something i dont ever see too many topics on, clean tones....

Discussion in 'Live Performance & Stage Sound' started by soldierkahn, Mar 6, 2019.

  1. soldierkahn

    soldierkahn BAD MAMMA-JAMMA Contributor

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    Now that Ive done a fairly decent job of figuring out how to get a decent Rock/Metal dirty tone, im now branching out into different types of playing to bring some variety into my writing. As such, Ive been focusing a lot on listening to clean tones to see if i could try and develop the right clean tone for me. So far, the only clean tones that always stick out to me come from Mark Tremonti, the guitarist for Creed and Alter Bridge, as being the best clean tones. Ive tried looking into his rigs, and from what Ive found, he almost always uses a Fender Twin Reverb, combined with his signature PRS guitars with his flavor pickups which are similiar in sound to Gibson 500T's IIRC. But no matter what I try with my modeling amp, Line 6 Spider Valve MKII, even using its simulated Twin Reverb amp, I cant even get close to how clear and bright his clean tone is.

    the only thing that ive noticed from alot of his live videos or guitar instructional vids is that alot of times, his clean tone is coming from him rolling his volume down significantly, because when he gets to a dirty part, he's simply rolling his volume up all the way. Ive bought his bridge pickup from PRS, and had it in a similarly spec'd guitar, and no matter what i did, I could never achieve this. I ended up taking the pickup out because it was entirely too bright for the kind of sound i was going for dirty wise. I also took the BKP Aftermath out of my RGA for the same reason, it was wayyyy too focused in highs and high mids.

    My current setup is the RGA 6 UCS, which is a mahogany body (im not including the top in the tone because it is far too thin to affect anything) with a bolt on maple neck. Ebony fingerboard, SS frets, so its a pretty bright guitar as it is. I run into an ISP decimator (i turn it off for clean tones though or itll choke my notes too badly), then a Morley Mark Tremonti Power Wah, then straight in to the Spider Valve. As I said before, i didnt like the Aftermath, so i popped in the Seymour Duncan JB I had lying around so that I can at least play it until i sell it off when my backup RG970XL gets here. Im running the RGA with 9.5 - 46 in Drop D, for reference. Does anyone have any suggestions for me because the furthest ive ever gotten with clean tones is to suck all the Mids out, max the bass and treble, and then add delay or reverb.
     
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  2. budda

    budda Guiterrorizer Contributor

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    Get a twin :lol:.

    But in all seriousness, does your amp have deeper editing? Have you tried every clean amp sim in there? I would start there. You may find that a crunch setting with the gain rolled back gets you closer as well.
     
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  3. DudeManBrother

    DudeManBrother Hey...how did everybody get in my room?

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    The Kemper is the only digital gear I’ve used that seems to get that volume knob sensitivity. Axe FX had great sounding cleans as well, but not responsive like the Kemper IME. Otherwise it seems to be exclusive to tube amps. You can dial in a high gain tone, but roll the volume down a little and pick softly for a completely dynamic clean. Dig in with your pick and get a mild crunch/breakup, and swell the volume up for searing high gain.

    If you are after a killer clean/pedal dirt type amp: I’d start saving up for a used Fender Blues Jr, Hot Rod Deluxe, Deville, Prosonic, Supersonic, or (ultimately) a Twin Reverb if I was in your position. The difference would be monsterous. If you want an affordable tube amp that has a clean and excellent high gain tone: look at Tremonti’s signature PRS MT15 head.
     
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  4. diagrammatiks

    diagrammatiks SS.org Regular

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    I like round cleans. The aftermaths with Strandberg wiring is actually one of my favorite cleans. Bridge coils in parallel neck inner coil in parallel
     
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  5. USMarine75

    USMarine75 The Pen is Mightier Contributor

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    Fender cleans are the way to go. The Fender clean on the 5153 is pretty good, but not in the league of Fender Twins. You can find one used and then grab an ABY switch and you're all set!

    Also look into a Ceriatone version they are awesome.

    Lastly, also check out Fender Bassman cleans. They are monstrous with ridiculous headroom. I have one with a fuzz set like a clean boost (vol up, dirt done, tone slightly past mid) and it is 10/10 Jimi cleans.

    Neck pickups will get you the rounded Jimi clean tone, middle gets you more of a funky/stratty tone with superstrats, and teh bridge will give you somewhat of a twangy bright Tele style clean.

