New to DAW's: Don't like solid state guitar sound.

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by CaptainHighTop, Jul 13, 2011.

  1. CaptainHighTop macrumors newbie

    Jun 25, 2010

    I just got my first Apple computer, an iMac. I love it. I also got an M-Audio Fast Track Pro audio interface. After working through some technical hiccups, I got it worked out and I started playing around with the guitar sounds in GarageBand. So far, the guitar sounds feel like I'm playing through a solid state amp instead of a tube amp. Yuck. I need the warmth of a tube amp.

    I also own a Boss BR-1180 which is an 8 Track Digital Recorder. The 1180 has a tube feel to it. And I love the sounds. But I really needed to graduate to a DAW.

    Any advice out there from guitar players? Have you been able to use a DAW and get a tube feel with your your guitar?
  2. junior macrumors 6502a


    Mar 25, 2003
    You need a decent amp simulator.
    If you can cough up the dough, Softube's offering is probably the best in the world of DAWs.
    Might be an overkill for someone using Garageband but there you go.

    Other sims you can check out are Guitar Rig (can be a lot of fun with the effects) and amplitude.

    Or if you want to go all out, you can go for an outboard and get the Ax-Fx2 from fractal audio. It's great for recording and live gigs.
  3. HoldernessMedia macrumors regular


    Apr 17, 2011
    If the guitar sounds are really that awful, are you sure you're using the "Hi Z" input on your interface?
    You should also of course tweak the presets or trying make your own from scratch to see if you get better results.
    Lastly, if you already love the sound of the Boss, have you considered continuing to use it? You could try running your guitar through the Boss, treating it as an FX processor, and just recording direct from the Boss output into the M audio.
  4. zimv20 macrumors 601


    Jul 18, 2002
    or you could play through an actual amp, and record that.
  5. CaptainHighTop thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 25, 2010
    Thanks everyone. I really appreciate the feedback.

    I assume the M-Audio Fast Track Pro has a Hi-Z (high impedance) input. It's designed specifically for a guitar to be used with a computer.

    I checked out Softube, Guitar Rig and Amplitude. Pretty pricey on some of them. And at these prices, how to you "test them out" before you buy? I'd never spend $300+ on an Amp until I went to the store and cranked it up first to see how she sounds. And for me, it's not just about listening to a recording of the sounds. I need to see how the guitar responds with the sounds. I've heard two different people play the same rig and one person can make it sing while the other person can't pull the same sounds out of it. Does that make sense?

    The Boss BR-1180 I have has COSM guitar and bass sounds (Composite Object Sound Modeling) that are really sweet. Some of the best guitar sounds that I have heard. So I'll try connecting this through the M-Audio.

    I'm also wondering if GarageBand is just limiting with the sound options and if I'd be better off upgrading to Logic or another tool. I just do home recording. But I want my recordings to sound as professional as possible. I like to write and record and collaborate with others. I play everything from Hard Rock to Jazz to Pop, etc... So I like a lot of different guitar and bass sounds.

    I'm excited to finally be using a Mac to record, but definitely disappointed in the guitar sounds. Maybe I need to spend more time tweaking them. But I'm afraid they will still sound cold.

  6. HoldernessMedia macrumors regular


    Apr 17, 2011
    Garageband is a bit limiting with the sound options, but you should still be able to get good tones out of it. Logic is definitely more flexible with the new amps and pedalboard, but I would see if you could try it out first before upgrading.

    If you have a local Sam Ash or Guitar Center they usually have Logic and a lot other software installed on a Mac in the pro audio section. You could see if they would let you plug in a guitar and test Logic's amps, and/or any other software they might have installed.
  7. CaptainHighTop thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 25, 2010
    Funny, I just sent an email to a buddy of mine that I collaborate with that I was planning to stop by Sam Ash on the way home from work today.

    I'm hoping to be able to figure it out and get a decent tone out of GB. I had to switch my M-Audio from 24-Bit to 16-Bit to get it to even work. Could that affect the guitar sound? Sorry, I'm a real newb but I'm willing and able to learn. I grew up with a Marshall Stack and a pedal board. And like they say about Apple - it just works. Today, although I'm a more experienced musician, I'm a complete newbie to the world of DAW's. But that will change soon.

    Thanks again!
  8. M87, Jul 14, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2011

    M87 macrumors 65816

    Jul 18, 2009
    AmpliTube 3 has some nice models, the officially authorized Orange ones for example are pretty much dead on. I believe you can download the program for free and then pay only for the models you want. I believe you can test them out as well for a period of time. Check it out. I have Logic and I'm not crazy about the built in modeling.
  9. firestarter macrumors 603


    Dec 31, 2002
    Green and pleasant land
    I have Logic and Guitar rig.

    I don't much like the guitar sounds on either - except Guitar Rig is a bit better than Logic.

    I don't record much, mostly just mess around (I usually practice at the computer, so that I can read tabs & loop the track I'm learning in CAPO).

    The best sounds I've heard into the computer have been using a Tech-21 'Blonde' Sansamp pedal into my soundcard, then running through Audio-ease 'Cabinet' emulator.

