How to track modern metal guitars with Kemper

  • Hi Guys!


    I wanted to get some opinions on how modern metal bands (eg. As I Lay Dying/Killswitch Engage) and producers are tracking guitars to achieve that fierce, thick, in-your-face, punchy guitar tone (while maintaining extreme clarity and avoiding a muddy/washed out sound)


    I'm still new to recording with the KPA, but something tells me there is a lot more going on than simply double tracking with a high gain profile.


    Is it a specific KPA amp setting eg. clarity/dry mix?

    Is it quad tracking?

    Pickups?

    EQ/compressors/maximizers in the DAW?

    Fancier audio interfaces? (although with SPDIF does this matter?)


    Or is it all of the above and more? :/


    Overall, I've been extremely happy with my hard rock/metal mixes w/ the KPA thus far, but am always looking to improve and optimize.


    My basic setup = ESP LTD MH1001 (EMG pickups) -> KPA -> Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 (SPDIF) -> Cubase DAW


    Thanks in advance!:thumbup:

  • Well first you need the best sound possible. That means the best sound in a mix and not the best sound on its own. There's a reason some of the best metal producers delivers such great tone. Together with a great guitar and a great guitarist, there you have it. Some quad and some just double track. Now contrary to the myth, quad doesn't necessarily makes a bigger and thicker sound. Tight and well recorded tracks is a must in todays metal and if you really want to quad track you must be a very tight player first. If not forget about it and just double track until you're tight enough. So how does bands like you mentioned do in the studio? Record smaller parts until it's perfect enough s and move on. If it will take hours just to record one song, well so be it. Oh, and heavy picking and really digging in to the strings will make it sound better. Heavier string gauge will force the guitar player to hit the strings harder. The guitar will stay in tune better. Also it will be better intonated too. Best possible tuner is a must. Kempers own tuner is good enough. If you compare a commercial track compared to an amateur track the first thing you will here is how better in tune guitars are on a commercial track nine of ten times. Tuning and tuning and tuning. Often they spend more time tuning the guitars than recording. That's why evertune is such a great invention. One last thing: Bass guitar will make the guitars sound bigger and more powerful.

  • sorry its a closely guarded secret ! or no one knows...

    the theory is pretty much what you have mentioned, quad it up etc

    but it is extremely difficult if not impossible to get the big "pro sound" in a home studio type set up..imo

    but we all keep trying... cheers

    No it's not extremely difficult neither impossible to ge the big pro sound in a home studio.

  • The trick to getting huge pro sounding guitars is focusing on getting a good drum and bass sound. ;)

    This really is the trick. Most of the new modern productions like OP is talking about really hit you with the drums and bass, that fills out so much of what we think of as guitar "tone".

    Disclaimer: When I post demo clips for profiles, there will be some minimal post-processing, unless stated otherwise. I normally double-track hard L/R, and add to the main buss a small amount of EQ and a limiter/comp set pretty light as well. Sometimes I get test profiles in advance of release, though 90% of my clips will be from packs I have purchased.

  • Getting drums and bass great is the hardest thing. If they sound great, the rest will probably do to Bad or at the most mediocre drums and bass, everything else will sound bad or mediocre. And not to forget, blend in with the kick and snare (sometimes toms too) or replace them, with samples.

  • Brand new strings for every single guitar track, send the guitar bus to a parallel track with heavy compression and saturation, blend in (or faux create) room mics. Proper EQing the mid/side, and stereo width. Kick, snare, and bass all work together to fill in the low end, but don’t overdo high passing the guitars either.

  • Brand new strings for every single guitar track, send the guitar bus to a parallel track with heavy compression and saturation, blend in (or faux create) room mics. Proper EQing the mid/side, and stereo width. Kick, snare, and bass all work together to fill in the low end, but don’t overdo high passing the guitars either.

    Some mixing engineers compress distorted guitars but far from everybody do that but saturation? No F way. You don't destroy already good high gain sound with saturation. Blend in or create room mics? What? NO!

  • Some mixing engineers compress distorted guitars but far from everybody do that but saturation? No F way. You don't destroy already good high gain sound with saturation. Blend in or create room mics? What? NO!

    I'm going WAY out on a limb and (hoping) saying that he meant to blend room mics for the DRUMS, and not the guitar (or any other bus) bus. If he meant using room mics on the full two channel mixdown bus... well, then I am completely at a loss as to where he read/heard/hallucinated that this is the right thing to do. :)


    Jeffro

  • Use less gain on each track if you are double tracking - especially if you are quad tracking. The way I think of it, is you have your 'live sound' amount of dirt...and the compression that naturally comes with that...when you add all of your tracks together, you want to have that amount built up by your multiple tracks.


    I dont compress anything OVERALL apart from clean guitars, and for metal (especially technical, or chug/single note definition metal), you want tight articulation - room mics remove that. For rock...room mics are super super cool! Multiband compression - where the low end is dropped by a db or two on the chugs (low end only) is the only compression I would recommend using - especially on extended scale or lower tunings.


