Newbie Trying to Record Guitar

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
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tunde
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue May 21, 2019 12:11 am

Newbie Trying to Record Guitar

Post by tunde » Tue May 21, 2019 12:17 am

Hey all,

First post on this forum and I just wanted to take the time to really sort out this situation I'm in trying to record electric guitar. I'm a complete newbie to this process and I'm confused as to how exactly I can get a good guitar sound. The raw recording sounds pretty fuzzy and muffled and even after trying free amp Sims I just can't seem to get any of this right. Half of the tutorials on YouTube are just the users saying big words and hoping you get it. This whole thing just sucks considering how strong my desire to do this is. I just need a basic guide to recording. Not sure if my levels are right, I'm using the PAD button to create more headroom on my Scarlett 2i4, but my friends told me I have to actually lower the levels in Ableton itself and I have no idea how to do that. Basically, if any of you are familiar with recording guitar, I need about as basic and essential as tops can get. Thank you.

gbert
Posts: 42
Joined: Mon Jun 25, 2018 6:02 am

Re: Newbie Trying to Record Guitar

Post by gbert » Wed May 22, 2019 2:50 am

I don’t have the Scarlett, so some of this is based on what is shown in pictures and the manual. Hope this helps.

First step is to make sure the Scarlett hardware is set up correctly. Plug the guitar into input 1 on the front directly using a cable. Set the line/inst switch to inst (instrument). Keep the Pad off at first. Set the 48V (phantom power) switch to off.

Next you need to check levels on the raw input guitar. Usually I’d use the included mixer app, but I can’t see what Focusrite installs. So let’s do it by ear. Set the Direct Monitor knob fully to Input (clockwise). Now strum the guitar fairly hard and listen. You will be hearing the direct input sound. Adjust the Gain control for channel 1 on the front of the Focusrite such that you hear the guitar as loud as possible without any distortion at all. Then back the Gain down a touch more from there. That should ensure you get enough signal without any distortion. You want a perfectly clean signal coming in at this stage. If you can’t get rid of distortion, now add the Pad control for channel 1 and adjust the Gain again in the same way.

Now set the Direct Monitor knob fully counterclockwise to Playback. Keep it set here going forward! This makes sure you don’t hear the input raw guitar at the same time as the processes guitar. You want to hear only processed guitar.

Seems you got somewhere in Ableton if you heard something. So I’ll skim through this section. Basically, add an Audio track in Ableton. Set the input to your channel 1 on the 2i4, the same one the guitar is plugged into. Set input monitoring to Auto. Select the Record enable button for that track. Strum the guitar. You should now hear audio. And it should sound clean without distortion since you already adjusted the gain and Pad for channel 1 above as needed.

At this point you need a plugin. It will simulate the guitar amp, guitar speaker cabinet, and microphone placed in front of the speaker cabinet. All 3 of these virtual digital components are needed in order to get a good sound. It’s actually more like 2 components, amp and cab/mic, because the cab/mic are lumped together in plugins. Leave out the cab/mic, and it sounds like fizzy crap.

I’d try the Scuffham S-Gear demo. Sounds great. Add that to the track and start with a preset. It should sound decent.

Now prepare for the endless rabbit hole of trying many different amp sims, and worse yet impulse responses! Try not to get distracted by this and focus on just making music.

tunde
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue May 21, 2019 12:11 am

Re: Newbie Trying to Record Guitar

Post by tunde » Wed May 22, 2019 3:03 am

Thanks man, really appreciate you taking the time to lay all that out for me. I've learned how to do most of the things you've mentioned and was able to get a pretty clean guitar tone yesterday. It was weird though because I was happy with my sound after applying amp Sims, over driver pedals, etc. but noticed I forgot to add an Impulse response. I loaded up a couple using NadIR and then my guitar sound I was happy with before adding the IR made it sound a lot more fuzzy, kinda just setting me back where I started. I didn't have time to try to re-equalize that so I just left but was wondering if that was normal.