    The Sansamp pedal is an all-analog simulation of Fender amps, and I find it has a lot more subtlety than digital simulation. The 'Cabinet' software is awesome - it's an impulse response of a real guitar cabinet/mic/room combinations - and it the sound is really realistic.
  10. CaptainHighTop thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 25, 2010
    For those who do not like the sounds in GB, do you find that they lack response and feel like solid state. Or do you find them to have warmth and sustain like a tube amp but you just don't care for the flavor?

    I'm asking because I want to make sure I have my settings correct, etc... and that the sounds I'm hearing are the same sounds everyone else who has GB hears. Hope that makes sense.

    I am definitely going to check out AmpliTube this weekend. I like they way they have it set up where you can buy a la carte and I love the fact that I can test them out before I buy. Very nice.
  11. cdustybk macrumors member

    Jul 15, 2011
    I personally use GarageBand, and (with a crapload of work) I can get a tube sound out of it. Like you, I love the tube sound, and I am one of those that wrap a tube amp in stuff to get it to the right temperature for the perfect overdrive and sustain. I like GarageBand because it is about $7,500 cheaper than the amp that I'd like to have in my dreams. Of course, GarageBand will never be able to perfectly replicate that sound, but you can get close. I am at work now, so I can't give you numbers or the exact settings I use, but playing around with the sounds usually can get you close to what you want.

    *As a guitar player, I'm sure you know that pretty much any two guitars will sound different on the same settings, so FYI, I usually record with a Fender Strat on the top two pickups.

    I usually take a preset Master Track sound from GarageBand and tweak the reverb to get the depth and overall tonage I want from all my tracks. Then I usually take a preset sound (electric guitar track in this example) and I usually add a compressor to the front of the effects chain and turn it up a little higher than I would a pedal like that in real life. The reverb usually needs adjusting too. Like I said, I can't remember my exact setup, but I like using the Vintage Overdrive pedal and turn the tone higher, the output up, and the overdrive down. This gives a light growl to your strummed chords, and if tweaked right, it sounds a lot like a tube amp I used to play on. There was also a setup I used one time that I used a compressor, treble overdrive pedal (or full range on the same pedal), vintage overdrive, and a little delay. It sounds like a lot of distortion, but I turned them down and it was a good classic rock sound (think Skynyrd but a touch more overdrive). Also, you can get rid of the distortion completely on that setting and push to the top pickup to get a Stevie Ray sounding clean. I don't know if I was any help, but when I get home I may post my settings if you'd like to try them out...
  12. sehnsucht77 macrumors 6502

    Dec 26, 2008
    Here is what I do:

    Tube amp --> Palmer Amp speaker simulator (PDI-03) --> Apogee Ensemble --> Mac

    This setup allows me to use my tube amps (Bogner Shiva, Diezel VH4, Mesa Boogie Tremoverb/DC-5/Lonestar) for DI recording. I also mic a cab with a Royer 121 stored inside an isolation cabinet. For my Macbook Pro setup, I just use my Axe-FX Ultra straight into an Apogee Duet 1 and this works well for doubling parts when lugging an amp is not possible.
  13. CaptainHighTop thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 25, 2010
    cdustybk - great information. I appreciate it. I'll give your suggestions a try.

    I've been playing around with AmpliTube a little and so far I'm pretty impressed with just the free option they provide. I like their custom shop and the way you can buy just the items you want (instead of buying the entire package).
  14. 65535 macrumors member

    Jul 20, 2011
  15. Papanate macrumors regular

    Jul 21, 2011
    North Carolina
    There are not enough controls in GB to get it to sound more 'Tube' like IMO.

    That said solid state is quite a subjective sound. I would think that the M-Audio device is what is changing the sound to you ears. You might want to go to a music store and try out a Apogee Duet and see how that sounds to you.

    Or barring that look at the impedance matchup difference between the Roland and the M-Audio...and then match the two either with a direct box or something like the PRS interface
  16. polaris20 macrumors 68020

    Jul 13, 2008
    Get yourself a Line 6 Toneport, or a POD HD series. The latter sounds better than pretty much anything up to an AxeFX, which is really the best modeler out there.
  17. Papanate macrumors regular

    Jul 21, 2011
    North Carolina

    I think Digidesign's Eleven guitar amp emulator is king of the hill right now.

    Then again...'best' is so subjective as to mean absolutely nothing.
  18. mrelwood macrumors regular

    Apr 8, 2010
    There are buttons near the inputs that let you select line or instrument input. Make sure you use the instrument position. Or try to use a separate DI box to the mic input.

    I think in GarageBand expecially the AC30 sounds really good, one of the best AC30 sounds and responsiveness for me. Amplitube and Guitar Rig are overly complicated but still fail to deliver healthy basic sounds for me. I like Waves GTR and Peavey Revalver a lot more. Don't remember how the other amps in GarageBand were though.

    Softube does have a demo, but it requires an iLok dongle. iLok is also used by Waves and Pro Tools among others.

    24 bit vs 16 bit will not make a notable difference if your gain staging is properly set.

    Why don't you record a few riffs and let us hear how it sounds? Might help us recognize the problem.
  19. Mak47 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 27, 2011
    Harrisburg, PA
    If you want to use sampled sounds, you will always have to settle for less than you're really looking for.

    There is no substitute for mic'ing the amp just right and running through a tube preamp.

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