Guitar FX pedals in guitar recording

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Guitar FX pedals in guitar recording

Post by vvv » Thu Jun 11, 2015 4:24 am

I have recently re-discovered the use of guitar FX pedals in guitar recording.

Dumbarse, I know I am.

But seriously, while I always used OD and distortion, my QSB II and the occasional spring reverb pedal and certainly the wah into the amp, for years now I've eschewed other FX pedals while recording.

If I wanted a chorus sound, or a flange or delay, I did it ITB - all those pristine full-frequencies! All the stereo spread! The precise adjustability! The convenience!

But (and I gotta thank my recent Swervedriver jones and the fact I've joined a cover band) I've realized that a mic'd flanger'd or temolo'd rhythm guitar or even delay'd sounds just as cool, certainly more "live", and totally as usable as adding the effect in the mix.

Yooze?
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Post by ubertar » Thu Jun 11, 2015 7:14 am

By re-amping you've got the best of both worlds, though it's more time consuming. You can tweak the knobs as it's playing back and get something more nuanced than just one setting. Or record multiple tracks with different effects and blend and fade to get something really interesting that couldn't be done live, but could still be all analog.
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Post by vvv » Thu Jun 11, 2015 7:42 am

Ah yes, my next step! 8)

One thing that led to this thread was I noticed that when I add delays to a already recorded track, they tend to have some ping-pong stereo movement, and are really pretty discrete.

When I record a track playing thru the delay into the amp, and doing it in stereo, the delays are typically less discrete, and obviously don't really ping-pong (except to the extent masking creates that effect, as when another part covers up a repeat on one side).

But, and this is what I found cool, it can be just as big as I want it, just as obviously effected, but the effect is quite different, especially with modulation stuff, like chorus and flange - it's like the effect is more organic, less of a effected thing and more of an original sound.

I know alla this might sound kinda simple and basic, but while I used to record this way in my cassette tape days, with the adoption of ITB I went the other direction, always recording basic amp sounds and then adding the effects, as opposed to playing the effects. And not only are there consequential differences in performance, but also in the sounds. I feel like I re-discovered another way of recording amp'd guitars.

And I wanted to share my excitement ... :twisted:
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Post by ubertar » Thu Jun 11, 2015 8:00 am

vvv wrote:recording basic amp sounds and then adding the effects, as opposed to playing the effects
Yep. Me too. It's just so much easier. But I've been moving back away from that as well.
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Post by drumsound » Thu Jun 11, 2015 9:36 am

I tend to record things the way the play would play them. If they are using a lot of pedals, that's how I record them. If an overdub idea involves effects, I'm happy to put a pedal in line. I think the player reacts to the sounds they hear and (often subconsciously) plays accordingly. That doesn't mean I never add effects in mixing, but if it's already there I don't have to.

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Post by ubertar » Thu Jun 11, 2015 9:59 am

Yeah. Recording other people vs. recording oneself is a whole different ball of wax. In that case I don't think I would go the re-amping route.
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Post by Recycled_Brains » Thu Jun 11, 2015 11:37 am

drumsound wrote:I think the player reacts to the sounds they hear and (often subconsciously) plays accordingly.
100% of the reason to do it that way.
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Post by vvv » Thu Jun 11, 2015 1:20 pm

Yeah, I am speaking of recording me.

I often record as I write, sometimes in the first pass, or working through it and immediately recording the part. Guitar is my first instrument, and I play it like I talk, kinda immediate and instinctively.

So, it's usually just plugged in for a inspiring, but not controlling or limiting sound - I don't wanna be locked in, IOW.

Of course, sometimes the pedal's sound can be the inspiration, but not usually for me.

Then, as the song, and the mix develops, I make the decision to add whatever effect, if any.

That usually happens after the vocal is done, which is usually after the rhythm guitars.

I note that I write a lot, but seldom actually perform my own stuff.

And I agree that playing the FX is best, and I certainly record others that way, if they know what they want.
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Post by ashcat_lt » Fri Jun 12, 2015 12:30 pm

Post-amp effects always sound like the 80s to me, and not in a good way.

The filter action of the guitar amp's speaker has a lot to do with keeping those effects sitting in the same space as the guitar itself, so that it sounds more like a part of the source rather than something tacked on afterwards.

Most amps compress some, and especially if you're getting any overdrive at all from the amp it will make a huge difference in what the effect even actually does. A delay will tend to tail out a little longer, but more importantly the dry and wet signals will get squished together more so that the repeats will sound a lot more like they're coming from the strings themselves. A comb filter (flange, phase, chorus to an extent) before distortion has fewer harmonics to work with, and often sounds like a completely different effect than if it came after the distortion.

Plus, you know, if it's just you and some pedals and a simple tube amp in a room ready to rock, that's how you're going to set it up, right?


Edit - Actually reading your last post, I think the reamp idea is a great one. I personally most often just end up using VST "pedals" and amp sims. I know some people might argue that sketches and demos should remain as such, that you should either commit from the start or go back and re-record what you actually want once you're done fucking aorund. Most of those guys are pricks, though. ;)

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Post by vvv » Fri Jun 12, 2015 2:10 pm

:lol:

I'm not a professional recordist, typically not even a recordist of others.

For me, the recording is part and parcel of the writing - it all comprises my art.

I value spontaneity, and I get bored fast playing the same parts over.

All that said, sometimes the effort is worth it.

