Guide to Tone (yeah right...) Pt 1

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Guide to Tone (yeah right...) Pt 1

Postby EasySleazy » Mon Oct 01, 2007 10:19 pm

Well, since no one else takes the initiative, and there is a good amount of users that ask for this, here we go. Some stuff are probably covered in other support sections of the forum. Anyway:

1. The chain

Ok! THE most crucial thing that you must be careful with, if you want amp simulators to sound good, is the quality of the guitar signal. The so called "signal chain" (or just "chain"), is the hardware or software though which the clean guitar signal passes (aka the "dry" signal) before reaching the amp sim input.
An overgained clean guitar signal, will pretty much destroy any hint of good tone (especially if you are looking for hi gain tones with clarity), so be careful with the settings of your audio interfaces. I remember when I was using the mic in of my soundcard, that even the slightest distortion in the clean signal, made a great difference in the tone. On the other hand if the signal is weak, your guitar will sound more like a sitar than a guitar. Except for the gain of the dry signal, it's tone that plays a major part. If it is bassy, then it is most likely that you'll be having a hard time taming the low end of the amp sims (it won't sound brutal in a good way, but it will sound muddy/thumping/boomy/undefined...all the bad stuff). Generally a balanced dry signal is preferred.

Assumption: You'll need a clean (gain-wise) and balanced (tone-wise) dry signal in order to get good sounds from amp sims.
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Postby luca » Mon Nov 19, 2007 4:54 pm

I have only just skimmed through all your Guides, and I will need some time to digest them a bit.
One thing I may have missed, was a mention that a guitar cable (hardware) is also part of the best possible signal...

I recommend VoVox... :!:

Really good writing!

Thanks!!!
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Re: Guide to Tone (yeah right...) Pt 1

Postby kruci » Sun Dec 06, 2009 5:57 am

Great posts! :wink:

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Re: Guide to Tone (yeah right...) Pt 1

Postby RoofRider » Fri Apr 23, 2010 5:28 pm

true , some nice advice....

wally

Re: Guide to Tone (yeah right...) Pt 1

Postby wally » Sun Jun 13, 2010 10:14 pm

hello EasySleazy

i am a bigginer in this topic... and i have a problem whit my sound.
When i open Amplitube 3, my guitar sound very bassy, muddy, undefined. I can hear the problem especially when i play lower notes, and chords.
the problem is (i think) my guitar tone, is not a gain problem because i am not overgained the guitar signal.
how can i fix this problem?
maybe I need a balanced dry signal, but... how can i do this?

thanks ... sorry my english.

i use a fast track ultra, a LTD guitar (les paul), good computer and good cables.
my guitar have seymour duncan´s humbucker...JB (brige) and 59 (neck)

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Re: Guide to Tone (yeah right...) Pt 1

Postby Alu » Tue Jun 15, 2010 10:23 am

wally wrote:hello EasySleazy

i am a bigginer in this topic... and i have a problem whit my sound.
When i open Amplitube 3, my guitar sound very bassy, muddy, undefined. I can hear the problem especially when i play lower notes, and chords.
the problem is (i think) my guitar tone, is not a gain problem because i am not overgained the guitar signal.
how can i fix this problem?
maybe I need a balanced dry signal, but... how can i do this?

thanks ... sorry my english.

i use a fast track ultra, a LTD guitar (les paul), good computer and good cables.
my guitar have seymour duncan´s humbucker...JB (brige) and 59 (neck)

Try putting the Tube Screamer emulation in front of the amp you're using, with Drive at 0, Tone and Output as you wish...
This will help getting rid of the muddyness, since the Tube Screamer cuts a lot of lows...
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Re: Guide to Tone (yeah right...) Pt 1

Postby hawkevil » Tue Jun 15, 2010 12:20 pm

Yes, what Alu said should fix the problem you are having but I'd like to add a little more to that too.

I find that using the EQ on the amp and also using the cab simulator to get a good ATTACK and general fullness to your tone and then using post EQ to bring the frequencies up or down that you want has good results.

Amp EQ more for attack and cab simulator more for the fullness but they do cross over.

