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Author Topic: Is anyone using a direct box on electric guitar at gigs?  (Read 10080 times)

Steve M Smith

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Re: Is anyone using a direct box on electric guitar at gigs?
« Reply #20 on: April 26, 2015, 05:29:10 pm »

The ideal is up on something that is around hip high.  In the nearfield, the balance is similar to what folks will hear out in front.

That's what I do, but for a different reason.  With a hollow body guitar like the Gretsch, I like to have it so it is just below being on the verge of feedback.  i.e. a bit of resonance.

I don't want to point the amp at my ears as if I hear myself too loudly, it puts me off.


Steve.
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Bob Leonard

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Re: Is anyone using a direct box on electric guitar at gigs?
« Reply #21 on: April 26, 2015, 09:27:01 pm »

Please, never.  The near field sound of a guitar amp is nothing like the sound in a room which is what the guitarist is going for.  Most folks with any hearing left will end up with a really muddy rolled off tone if you point the amp right at them at close range.

The ideal is up on something that is around hip high.  In the nearfield, the balance is similar to what folks will hear out in front.

The art of micing a guitar amp is to approximate that farfield character with something right in front of the cabinet.

Bob, on the Wahs, have you ever tried a CryBaby 535Q?  There are some settings there that don't get all pinched and nasal.  I have an old Italian Vox that I started to get worried about so I bought a 535 for gigging.  There's a setting that is very similar to the Robben Ford "Cut Me To The Bone" track.  It's actually what he used but none of us are Robben.  It gets a nice sweep and you can get sort of the Shaft "whack" from it, but it's not overly sharp or pinched sounding.

I have tried the 535Q and liked it. Right now I'm using an Italian VOX. I needed a pot and gear for one of my Boomerangs and tracked down the guy who designed and manufactured the pedal for Gibson Maestro. I replaced the pot and now I just keep the pedal in a box.

I'm also with both you guys about not pointing the amp at your head. This is a sound guy myth of sorts. Put the amp as far behind the player as possible and maybe tilt it a bit pointed at your ass, but not much more. And I've said it before, that Leo Fender put those tilt back legs on his amps to help fill the room, not so the player could hear the amp better. Stage mix first, mic the amp second, don't fuck with my tone third.
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John Roberts {JR}

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Re: Is anyone using a direct box on electric guitar at gigs?
« Reply #22 on: April 26, 2015, 10:38:17 pm »

The "point the amp at the guitar player's head" is a little passive-aggressive corrective feedback to hopefully get a guitar player to reduce his stage volume.

It isn't about tone, but volume and probably doesn't work.

JR
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John L Nobile

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Re: Is anyone using a direct box on electric guitar at gigs?
« Reply #23 on: April 26, 2015, 11:06:26 pm »

Maybe I should have said tilt the amp. I never mic the centre of an amp so I probably wouldn't want that aimed at my head either.  Too harsh. I just always thought brightness was added to compensate for the amp pointed at the knees.
I don't really care how he places the amp as long as it's not pointed at me.
My background is keys and I always had my leslies behind or beside  me with the top rotor at about ear level.  I also liked the fan effect on hot nights lol.  Guess that's why I can't understand why some guys would keep an amp level and on the floor.
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Michael Lascuola

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Re: Is anyone using a direct box on electric guitar at gigs?
« Reply #24 on: April 27, 2015, 09:51:34 am »

Wow - thanks for all of the replies.  It's fascinating to hear all the different viewpoints, but I will try to reply to all of the suggestions here.

Yes, I've tried different mics -- so far, the best sounding mic has been a Heil PR-40, which was not available for this particular gig.

The guitar player agrees the tone sounds thin on the recording (for academic reference, it's a USA Fender Stratocaster).  The guitar amp sounds thin onstage without PA support.  It is a small (not Blues Jr.) brown Fender amp with a single 10" speaker.  His stage volume is on the low side compared to most guitar players I've worked with.  I always mic the speaker off center (I find the sound off the dust cap to be more harsh).

I did not use the RE-20 to enhance the lows, but because it has good bass response.  I used rather radical EQ for the live sound, rolling off more highs and boosting more lows than I would normally do for any guitar.

I too agree that a typical sound engineer's job is just to enhance what's coming off the stage. But in my view, this DOES rise to level of "something really bad that needs correcting." The lead player is a great guy and a fine player, but is pushing 60 and I am sure has some high-end hearing loss from years of gigging.

The amp is on the floor but tilted toward his head.  In my experience, I am rarely if ever able to get a guitar player to place a combo amp on a chair or stand at ear level.

I have not looked at his actual tone settings on the amp -- I was hoping to avoid going there.

In summary, it does look like the consensus is that a direct box will not give me what I'm looking for.  I will get more details on his settings and report back if I can get some improvement.
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Stephen Kirby

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Re: Is anyone using a direct box on electric guitar at gigs?
« Reply #25 on: April 27, 2015, 12:43:24 pm »

Guitar geek alert.  If it's one of those USA Fenders with the two bolt whammys, the bridge saddles will make the treble strings sound thin.  The large blocks are a factory version of the large brass saddles we used to put on them in the late '70s early '80s to try and get them to sustain like Gibsons.  Did many of these in my music store days back then.  While the sharp edge does increase sustain a little, it also thins out the tone.  Turns out Leo and crew knew what they were doing.  The softer radius of the bent metal saddles knocks a bit of treble off the thinner strings and balances them better with the wound strings.  Fortunately, Callaham Guitars makes formed vintage style saddles that fit on the modern 2 bolt bridges with the offset adjustment screws.  Together with the improved trem block it was a revelation on my USA Strat Ultra.  Warming up the top of the guitar and having as good or better sustain.  If only we'd know back in '75 that it was all about the trem block and not brass nuts.

