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  #1  
Old 10-25-2020, 06:00 AM
Kn0bbl Kn0bbl is offline
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Default Electric Guitar doesn't sound clean enough

Hello fellow musicians,

i'm pretty much a beginner with pro tools and i mainly wanna use it to make music in rock or metal genre. i use a focusrite scarlett solo 3rd gen to record my electric guitar and eleven lite as amp simulator.

i cant't get it to sound right tho. it sounds way too crunchy and overdriven if you know what i mean. i wanna have it sound clean like in the song posted below.

any recommendations?

i also read that i should use impulse responses. avid apparently gave the plug in convology XT away for free but all that does is make the guitar sound the same but with echo. am i using it wrong?
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  #2  
Old 10-25-2020, 12:33 PM
albee1952 albee1952 is online now
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Default Re: Electric Guitar doesn't sound clean enough

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kn0bbl View Post
Hello fellow musicians,

i'm pretty much a beginner with pro tools and i mainly wanna use it to make music in rock or metal genre. i use a focusrite scarlett solo 3rd gen to record my electric guitar and eleven lite as amp simulator.

i cant't get it to sound right tho. it sounds way too crunchy and overdriven if you know what i mean. i wanna have it sound clean like in the song posted below.

any recommendations?

i also read that i should use impulse responses. avid apparently gave the plug in convology XT away for free but all that does is make the guitar sound the same but with echo. am i using it wrong?
Things to consider:
1-you said you posted a song but no song is linked
2-The quality of the sound encompasses several things, hand tone, the guitar(style, condition, proper setup), player skill/talent(a wildcard) and this is all before it gets to Pro Tools and the amp plugin.
3-Eleven Lite is REALLY limited and there are several amp sims you should check out, based on your needs(like Amplitube, Line 6 Helix software, Guitar Rig, etc). Watch videos on youtube as pretty much everything is demo'd and/or reviewed there.
4-Maybe you need to back off the recording level? In the world of digital, there is no longer the need to slam the input to get above the noise floor
5-Impulse responses are fine, but absolutely NOT required. What is required is whatever gets you to the sound you want(which we really don't know)
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  #3  
Old 10-25-2020, 07:00 PM
musicman691 musicman691 is online now
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Default Re: Electric Guitar doesn't sound clean enough

Quote:
Originally Posted by albee1952 View Post
Things to consider:
1-you said you posted a song but no song is linked
2-The quality of the sound encompasses several things, hand tone, the guitar(style, condition, proper setup), player skill/talent(a wildcard) and this is all before it gets to Pro Tools and the amp plugin.
3-Eleven Lite is REALLY limited and there are several amp sims you should check out, based on your needs(like Amplitube, Line 6 Helix software, Guitar Rig, etc). Watch videos on youtube as pretty much everything is demo'd and/or reviewed there.
4-Maybe you need to back off the recording level? In the world of digital, there is no longer the need to slam the input to get above the noise floor
5-Impulse responses are fine, but absolutely NOT required. What is required is whatever gets you to the sound you want(which we really don't know)
Also to factor into this is the guitar single coil or humbuckers? As a rule the latter have a hotter output than single coils. Another - how hard is the picking action? What specific amp is the OP using? Some amps just don't do a clean sound. For instance a Twin Reverb should get you a cleaner sound than something like a Mesa Boogie or Marshall stack

Question to the OP:
What exact input are you using on your interface?
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  #4  
Old 10-25-2020, 08:23 PM
Darryl Ramm Darryl Ramm is online now
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Default Re: Electric Guitar doesn't sound clean enough

Welcome to DUC. Oh it's Sunday, started writing this on coffee, finishing on beer...

To start with, it looks from your profile are using Pro Tools First which is unfortunately very crippled software. Including it cannot run most third party plugins, including all the guitar amp sim plugins that Dave mentions above.

The included Eleven Free DC Vintage and DC Crunch plugins in First are really not aimed at say a classic Fender Twin Reverb style clean tone (what I think about when folks say clean) ... but then again metal and most rock guitar does have some amount of noticeable crunch and distortion (but often for even heavy rock less than some people seem to expect).

Pro Tools First only supports plugins purchased in-product through the Avid plugin marketplace, and while that does exclude all good third party amp sims it does include the full Eleven Mk II plugins, which are very good. And you can subscribe to the Avid Complete Plugin Bundle that includes Elven Mk II and much more... if you are going to stick with Pro Tools or Pro Tools first then that Complete Plugin Bundle seems pretty much a necessity, at least to me... if you subscribe to Pro Tools (standard) that plugin bundle is included. So after working through basic stuff below you subscribe to Pro Tools for a month to try that out with all the Eleven Mk II plugins.

Another third party suite of plugins is the Bias Fx and Bias Amp plugins. I run hot or cold on them... sort of ideal for the ultimate guitar/electronics nerd who likes to play around with whats inside the sims. Some of their stuff can sound great, others I'm not so sure and I find it easier to dial in Eleven Mk II plugins.

Do you play through a real amp you like? If so you might mic and record that... but more I'd be more curious to use that to pick an amp sim model and settings to start with.

There other way you can go is to look for an outboard digital amp sim/processor, and I am a big fan of the now discontinued Avid Eleven Rack (which has all the Elven Mk II and guitar pedal effects built in). These can be picked up used at very los cost (few hundred $US). Make sure you have one that has Firmware 2.x on it. Ask here more if you are looking to buy one. And Fractal and Kempler make great products as well at higher prices.

