Posts by Chris Duncan

    No new gear for me since the last guitar.


    I find myself strangely contented with what I have. Enough guitars to cover all the bases, a Kemper that covers all the amps, all the studio hardware / software that I want and a keyboard that can do far more than I can. Every time I look at a magazine's gear reviews, all that goes through my head is, "Got that. Don't need that. Oh, mine's way better than that. Yep, got that, too..."


    It's a life without GAS. Honestly, I just don't know what to do with myself.

    I know. I first went to try the amps out at Grammatico's place at the request of a mutual friend and when I left I was haunted by the amp. It really felt like after 40 years of playing guitar I finally heard and felt the tone I've always had in my head. It's not a high gain amp but for everything else, this amp just feels right.

    So how do we get our hands on the M Britt t-shirt you're wearing?


    I sent an email on your contact form months ago but never heard anything back from you. Can't find any store links on your site.

    I think the quality of what's out there overall is outstanding. I listened to Line 6, Fractal and Kemper before making my purchase and found Kemper and Fractal equal in tone with Line 6 coming in behind them, but only slightly. Great tones all around.


    For me, the biggest selling point of the Kemper (before I actually got one and saw the constant free OS and other software updates) was the difference in approach. Modelers try to emulate an actual amp, with a goal of letting you do everything with a model that you could do with an actual amp. A profile, on the other hand, is a snapshot of a single tone. While plenty of room to tweak it, those are two very different things.


    I've never enjoyed dialing in tones as I'm constantly dissatisfied with my results, so using profiles from other people who are better at it than I am was appealing. If I was a guy who really loved sound design, Fractal probably would have been the choice.


    The Quad is doing the profile approach, and there's no shortage of other modelers out there, both physical and software. And as nightlight pointed out, there are lots of great guitar builders these days, not to mention it being something of a golden age for stomp box pedals.


    When I first started out in the 70s, there was Gibson and Fender, and with few exceptions pretty much everything else was crap. Same with amps, you had Fenders and Marshalls and Voxes (oh, my!), and then, well, mostly crap. These days there's just a staggering array of choices out there for musical gear and while I'm sure some of it is still crap, the overwhelming majority of it is pro quality stuff. And much of it is absolutely stellar.


    Fortunately, it's not a zero sum game. I don't think brand X has to suck in order for me to like brand Y, or even Z. I like the profile approach versus modelers. Others prefer exactly the opposite. The PRS is the first non Gibson / Fender electric I've owned since my first Strat in the 70s, but probably out of habit and tradition more than anything else. I have no doubt all those other guitars rock just as hard.


    Quad is taking a swing at Kemper's approach, and others may do the same. There may also be future mashups of modelers / profilers (if there aren't already). That said, I'm very happy with my Kemper and the reduced level of GAS in my life just because of what it does. However, having been a Kemper customer and a part of this community for a couple of years, I think the way they do business and support their products, along with an unusually positive and helpful group of guys here (you all know you're oddities in the Internet Animal Kingdom, right?), creates a significant market advantage. Others could replicate that level of support, to be sure, but I haven't seen it so far.


    And yet, I still enjoy watching videos of other guitars, other pedals, and other amps / sims / models / profilers / etc. It's kinda like going to the race track and just betting on paper without actually spending any money.

    Chris,


    What a terrific reply, thank you for that man! Here's a few quick things in response...


    I actually bought the Heavy Britt Pack on Tuesday night, simply because in all of the searching I did for tones, pretty much whenever I saw "M. Britt", the tones were wonderful! One of his 5150iii Profiles is now my main heavy rhythm tone, and an old Blues Deluxe is one of my clean tones (I found the Deluxe tone just hours after getting the Kemper).

    I'm obviously a fan of the M. Britt stuff, but since he points out that he's not a metal guy and has less expertise in that area I don't usually make that recommendation. Even so, I think his high gain stuff is awesome (for my style of music Crank n Go was outstanding), so there may be a lot of metal applications as well. Franjoe30 writes a lot of heavy but melodic songs and his tones are always great, so you might also ping him for the profilers he uses.


    I've been playing since the 70s but unlike you I've always sucked at dialing in tones, which is one of the reasons I love the profile approach. Give me an amp sim with all the knobs and I'll just make the same mess that I would with a tube amp. But a profile leverages someone else's expertise in that area so finally my guitar sounds consistently good. Well, you know, the tone, anyway.

    using a headline like "Hetfield Tone" or "Pantera Tone", but delivering a Profile that sounds absolutely nothing like the album...it kind of bugs me.

