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Thread: Confession: They all sound like guitars to me.

  1. #21
    Senior Member shinksma's Avatar
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    Sergio, I'm in complete agreement: there are guitar sounds that are "typical" of the type of guitar - tele, strat, LesPaul. And with the right application of overdrive, compression/sustain, and other studio effects, is is very possible to get almost any guitar sound out of almost any guitar. So for any given recording, figuring out what the guitar was at the start of the audio chain with no other information is very sketchy.

    For example, David Gilmour recorded the solo in Another Brick in the Wall pt 2 (the "hey Teacher" song for all you non-Floyd Droids) on a Les Paul direct-in to the board (and then apparently back out to the amp and DI back into the board, according to gilmourish.com). No strat, no mike in front of amp. Yet he plays it live pretty darned close using his usual black Strat.

    I must admit I could not reproduce Gilmour's sound on Run Like Hell until I got a tele, though. My strat and Les Paul just couldn't do it for me. Might be all psychological though.

  2. #22
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    Well of course there's the famous Les Paul solo on Stairway to Heaven and the ringing 12 string neck of Page's EDS-1275, great Gibson tones for sure...what? They were done on a Tele and a Fender XII? Oh well, so much for my ears.

  3. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by NomadMike View Post
    Well of course there's the famous Les Paul solo on Stairway to Heaven and the ringing 12 string neck of Page's EDS-1275, great Gibson tones for sure...what? They were done on a Tele and a Fender XII? Oh well, so much for my ears.
    I actually think they sound very Fender.
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  4. #24
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    Many people "hear with their eyes"...
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  5. #25
    Member Jose's Avatar
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    Agree with Sergio 100%

  6. #26
    Senior Member sergiodeblanc's Avatar
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    Since this is really my confession and not something I'm trying to debate, I should like to clarify a few things.

    I am not saying that I can't tell the difference between my personal guitars, although my statement about being hard pressed to tell the difference between the Tele track and the CE track alludes to it.. they were both recorded with a covered Tele neck pickup, so it's not like they were obviously two very different sounding pickups I couldn't tell the difference between, they were pretty much the exact same means of amplifying a vibrating string. I can totally tell the general pickup type and even whether or not they are "real" single coils or split hum buckers 'cause they totally sound different to my ears... Well at least if we're talkin' about the neck position.

    I guess this thread was kinda about those statements where people say "Only a Strat sounds like a Strat" or "Only a Les Paul sounds like a Les Paul" and even the ones like "PRS has its own sound"... Does it/do they/ why/ really? Fer sure every guitar sounds different, and I'm not sayin' that materials and construction don't matter or make a difference in guitar tone, but I am sayin' that for me personally... They kinda just sound like a guitar at the end of the day and I either think it sounds good or....not.

    If you played an SE One next to a LP Jr. same pup combo, player and amp; I would be able to discern subtle differences in tone fer sure.... but as to which one is which? I couldn't tell you until I knew the guitars intimately. Same goes for somebody rockin' a Charvel whatever... vs. a CE, don't think I'd be able to say which is which, but I would surely have a preference though.

    Tag and Les have pointed out that the use of distortion "blurs" perception and I completely agree. There comes a point to where I feel as though I'm more so listening to the pedal or amp than I am to the actual tone of the guitar... I used to play a f@ckin' skateboard made into a guitar so I can safely say with experience that if you put enough distortion on something... yeah, it can become harder to tell what kinda' guitar it is.

    I play mostly funk, reggae, disco, soul, and R&B flavored guitar so it's generally clean, and in most cases VERY clean, like as in not-even-a-hint-of-breakup-plugged into a DI clean. I don't own a single dedicated distortion pedal, the channel switching pedal for my amp isn't even plugged in at the moment, and if I'm playing dirty it's usually an accident or a guitar solo, and I'm having trouble picking out what kind of guitar it is. There are usually some telltale signs like if the guitar has a trem.. I can hear the springs versus a hard tail, and that makes me think: "Ah, okay.. it's not the Tele." In fact the Tele bridge pup is the one bridge pup I can usually identify... But bridge position hum buckers played, clean or dirty? I seriously don't think I'd be able to tell you what somebody else's guitar is besides whether or not it has a trem or if it is a hollow body... and I could be pushing it on the hollow body front if it were a semi-hollow.