    *** Most important is use your volume and tone knobs on your guitar!!! That is the absolute key to good clean or breakup tones!
     
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  6. diagrammatiks

    diagrammatiks SS.org Regular

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    Also you need a lot of volume to do that volume knob thing effectively because you need a lot of maximum potential voltage swing. Setting that up in a modeler takes a good modeler and isn’t very intuitive.
     
  7. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    For as good as digital stuff and modelling has gotten for high gain stuff, I think clean tones are a place where models still don't cut it. Good clean tones, to me, are about dynamics, subtlety, being in control of where breakup happens if you want that, interacting with the quirks and mechanics and feel of the amp, etc. Any modeller I've tried so far basically throws all that nuance out the window.

    Something I learned from playing a lot of bass (with a clean tone!) is that the less gain you have, the MORE your amp matters. Throwing gobs of gain on top of your sound can cover up so many of the little nuances involved, but take that away and you hear everything. I wouldn't intuitively trust a Line 6 anything to pull off my idea of a good clean tone.
     
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  8. budda

    budda Guiterrorizer Contributor

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    Calling bullshit on digital not getting good cleans.

    Know how to dial things in and you're going to find something at least reasonable. It takes time to learn what clean tones you actually like, which obviously adds a variable.

    I always thought neck pickups were meant for cleans, until I started playing in a band that is all bridge pickup all the time. Dial in the clean tone around the pickup you're using and welcome the possibilities.

    Anyway OP, get exploring the clean sims and messing with which pickup(s) you use and revisit the thread. I look forward to your findings.
     
  9. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    I think people's idea of what makes a good clean tone is going to vary. What I think of as a good clean isn't something I'd trust to a modeller (outside of maaaaaybe a Kemper). Definitely not a Spider though.
     
  10. GunpointMetal

    GunpointMetal SS.org Regular

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    You're probably not too far off with the scooped mid cleans, I'd avoid boosting the bass too much. Another thing to consider when you're searching for album guitar tones is how much post-EQ is going on. If you have a 7-10 EQ you can try cutting/boosting different parts or the upper mids/highs to see if that gets you were you want. Some light compression and then delay/verb as you need.
     
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  11. soldierkahn

    soldierkahn BAD MAMMA-JAMMA Contributor

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    thats a term that i hear a lot but dont get a lot of understanding as to what it does: compression. When I read what compression should do, it should allow me the ability to do a full strum without bass strings overwhelming the treble strings? Or am i misunderstanding its purpose?

    I did take a few pointers back to the drawing board last night while tinkering around with clean tones. I found a nice crunch amp, and when I dialed the gain almost non-existent, sucked out 80% of the mids out, ended with an EQ around: B-7.5, M-2.5, T-10. It works extremely well as long as you are hitting the strings really lightly. I dont think id be able to get this out of active pickups, as anytime i mess with volume control with actives, it never ends well. I am currently using the bridge pickup (seymour duncan JB) for cleans becase I think the Aftermath neck is just too bassy for what im going for.

    I also found that if im using my bridge pickup, scooping the mids out is almost a MUST, or breakup happens too easily. It does have a crapton of "spank" to it, so i still need to do some tweaking, but you guys have helped a lot. Now I jut have to deal with the problem of designing or modeling a clean tone at a nighttime volume, and then trying to get the same results with much more volume during the day. Every single time you touch the volume to bring it up or down, you are changing your tone. lord have mercy it gets frustrating lol.
     
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  12. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    The trick with a term like "compression" is that it can sort of mean a lot of things. Anything that reduces dynamic range is probably going to be called "compression", and it can be used for all kinds of things -> it can do things like soften a really quick initial spike in a sound, or pull the decay/ringing out from behind something, etc., or it can make your clean playing more consistent. Driving something into distortion is also going to compress your sound, since you're reducing that dynamic range. It's not going to re-balance your sound in an eq-sense (most of the time), it's more like a glorified automatic volume control.
     
  13. Thaeon

    Thaeon Professional Nerd

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    TedEH hit the nail on the head. Though you can isolate and compress specific frequencies. Some people use this method to de-ess vocal tracks.
     
  14. Gmork

    Gmork SS.org Regular

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    Im normally perfectly happy with any clean ch with some reverb and or delay but im actually really excited for the arrival of my custom 8 with the fishman tosin set! I have a feeling they will sound angelic for cleans!
     