Again, thanks for your response. Emotions were high yesterday as my level of understanding couldn't reach my level of ambition, and what you've said has really helped.

gbert
Posts: 42
Joined: Mon Jun 25, 2018 6:02 am

Re: Newbie Trying to Record Guitar

Post by gbert » Wed May 22, 2019 1:42 pm

No problem! Adding an IR shouldn’t be adding any distortion. If that’s what’s happening (and it doesn’t happen using the amp plugin without NadIR) then it is probably because of the signal becoming too high inside NadIR. If your signal reaches the max level in the digital world, 0 dBFS, it clips which is a form of distortion. To remedy that, keep the level below that for every part of the processing chain. More simply put, lower the Gain control in NadIR, or lower the output volume in the amp plugin that precedes it.

If it’s not distortion inside NadIR due to a high signal level then it could be the IR itself emphasizing the high frequencies too much. A guitar amp raw without any cab/IR has tons of high frequencies and sounds fuzzy/fizzy. The cab/IR largely lowpass filters it to remove the excessive high frequencies and keep mainly the low/mid frequencies. If the IR happens to keep too many of the highs or worse yet boost them, then it could also be the cause of sounding fuzzy. In that case it’s because it’s emphasizing the fuzziness that is already coming from the amp. A different IR would be needed if this is the case.

I’d try an all-in-one plugin trial that has amp+cab sim integrated just to see if everything is working. It rules out any signal level issues between the amp and cab plugins since they are integrated into one. And the presets usually have a decent sounding IR baked in. That may be a good starting point as far as troubleshooting the sound goes. Then if that’s working substitute in separate amp/cab sim plugins. Something like S-Gear or Helix Native would work well as a plugin to test with that has both the amp and cab built in.

tunde
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue May 21, 2019 12:11 am

Re: Newbie Trying to Record Guitar

Post by tunde » Thu May 23, 2019 10:26 pm

Okay that makes a lot of sense. I think the latter option is probably what's going on. So I guess I'm terms of my creation process, do you recommend that I add both the Amp sim and NadIR before equalizing the sound? That could help. Thanks again.

gbert
Posts: 42
Joined: Mon Jun 25, 2018 6:02 am

Re: Newbie Trying to Record Guitar

Post by gbert » Fri May 24, 2019 4:39 am

Yes, you’d want to add the EQ after the amp and NadIR. Although, it should be possible to get a very usable or even great tone without the EQ in at all. Also, if you are using NadIR, make sure the amp sim doesn’t already have a cab sim built in. Most of them do have some kind of cab sim. If it has one, hen NadIR isn’t needed.

tunde
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue May 21, 2019 12:11 am

Re: Newbie Trying to Record Guitar

Post by tunde » Fri May 24, 2019 1:37 pm

Thank you, man! Really appreciate you helping me out.

Dezza1
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Aug 20, 2019 3:13 pm

Re: Newbie Trying to Record Guitar

Post by Dezza1 » Tue Aug 20, 2019 3:23 pm

Same problem here. I've found the sound you get when recording an electric guitar clean is weak and thin. I've tried some of the free plugins and the EQ and compression as well as the amps and cabinets in Live Lite.

Turns out if you want to get the Ableton Amp you have to buy Live Standard and and then buy the Amp as well.

TLW
Posts: 271
Joined: Thu Aug 23, 2018 2:37 am

Re: Newbie Trying to Record Guitar

Post by TLW » Wed Aug 21, 2019 11:59 pm

Native Instruments do a free version of Guitar Rig which might be worth trying if you haven't already. Also there's Amplitube Custom Shop.

You're not missing much by not having Live's amp plugin, it's nothing special.

