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Author Topic: Is anyone using a direct box on electric guitar at gigs?  (Read 10082 times)

Stephen Kirby

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Re: Is anyone using a direct box on electric guitar at gigs?
« Reply #30 on: April 27, 2015, 09:19:19 pm »

Very few people are ever "on axis" with the speakers.  And fewer still within 4-6 feet of it on axis.  The only thing that might be on axis is a microphone.  Thus all the art of turning the mic off axis or moving it near the surround in an attempt to get something approximating what the amp would sound like to most people scattered around a room.  4 speaker boxes like stacks and Super Reverbs beam quite a bit more in a small room but even at that there is a general timbre or spectral distribution that is common to most of the audience in a smaller room.  That is the sound we are trying to get out of the mains in a larger venue.

Odds are that the muso may not hear that exact same tone but a proficient guitarist is aware of that and compensates.  But the on-axis nearfield is a whole 'nother beast.

The best thing I've ever seen for moderate sized combos from Deluxe Reverbs to Twins is what you get when it's sitting on the top of it's road case.  You get two things, it's elevated to mid body so that the amount of highs that the muso gets is pretty close to a room sound.  And the hollow box under the amp adds just the right amount of low end to give a bigger sound on stage for the player while letting FOH not have to high pass so aggressively to get space in the mix.
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Branimir Bozak

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Re: Is anyone using a direct box on electric guitar at gigs?
« Reply #31 on: May 02, 2016, 06:57:52 pm »

There's a limit to a what one microphone can do.

Going up scale in production - bigger bands, more microphones get involved, maybe even different cabinets/amps.
Most of the time "the sound" that people perceive at shows or records is not a SM57 in front of a cab. :)

Having worked in a rental company that did bigger stuff, I noticed a lot of bigger acts use DI's for electric guitars, for instance, Slayer uses Radial JDX in combination with Heil PR40 and PR30, Mastodon uses Palmer PDI-09 in combination with SM57 and AT4033. Worked on both gigs, this is straight from their riders.

I own and use Palmer PDI-09's.

Most of the time I use them with the band that I tour with, and for two guitar players on stage, I don't even use microphones, I don't see the point. Palmer's sound very much "in your face", and with a bit of EQ, they can sound quite full and of course, sound much more direct than the regular SM57.
I had best results with Palmer PDI-09 and Sennheiser E906/609, they seem to compliment each other very very good, and on the other hand pairing the Palmer's with the SM57, showed no significant improvement in the "fullness" or "texture". Maybe with some other guitar players/tones it could work better, who knows?

Anyways, a lot of the times - I doubt these DI's and wonder - should I go back to microphones? And then I just stuck with them and get the results.
They are not - by all means - the end or the best thing ever, but they serve their purpose, and on small stages where it can get chaotic - with audience jumping on stage, stagediving, running, etc, I feel safe - because no one can knock a guitar stand a point the mic into the air.

There are downsides, of course.
The upper mid content (1khz+) can be a bit "artificial" if used for recording purposes, but for live - most of the PA's that I work with - don't have that clarity or precision. I cases they are - using a microphone to compliment the sound of the DI is advised.

Phase issues are another problem with these kinds of DI boxes. No one can guarantee you - that the DI will be in phase with the microphone, so playing with channel delay on DI is sometimes needed.
Radial markets their JDX as "phase coherent", I assume they claim it should be in phase with the microphone - if it's miked up in some kind of common way.

I converted a friend of mine to Palmers too, and his touring band's guitarists sound excellent even with regular 57s, but he opts for Palmers only these days.
Having said that, of two guitar players i work with - the one with the Marshall stack and the Gibson guitar - Palmer certainly improved the clarity of his hi gain tone in the mix, and provided me with much different mid content than a regular 57. The other guitar player with the Strat sound more or less similar with Palmer or miked with a 57, skype headset or a ribbon mike... :)

Conclusion:
DI's for electric guitars that are hooked up between the head and the cab are a useful tool. For me - they are life savers and give me a clean stage with identical results night after night, without any problems with acoustic of the stages/venues/microphone position changes/etc.

They are not mandatory, although I consider them to be tools for "marginal gains".

If you earn a lot - invest in the Radial, if you're on a budget - try Palmer.

There are others on the market, but I like to use simple things, Palmer is passive and has all it needs - GND lift, PAD 0,-15,-30db,  brightness: NORMAL, MELLOW, BRIGHT. I think Redbox and some others use power adaptors to get 9V. Radial can be fed via console's phantom power.
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Bob Leonard

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Re: Is anyone using a direct box on electric guitar at gigs?
« Reply #32 on: May 02, 2016, 07:52:26 pm »

Have you ever listened to the flat output off a lead guitar pickup?

If you take that direct into the console you will have yeoman's work just making it sound like a guitar let alone better...

Mic the amp...

JR

And that's all she wrote because here was nothing more to say.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2016, 07:56:11 pm by Bob Leonard »
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Ned Ward

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Re: Is anyone using a direct box on electric guitar at gigs?
« Reply #33 on: May 03, 2016, 12:07:41 am »

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.


Great points, Stephen.