  15. prlgmnr

    prlgmnr ...that kind of idea

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    One thing to think about is whether you want a clean tone that stays clean however hard you play (for which you'll want lots of master volume, very little preamp gain and something to provide compression if the power stage of your amp isn't doing enough in that respect) or a clean tone that relies on you playing very softly to keep it clean, but still gives you plenty of volume (this is more where you get with the 'cranked amp, guitar volume down' approach, you can also use an overdrive or a fuzz face as your compressor/cranked amp substitute with this method).
     
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  16. TonyFlyingSquirrel

    TonyFlyingSquirrel Cherokee Warrior

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    Roland JC 120 or equivalent amp model is quite an impressive clean also.
     
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  17. Screamingdaisy

    Screamingdaisy SS.org Regular

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    The secret to a fat, full guitar tone is the bassist.
     
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  18. USMarine75

    USMarine75 The Pen is Mightier Contributor

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    You're 90% of the way there... because you identified what a good clean tone means to you.

    It's entirely subjective - when you say good clean, some people may prefer Jimi, George Benson, John Mayer, Brad Paisley, modern djent, etc. So politely ignore any advice (including mine) that is purely personal preference.

    Some people like the high headroom and sterile cleans of a Diezel VH4. Some like the slightly hairy lower headroom Marshall cleans because dirt pedals push them over the edge beautifully. Many (like me) prefer Fenders. You generally have 50's and 60's Fender style cleans (with a million variatons; e.g Blackface vs Silverface, Twin Reverb, Princeton, Bassman, etc):

    • 1950s - Tweed style - with tighter bass, more midrange with peak upper mids, and high freq slightly rolled off.
    • 1960s - Twin style - crisp, present top end, a slightly “scooped” midrange, with a full bottom end.
    It sounds like you prefer that 60's Twin sound, especially because you like the mids scooped (and it's a similar rig to Tremonti).

    As aforementioned, I actually prefer the sound of cleans with the gain just at breakup and then the guitar vol knob rolled off. Then, use the tone knob to roll off the highs and get the perfect amount of glassiness in your tone.

    If you're going to use a compressor, try and find a parallel one (AKA with a mix knob). That way you can even out your tone, but still let through enough raw signal that it sounds natural and not sterile/digital.

    YMMV
     
  19. c7spheres

    c7spheres GuitArtist

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    Here's a link to his rig rundown. God he uses a lot of stuff. He says he uses the Fender 65 twin reissue for cleans. and it even shows his settings on that amp in the video. Can't get much closer than that! He also says that the guitars he uses are no different than you would get at the store. So you can basically clone his rig if you want exactly.
    There's no telling if he actually recorded any of those Creed songs with that amp or guitar though.
    Another thing he could be doing is using a dirty channel with the volume rolled back which will sound like what your describing. I notice a Recto in his rig too. A Recto dirty channel can do that if you set it up right.
    The fact he's using a Radial ToneBone switcher means he could also be using a combination of these amps at the same time for certain parts too.

    https://www.premierguitar.com/articles/Rig_Rundown_Creeds_Mark_Tremonti

    Looking further into it it seems a lot of people think it was a Recto. Here's an interview of Tremonti talking about recording ALterBridge with the Recto also.

    https://www.mixonline.com/recording/alter-bridge-365444

    For what it's worth I'm very familiar with Boogies and to me it sounds more like a Boogie than a Fender. Honestly, it sounds like a really poorly recorded or mixed, phased washed Recto is very likely, and based on how he explains how they recorded the Alterbridge album it sounds like it too. They just threw up a tone of mics and mixed them. Yeah, phase problems.
    I think what you're likely hearing is a dirty channel Recto or Heavy channel Recto with the solo boost off and the volume rolled way back to make that thin clean sound.
    He also uses a ts808 so that could be another factor.
    The settings on the Recto support this idea cause that gain setting is pretty low. The Fender is really low and doesn't look like it would be overdriving unless he's using teh 808 with it somehow.
    You could also just try to get in touch with him and ask him.

    Hope this helps. Just my thoughts on what may be possible. I could be totally wrong. I personally think that first Creed album is some of the worst sound quality I've heard for distortion and cleans, but that's the faault fo the recording/mix engineer. TO each his own though.
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2019
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  20. USMarine75

    USMarine75 The Pen is Mightier Contributor

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