    Yeah, that makes sense. I just tend to have more of a live and let live attitude around here since people are overwhelmingly positive. These guys have done so much to help me (often with questions whose stupidity was of epic proportions) that I just overlook shortcomings and focus on the good that they do.


    While there's one in every crowd, the percentage of typical Internet forum people who just like to argue and insult each other would have to be measured with a microscope around here. It took me a while to realize that I didn't have to brace myself for a fight every time I made a comment. It really is a strange place as the Internet goes, but then, I happen to like strange.

    - Man, there are so many terrible Profiles out there.

    This is exactly what I thought when I first got the Kemper a couple of years ago. I nearly gave up and sold it after one week. (Spoiler alert: a week later I sold every tube amp I owned).


    I'd been subconsciously thinking that a Marshall is a Marshall, so I was shocked at how very, very bad most of the Marshall profiles were. Eventually I realized that a profile is not an amp model, so a single profile isn't "here's everything you can do with a JCM 800." It's a snapshot of a tone that someone dialed in, a single moment in time and just one possible thing you can do with that amp.


    And here's the thing. You're a metal guy, and I'm a classic rock guy. The tones I love for my genre would get you thrown off the stage on a metal gig, and in a similar fashion a great metal tone is inappropriate for what I do. You can get killer tones for both out of a physical Marshall but for a profile, it's all about who dialed in the tone and what they were using it for. So all those profiles out there that I thought were awful are probably in fact awesome - just not for the kind of music I play.


    So, the trick is finding profiles with tones dialed in for the same sort of thing that you're doing. Rig Exchange isn't really optimized to search by genre, it's weighted more toward what amp / speaker cab, etc. And that's what threw me off in the beginning, because for profiles, genre is everything.


    Ultimately I decided to try some packs from M. Britt, who's highly regarded in terms of quality, and they were un-freakin-believable. I bought everything he had and never looked back. However, I wouldn't recommend him for you because he's a classic rock guy, not a metal guy. The best thing you can do is get feedback from other guys here who play the same style and find out what they like, both commercial and on Rig Exchange.


    If you have experience with amp modelers like Line 6, Fractal, etc. you have to reboot your thinking and get your head around the single-use / snapshot nature of a profile versus the "here's every knob on the amp" mentality of modelers. However, once you match profiles of the right genre to the kind of music you play, it's really hard to get a bad tone out of this thing. And the people here are incredible. This is far and away the most positive vibe of any forum I've ever been on.

    LOL. I cut down the bottom end on the bass with EQ because it was booming way too much. I guess I need to do some un-cutting. I think the bass track is the hardest thing to fit in the mix, at least for me. I need to learn that happy balance with the kick, bass, and the low guitar strings.

    Yeah, for me the bottom end has always been the most challenging aspect. I'm currently listening in the B room with smaller studio monitors and reasonable treatment, and the bass is almost nonexistent. If you did a lot of cutting because it was booming to much, that's useful info as it tells you that your mix environment is amplifying your bass.


    In addition to reference tracks, which can still let you go astray if room acoustics are too problematic, I'd try to find as many different listening environments as possible to test your mix candidates on. On laptops, desktops, in different rooms, on your phone, in your car, in your living room, in your friends' living rooms, etc.


    Ultimately what you're looking for is listening in enough environments until it sounds good in all of them, and then getting an instinctive feel in your mix environment so that you know how it should sound there (even if it doesn't sound great in the mix position) in order for the mix to be "portable."


    I agree with everyone else that you're off to a great start! Like Joe said, it's all about just getting into the fun of doing it. It's a never ending process (and a never ending learning curve), so this is definitely one of those things where the joy is in the journey.

    I usually don't fuss with reamping, I get a sound I like and commit it to the mix.

    I use a bit of a hybrid version of this. I find that my workflow is to start with a sound that I like, but I track DI as well. As the song and mix progresses, I might mute the sound I tracked and experiment with reamping other profiles to see if there's something that works better.


    However, if I do find something that I prefer, I'll then retrack the guitar with that profile. I know I could just reamp with the new profile from the DI I already have, but the feel of the guitar amp often affects how I play. So, if I'm replacing profile A with profile B, I want to play it like profile B wants to be played. You know, so I don't hurt its feelings. :)


    And man, is it great having all these options.