    I am not sayin' I'm a great engineer or guitarist, but I'm also not new to this sh!t either which is why I had to "confess" this in the first place. Tag pointed out I may be in a rut... and if I am, I'm perfectly happy with that rut. I'm at the point that my Gucci Top SE SC sounds LIKE a LP to me, it sounds LIKE my old LP Custom but with some modern features and better access to those wheedly notes that young dudes seem to enjoy so much, and it fills that void perfectly for me when I need it.

    What I don't get is... Well I guess what I don't get is what it is that I'm missing! I hear horrible tones coming from Les Paul's and Strats just as I do coming from some PRS and Suhrs... If a guitar seems lacking that "Les Paul-low-mid-mojo"... I just turn that frequency up. Am I doing it wrong?

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by LSchefman View Post
    I actually think they sound very Fender.
    If you're not thinking "Gibson" they do, but at their peak Page was known for the LP and EDS, and like Jaimie said, 'Many people "hear with their eyes"...'

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMintzer View Post
    Many people "hear with their eyes"...

    But not many see with their ears like I do.

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by sergiodeblanc View Post
    Since this is really my confession and not something I'm trying to debate, I should like to clarify a few things.

    I am not saying that I can't tell the difference between my personal guitars, although my statement about being hard pressed to tell the difference between the Tele track and the CE track alludes to it.. they were both recorded with a covered Tele neck pickup, so it's not like they were obviously two very different sounding pickups I couldn't tell the difference between, they were pretty much the exact same means of amplifying a vibrating string. I can totally tell the general pickup type and even whether or not they are "real" single coils or split hum buckers 'cause they totally sound different to my ears... Well at least if we're talkin' about the neck position.

    I guess this thread was kinda about those statements where people say "Only a Strat sounds like a Strat" or "Only a Les Paul sounds like a Les Paul" and even the ones like "PRS has its own sound"... Does it/do they/ why/ really? Fer sure every guitar sounds different, and I'm not sayin' that materials and construction don't matter or make a difference in guitar tone, but I am sayin' that for me personally... They kinda just sound like a guitar at the end of the day and I either think it sounds good or....not.

    If you played an SE One next to a LP Jr. same pup combo, player and amp; I would be able to discern subtle differences in tone fer sure.... but as to which one is which? I couldn't tell you until I knew the guitars intimately. Same goes for somebody rockin' a Charvel whatever... vs. a CE, don't think I'd be able to say which is which, but I would surely have a preference though.

    Tag and Les have pointed out that the use of distortion "blurs" perception and I completely agree. There comes a point to where I feel as though I'm more so listening to the pedal or amp than I am to the actual tone of the guitar... I used to play a f@ckin' skateboard made into a guitar so I can safely say with experience that if you put enough distortion on something... yeah, it can become harder to tell what kinda' guitar it is.

    I play mostly funk, reggae, disco, soul, and R&B flavored guitar so it's generally clean, and in most cases VERY clean, like as in not-even-a-hint-of-breakup-plugged into a DI clean. I don't own a single dedicated distortion pedal, the channel switching pedal for my amp isn't even plugged in at the moment, and if I'm playing dirty it's usually an accident or a guitar solo, and I'm having trouble picking out what kind of guitar it is. There are usually some telltale signs like if the guitar has a trem.. I can hear the springs versus a hard tail, and that makes me think: "Ah, okay.. it's not the Tele." In fact the Tele bridge pup is the one bridge pup I can usually identify... But bridge position hum buckers played, clean or dirty? I seriously don't think I'd be able to tell you what somebody else's guitar is besides whether or not it has a trem or if it is a hollow body... and I could be pushing it on the hollow body front if it were a semi-hollow.

    I am not sayin' I'm a great engineer or guitarist, but I'm also not new to this sh!t either which is why I had to "confess" this in the first place. Tag pointed out I may be in a rut... and if I am, I'm perfectly happy with that rut. I'm at the point that my Gucci Top SE SC sounds LIKE a LP to me, it sounds LIKE my old LP Custom but with some modern features and better access to those wheedly notes that young dudes seem to enjoy so much, and it fills that void perfectly for me when I need it.

    What I don't get is... Well I guess what I don't get is what it is that I'm missing! I hear horrible tones coming from Les Paul's and Strats just as I do coming from some PRS and Suhrs... If a guitar seems lacking that "Les Paul-low-mid-mojo"... I just turn that frequency up. Am I doing it wrong?