    Some people like to double track per side (quad) - using a very saturated tone (amp generated) and a middy bright tone (amp or mic placement generated) and blend those together to taste. Then repeat on the other side.


    Cannot say enough about the importance of our support act though (the bass and drums).


    Good luck pal!

    PRS Custom 22's - Fender Strats - Diezel VH4 - Carol Ann OD2 - Toneking Imperial MK2 - Colin the Kemper - CLR Neo ii.

  • Some mixing engineers compress distorted guitars but far from everybody do that but saturation? No F way. You don't destroy already good high gain sound with saturation. Blend in or create room mics? What? NO!

    Did you miss the part about this being on parallel tracks? There’s no need to compress or saturate the main guitar tone, but bringing it up just a touch from a parallel track can make it sound bigger.


    Adding reverb in the main guitar chain can get washy and lose clarity/focus; so sending the guitars to a parallel track for reverb allows you to subtlety add depth, front to back, without messing with the upfront punch. Same thing works if there are overheads in the room while tracking. It has to be subtle, and never on the main guitars.


    But hey, it’s the internet. Why spend 10 minutes messing around with a concept when you can ridicule it instead, right?

  • Thanks everyone for your comments, experiences, and tips here! I agree that I'm underestimating drums/bass. I actually just picked up a nice bass guitar so I'm excited to see how this can improve my mixes. I'm also going to experiment more with quad tracking.


    Also, I know this may be a completely subjective question, however what seems to be the consensus on highest quality/most user friendly VST drum software? Up until now, I've either manually programmed drums into the DAW with my Boss Dr. Rhythm pad, or imported MIDI directly from guitar pro. Both functional/rookie options indeed, I feel I'm just scratching the surface. I know I can massively improve my mixes with a better drum VST software.


    Watching youtube or even browsing sweetwater/guitar center, my ears/eyes just glaze over and I feel overwhelmed with the amount of choices for VST drums. I was looking at getgood drums, but then it seems superior drummer may be more user friendly? :/Then there are metal expansion packs for each brand 8|. The last thing I want is a terabyte of drum samples only to use 5% of the sounds available...


    Thanks again guys!

  • what seems to be the consensus on highest quality/most user friendly VST drum software?

    I have no idea but I would be interested as well....


    Anyway I have very good experience with his one: MT-PowerDrumKit

    That's not exactly focused on Metal but easy to use, good to tweak and sounds well in rock productions. Comes with some good patterns but allows to program whatever you need via midi tracks. Rather limited content (no TBs) but for free. It helps me a lot for songwriting and my demo productions 8)

  • Oh boy. This is a rabbit-hole into itself...


    For user friendly I like SSD5. I also like the samples and player algorithm better than SD3. But SD3 is an insanely powerful midi drum program. GGD is great, Room Sound is fantastic for exactly what it says it is.


    If I could have just one, it'd be SD3, it's just too powerful and versatile.

    Disclaimer: When I post demo clips for profiles, there will be some minimal post-processing, unless stated otherwise. I normally double-track hard L/R, and add to the main buss a small amount of EQ and a limiter/comp set pretty light as well. Sometimes I get test profiles in advance of release, though 90% of my clips will be from packs I have purchased.

  • No it's not extremely difficult neither impossible to ge the big pro sound in a home studio.

    What ??? Ok if you rely on real hardware, you need amps, cabs, mics and rooms ... Basically to expensive for a home studio. But with a kemper, all this infrastructure is hidden behind a profile. So, yes, it is possible to get a "pro sound" in a bedroom, focusing on a good guitar (new string / pickup) and even more, a good guitarist ... Double tracking or quad tracking sloppy played tracks will just give you sh*t

  • Did you miss the part about this being on parallel tracks? There’s no need to compress or saturate the main guitar tone, but bringing it up just a touch from a parallel track can make it sound bigger.


    Adding reverb in the main guitar chain can get washy and lose clarity/focus; so sending the guitars to a parallel track for reverb allows you to subtlety add depth, front to back, without messing with the upfront punch. Same thing works if there are overheads in the room while tracking. It has to be subtle, and never on the main guitars.


    But hey, it’s the internet. Why spend 10 minutes messing around with a concept when you can ridicule it instead, right?

    Like I already said there's no need to sature high gain guitars. They don't need more and saturation won't make them sound better. There are better ways to make guitars wider and bigger. Adding reverb?. On a modern metal song like the bands mentioned? No. For a more old school metal, song. it can work sometimes. It depends. So what does metal pro producers/engineers do like at least 90 of the time? EQ the riff guitars and that's it. Oh and sometimes some of them will compress the guitars on the bus. No one is ridiculing here so please don't play a victim here and throw the ridicule card as a defence against me. It won't work. If you can't stand another perception, tough luck, because that's life.

  • Cymbals are never quite right - and I have tried pretty much every library going...alot of processing always needed! Overall, you won't fool a drummer...but average joe, SD3 is the best!

    PRS Custom 22's - Fender Strats - Diezel VH4 - Carol Ann OD2 - Toneking Imperial MK2 - Colin the Kemper - CLR Neo ii.