    I've heard my voice in enough home movies to know how my speech sounds. But the only experience I have at singing is in the car at full volume with the 1000watt Kicker amp cranked, so my voice is surely drowned. The lyrics to this song have fast-paced phrases, and since I never tried to actually sing them for the song before, I stumbled and bumbled right out the box. There are parts where backing vocals are needed and I can probably handle that since it's like two seconds of singing but I need way more practice to even attempt the lyrics. I'm probably just going to post without vocals and start looking for a real singer.

    It's a separate skill set, to be sure. Just didn't want you selling yourself short.

    Great stuff, man.


    Coincidentally, I recently posted asking if anyone here was doing New Age music or if that was just the realm of keyboardists. Clearly it's not, although I guess these days it goes by ambient since New Age is probably a dated term.


    Very cool, hope it does well for you!

    get a SM58 (instead of my 57, get a mic pre-amp

    The differences between a 58 and 57 are minimal, and the audio interface you have for tracking guitar is fine for vocals. A pop filter is always good, but with proper mic technique you don't absolutely have to have one. Just pay attention to your plosives.


    While I'm sure there's room for improvement (there always is), I'm guessing the thing you need most is to simply get comfortable with how your voice sounds on a recording. That's something we've all had to deal with at one point in our career. How your voice sounds to you when you talk or sing isn't how it sounds to others who listen, because science, so that takes some getting used to.


    As an extension to that, I've played in cover bands all my life and have been obligated to try to "sound like the record," which is silly because I'm not any of those guys. I'm me. When I started recording my own material It was an opportunity to forget about all that and just sound like me instead of trying to sound like someone else.


    If you want to work to improve your singing, that's great, but this is your music . It's okay to sound like you. This isn't a problem you need to throw money at, so put your wallet back in your pocket.


    In the immortal words of Nike, just do it. :)

    I've just finished the solo -at least enough to what I can live with for now. The song has been extended to 4m10s. Next up is to see if I nuke the vocals or not. Either way, I'm posting by this weekend. Thanks!

    I think if you nuke your vocals, it's only fair to let your wife sing. :)

    I think the song length standards probably grew out out of analog recording limitations. Vinyl singles could only hold so much music. Albums were also constrained by the ability to cut grooves in a 12” piece of plastic. Those limits became the defacto standard even though technological improvements meant they no longer had any relevance.


    Obviously radio airplay, audience attention limits and the need to squeeze in adverts also played a part in song length conventions. Mind you the audience attention concept doesn’t really stack up in the digital generation. Technology allows almost limitless song length but audience attention spans seem to have shrunk to about 4 seconds if my kids and their pals are anything to go by ?

    Yeah, I think you're right on the money about all of that, because....


    Ooh! Squirrel!


    I'm sorry, you were saying? :)

    I think the play time thing is more about your intended audience. For some genres, people expect long songs and short ones might feel out of step with everyone else. In others, the quick three minute pop / radio rule is the norm.


    If you're crossing genres as you mentioned, perhaps there's math involved. :)

    Like anything new, it's less fun while you're trying to get up to speed, but that happens quickly.


    Mixing is a completely separate thing from playing guitar or writing the song, and I enjoy it as its own pursuit. I tend to be a bit modal with creativity, so if I'm in a guitar playing headspace I won't feel like fooling with a computer, and when I'm in the zone sitting at the console I'd rather do that than pick up the guitar. When I'm doing either of those I absolutely don't feel like working on writing a book. They all get their own exclusive chunk of real estate and I tend to visit them individually.


    I actually enjoy mixing a helluva lot more than tracking. When I'm recording, it often feels like the take is never good enough and can be frustrating. Mixing is more of an incremental adventure, a constant tweaking to make the song sound better. Even back in the clumsy and noisy days of tape, analog, hiss, ground loops and twitchy cables, it's always been fun for me. It sounds like you're starting to dig it, too.


    My wife wants to sing backing on it but I told her no girls allowed at this time.

    if you're lucky enough to have a wife who enjoys your musical side, let alone one who wants to participate, you've hit the lottery. Let the girl sing! :)

    Yes. I was so surprised at how much bass I had to kill from the bass. It's almost like I have to make the bass sound like a guitar in the mix to keep it from muddying up everything. So far, It's been the hardest instrument to get right -and it's like the simplest instrument of all. (Sorry Geddy Lee). ;)

    Yep, nailing the bass has always been one of the hardest things. It's difficult enough in a rock context where the bass tends to be fairly focused. I can't imagine what a battle it must be for the rap and hip hop guys who have those big, wide, expansive "whoomp" bass lines.

    I am super close to finalizing the mix.

    Famous last words. :)