    Sergio,
    I made the backing track for this video of my dogs with a certain guitar. It was an MP3, then compressed even more when I made in the backing to the video, then compressed even more when uploaded to YOUTUBE. It was a guitar I owned and I recorded it straight into my Roland recorder through my Dumble with only reverb in the loop. SM 57 mic right against the cloth of a mesa cab. NO EQuing or anything added. Still, with all of that compression, I think it is very easy to tell what kind of guitar it is. I can not get that tone with anything i own other than THAT guitar. Can you tell what kind of guitar it is? I am interested in what you hear.


  10. #30
    What complicates things is that one can dial in a very wide variety of tones on any decent guitar. Add an amp, and you can morph those tones into other tones. Throw in a few pedals, and you're further away from the sound of the guitar.

    Throw on a different cab and speaker, now mic it with a 421 instead of a 57, and it's going to be even more different.

    My point is that there are endless tones one guitar is capable of. Who on Earth can always identify how that tone was originally generated?

    But the question isn't whether you can identify a particular guitar later. The question is whether you can dial in a tone you like in the first place.

    For the most part, that requires using a guitar whose sound you like to start with.

    You mention that you often go direct from the guitar with no amp or effects (and presumably no modeler), which, to my way of thinking is and has always been the single most generic and mediocre-sounding way to record guitar of all time (and yes I know it was big in R&B and disco, cool, fine, I don't care). Amps create an important piece of the guitar tone puzzle, (more than half IMHO) and their exaggeration of tones and frequencies coming from the guitar help define and establish the guitar's tone. I don't know why, but it's true. Even modelers do this.

    My theory is that it's because guitar amps aren't linear devices, they are highly colored, their frequency response is crazy-uneven, and guitar speakers are even worse, in a good way.

    I had a very linear bass amp, a Mesa 400+ with full-range speakers and a tweeter. A higher fidelity rig works great for bass, but try plugging your guitar into a rig like this -- it sounds absolutely horrible! Much like going direct!

    Electric guitars need to interact with a guitar amp for some reason. Something good happens. Anyway, no wonder you're getting more generic sounds, Serg.
    Last edited by LSchefman; 05-21-2014 at 07:43 PM.
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  11. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by LSchefman View Post
    What complicates things is that one can dial in a very wide variety of tones on any decent guitar. Add an amp, and you can morph those tones into other tones. Throw in a few pedals, and you're further away from the sound of the guitar.

    Throw on a different cab and speaker, now mic it with a 421 instead of a 57, and it's going to be even more different.

    My point is that there are endless tones one guitar is capable of. Who on Earth can always identify how that tone was originally generated?

    But the question isn't whether you can identify a particular guitar later. The question is whether you can dial in a tone you like in the first place.

    For the most part, that requires using a guitar whose sound you like to start with.

    You mention that you often go direct from the guitar with no amp or effects (and presumably no modeler), which, to my way of thinking is and has always been the single most generic and mediocre-sounding way to record guitar of all time (and yes I know it was big in R&B and disco, cool, fine, I don't care). Amps create an important piece of the guitar tone puzzle, (more than half IMHO) and their exaggeration of tones and frequencies coming from the guitar help define and establish the guitar's tone. I don't know why, but it's true. Even modelers do this.

    My theory is that it's because guitar amps aren't linear devices, they are highly colored, their frequency response is crazy-uneven, and guitar speakers are even worse, in a good way.

    I had a very linear bass amp, a Mesa 400+ with full-range speakers and a tweeter. A higher fidelity rig works great for bass, but try plugging your guitar into a rig like this -- it sounds absolutely horrible! Much like going direct!

    Electric guitars need to interact with a guitar amp for some reason. Something good happens. Anyway, no wonder you're getting more generic sounds, Serg.