It sounds like your problem lies in the attack area more than anything else.

This is the way I tweak amp simulators these days and I suppose this way could help beginners break down each individiual bits.

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Re: Guide to Tone (yeah right...) Pt 1

Postby coldtoad » Tue Sep 28, 2010 7:08 pm

Good stuff!

I need some help with the first part of the signal chane...

I have a 7 string with rather loud sd-pick-ups and today i bought the apogee one. and here is the problem:
in order for the guitar not to clip i have to turn the input down to about 10%...wich makes the signal sound weak...

should i use my old volume-pedal to tame the guitar signal before it goes to the interface? or am i just playing the guitar too hard?...maybe i'm just expecting an interface to performe with same dynamic range as my old jcm900... :oops:

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Re: Guide to Tone (yeah right...) Pt 1

Postby rifki » Tue Sep 28, 2010 10:33 pm

coldtoad wrote:Good stuff!

I need some help with the first part of the signal chane...

I have a 7 string with rather loud sd-pick-ups and today i bought the apogee one. and here is the problem:
in order for the guitar not to clip i have to turn the input down to about 10%...wich makes the signal sound weak...

should i use my old volume-pedal to tame the guitar signal before it goes to the interface? or am i just playing the guitar too hard?...maybe i'm just expecting an interface to performe with same dynamic range as my old jcm900... :oops:


this is the reason why i left the world of amp simulation, exactly :)
you have two options: weak signal or clipping signal, and none of them are good. a clipping signal ruins the output, especially the clean sounds. i think that if a solution is found to this, amp simulation would be a nicer option than a real tube amp for home players. instead of a volume pedal, i could recommend some pedal that compresses the sound and reduces the dynamic range of the guitar, like a boost pedal. this could be the solution to the problem.

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Re: Guide to Tone (yeah right...) Pt 1

Postby coldtoad » Wed Sep 29, 2010 5:35 pm

thanks, man...but really? is there no easy solution?? :?

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Re: Guide to Tone (yeah right...) Pt 1

Postby rifki » Wed Sep 29, 2010 7:56 pm

i don't know very well, but what i know is that the solution is harder than buying a decent audio interface (i bought konnekt 6 desktop, it really changed the sound quality, but did not solve the dynamics problem). what i got everytime i tried to get a non - clipping signal was a very weak signal. i played extremely hard while trying to adjust the input level (this is what you must do, minimum or no clipping at every situation), i set those levels so that they won't clip, and when i played the guitar normally, the input was naturally weak. electric guitar input is really very dynamic that the audio interfaces can't handle them very well, i think. but i really think that a boost pedal will help. it will compress the input and eliminate the unwanted clipping when you play hard, and unwanted weak signal when you play softer.

a short note which is way out of the subject: if you guys are really serious with amp modeling, don't hurt your ears with those f**king computer speakers with those f**king subwoofers with a lot of unbalanced bass and treble. they just don't go along with modeling software. in addition to this, simulation -> poweramp -> cabinet would be the best option available if you want to use sims.

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Re: Guide to Tone (yeah right...) Pt 1

Postby Alu » Thu Sep 30, 2010 7:42 am

There is a solution for this, but you need to know the specifics of your pickup (max output voltage).

If you have a good soundcard, you don't really have to worry about keeping the signal low at the input by lowering the preamp volume. Taking down the signal by the guitar volume pot, instead, is the worst idea, because of the output impedance of the pickup interacting with the input impedance and capacitance of the preamp (may cause a loss in the high frequencies).
Using a compressor pedal in front of the soundcard is even worst... if you're complaining about dynamics preservation, a compressor is the last thing one should use...

Keep the guitar output at full and the soundcard preamp pot at the highest value possible before clipping, so you'll ensure the highest detail of the AD conversion.

