The Downside of Better Modeling Gear....OCD

Discussion in 'Digital & Modeling Gear' started by DunedinDragon, Apr 12, 2016.

  1. DunedinDragon

    DunedinDragon Member

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    I'm wondering if this is just something I'm going through or if it's a common occurance for those of us that have jumped full-scale into higher end modeling gear.

    I've been using modeling for a while now but within the last 3 years or so there's been some fairly significant improvements in the technology. So late last year I left behind my modeling amps and jumped into more current modeling gear in a FRFR configuration. Clearly it's a VAST improvement over what I was doing before, but as time has gone by I've found myself more and more obsessed with refining my presets. Some of this has to do with gaining a better understanding of the features and capabilities, but it's also led me into almost compulsive obsession over getting the exact, perfect tone for each given song.

    Prior to this I would dial in the basic elements I needed and get "close enough". But now I almost feel like I'm approaching each song in the same manner as we used to do it years ago in the recording studio, finding the right amp, cabinet, microphone/placement/distance, and configuring the signal chain with just the right type of overdrive, reverb, compression, delay, not to mention tweaks to the cabinet properties, and maybe even bias and sag. I'm not really talking about any wild effects either. Just mostly standard stuff.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled and my band members are equally thrilled, with the results. But I didn't expect to spend this much time every week tweaking settings and preparing for gigs. On the plus side I spend a lot more time playing the guitar each week as I dial things in.

    I realize some of this may not apply to some folks that tend to play in a single genre whereas I cover a lot of different genres. I just feel an obligation to get an appropriate and fitting sound for the various songs so they each have their own sound and feel.

    Is anyone else this obsessed or is it just me???
     
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  2. m~Dan

    m~Dan Member

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    Hm, I play many different styles in my coverband too. I use 1 Rig :D
     
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  3. mattball826

    mattball826 Member

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    The more stuff added, the more time you spend down the rabbit hole. Guess how much closer you get? not much more than before usually.

    Then if you try to apply that live, it usually doesn't work and you tweak again.

    No sense being obsessed. Used to be you had an idea, you recorded it, mixed it and tweaked most eq etc that way. Or if live, you mic'd your rig, got a decent stage sound, sound guy did the rest.

    Today guitar players think they are engineers because they have high tech gear. lol. You can even buy presets and still have to tweak away because many will never translate to your rig. You can learn a little from them though.

    You can get as simple as a guitar and amp modeler with a basic clean crunch lead boost thing, or you can get as crazy as guys like Vernon Reid.

    Typically in a live environment it doesn't mesh when you have 10 amp models in your sets that are so varied. It's a soundman's nightmare, and most of them will give up on trying to fix your sound in the mix as you tap the new preset. If you are the type that can get every model you use to sound perfect in your mix, you are 1 in 100 modeler users that can. Most cannot and the band mix goes from one thing to another when the guitar player changes models. This can be worse in a 2 guitar player band.

    Many pros that use multiple rig types have separate channels and separate eq's at the board for those amps and cab variants. Those are all pre defined in long winded sound checks. What kills it for sound guys is when guitarists use multiple amp models that effect the channel strip and FOH mix itself.

    OTOH, if you are your own sound guy, you should have ample time to set all your presets with your band at stage levels so they all blend well. You just have to have really patient band members. Record your gigs and see how it works out. Most players in the end decide to stick with just a few presets and not get as crazy changing amp models. Sometimes because you can doesn't mean you should.
     
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  4. JimHalinda

    JimHalinda Member

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    ^ this. I just use the clean/crunch/boost method - 3 sounds (with lots of different effects combos though). Even then, our bassist has 2 basses (one passive, one active) and alternates between pick and fingers. Our keyboard player has many patches at different volume levels and is always adjusting on the fly - so my consistency in volume and tone still doesn't guarantee that I'll be heard in every song. But if I had many more different patches it would only be worse.

    Of course, I still spend lots of time refining those three sounds, using 5 or 6 'benchmark' songs that we do to ensure they work well for most / all of the songs!
     
  5. aleclee

    aleclee TGP Tech Wrangler Staff Member

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    People who go down the rabbit hole choose to do so.

    Love the one you're with.
     
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  6. burningyen

    burningyen Vendor

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    Yes, I get lost in the rabbit hole sometimes. It helps to remember that most of my settings are useless until I hear them at full band volume.
     
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  7. DunedinDragon

    DunedinDragon Member

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    I don't really have a lot of problems like those that have been cited above. I long ago learned the value of normalizing my volumes on all my presets using a sound meter. Our stage volume stays pretty consistent regardless of where we play since everything goes through the PA. And I test my patches at that regular volume setting so I don't typically have any surprises when we play live. Plus we have a dedicated sound man that's very familiar with our setup and since all our individual volumes are normalized at a consistent stage level gain staging is pretty easy for us.