It's also worth mentioning that the "Jensen" in that amp is not a real Jensen at all, but a crappy Italian speaker whose manufacturer bought the Jensen brand name and has been applying it to their speakers to sell for higher prices. I'm not a fan of their work. If he doesn't want an extension cab, a better 10" speaker, either from Weber, Warehouse Speakers, or a Kendrick Black Frame (which I'm loving in my Princeton Reverb) could help things slightly.
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David Buckley

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Re: Is anyone using a direct box on electric guitar at gigs?
« Reply #34 on: May 03, 2016, 12:55:15 am »

I listened to the posted track, and on my PC speakers the mix sounds dull overall, which suggests you have a bright PA.  So I yanked into GoldWave, and added some JBL, and that brought up some crispness in the volcals, the drums and binlids, which kinda confirmed the thought.  And the guitar was now parting my hair, even from 20 feet away when I walked to the fridge.  I now understand your pain.

Firstly: you don't want a good mic for this, and an RE20 is a good mic.  A 57 would be my 2nd try, and something you're likely to have, but first I'd try an old Unidyne or Unisphere if one can be found.  They are vastly underrated mics by everyone except Freddie Mercury.

Secondly, assuming you have the kit to do it, apply a high cut to the guitar on the channel EQ; start with EQ flat and just cut everything above 2K, and see where you sit.  On a digi its usually, easy, just change the top band from shelving to LPF, or HCut in X32-speak.  Normal EQ just won't cut it (pun intended) when there's a mess to clean up, they are far more suited to subtle cuts and boosts, not wholesale destruction, they just wont don't that.

Anyway, I think that approach will make the guitar far more livable.  You'll be able to have it far louder in the mix without the pain, which is currently all you can hear and thus limits the level.  And with the increase in volume without pain, I think the thinness will vanish, perhaps to the point of needing some mid-cut.
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Roland Clarke

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Re: Is anyone using a direct box on electric guitar at gigs?
« Reply #35 on: May 03, 2016, 07:22:36 am »

I came across a product recently that a friend of mine bought.  Its the Two notes Torpedo.  They are not exactly cheap, but it's the first guitar simulator I've heard that would persuade me that perhaps a cabinet isn't needed.  There is one by Kemper that has a lot of high level endorsements, however, having heard some demo's it wouldn't be for me.  The Two Notes stuff is really impressive, at least check out the demos. it's worth it.
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Michael Lascuola

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Re: Is anyone using a direct box on electric guitar at gigs?
« Reply #36 on: May 03, 2016, 09:31:02 am »

It's funny how threads get resurrected!  I think we can move the rock back in front of this one, however.

The guitarist took the amp to a tech, and it was not operating properly.  It's been replaced with a 20-watt Blackstar, and everyone is happy now.

Thanks again for all of your input!
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Ned Ward

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Re: Is anyone using a direct box on electric guitar at gigs?
« Reply #37 on: May 03, 2016, 01:22:29 pm »

I came across a product recently that a friend of mine bought.  Its the Two notes Torpedo.  They are not exactly cheap, but it's the first guitar simulator I've heard that would persuade me that perhaps a cabinet isn't needed.  There is one by Kemper that has a lot of high level endorsements, however, having heard some demo's it wouldn't be for me.  The Two Notes stuff is really impressive, at least check out the demos. it's worth it.


Roland - to clarify, the Two Notes Torpedo isn't a an amp simulator, but a cabinet simulator that lets you use preset cabinets or send an impulse through your own rig to then capture your tone through your gear. Similar to the Palmer in that it lets you use your guitar amp, but without the stage volume. Pricey, but very cool. Search YouTube for Pete Thorn recording one of his amp and cab combos and then A/Bing it for comparison.

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Art Hays

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Re: Is anyone using a direct box on electric guitar at gigs?
« Reply #38 on: May 09, 2016, 03:17:43 pm »


Roland - to clarify, the Two Notes Torpedo isn't a an amp simulator, but a cabinet simulator that lets you use preset cabinets or send an impulse through your own rig to then capture your tone through your gear. Similar to the Palmer in that it lets you use your guitar amp, but without the stage volume. Pricey, but very cool. Search YouTube for Pete Thorn recording one of his amp and cab combos and then A/Bing it for comparison.

From stuff I read the idea is guitar sound comes from amps driven at a high percentage of capacity driving speakers.  Speakers are more than just resistive loads- they are complex having inductance and maybe some capacitance.  One thing I read even said the amp and the complex speaker load interact as well (and this interaction is probably different with tube vs. transistor output stages).

So if you want to capture via a direct in on a quiet stage you need a load box that's complex and can dissipate a lot of power from an amp that's turned up.  Palmer and Two Notes make these.

Or you can emulate the whole chain (amp+speakers) with DSP  ::)
« Last Edit: May 09, 2016, 03:20:22 pm by Art Hays »
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Ned Ward

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Re: Is anyone using a direct box on electric guitar at gigs?
« Reply #39 on: May 09, 2016, 04:12:51 pm »

Or you can emulate the whole chain (amp+speakers) with DSP  ::)
Depends what amp and speakers you want to emulate. For cookie-monster rock (Diezel, Rectifier), amp sims work pretty well. I own several amp sims (Eleven Mark II, Amplitube 4, Guitar Rig) and none of them do a clean Fender amp well. I got a better clean "Fender" sound out of my old ADA MP1 into a MicroCab rig.  The amp sims are fun for recording or playing late at night without waking up the family, but would rather play through real amps.


Of course, that's the benefit of the Two Notes Torpedo. Hook up a Fender Showman, dial it up to 10, and record or play through headphones at sensible volumes. You get your real amp tone and if you want, your real amp + Cab tone.
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Re: Is anyone using a direct box on electric guitar at gigs?
« Reply #39 on: May 09, 2016, 04:12:51 pm »


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