Recording clean guitars in 2022.

BlasphemyMadeFlesh

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Hello djents (obligatory ss.org joke completed)

I know we don’t give a sh-t about clean guitars, so thankfully there is plenty of guidance out there how to get a great brutal tone with IRs and real amps or amp-sims. However, I am stumped on what the “best” way to get a clean guitar sound is, inside the computer realm in 2022. Kind of lost there.

Clean guitar here = anything that is not mid to high gain, like Deluxe Reverb or JC-120 glassy parts with chorus, compression, delay, reverb and stereo effects etc. I mainly use real amps real cabs & real effects into BOSS WAZA TAE into UA Apollo Twin.

This may sound odd, but for me it is a case of option overload & lack of direction. When recording demos one can:

- just use a normal IR, but with clean tone stack settings. (Meaning set the real/ amp sim clean, with an IR in the DAW. The effects inside the DAW or pedals irl)

- use a “clean amp” amp sim with effects and IR (no real amp & no real effects is the only negative here?)

- turn off cab sim and go direct, no IR, with effects (inside the DAW or pedals irl)

It’s so easy with real amps real cabs and effects as I’m used to. Just dial in the tone and there it is. The TAE can feed it into the computer where the IR is loaded and boom.

Well, do people actually use the same IRs for clean tones that they use for heavy tones? On top of that, one can skip the cab sim and go direct, which is a great sound, though I am not sure this is what people always do. Do your clean tones have cab sim disabled? And if they do, any tips how not to make it sound awful?

Wanted to get thoughts on the topic of cleans in 2022, and what method people are doing. Nobody wants their cleans to sound like a DI track.
 

Drew

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Well, do people actually use the same IRs for clean tones that they use for heavy tones? On top of that, one can skip the cab sim and go direct, which is a great sound, though I am not sure this is what people always do. Do your clean tones have cab sim disabled? And if they do, any tips how not to make it sound awful?
There are EXTREMELY few situations where I'd record a clean guitar sound without either a real cab or a cab sim, and they would all basically be "special effect" scenarios where I wanted something about the "direct" guitar sound.

I mostly use real amps, but have started demoing by recording DIs and runnig through amp sims. I generally use the same cab IR for everything, and VST dialed up for a clean amp sound. Then, when it comes time to record in earnest, I'll just retrack everything through a real amp.
 

Crungy

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I always have a cab going on my AxeFx, or whatever device I used before that. To be honest I don't think I've tried going without a cab/it other than ages ago before IRs.

I typically play around with reverbs/delay/modulation to get cleans where I like them since I'd likely never do a bone dry clean track for guitar.

I almost never use IR's with bass. I prefer going without 99.9% of the time.
 

StevenC

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Why would you turn the IR off? Just because it's in a computer doesn't mean the principles can't be the same.

I use the same cab and mic whether it's right metal or lush cleans. With IRs maybe you'll find a slightly more optimal setup for each sound because it's easy and inexpensive to change. But it's not necessary.

Get a good sounding clean amp sim and go. Or get an IR you like in the TAE for your real amp's clean tone and go. Don't over think it.
 

4Eyes

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clean channel of an amp(sim) + split coils or single coils, cab and mic doesn't mater (that much - use whatever you want), add mod/dly/reverb effects for epic-ness
 

bostjan

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IMO you're overthinking it. Clean amp->IR that sounds good. I wouldn't record/print FX until you've got the mix right.
:agreed:

Just do the same as you would with a distorted tone, without the distorted part. That is, plug in your guitar, choose a nice-sounding amp model, pair it with a nice-sounding IR, then dial it in until it sounds its best, and record it. You can also do the same with a real amp and a microphone, just as you would with a distorted sound, or my favourite, a hybrid of the two. Most of all, Just Have Fun with It™.
 

Dayn

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I record all my guitars DI, regardless of what I do with them. I then use amp sims for my sounds, whether it's clean or distorted. I've used the DI sound directly at times with effects just because that's the sound I've wanted.

I try not to overthink it. Record DI > apply amp sim > tweak until good.
 

KnightBrolaire

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I think it's user dependent and preference tbh. Use whatever you're most comfortable with and damn the rest.
I audition IRs constantly but almost always end up using a few specific options. I tend to use the same IRs for cleans and high gain.
 

c7spheres

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- WIth your setup and since you're using IR's I'd turn them off and go direct for the recorded track signal only (if possible) so you can manipulate it later and your normal IR's aren't baked-in to the track, unless you're that confident in the tone already and know it turns out well already.

- Setup your monitoring so you can still listen to your IR's you'd normally use while you're recording, but have the record tracks use direct signal only (everything but IR) for post processing and trying different IR's for the mix down process. You can also seperate effects if you want more control, which is normal, but some effects are better to tape like in front of amp type effects. Reverbs are normally in post processing.

- There's no rules but the mentality I have is you can use one IR combination/mix or two combinations and blend them, because that's what real life would be, just one or two mics on a cab with one or two types of speakers in it and maybe a room mic or two, behind the cab etc if getting crazy. Basically try to keep it realistic. That being said I'm not a fan of IR's and don't use them, yet.

- There's no reason you shouldn't be able to use the same IR for clean and heavy if it's a good IR. People use the same cab and mic for them as standard practice in real life. If you find yourself struggling to mix them I'd say it's a bad IR. I still have yet to find IR's I can gel with but know others get great results.

- Like your rig I use a load box and tubes amps, but I just go direct with effects and everything out the loadbox, which has an analog cab sim on it. This would be like you going direct from the TAE but leaving the IR's turned on. Only difference is analog vs digital cabsims basically. Its really difficult to do this well because everything is baked in. It forces you to go back and forth a million times to get it right and there's no post processing magic. The only option with this setup is to record a guitar DI track too, if you want post processing so you can reamp it. - The advantage is when it's dialed in you can plug direct into any RTA calibrated PA and you're golden. Like modellers are supposed to do, and from then on out any other gear you plug in is calbrated quickly etc..
 

Drew

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- There's no reason you shouldn't be able to use the same IR for clean and heavy if it's a good IR. People use the same cab and mic for them as standard practice in real life. If you find yourself struggling to mix them I'd say it's a bad IR. I still have yet to find IR's I can gel with but know others get great results.
This question is really peak home digital recording, if you think of it.

20 years ago, no one would even question the decision to use the same cab for your clean and distorted tones. You'd just mic up your cab, ang do. It was only as you get into fairly high budget studio scenarios where you might find yourself doing something like a Recto half stack for your distorted tones and a Fender Twin for your cleans, but even then it was really as an afterthought you were using a different cab.

Wouldn't have even been on anyone's radar, if you should swap out your cab between your clean and rhythm tracks, or rhythm and lead, until pretty recently, for guys like us. :lol:
 

Baelzebeard

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I prefer a flatter, wider frequency response for clean tones, so I usually dont use cab sims for truly clean guitar (and bass too) when in DAW/modeling.
 


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