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"Singing" lead guitar tone

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by WetBandit, Mar 8, 2020.

  1. WetBandit

    WetBandit Friend of Leo's

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    I've had this on my mind alot lately.

    And I'm having no issue getting the sound I need, this is just an observation and I'm curious if anyone has any contrary

    When creating a "basic" lead guitar sound especially with (lower output) single coil equipped guitars, I've found that I can't really achieve a "singing" type of sustaining lead tone through any of my tube amps without either cranking the volume, or having the volume lower and running some sort of pedal wich usually results in plenty of gain but also plenty of mush... and even if it's not so mushy it still doesn't have the same response or dynamics as when the power amp is working hard.

    I guess this is the age old struggle... but I've only experienced for myself lately when actually playing a modeler next to my tube stuff.


    Makes me wonder if I can get what I want from the tube stuff at the same low volumes... my experience says no, but maybe some of yours is different?
     
  2. medownsouth

    medownsouth Tele-Holic Gold Supporter

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    Same experience. At lower volumes I need something in the signal chain that pushes it

    Do you know what ohmage your pick ups are pushing?
     
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  3. Teleterr

    Teleterr Friend of Leo's

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    I use a tube preamp/ distortion. Sings like a canary.
     
  4. memorex

    memorex Friend of Leo's

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    I don't use an amp anymore. I use a GT-100. All of my best patches for rhythm and soloing use a peak limiter at the input to normalize the level and get a little chicken pickin' pluck on the attack. Then, after whatever pedals and the amp sim, I use a DynaComp style compressor to suck the tone out of the amp sim, giving it the impression of being loud. For the post compressor, I use a 2:1 ratio for the rhythm channel and a 3:1 setting for the lead channel. It sounds great running direct into the PA.

    But in the old days, I used just my 1982 Super Champ mic'd into the PA. I used only the high gain channel and my volume control to do everything, and that sounded just as good. But that little amp was cookin', and that's what made it sound so good. You can't get that sound out of a tube amp running soft.
     
  5. WetBandit

    WetBandit Friend of Leo's

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    They range from 5.7k - 6.4k pretty mild...

    They sound really great imo.
     
  6. WetBandit

    WetBandit Friend of Leo's

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    I've tried using a the preamp in the amp... (gain knob) and that just pours on the mud once it gets to the level of saturation needed at low volumes.

    I've tried a plethora of pedal... and nothing has quite done the trick.
     
  7. Teleterr

    Teleterr Friend of Leo's

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    I like both distortion and dynamics. I think this might be the base of your question. You want the singing sustain but not crazy compression. I made an op amp w a gain of 32 db. You can get that much gain w a Tube MP or other tube hybred preamp. You get the sustain at low volumes, but there's still headroom for a harder string attack. As an example I run my Princeton silver face at 3 to 6, over that it gets compressed and " mushy".
     
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  8. 3-Chord-Genius

    3-Chord-Genius Poster Extraordinaire

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    David Gilmour was asked about this once, and he said that the secret is to have the amp turned up extremely loud, almost to the point of feedback. And if I remember correctly, he did those Pink Floyd records with a Hiwatt half-stack...

    Yngwie Malmsteen used to have the best singing Stratocaster lead tone on the planet, with very low output pickups. But he played through a wall of very old Marshall stacks, with a DOD overdrive pedal. Even with the pedal, his tone was very clean and clear, not very distorted. I'm thinking his sustaine came from, again, extremely loud amplifiers.


    Obviously, that doesn't help those of us who live in apartments, or pretty much any arrangement where there are people who get completely annoyed by that kind of volume.
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2020
  9. WetBandit

    WetBandit Friend of Leo's

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    Yes exactly, I like the idea of having the sustaining sound without all the snarl of the distortion at lower volumes... seems like chasing a unicorn honestly.

    I love me some high gain filth also, but sometimes I want the attack sustain and clarity without all the dirt.
     
  10. WetBandit

    WetBandit Friend of Leo's

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    Fortunately I don't suffer the malady of volume constraints... however I don't always want to have to destroy my ears to get the sound I want. I've considered an iso cab, and then running to monitors in my room... but I feel that is also not gonna sound the same.