    Les,
    I agree. Especially about the direct part. I have tried everything in my small powers to get a decent direct tone, especially so i could record at night while others are sleeping. No matter what I have tried, Line 6, my ethos direct "simulator" out that others swear by, all of my roland and Boss products built in patches etc etc, I can get noth but a HORRIBLE tone that feels even worse when I play. AND, every guitar sounds the same to me. Especially with my Roland recorders built in "models" and there are tons of them (you know Boss and Roland with that stuff, they love it!) it seems like the guitar is just a "trigger" for the built in sound. I can not get inspired at all. I feel like smashing it all. On the other hand, give me a decent guitar, one of the great amps you can get really cheap now like a Fender HR Deville or Vox AC 15, and I can get pretty much world class tones IMO. As a matter of fact, a $1000 fender USA Strat into a production $559 Vox AC 15 has dropped my jaw to the floor with tone. Absolute world class tone for $1600 dollars. Maybe that is what Sergio is talking about? I would still rather have my PRSs and Dumble clone, but not sure if the tone is actually "better". Its different, and I like it more most of the time, but damn if that strat into that Vox is not inspiring to say the LEAST.

  12. #32
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    I'm still playing with amp modeling, but what I've learned is that I had to start from scratch to get my tone as all the presets belong to someone else. This is pretty much the same as with any new guitar and amp combination, you need to take time to dial in a great tone. And if you're lucky that tone may work across multiple style guitars.

  13. #33
    Name Manglin' Putz alantig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tag View Post
    But not many see with their ears like I do.
    I'm blind in one eye and deaf in the other.
    Alan

    "I watched approximately 45 seconds of 'Rock Of Ages'. It was like getting punched in the soul." - Abby Krizner

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    To my mind, there are two things we are talking about here.....

    First, is what the guitarist can tell or feel live.

    Second is what can be discerned from a recording.

    As to the first, in my mind, it's 80% amp and 20% guitar from a sound perspective.

    As to the second. Heck if I know. I'd guess it's 50/50 though. How the guitarist perceives it has an incestuous relationship to the end product.

  15. #35
    Senior Member sergiodeblanc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tag View Post
    I think it is very easy to tell what kind of guitar it is. I can not get that tone with anything i own other than THAT guitar. Can you tell what kind of guitar it is? I am interested in what you hear.
    Ahhh.. Tryin' to be completely honest in just using my ears and really tryin' hard not to think about what I recall your preferences in guitars may be, while all the while known' I'll just end up lookin' foolish for my guess..... sounds like hum buckers with the volume rolled back a bit and the tone knob at about...6.... Or maybe some fat p-90's with the tone rolled back... or..... a f@ckin' guitar, and I should just quit being a sound-boy.

    What is it?... wait don't tell me yet. I'll keep the first as my answer and I'd love to hear what other people's guesses are.

  16. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by sergiodeblanc View Post
    Ahhh.. Tryin' to be completely honest in just using my ears and really tryin' hard not to think about what I recall your preferences in guitars may be, while all the while known' I'll just end up lookin' foolish for my guess..... sounds like hum buckers with the volume rolled back a bit and the tone knob at about...6.... Or maybe some fat p-90's with the tone rolled back... or..... a f@ckin' guitar, and I should just quit being a sound-boy.

    What is it?... wait don't tell me yet. I'll keep the first as my answer and I'd love to hear what other people's guesses are.

    I would love to see if anyone else can tell what it is really easily. Like they KNOW what it is. I could mix that clip in with every clip I have ever made, and know that guitar within 3 notes, 20 years from now. And that is coming from me who openly admits at times I can not tell what guitar I used.

  17. #37
    Senior Member sergiodeblanc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LSchefman View Post
    What complicates things is that one can dial in a very wide variety of tones on any decent guitar. Add an amp, and you can morph those tones into other tones. Throw in a few pedals, and you're further away from the sound of the guitar.

    Throw on a different cab and speaker, now mic it with a 421 instead of a 57, and it's going to be even more different.

    My point is that there are endless tones one guitar is capable of. Who on Earth can always identify how that tone was originally generated?

    But the question isn't whether you can identify a particular guitar later. The question is whether you can dial in a tone you like in the first place.

    For the most part, that requires using a guitar whose sound you like to start with.

    You mention that you often go direct from the guitar with no amp or effects (and presumably no modeler), which, to my way of thinking is and has always been the single most generic and mediocre-sounding way to record guitar of all time (and yes I know it was big in R&B and disco, cool, fine, I don't care). Amps create an important piece of the guitar tone puzzle, (more than half IMHO) and their exaggeration of tones and frequencies coming from the guitar help define and establish the guitar's tone. I don't know why, but it's true. Even modelers do this.