Brown Fenders have a less scooped tone stack than Blackface.  So it shouldn't be as thin as say a BF Princeton.  But any 18W 1-10 Fender is going to need some proximity effect from a mic to sound heavier.  Maybe try a Beta 57 or 56 with the slightly angled placement a few folks have suggested.  The Sennheisers are less placement sensitive but one of my favorite single guitar cab mics is a B57 knock off from GLS.  Just the right balance of fatness without being boomy or thumpy, with a chewy midrange bump.  And enough roll off to keep the fizz out.  I like ribbons for recording and use a Senn on an LP drum clamp for live work.  But I'll often record background guitar tracks using the GLS on my BFDR.  It's a bit round on my Fuchs ODS so that one usually has a ribbon and LDC for recording solo tracks with that "Dumble" sound.
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Michael Lascuola

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Re: Is anyone using a direct box on electric guitar at gigs?
« Reply #26 on: April 27, 2015, 04:41:38 pm »

Thanks!  Here's pix of the Stratocaster -- I can't see much detail from here but maybe you can:

www.woodlawnsound.com/FTP/GreenStrat1.jpg
www.woodlawnsound.com/FTP/GreenStrat2.jpg

I want to clarify on the amp - it's not an early 60's brown amp (I love the Deluxe from '62!) -- it's a modern amp.
Special edition Blues Jr with a Jensen speaker -- I really think that part of the problem is too much overdrive before the amp.

Here's a recording of the same amp with a more clean sound (guitar panned right of center)
www.woodlawnsound.com/FTP/20141220_BeastOfBurden.mp3
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Nick Reese

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Re: Is anyone using a direct box on electric guitar at gigs?
« Reply #27 on: April 27, 2015, 05:45:43 pm »

Could just be a personal preference thing as well, to me it sounds pretty badass but agree that the wah adds thinness. Watch which pickup he is using when he goes to solo...typically the bridge pickup and a wah = ear piercing highs while the neck pickup mellows things out as long as the wah is used moderately and not always fully down. If a sound guy tells me that my guitar tone is no good, or starts asking questions about certain amp settings, I would not be very happy as I've put a ton of time and money and blood and sweat into my rig to get it to sound how 'I' like...just my two cents.
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Stephen Kirby

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Re: Is anyone using a direct box on electric guitar at gigs?
« Reply #28 on: April 27, 2015, 06:57:44 pm »

Ah, a maple neck modern Strat.  Into a small 1-10 EL-84 amp pushed hard.  It's going to sound like that.  There are some things that can be done to warm up things but he may be trying to do that.  Perfectly competent player so it's not like he doesn't have a clue.  Has he heard this recording?

The solos had that near self destruction hairy edge that may well be perfectly deliberate.

However, I personally abhor distorted comp parts.  Especially in funk songs.  I recently re-recorded a demo I'm working on to show the guitarist how the song sounds with a cleaner tone.  Interestingly he was also using a Blues Jr on that session.  The original track just had this blurry "blat" sound that had no distinction in time or groove.  The same thing I hear in your recording.  If it's a trio then you can get away with that more.  But the spectrum of a Strat (sounds like the middle pickup) and a Clav on top of each other has to be better arranged.  Crunch on the guitar just makes the Clav muddy for a moment when they're playing together.

If he didn't like the sound on the recording and was asking my advice (which on the internet is worth what you paid for it) I would suggest to turn the amp down a little so it cleans up, then use a mild rounder overdrive like a Zendrive, OCD or TIM to kick it up for his solos.  Avoid Tubescreamers and the like.  Maybe even a Fulltone if he wants it fatter, although with that amp, it would have to be turned down quite a bit and he would be relying on stage monitors to hear himself.  Probably not a preferred thing for most guitarists.  Maybe an 2nd cab with a 12.  A Bogner cube with some sort of normal speaker (other than the V30s they come with) would fatten that sound right up.
The problem with those Fender amps is that they are cost constrained and the biggest corners were cut in the magnetics.  Which means the harder you push them, the more they fall apart.  Same thing with the Hot Rod Deluxe.  Putting a better speaker in them helps at lower volumes.  Bruce Zinky told me that when the HRD was developed, they asked him to voice a speaker that made it sound as loud as possible when folks went to try it out in a store.  But when you start pushing them, the power transformer sags like crazy and the output transformer saturates.

You can try to accentuate the lower mids by angling the mic, but if the guy persists in playing with that saturated tone, that and eq is about all you can do.  And too much of either will probably kill the spank when he goes to a "quack" position (switch at 2 or 4) and cleans it up.
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Is anyone using a direct box on electric guitar at gigs?
« Reply #29 on: April 27, 2015, 08:03:12 pm »

I have tried the 535Q and liked it. Right now I'm using an Italian VOX. I needed a pot and gear for one of my Boomerangs and tracked down the guy who designed and manufactured the pedal for Gibson Maestro. I replaced the pot and now I just keep the pedal in a box.

I'm also with both you guys about not pointing the amp at your head. This is a sound guy myth of sorts. Put the amp as far behind the player as possible and maybe tilt it a bit pointed at your ass, but not much more. And I've said it before, that Leo Fender put those tilt back legs on his amps to help fill the room, not so the player could hear the amp better. Stage mix first, mic the amp second, don't fuck with my tone third.

So Bob, how do we deal with the "tone" we get when the person creating it does not, by choice or tradition, hear what it actually sounds like to anyone who is on-axis with the speaker?
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Re: Is anyone using a direct box on electric guitar at gigs?
« Reply #29 on: April 27, 2015, 08:03:12 pm »


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