closely the same behavior -- they model those tubes as well! Knobs and settings=YES. Fingers=NO.
That's why I made sure to mention I didn't hear the clip.
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Old 06-25-2013, 09:17 AM   #26
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Lots of good suggestions here.

Some amps just have that fuzzy sound, especially digital models. Sometimes aliasing is also a problem. One thing that can help the tone is cutting and boosting before/after the amp, this way you have more control over how the drive sounds. One big part of a guitar sound is certainly the rather steep low pass filter/cabinet after the distortion.

Also depending on the material, you could try playing each note of a chord separately. That reduces IMD and thus gives you clearer sound.
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Old 06-26-2013, 02:37 AM   #27
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Don't forget about your volume and tone knobs on the guitar. Use 'em! They can make a huge difference when playing amp sims.
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Old 06-28-2013, 08:07 AM   #28
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I've been using amp sims and the fuzz can get annoying. I recently downloaded Acmebargig's Cab Enhancer VST and I have to say putting this in the chain (usually after the impulse loader) has really made a difference. Play around with the settings and it can make a lot of difference. I haven't used it in any of my recordings yet, but I certainly intend to.
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Old 06-29-2013, 12:08 AM   #29
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Another trick that hasn't been mentioned yet for recording high-intensity distorted guitars: roll off the low-end a fairly substantial amount BEFORE your ampsim, amp, or distortion device, crank up the distortion to taste, and then make up the low end AFTER distortion, with either the ampsim/amp/pedal EQ, or with post equalization. In my experience, the all the mush and fuzz comes from way too much low end feeding the distortion device, which is what generates those fuzzy, fizzy, buzzy high order harmonics.

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