But I think the the real change in my approach - in order to accommodate the recording of live performance with FX - is to start with the effected guitar as I write, make that commitment, at least more often. I'm thinking the effort will be worth it.
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Post by GooberNumber9 » Mon Jun 29, 2015 7:28 am

vvv wrote:But I think the the real change in my approach - in order to accommodate the recording of live performance with FX - is to start with the effected guitar as I write, make that commitment, at least more often. I'm thinking the effort will be worth it.
I definitely write the effects in. Which isn't the same as writing with effects, IMHO. Sometimes the writing is based on a specific effect and the part makes no sense without it (this I would call "writing with effects"). Other times I come up with something and play around with different effects until I get the best sound for the song, etc ("writing the effects into the song"). That happens a lot when I'm working with the band and the other members get their parts down - I like to make sure I'm sticking out where I should and fading in the background when I should. Half of my pedals are set to provide some kind of shift in loudness so I can "mix" myself live.

When it comes to recording, I often re-build the live performance without changing any settings. Meaning, I record a whole take on the "verse" setting and play through the choruses with it, Then I record a whole take on the "chorus" setting, playing through the versus. This usually means taking apart my whole pedalboard and wiring up each sound custom so I don't have extra pedals in bypass on each track. When I mix, I mute and/or automate levels of the different tracks to get the sounds to change.

Pretty much the only effects I do in the box are reverb and delay, and if delay is important to the part and the playing, I do the delay during recording. Most of the time I set the reverb on the amp totally off and use a reverb plug-in in the box, partly to combine at least all the guitar parts and often other parts into one virtual space. All the chorus, flange, distortion, etc. are done with pedals in front of the amp during recording.

Sometimes, if I want the chorus 50% wet, I'll record a track with the chorus pedal fully cranked, and then a clean track and mix them together. I've one time set up a stereo effect sound and run it through two amps (left amp and right amp) and then miced that setup with mid-side. I also go for boutique pedals that sound better than most of the plugins I have.

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Post by losthighway » Tue Jun 30, 2015 7:11 am

ashcat_lt wrote:Post-amp effects always sound like the 80s to me, and not in a good way.

The filter action of the guitar amp's speaker has a lot to do with keeping those effects sitting in the same space as the guitar itself, so that it sounds more like a part of the source rather than something tacked on afterwards.

Most amps compress some, and especially if you're getting any overdrive at all from the amp it will make a huge difference in what the effect even actually does. A delay will tend to tail out a little longer, but more importantly the dry and wet signals will get squished together more so that the repeats will sound a lot more like they're coming from the strings themselves. A comb filter (flange, phase, chorus to an extent) before distortion has fewer harmonics to work with, and often sounds like a completely different effect than if it came after the distortion.

Plus, you know, if it's just you and some pedals and a simple tube amp in a room ready to rock, that's how you're going to set it up, right?


Edit - Actually reading your last post, I think the reamp idea is a great one. I personally most often just end up using VST "pedals" and amp sims. I know some people might argue that sketches and demos should remain as such, that you should either commit from the start or go back and re-record what you actually want once you're done fucking aorund. Most of those guys are pricks, though. ;)
I agree with all of this. Even reverb pedals do something to the gain structure on a tube amp. When you're playing through amps, even when they're set up clean, the effects are never truly as clean, which is good. There are many devices in a rock and roll eco-system that are decidedly NOT full range, and function to keep things in a certain place. Then these weirdo engineers take things out of their natural environment and it gets weird. Kind of a Jurassic Park sounding comment I'm realizing.

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Post by lyman » Tue Jun 30, 2015 8:31 am

Another fun option that I don't think has been mentioned is to do a wet/dry setup with 2 amps. And where you split the signal in the signal path lets you use OD/fuzz pedals on both amps but modulation or delay/reverb on just one. Obviously not as flexible as re-amping, but you've got the option to blend the 2 sounds to taste in the mix, and if the tracked effects aren't cutting it you can ditch the wet amp track and try an ITB solution.

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Post by sound for sandwiches » Fri Jul 10, 2015 3:23 pm

I actually like what happens when you layer guitar effects at multiple points in the process. The last few records I worked on, the guitars (sometimes me, sometimes other people) would play through stomp boxes, use the amp's reverb, etc. And then in the mix, I'd add additional effects, often of the same type.

I like the layering and gradual buildup of textures specifically with reverb, delay, and washy types of effects. Clearly there are kinds of fx where this won't work or is impractical- like wah or something.

I guess I took inspiration for this from my preference for multiple, gradual gain stages for guitar distortion and overdrive (several pedals set for low gain, not one set high), and also recording a little cleaner than the desired final sound and adding distortion during the mix, either with a plug or OTB. If it works for distortion, why not verb?

The only thing I like doing completely in the mix on guitars, is on certain hardcore that's trying for the 80s retro sound. If you put an effectron set to flange on the recorded track, you get instant Zero Boys. can't do that with a pedal before the amp, it just sounds different and the swooshes interact with the distortion too much.

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Post by farview » Wed Jul 29, 2015 2:42 pm

My rule of thumb about this:

If the effect is part of the sound of that part, use the pedal.

If the effect is going to be something done to the part, do it in the box.

In other words, the spring reverb in the Fender amp is actually part of the sound, so you would record it that way. A reverb that you put on the guitar to give it a sense of space in the mix is something you would do in the DAW.

Obviously there is a lot a gray area, but if it affects the way the guitarist plays the part (in a good way), then it is probably best to record it that way.

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