Keep in mind that your signal will be discretized in values between 1 and -1 (so, 2V headroom). Let's say the maximum output of your pickup is 2V peak to peak, you're fine with it.
Let's say you have an higher output pickup, like an EMG 81, which, reading the specs, has 3V peak to peak as maximum output. Now, if you have setted your soundcard preamp correctly, after the AD conversion you'll have a lower signal, since the max value will be 1V and the lower -1V, when in the analog domain you have a max value of 1.5V and a min value of -1.5 (3V peak to peak, that's it).
How to solve this signal loss? Did you guys have never noticed that almost all the amps sims have an input signal level control? It is there just for this purpose: adjusting the input level seen by the amp sim according to your pickups...

So, just boost the input signal into your ampsim or using a transparent boost VST and you're done...
The amount of boost depends on your pickups.
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Re: Guide to Tone (yeah right...) Pt 1

Postby rifki » Thu Sep 30, 2010 11:13 pm

i think that i am misunderstood :)
i already complain about the 'high dynamic range' of the electric guitar, because of that i recommended something that compresses the signal (lowers the dynamic range).
didn't experiment with the amp sim input level though, you are right about that i think

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Re: Guide to Tone (yeah right...) Pt 1

Postby coldtoad » Sat Oct 02, 2010 9:14 pm

Hey Alu,
thanks for the advice...i tried the demo of a amplitube and solved the problem by increasing the input gain in the prog.
i was missing that option on the garage band amps....

Guess i will keep the apogee one as my mac interface after all. :)

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Re: Guide to Tone (yeah right...) Pt 1

Postby Brian @IK Multimedia » Fri Mar 04, 2011 6:07 am

wally wrote:hello EasySleazy

i am a bigginer in this topic... and i have a problem whit my sound.
When i open Amplitube 3, my guitar sound very bassy, muddy, undefined. I can hear the problem especially when i play lower notes, and chords.
the problem is (i think) my guitar tone, is not a gain problem because i am not overgained the guitar signal.
how can i fix this problem?
maybe I need a balanced dry signal, but... how can i do this?

thanks ... sorry my english.

i use a fast track ultra, a LTD guitar (les paul), good computer and good cables.
my guitar have seymour duncan´s humbucker...JB (brige) and 59 (neck)

An important tip to also keep in mind is you need a hi-Z instrument input or DI box to get the proper signal into the computer for the highest quality tone from your ampsim.

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Re: Guide to Tone (yeah right...) Pt 1

Postby joaquinotero » Tue May 17, 2011 2:28 am

rifki wrote: this is the reason why i left the world of amp simulation, exactly :)
you have two options: weak signal or clipping signal, and none of them are good. a clipping signal ruins the output, especially the clean sounds. i think that if a solution is found to this, amp simulation would be a nicer option than a real tube amp for home players. instead of a volume pedal, i could recommend some pedal that compresses the sound and reduces the dynamic range of the guitar, like a boost pedal. this could be the solution to the problem.


It could be an error if I connect my guitar to a stompbox limiter and then connect the stompbos output to the HI-Z input of my Lexicon Omega Interface?.

Thanks for your help.

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Re: Guide to Tone (yeah right...) Pt 1

Postby nathan84 » Fri Dec 09, 2011 3:08 am

I was actually having some issues with this. I read your post, well, here is my problem. I have my gain on my interface all the way down, and it still clips. I have emg 81/85's, which are high gain pups of course, so I was wondering what to do in this situation?
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Re: Guide to Tone (yeah right...) Pt 1

Postby Pickasso » Sat Dec 10, 2011 3:40 am

nathan84 wrote:I was actually having some issues with this. I read your post, well, here is my problem. I have my gain on my interface all the way down, and it still clips. I have emg 81/85's, which are high gain pups of course, so I was wondering what to do in this situation?


Lower the pickup height farther away from the strings. (turn the adjustment screws) Keep going lower until it cleans up. If that doesn't work, you'll have to turn down the guitar's volume.

