General Guidance on Plugins/Settings for Beginner Recordings?

Hey All! :wave:

Any tips on plugins or settings when I’m recording basic videos for my learning log? I understand that various effects are used more in various types of music. (I’ve viewed/read Justin and others’ material on effects and amps.)

But, what about when you’re recording a basic skill/beginner song? I am using Studio One for my DAW and it has a few options included. I would assume a little bit of reverb might be good, as everyone seems to like reverb? Some sort of clean amp sim?

What I was thinking, given the basic tools I have… the Presonus Room Reverb, and it has presets for all sorts of sounds, from cave to bathroom stall to cathedral… so far I have used it on “recital hall”. Then I also used the Klanghelm SDRR2 set to… I think the setting was called “Cure for Amp Sims”.

Ive veen using my Strat with the neck and middle pickups active, if that matters. I prefer that over a single pickup sound, so far.

TL;DR: What basic plugins/settings are good for making a clean, clear sound for recording skills?

Thanks!

Todd

First things first, you’ve got a strat! Good on you. So get to know and fall in love the neck pickup. That’s where the greats have done their damage. Next, a Fender clean amp sim (something that approximates a '65 Twin Reverb is the sweet spot), some delay and maybe some spring reverb. That’s it! This is universal and can be approximated with just about any amp (and possibly with some FX and/or some pedals), or DAW with a selection of amp sims. Have at it.

EDIT: Don’t make me post in links that no one will ever follow. LOL

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Thank you, Clint! I do love the Strat, though maybe in part becsuse it’s mine? :slight_smile: I got it, as a kid, as a gift from my Dad, and I think I chose it mostly based on looks, and that the Strat was just what my 13-year-old mind saw when I thought of ‘electric guitar’.

I’ll look into getting some more plugins for my DAW for sure. I really only have 1 or 2 amp sims included with my basic version of Studio One (Ampire and Klanghelm SDRR2… which is a pre-amp?). I’ve been considering signing up for their subscription service (Presonus Sphere?) to try out a bunch of other stuff, instead of purchasing things piecemeal. I’m working and putting myself through Nursing school right now, so, money is tight.

Your time is probably pretty tight as well. Experiment with what you have already. Work on skills now and tone later when you have more time and money.

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That is a very good point! :rofl: I suppose I just want to make sure the sound is alright, nothing particularly special. I’ll just stick to what I have and mess with it and see what sounds good.

What equipment do you already have at your disposal? From your post I know guitar & DAW, I assume you already have an audio interface? What about an amp, do you have one of those?

If you’ve already got the AI, I’d suggest you try out the free version of Amplitube. They have some Fender style cleans in there. Look at the Buckley preset and probably dial back the reverb (it’s a lot) and play around with bass/mid/treble knobs - that would take you pretty far for free.

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Hey!

Thanks! I will check out Amplitube!

I’m using a PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 for my interface. So, it’s Strat to AudioBox to PC running Studio One Artist 6. I only have the plugins currently that came with Studio One.

I do have an amp, a late 90’s Fender Frontman 25R with the built in spring reverb. Should I try running it into my interface? And, how much reverb should I set it to? In his general amp settings lesson, Justin recommended 2-4 as a good starting point for reverb.

Frankly, when I use the amp, I usually crank the reverb all the way up, but… I can’t really tell the difference. I don’t know if that has to do with my ear, or something wrong with the amp, or the fact that I literally run the Volume at 0 because it gets pretty loud in an apartment pretty quickly.

You can definitely hear the spring reverb if you bump into the amp. Maybe I should just kick it repeatedly while playing for extra effect? :thinking: :rofl:

Thanks for your help!

-Todd

Hey Todd, with that kind of amp you’re better off going the software route right now I reckon. Modern amps have mic & speaker cabinet modeling with the line outs, I doubt that one has that give the age. So you’d need to run it loud and mic it!

How much reverb is a taste thing. Just muck around and see what you like. Personally I prefer it when it’s not too noticeable but adds to the sustain.

