Have I been using too little gain??!?!?!?!?

  • Everywhere you look on mixing tutorials they say "turn down the gain on metal guitars"


    And I've been trying to follow that advice for a long time now and maybe that's the reason why my guitar tone sounds weak and stupid!?


    Low gain... sounds weak? This is how I have usually dialed my gain the last few years


    Higher gain... sounds more full and satisfying! This is maybe how I SHOULD HAVE dialed it... The "sustained chord" definitely sounds better too.



    A good example here!


    Live version. Very little gain, and it sounds weak and stupid:


    Studio version, quite a lot of gain and almost no transients, and it sounds great:


    If we check out for example this as well:


    TONS of gain and it sounds absolutely massive!



    Is this "TURN DOWN THE GAIN" some thing mainly for all these more modern extremely downtuned bands?: :S

  • I think its intended more to be "balance the gain" (tho most of the time that means it needs to go down) the second example is great , the first is not so bad for me, i found the gravedigger not as clear as your 2nd example. Some times the only way to get some where is to ask the horses mouth (some one who records high gain)
    Ill bet both my brass nuts that your 2nd example is better than the grave digger one.


    Ash

    Have a beer and don't sneer. -CJ. Two non powered Kempers -Two mission stereo FRFR Cabs - Ditto X4 -TC electronic Mimiq.

  • I think its intended more to be "balance the gain" (tho most of the time that means it needs to go down) the second example is great , the first is not so bad for me, i found the gravedigger not as clear as your 2nd example. Some times the only way to get some where is to ask the horses mouth (some one who records high gain)
    Ill bet both my brass nuts that your 2nd example is better than the grave digger one.


    Ash


    Matter of taste I guess...


    I think Grave Digger sounds AWESOME



    Did you try to mix a clean component to the high gain sound?
    For me it sounds good as it is.

    No, I wouldn't do that.


    I dont know any bands I actually listen to who would do something like that.


    It feels more like a "modern" thing for djent or metalcore or whatever. I dont know.


    Not fond of the idea.

  • More gain sounds better in all your examples. Don´t overthink it. You decide how you want your sound to be. So just use what sounds better to you.


    I guess that the "turn down the gain" is so the guitars don´t get lost in the mix. Maybe with a Metal zone at max gain...



    But anyway. Every day we learn something and if you have been watching mixing videos I am sure that you have learnt some useful things.


    Learning is never a straight line path. Enjoy the ride.

  • Firstly x i think you’re being a bit hard on yourself. None of those clips sound crap or weak!


    Both your low and high gain version sound great although I personally find the low gain versions slightly better with more punch and bite.


    Although the overall mix of the Judas Priest studio version is way better than the live on, again I find the guitars much better on the live version. However, I think a lot of the depth and massivenss of the the studio version comes from the reverb etc and how it sits in the overall mix rather than simply more gain.


    The gravedigger track sounds really good but I don’t hesr it as particularly high gain. In fact it sounds relatively low gain with lots of transients and aggression thst get lost with additional gain.


    I think alot of the mixing tutorials are aimed at highlighting two things:


    1 - lots of people watching the tutorials are really clueless and star off using WAAAY too much gain so there sre literally NO dynamics in their sound x you know like two distortion pedals stacked and cranked into a mesa with gain on 10. Getting them to back off the gain a little is necessary. The amount of backing off is relative to where you’re starting from.


    2 - the perception of gain increases as guitars are stacked. Just listen to the start of any ACDC song where a single guitar kicks off the into. When the second joins in it isn’t like adding a guitar but like multiplying the sound. I know it isn’t the same as the metal your quoting but the ACDC tone is pretty much clean but sounds huge. Maybe not metal and aggressive but definitely not small and weak. Many classic recordings have much lower gain levels than we think but sound immense. I think your Graver adiggers clip is a great example.

  • They both sound fine to me, to be honest the differences between your low and high gain examples are not as big as you think and could easily be accounted for by simply raising the level and/or gain on the bass guitar a tinge.


    In my experience the key to huge guitars is more frequency and transient based and often not in the guitars but in other instruments and the arrangement, what people often mean when they say huge guitars is huge drums and bass and stereo-panned distorted guitars playing in sync, emphasizing each other.


    The other factor is the target sound system a mix is designed for, there's this myth that you can make a mix sound good everywhere. I've heard songs that sounded huge on a home stereo or car speakers sound rubbish in a club but other tracks that sound thin elsewhere like RHCP Give it Away that sounded insanely massive on the same PA system.

  • I think you're oversimplifying it. If turning up or turning down the gain was all it took to get a great tone we'd all sound fantastic all of the time.


    The problem with high gain is that it tends to smooth everything out and subtlety and grit is lost. Raw, slightly cleaner sounds can sound much heavier and organic. If you want smooth infinite sustain with no character, play a synth!


    Another issue can be the mix. If you want huge powerful guitars, don't bury them in reverb or delay. Dry is usually better. The vocals shouldn't be too loud either....if they're lower in the mix it makes it sound like the guitar is really cranking.


    Lastly, it helps to have great profiles and amps.


    I didn't listen to your examples (I'll check them out later on a PC... They don't play back on my phone) but I don't think either priest example is that great of a sound. I prefer the earlier, lower gain, and more raw sounds for the reasons I listed above.