I find the best way to get a good guitar sound is to put a microphone in front of a speaker that's attached to a guitar amp or replace the speaker and mic with a reactive load and speaker emulating DI like Palmer make. Needn't even be expensive or massively loud, a Pignose can be surprisingly good-sounding.
Live 10.1 Suite, M4L, 2014/15 MacBook Pro 15.3” Retina i7, OS Mojave 10.14.5. RME UFX, assorted synths, guitars and stuff.

jlgrimes
Posts: 1263
Joined: Mon Jan 22, 2007 1:55 am
Location: Atlanta, Ga

Re: Newbie Trying to Record Guitar

Post by jlgrimes » Sun Aug 25, 2019 7:43 pm

tunde wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 12:17 am
Hey all,

First post on this forum and I just wanted to take the time to really sort out this situation I'm in trying to record electric guitar. I'm a complete newbie to this process and I'm confused as to how exactly I can get a good guitar sound. The raw recording sounds pretty fuzzy and muffled and even after trying free amp Sims I just can't seem to get any of this right. Half of the tutorials on YouTube are just the users saying big words and hoping you get it. This whole thing just sucks considering how strong my desire to do this is. I just need a basic guide to recording. Not sure if my levels are right, I'm using the PAD button to create more headroom on my Scarlett 2i4, but my friends told me I have to actually lower the levels in Ableton itself and I have no idea how to do that. Basically, if any of you are familiar with recording guitar, I need about as basic and essential as tops can get. Thank you.

Make sure you are using instrument input and not line.

Generally you should be peaking somewhere between -10 to -20 dbfs.

If you are still loud, use a pad (or adjust volume knob on guitar)

Generally I dont have a too loud (nor unwanted distortion) issue but I use single coil pickups and maybe the humbuckers are louder.

If recording with plugins, you will need a pretty low buffer setting to not notice latency (like 64 or 128), and turn off direct monitoring.

But if you are recording dry, turn on direct monitoring on your interface and turn off input monitoring in Ableton.


Also achieving a good distorted tone in a DAW is somewhat of an art usually though you want something like the following

Amp, Cabinet

Cabinets help smooth out the distorted tone. Some folks will skip the cabinet and use an impulse response of a cabinet using Convolution reverb, as you might find an impulse that works better than the built in Cabinets.

For more distortion, you can use another Amp or pedal effect to get a stronger distortion. (Going through two or more distortions)

Also tape Sims can also help smooth out the sound.

Good luck as it will usually take some experimentation to get something you like.

jlgrimes
Posts: 1263
Joined: Mon Jan 22, 2007 1:55 am
Location: Atlanta, Ga

Re: Newbie Trying to Record Guitar

Post by jlgrimes » Sun Aug 25, 2019 7:55 pm

jlgrimes wrote:
Sun Aug 25, 2019 7:43 pm
tunde wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 12:17 am
Hey all,

First post on this forum and I just wanted to take the time to really sort out this situation I'm in trying to record electric guitar. I'm a complete newbie to this process and I'm confused as to how exactly I can get a good guitar sound. The raw recording sounds pretty fuzzy and muffled and even after trying free amp Sims I just can't seem to get any of this right. Half of the tutorials on YouTube are just the users saying big words and hoping you get it. This whole thing just sucks considering how strong my desire to do this is. I just need a basic guide to recording. Not sure if my levels are right, I'm using the PAD button to create more headroom on my Scarlett 2i4, but my friends told me I have to actually lower the levels in Ableton itself and I have no idea how to do that. Basically, if any of you are familiar with recording guitar, I need about as basic and essential as tops can get. Thank you.

Make sure you are using instrument input and not line.

Generally you should be peaking somewhere between -10 to -20 dbfs.

If you are still loud, use a pad (or adjust volume knob on guitar)

Generally I dont have a too loud (nor unwanted distortion) issue but I use single coil pickups and maybe the humbuckers are louder.

If recording with plugins, you will need a pretty low buffer setting to not notice latency (like 64 or 128), and turn off direct monitoring.

But if you are recording dry, turn on direct monitoring on your interface and turn off input monitoring in Ableton.


Also achieving a good distorted tone in a DAW is somewhat of an art usually though you want something like the following

Amp, Cabinet

EQ is your friend, and go with ever sounds good.

Cabinets help smooth out the distorted tone. Some folks will skip the cabinet and use an impulse response of a cabinet using Convolution reverb, as you might find an impulse that works better than the built in Cabinets.

For more distortion, you can use another Amp or pedal effect to get a stronger distortion. (Going through two or more distortions)

Also tape Sims can also help smooth out the sound.

Good luck as it will usually take some experimentation to get something you like.

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