    My theory is that it's because guitar amps aren't linear devices, they are highly colored, their frequency response is crazy-uneven, and guitar speakers are even worse, in a good way.

    I had a very linear bass amp, a Mesa 400+ with full-range speakers and a tweeter. A higher fidelity rig works great for bass, but try plugging your guitar into a rig like this -- it sounds absolutely horrible! Much like going direct!

    Electric guitars need to interact with a guitar amp for some reason. Something good happens. Anyway, no wonder you're getting more generic sounds, Serg.
    Whoa, buddy! At no point in this thread have I voiced my displeasure at the tones I personally get, or that I help others achieve. I use all methods of recording guitars and don't consider any one of them to be superior than the others unless we're talking about the context in which they are used... even then it all boils down to personal preference and aesthetics anyway, saying that no wonder I am getting more generic guitar tones is presumptuous or judgmental.... and a matter of opinion.

    The point of this thread is Exactly whether or not I can identify a particular guitar later, and I apologize if I have not been clear enough on the subject... but thank you for basically saying the same thing I was tryin' to say in the OP about there being so many variables in what makes up a recorded guitar sound that it's difficult to hear what guitar is being used.

    I don't care that you don't care that recording guitars direct was popular in disco and R&B.... So there's that,... and you're still my homie.
    Last edited by sergiodeblanc; 05-21-2014 at 11:06 PM. Reason: spell no good

  18. #38
    Senior Member sergiodeblanc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tag View Post
    I can get pretty much world class tones IMO. As a matter of fact, a $1000 fender USA Strat into a production $559 Vox AC 15 has dropped my jaw to the floor with tone. Absolute world class tone for $1600 dollars. Maybe that is what Sergio is talking about?
    No, not really talkin' about price, I don't really care what a piece costs if I can justify its value, I mean maybe not Dumble price territory... I top out at the $4000 mark and am very pleased with the lower/mid end of the spectrum. I'll use whatever sounds good or has a "sound". I do enjoy lookin' at expensive stuff more that the cheap stuff though.

    Quote Originally Posted by NomadMike View Post
    I'm still playing with amp modeling, but what I've learned is that I had to start from scratch to get my tone as all the presets belong to someone else.
    I totally agree and felt that way before guitar multi effects changed their name to "modelers".

    Quote Originally Posted by aristotle View Post
    To my mind, there are two things we are talking about here.....

    First, is what the guitarist can tell or feel live.

    Second is what can be discerned from a recording.

    As to the first, in my mind, it's 80% amp and 20% guitar from a sound perspective.

    As to the second. Heck if I know. I'd guess it's 50/50 though. How the guitarist perceives it has an incestuous relationship to the end product.

    Oh I can totally feel the difference in guitars while I'm playing them, that's one of the things I'm trying to come to terms with about my selection of preferred guitars.... Do I truly like them just as much for the way they feel (and make me feel) as I do for the way they sound, or do I like them more because of it?

  19. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by sergiodeblanc View Post
    there being so many variables in what makes up a recorded guitar sound that it's difficult to hear what guitar is being used.

    If thats all this is about, then I read way more into it than there was, and I totally agree. With EQ alone I could change anyone of my guitars WAY more than enough to be unable to identify it later. With just an old Boss 6 band EQ I could mess up my sound so bad it would sound like a kazoo coming out of an AM radio, never mind sounding like a guitar! (I was never good with EQ pedals. I ALWAYS made my tone much worse, never mind better) One exception was the onboard EQ on my old Mesa MK 3. I could actually dial out some of the nasal qualities of that amp, and thats not an easy thing to do!

  20. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by sergiodeblanc View Post
    I don't care that you don't care that recording guitars direct was popular in disco and R&B.... So there's that,... and you're still my homie.
    Well, I love you too, and that will never change.

    Yes, we agree on the many variables thing, and probably on most things in this universe, and in addition, on the difficulty of IDing a guitar in a recorded track.

    But on the direct guitar recording route, all I can think of is it's like having oscillators on a synth, and disconnecting the filters and LFOs - the stuff that modulates the tone and makes the synth more interesting. Yes, you can do it, and if you like it well, there's that.

    But it robs the guitars of their life and personality. Think of the poor guitars, deprived of their ability to come to life, forgodsakes!
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