    I guess I'm the oddball then. Maybe it's clinical OCD?!? When I first started using modeling in live performances about 6 years ago I pretty much kept it down to maybe 5 or 10 patches. I also tend to switch guitars depending on the type of song, so that adds into it a bit. But in the past couple of years I've gotten obsessed with the idea of trying to achieve studio quality performances in live environments. That's what tends to drive me down the rabbit hole I suppose. I really don't mind the extra work since I'm retired and it gives me more time with the guitar. But I guess not everyone has the luxury.
     
  8. barhrecords

    barhrecords Member

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    It varies from person to person whether or not having lots of options is a distraction or not.

    I find joy in the simplicity of a vintage amp and guitar. Actually plugged in. No wireless. lol

    But I'm also a long time Fractal user too. I try to incorporate new things into my working presets. Like replacing certain elements of efx etc.

    The core of my tones stay pretty consistent though. I enjoy playing them and can concentrate on the music vs. the preset programming.
     
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  9. chrisjw5

    chrisjw5 Member

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    Sometimes one does not choose the rabbit hole. The rabbit hole chooses them.

    YMMV.
     
  10. Elric

    Elric Supporting Member

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    Hanging out on gear forums is what gets me on tone chasing and fuels obsessing over minutiae. When I take a break from surfing, I practice more and obsess less, I have been forcing myself to take regular gear forum hiatuses b/c of this. Has nothing to do with the quality of the gear. I was all bent out of shape over it when I had a tube amp and pedals, in fact it was worse.
     
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  11. dank

    dank Consummate Beatles Fan Silver Supporting Member

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    Ask yourself this question: what are the patches for?

    Are you a bedroom player? Tweak 'til your heart is content.

    Are you cutting an album? Tweak to the song.

    Are you playing live? Keep it simple.

    For me, I use the modeler for my live playing. I have said this in other threads- the dancers don't know if I'm playing a Fender Twin, a helix, an Axe FX, a Marshall stack or a little Fender Champ, and they don't care. They just want music that makes them want to groove and shake about. That means a solid kick drum and bass foundation. Everything else is gravy.

    Further, all effects should be at a minimum. That great reverb tone you added to your patch in the rehearsal room will sound like crap live and will suck your tone away. Same thing with too much distortion.

    I like the old adage KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid.
     
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  12. dank

    dank Consummate Beatles Fan Silver Supporting Member

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    And another thing- anyone who is tweaking a patch to death is not playing out live. Why do I say that? because, in order to properly tweak the patch, you would have to continually tweak during rehearsal, and NO bandmate will tolerate that.
     
  13. stratotone

    stratotone Silver Supporting Member

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    Keep it simple live if for no other reason your sound guy will kill you if you use tons of patches. The amount of effects and mids can make your tones stick out or get lost as much as volume changes can, it's pretty hard to get your patches to all sit the same. I run clean, pushed, light drive, mid gain and high gain patches and use a volume pedal for lead volume boosts. I do have a Boston preset I use for their tunes, but most are those first five and they are all dialed in pretty well.
     
  14. rsm

    rsm Member

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    To understand fully the rabbit hole, one must not always be the rabbit, one must become one with the rabbit hole; be the rabbit hole. o_O
     
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  15. DunedinDragon

    DunedinDragon Member

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    Well it seem this isn't really true. I'm ONLY playing out live and my bandmates never have to wait for me to tweak my patches during rehearsal. They're pretty much spot on before I even get to rehearsal. After six years with the same people I pretty much have it down to a science where my tones and volumes need to be.
     
  16. DunedinDragon

    DunedinDragon Member

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    It's really not that hard. I normalize all my patches using a sound meter to an average of 74db SPL and 80 db peak SPL. That's the constant we use for stage volume. When the sound guy gain stages me on one patch, that level will test consistent across any of the patches. Lead bumps are programmed into the patch and never exceed more than 1 or 2 db so they actually relieve the burden of the sound man to bump my solos.
     
  17. ltkojak

    ltkojak Member

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    As a musician, your duty is to play the right notes at the right time.

    If you do that, you'll be surprised how many persons will approach you complimenting your SOUND, even though that evening you had to play with a rental amp you've never even seen before, let alone play it!

    That's reality for ya! ;)
     
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  18. SteveO

    SteveO Member

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    And this is exactly where that whole "Tone is in the fingers" thing comes from.
     
  19. dank

    dank Consummate Beatles Fan Silver Supporting Member

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    What sound meter are you using? I'd like to get one.
     
  20. DunedinDragon

    DunedinDragon Member

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    Pretty much any of them will work reasonably. I use an app on my phone because it gives me the ability to measure an average and max (peak) which are the two elements you're most interested in. It also graphs out the measurements over time which can be handy.

    I measure from about 3 feet away to incorporate ambient levels and I measure with my master volume at about 50% which allows plenty of headroom if there needs to be some slight adjustment because of stage size or outdoor versus indoor venues. I've never had to increase beyond 55% even in large stages and halls. In any case you should measure the same way every time so that it's consistent.
     

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