My next album should be driven by a modern Metal-sound and of course the sound of the guitars is crucial. During the last years I went through several attempts to achieve a modern guitar-sound, but I always failed. A few months ago I purchased a Kemper Profiling Amp (read my review of the Kemper here) and I hoped for an instant solution like: Load a preset, hit the record-button and it sounds awesome. One problem of the Kemper (and all other Modellers and digital devices) is the excessive supply of sounds. You are just overwhelmed by the sheer number of available sounds. An excessive supply can block the creativity, therefore many people live better with less complex solutions. The Kemper delivers many free presets, but the quality varies in my opinion. Therefore I deleted all factory-presets and loaded a handful commercial and free presets, which had made a good impression during my first practising-sessions. In fact I loaded some 5150-profiles of The Amp factory, the free Lasse Lammert-profiles, a Splawn-profile (also from TAF). All profiles seemed to be suitable for a good Metal Rhythm-Tone.
Next I recorded the same Riff with all different profiles. Sixteen different tones should be enough. All examples are recorded with my BC Rich “Chuck Schuldiner” directly into the Kemper. I think I forgot to switch off the reverb, but the examples are good enough to hear the differences between the profiles. Excuse the sloppy playing, it was just a sound-test.
Listen to the sixteen profiles here:
Then I threw all recordings into my Logic session with the already finished new drum-sound. The channels were panned hard left and right. With this method I could compare the sounds in a very comfortable way. While I could observe how a sound integrates with the drums I could also switch different sounds on and off on the two panning-positions. In the past I made the experience, that often two different guitar-sounds work better than just the same sound even if you record two or four different stems of one sound. Back to my experiment: Many of the recorded stems lacked precision on the low strings, therefore I searched for sounds with the best representation of the low E and A, which is very important for metal. A very interesting experience: Before the test I had a very fixed opinion to use a 5150-profile, but during the sound-test some of the Lasse Lammert-profiles became clear favourites. The reason could be, that in metal productions a guitar-sound is often the result of a complete chain consisting of an overdrive pedal, an amp, an EQ, a compressor and maybe a delay. While most profiles just delivers a pure and raw Amp-tone others like the Lasse Lammert-Profiles are already tweaked with the internal effects of the Kemper. Using the language of the Kemper-manual it would be called a “Rig” not a “Profile”. Most important for definition is the addition of an overdrive-pedal as the first link in the chain. The Overdrive is more working as a booster for desired frequencies, not for additional overdrive, because you get enough gain from the amp. When I play alone I love most the pure amp-tones but in a mix the tweaked “Rigs” win. At the end I decided to use the LL-profile “Bombed” on the left, and the LL-profile “The Grail” on the right side.
- The “Bombed” Signal chain: Maxon OD820 ->Bogner Überschall->Mesa Rectifier 4×12 with V30->SM57
- “The Grail” Signal chain: Maxon OD820->Mesa Rectifier->Mesa Stiletto Cabinet with V30->SM57+Royer R-121 Ribbon
Meanwhile I have recorded three songs with the Kemper. I made the experience, that my LL-combination works also great with lower tunings. For one song I “tuned down” to C using the wonderful “Transpose”-feature of the Kemper. The Lammert-profiles work not so great in higher areas, when it comes to melodies and lead-work. For a song with more melodic guitars I switched to the 51510-profiles of TAF, which sound more creamy and have better sustain. It needed some EQ to tame the harsh treble-frequencies, but this is a common practice in Metal-mixing as I have learned from Youtube tutorials. During the mixing Metal-guitars are not just treated with a low-cut. The frequencies are narrowed down from both sides and you end up with a hill-like EQ. I experienced, that the tone changes dramatically around 3000khz, while boosting or cutting other frequencies have not much effect on high gain sounds. You can get rid of a lot of frequencies without loosing too much bass or presence and the space can be used for other instruments.
The result is as brutal as I could wish for.
Listen to my first song with the new guitar-sound: