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Thread: Guitar volume control while recording direct

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    Guitar volume control while recording direct

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    not quite sure which forum to ask this in, if you know of a more appropriate one, please let us know

    I do the majority of my recording these days via DI to an audio interface. When I'm playing through an amp, I like to turn the amp volume up to a healthy point almost always north of 5 and then I bring it down via the guitar control volume. I very rarely ever play the guitar volume control full up any more, quite the change from when I first started all those years ago (early '70s).

    However, when recording direct, I'm not pushing tubes and circuits in an amp. Often I am going unaffected i.e. no amp modeling. When I've tried to record direct and use amp modeling, I'm not getting the feel of an amp in the room and so the volume control on the guitar doesn't seem to be effective as when playing 'live' in a room.

    Which begs the question: should the guitar volume be full up when recording direct, as to give maximum signal? I'm basing that on the assumption it is possible to attenuate a recorded signal but you can't augment or add what isn't there. The amp models I use are native to GarageBand, the DAW I am currently using.

    That begs another question re amp modeling software: are there any that have that response (feel) to a signal from a guitar like a 'real' amp in the room?

    Before somebody says "Why not mic the amp if that's what you want?" that option isn't viable for a number of reasons, hence the direct recording. I'm mainly asking this because I'm still trying to get what I consider a decent sound. Which brings to my last question(s) of this post.

    If my guitar frequently sounds 'nasally' or 'slightly muffled' on playback, what area of the frequency spectrum should I be looking at for EQ adjustment? It is difficult to tell what the sound is like when I'm playing because I hear the strings of the guitar through the headphones in addition to the monitored sound. I think this is skewing what I perceive as going to 'tape'. Ought I try to record what sounds unpleasantly sharp while monitored in the hopes it sounds less harsh upon playback?

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    Yes, for direct you want the volume control all the way up.

    I can't imagine garageband having a good amp sim. Maybe it does. There are a lot of amp sims out there. Some will replicate the feel for cranking tubes, but if going DI, you can't adjust the volume knob. I think it would be a matter of hunting around and trying demo versions. Not sure how that would work with garageband. You would probably need to switch to a real DAW program. (I'm not a fan of garageband, it's a toy and I guess I'm a snob - lol.)

    I use the UAD amp sims and really enjoy them. However, I don't try to adjust gain with my guitar volume knob. I just leave it full up.

    Another idea would be to find an amp sim floor pedal. Maybe you'll get a better response when using the volume knob with one of those.

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    The amp sims are supposed to in theory respond like an amp to your volume controls, the trick is getting the input to the amp sims set up correctly thru the interface. usually the amp sims have instructions on this. Or you could use your amp with a load box. Torpedo makes several models, from higher end stuff to the affordable Torpedo Captor load box D.I.
    https://www.sweetwater.com/store/det...tenuator-8-ohm

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    GarageBand's Amp Designer is the same one that's in Logic Pro X, more or less. I think it sounds just fine, though I go back and forth on using it vs. micing my amp. I do very little electric these days, so it doesn't make a big difference for the tracks I record.

    I used a POD HD for several years (playing live and even a little recording) with only IEMs or the occasional headphones and that had as close to a real amp feel as anything - I had fun playing with that rig. I'll say it's very hard [for me] to get that feel in the DAW, but it could be more because there's a part of my brain that's not engaged with my playing as much, since I tend to be watching the screen or thinking about what's going on there, at least. IOW, it might be psychological, but it's a little of the reason I go to the amp more. Then I just turn my back on the computer.

    So, you might consider something like a POD or Helix or the more expensive rack units - I think they are really good alternatives when you just cannot use an amp. It's just nice to be able to turn knobs to get a sound and know that's the sound that's going in. Plus you can always (and likely should) take a dry feed via a DI so you can tinker with that if needed, using your SIMs, or even reamp through the external device.

    Not sure how you are monitoring, but if the track sounds different from what you think you're recording, something's wrong with your monitoring setup during tracking or mixing or both, I'd think.
    "... I know in the mornin' that it's gonna be good
    when I stick out my elbows and they don't bump wood." - Bill Kirchen

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    If you are going DI>balanced input it might be a little unresponsive to knobs on the guitar. Different DI's can remedy the issue, for instance powered versus unpowered. If your interface has an Neutrik combo input you could try plugging direct into interface. A inexpensive buffer pedal would also go along way in this instance , loading the DI a bit more, allowing you to roll of guitar pots. Something like this
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    thanks for the replies. I agree that the monitoring may be an area to work on. Interesting to know that about the POD. I have one squirreled away somewhere. I was using it back in my analog days with a Tascam 424 and didn't experiment as much with it as I would have liked. Cassettes costing money and taking up space and if you get lazy and don't label them, well, you might imagine it got old and awkward pretty quickly.

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