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Re: Guide to Tone (yeah right...) Pt 1

Postby NightWalker » Thu Jan 05, 2012 11:24 pm

Brian @IK Multimedia wrote:
wally wrote:hello EasySleazy

i am a bigginer in this topic... and i have a problem whit my sound.
When i open Amplitube 3, my guitar sound very bassy, muddy, undefined. I can hear the problem especially when i play lower notes, and chords.
the problem is (i think) my guitar tone, is not a gain problem because i am not overgained the guitar signal.
how can i fix this problem?
maybe I need a balanced dry signal, but... how can i do this?

thanks ... sorry my english.

i use a fast track ultra, a LTD guitar (les paul), good computer and good cables.
my guitar have seymour duncan´s humbucker...JB (brige) and 59 (neck)

An important tip to also keep in mind is you need a hi-Z instrument input or DI box to get the proper signal into the computer for the highest quality tone from your ampsim.


can you recommend me a good hi-Z instrument input audio card or a DI box?
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Re: Guide to Tone (yeah right...) Pt 1

Postby Das Vagabund » Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:39 am

lexicon alpha interface. it is powered off the usb so it is easily transportable. http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Alpha/ works great for me... well worth the $60! just be sure to use a usb port on the motherboard (like the ones in the back of your computer?) if you use an extended usb port or hub you run the risk of dropouts and dropped signals. not from the interface but the computer itself. with all the power schemes and modes things hibernate! so plug it directly into the motherboard usb ports. (:

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Re: Guide to Tone (yeah right...) Pt 1

Postby sjokarn » Mon Jan 23, 2012 6:58 pm

Alu wrote:There is a solution for this, but you need to know the specifics of your pickup (max output voltage).

If you have a good soundcard, you don't really have to worry about keeping the signal low at the input by lowering the preamp volume. Taking down the signal by the guitar volume pot, instead, is the worst idea, because of the output impedance of the pickup interacting with the input impedance and capacitance of the preamp (may cause a loss in the high frequencies).
Using a compressor pedal in front of the soundcard is even worst... if you're complaining about dynamics preservation, a compressor is the last thing one should use...

Keep the guitar output at full and the soundcard preamp pot at the highest value possible before clipping, so you'll ensure the highest detail of the AD conversion.

Keep in mind that your signal will be discretized in values between 1 and -1 (so, 2V headroom). Let's say the maximum output of your pickup is 2V peak to peak, you're fine with it.
Let's say you have an higher output pickup, like an EMG 81, which, reading the specs, has 3V peak to peak as maximum output. Now, if you have setted your soundcard preamp correctly, after the AD conversion you'll have a lower signal, since the max value will be 1V and the lower -1V, when in the analog domain you have a max value of 1.5V and a min value of -1.5 (3V peak to peak, that's it).
How to solve this signal loss? Did you guys have never noticed that almost all the amps sims have an input signal level control? It is there just for this purpose: adjusting the input level seen by the amp sim according to your pickups...

So, just boost the input signal into your ampsim or using a transparent boost VST and you're done...
The amount of boost depends on your pickups.


Hey! i got a little lost in this. I got a low output pickup that has an output around 600-700 mV. Should i then lower my input to match my pickup or am i just stupid? :)

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Re: Guide to Tone (yeah right...) Pt 1

Postby Alu » Mon Mar 12, 2012 10:50 pm

sjokarn wrote:Hey! i got a little lost in this. I got a low output pickup that has an output around 600-700 mV. Should i then lower my input to match my pickup or am i just stupid? :)

Yeah, you should lower it if the nominal output is below 1V
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Re: Guide to Tone (yeah right...) Pt 1

Postby joaquinotero » Fri Mar 23, 2012 12:16 am

Alu wrote:
sjokarn wrote:Hey! i got a little lost in this. I got a low output pickup that has an output around 600-700 mV. Should i then lower my input to match my pickup or am i just stupid? :)

Yeah, you should lower it if the nominal output is below 1V


This topic is interesting, please correct me if I'm wrong.
An output signal from a 1V pickup needs to be raised via level controls from ampsim and viceversa?.
I mean, An output signal from a 400mV humbucker (my Dimarzio EVO7) needs to be lowered via level controls from ampsim?

I hope to have got it right.

Thanks in advance for any reply.

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Re: Guide to Tone (yeah right...) Pt 1

Postby lingsu » Wed Jun 06, 2012 9:58 am

thanks for the great work you've done, that's really informative for beginners, I'm feeling more confident with your lessons, thanks again.


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