    And David Gilmour has it right for sure... but that's painful...
     
  11. 3-Chord-Genius

    3-Chord-Genius Poster Extraordinaire

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    I went through a phase about 20 years ago where I tried to get sustain like David Gilmour's. I could get his tone, sort of, but not that thing where the notes slice through like a hot knife through butter. I tried every pedal I could get my hands on. I sometimes played a Stratocaster with my band, and all I could get was that thin, weak lead tone everyone is familiar with.

    It wasn't until I bought an older Line 6 modeling device (Floor Pod), which emulated different amplifiers and cabinets, that I was able to get what I consider a great Stratocaster lead tone.
     
  12. fendrguitplayr

    fendrguitplayr Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Use your guitar's tone, volume and selector switch. Find where the sweet spots are for clean and crunchy drive tones, and then, when it’s solo time, roll her back up towards full to hear that amp roar smoothly into life, with dynamic, harmonically rich overdrive, increased high-end and singing sustain.
     
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  13. 1300 E Valencia

    1300 E Valencia Friend of Leo's

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    It's called a "compressor".
     
  14. speranza

    speranza TDPRI Member

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    I think this is what I've been after as well, not just in lead tones but for everything. I don't quite know how to translate what I'm hearing into words, but I've come to prefer a sort of subtle grinding/rasping distortion/overdrive sound, stopping just short of the crackling/fuzz sound that starts to emerge at higher gain settings. I think it's a sound that a lot of people would consider "clean," though it's not really.

    My tube amp has a built-in attenuator so it can get the power tubes working at low volumes, so that helps, though I've been able to dial in something similar with a compressor pedal in front of a Strymon Iridium. I've also found that a little bit of reverb kind of smooths out the sound, even if it's subtle and not quite perceptible as an "effect."

    Not sure this is any kind of answer....
     
  15. WetBandit

    WetBandit Friend of Leo's

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    No, I totally understand what you mean...

    I've been using a little reverb and delay to not really be an "effect" but merely to widen/thicken the sound.... it's kinda like my corn starch for guitar...

    I've tried that also, and then all the dynamics are squished to death... then again maybe I'm using the pedal wrong?

    But then also comes ear splitting volume...

    I've been using a Marshall Code 100h and getting pretty great results with single coils at low volumes myself... I just want to be able to get "it" with my tube amps lol...
     
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  16. speranza

    speranza TDPRI Member

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    For what it's worth, the compressor I use is a pretty subtle one (Diamond Comp Jr.) and I keep the compression knob around 10 or 11-o'clock — you can't really hear it squish so much as just lift some of the decay of the note. The pick attack sounds virtually the same with it on or off. And the output is a little higher with it on, which means it's acting as a slight boost too....
     
  17. slauson slim

    slauson slim Friend of Leo's Platinum Supporter

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    Stack two OD pedals.
     
  18. Frodebro

    Frodebro Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I have no problem getting those types of sounds out of my tube amps with Duncan 5-2 alnico (very low output) in a Strat-style guitar. They’re Boogies though, so there’s that...
     
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  19. Chiogtr4x

    Chiogtr4x Poster Extraordinaire

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    Just my opinion and I have not achieved this but to me singing tone comes from the marriage of a very strong Power Amp as in a lot of wattage coupled with speakers that can take that put out a sound that is distorted but not perceive that way
    It's not overdrive pedals or effects to me can't do better for singing tone than to listen to Dickey Betts at Fillmore East that singing tone
    You can say the same thing for Toy Caldwell in the mid-70s Marshall Tucker Band days sorry for the voice activation
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2020
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  20. 4pickupguy

    4pickupguy Doctor of Teleocity

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    Got to get some air moving to get the whole experience. Take thunder, you can listen to a lightening strike on your tiny laptop speakers and you still recognize it as thunder, but it’s not the true experience of a thunder clap, is it. The thing your laptop and bedroom amp have in common is they are not moving much air. Add to that the effect compression has on your amp at volume and now that little bedroom amp is starting to sound and feel pretty wimpy. Does Eric Johnson sound like Eric Johnson over laptop? Yes, but hearing him live is something completely different. I can get my lead tone to sing at bedroom levels, it just sounds like Yoko Ono singing.
     
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