---

OK so all the above is about stuff that actually won't help you much right now to make more useful progress... and Dave already touches on this in #2 and #4 above.

Lets start with the basics... [edit: and I see jack asked some of the same questions above]

What guitar and exact pickups do you have? I especially want to know if that is single coil vs. humbucker and if a humbucker does it have ceramic magnets or is it active powered?

Do you have and guitar pedals between the guitar and interface? Exactly what ones in what order? I would start by trying without any pedals.

What interface are you connecting the guitar into? And confirm you are going into a DI input (aka "direct input" aka "instrument input") on that interface.

What exact make/model monitors or headphones/earbuds are you listening through?

Can you add that link or name a song you like with the tone you want... or describe an actual physical amp you like the tone when you play through?

One of the factors in how people perceive guitar tone is just the SPL (sound pressure level i.e. "volume"). An "amp in a room" is often loud and when listening through an amp sim on headphones or small studio monitors it's very very different from hearing a live guitar amp in a practice room or on stage. Sometimes folks will track a guitar with monitoring out of the sim into a loud PA style amplifier and/or stage monitors to get more SPL for the guitarist. And there can be traps here for new players... especially if they try to turn up say the amp sim gain to get the "volume" they want... don't do that. The amp sim gain, and even master volume, should be primarily used to control the amp distortion. Getting a signal just louder can be done downstream with faders and downstream processing etc. (but not with the master fader or monitor control, see below).

Also be careful of how an isolated guitar sounds. Even if you switch from trying to get that live amp in a room sound and just want to compare to a recording you like. An isolated guitar often sounds so very different. And finished songs are often multi-tracked, have EQ and compression applied etc. and just folded in with other instruments, with guitars play off a bass so well etc. There are some great videos on YouTube, including from Rick Beato, that take popular songs and isolate different tracks from the mix. It's worth listening to the guitar tracks by themselves and often how surprising they can sound without the whole mix.

For more advanced use a lot of clean tone that sounds tasty and has a bit of that "glassy" tone goes through a compressor before the amp. But I would *not* suggest you do any of this. Focus for now with nothing else involved. Removed any external pedals if you can, have just a basic amp sim inserted on a mono track.

The guitar should be connected into a DI input on your interface and the associated input gain adjusted as needed... that does *not* mean the gain is turned up as high as you can. And that's never used to set the amp sim output volume. If you have an active pickup or pedals in the signal chain you may need to decrease the preamp gain level a lot. The signal level from your guitar into Pro Tools should be very low. Not that you should be lookin at meters to set this (you should be listening with your ears to the sound though the whole signal flow and adjusting the DI input gain and amp sim gains etc. to find the tone you want)... but as a sanity check... with the Pro Tools meter set to pre-fader mode, disable the sim plugin and then you should be looking for guitar input levels around -40 to -50 dbFS on the track meter. And once you reenable the plugin do not increase the preamp, amp sim gain or amp sim master volume to "get a hot input" or increase the apparent volume.

Many amp sims are surprisingly accurate simulations. Including the whole Eleven family of plugins, if you hit them with too hot a signal they are just not going to produce clean tones. One thing that would help here is for you to describe the dbFS level you are seeing going into Pro Tools... i.e. that value on the track meter with the amp sim disabled and the meter in pre-fader mode. If things like dbFS and pre-fader etc. are not clear you can google for more info, or look up in the Pro Tools Reference Guide pdf (that does not actually apply to Pro Tools First, ... so you have to be careful with things that are not supported in First, but it covers all the basic stuff with Pro Tools very well).

Do not rely on defaults or presets, and start by treating any amp sim just like you would treat an unknown amplifier. Set most controls to half way. If you are after clean tones set the input gain low and start playing and adjusting settings until you get what you want. Again input gain and even master volume are not what you should be using to adjust the volume you hear, or values in meters. If in doubt and stuff just seems to distorted just play and turn down the volume knob(s) on you guitar and the DI gain knob to get a very low signal level going into the amp sim and see how it changes. If you have experience with an amp like the sim it's fun to try to set the DI gain to a rough place that get the distortion tone out of the amp sim similar to what you get with a real amp.

And maybe before anything else start by setting up your monitors/headphones so they are in the approximate output SPL ballpark. Pick some commercial music you like drag and drop that file onto a Pro Tools edit window and let it create a stereo audio track. Create a master fader track as well. Play back that stereo song track at at 0dB on the track fader and adjust the master fader and monitor control level if you interface has that to get the volume you normally want to listen to.. now you are going to largely leave the monitor control and master fader settings alone and add any gain/volume control you need between the output of the amp sim and before the master fader. Many amp sims have output level controls.. including Eleven lite output... you can adjust those, that's pure undistorted digital gain. Or you can add the Trim plugin after the amp sim to increase overall levels on that track, again it's just pure undistorted digital gain. If you want to do better here with monitor calibration you can look that up online... but realise that many smaller monitors just cannot be calibrated to standard SPL levels.

And to agree with Dave... don't waste time now with custom impulse stuff, and the software you are using is really applying room impulse responses i.e. reverb not cabinet response. Eleven Lite includes built in cabinet modeling, all you need for initial playing around, and not a lot to do with clean vs. distorted tone.

I also notice you are using a Microsoft Surface Pro 7. That may not be ideal for doing a lot with with Pro Tools. If it's working great for you now that is good, but just be careful if you end up wanting to spend money on DAWs and plugins on that computer.

Last edited by Darryl Ramm; 10-25-2020 at 08:43 PM.
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