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Downloaded AmpliTube, using the Buckley preset you mentioned, and enjoying it so far! Thanks for the recommendation! You were right that it has a lot of reverb on that preset. The reverb on the amp sim itself was 0, but it’s in a “large studio” so I changed that to “small studio”. But, as you said, I’m just practicing and mucking around, so, it’s pretty great for my purposes! :slight_smile:

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Great to hear! Enjoy :smiley:

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I’m late to the conversation, Todd, and sounds like you are on the right path now.

To add, I searched and discovered that the Klanghelm is a saturation effect. I like to use such a plug-in on electric guitar tracks, after my amp sim and typically before reverb. It does help fatten up the sound by adding harmonics. I typically dial it up until I hear the sound starting to distort and then back it off a little.

Most importantly have fun, experiment, and over time you’ll discover sounds you like.

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Hi David!

Thank you for that. I was sort of using the Klanghelm in place of an amp sim, despite knowing it wasn’t really an amp sim. (That took some Googling!) Because, well, I only had one amp sim available… and I didn’t really like it. Now, I’ve got a few options with the free version of AmpliTube, so, that fixes that problem!

I do like the effect of the Klanghelm. So, maybe now that I have a few more options for amp sims, I’ll try mixing it in there with some and see what I like.

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The classic controls to use in a DAW are EQ and Compression.

These are so much a part of the recording/mixing process that the physical mixer consoles you find in recording studio have EQ and Compression built into their channels.

Some DAWs have this too. Others, you will need to use plugins.

The use of these tools is a bit of an art, and it’s not possible to give a full tutorial here.

Roughly, EQ is used to suppress some frequencies and boost others. It’s used in an attempt to give a balanced sound and to prevent harsh frequencies as well as to separate instruments from each other.

For instance, a bass guitar and a kick drum may share some of the same bass frequencies and this can make the kick drum sound a bit indistinct. Using the EQ you can reduce the levels of these frequencies on the bass guitar so the kick drum is more distinct.

Compression works by reducing the differences in level for an instrument (aka the “dynamic range”). If, for instance, you play some notes louder than others then compression will even them out.

Of course, if you want to have such dynamics in your playing, over-use of compression will destroy it. So compression has to be used carefully, unless it’s deliberately being used as an effect.

Compression on guitars is very common for funk rhythm.

Cheers,

Keith

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Thank you, Keith! You’ve given me some things to think about!

For now, I just wanted to make sure I had my recording rig working on a basic level so I can post progress videos and that sort of thing. But, I’m sure in the future I’ll start messing with it all a lot more, and researching it all (that’s just my nature, reading up on things). For now, I’m just going to focus on the lessons.

Best Wishes,
Todd

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Then I would say don’t worry about it too much.

Learn how to use your gear first. The rest will develop over time, according to how serious you want to be about it.

Cheers,

Keith

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I will add (and this is a bit of a rant, so please forgive me) that there is a tendency for people to imagine that software is some sort of ‘magic’ which will solve all their problems.

Whether that software is an audio plugin or a piece of e-commerce software.

And that perception is encouraged by the vendors of these software products.

It’s totally untrue!

Software is just a tool like a chisel or lathe is for a woodworker. If you don’t have any idea what you are doing or what you want to achieve, the best tools in the world will amount to nothing.

We are, in this day and age, privileged to have world class tools at our fingertips for very little expenditure.

But don’t imagine that these tools will automatically endow you with the skills required to produce polished results.

They will not.

At the same time, this is supposed to be a hobby for most of us: a bit of fun between the challenges of modern life. Take it where you want, but don’t take it too seriously and don’t judge yourself.too harshly. If the experience is no longer fun then you probably need to dial it back.

This isn’t aimed at you in particular, but just in general.

Rant over!

Cheers,

Keith

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Hi Keith,

I think that is true in just about every area of life. Some people just want to collect something. I’m a cyclist and part time mechanic at a bike shop. In cycling, we call it ‘N+1’ where the number of bikes you should own is N+1, N being the number you currently own. I, for example, own around seven bikes, and have contemplated getting more!

In fact, this is a very close analogy: Some competitive cyclists want to buy very expensive bikes (guitars) and lots of fancy components and accessories (amps, stomps, etc), but none of it will make you a faster cyclist (better guitar player). Becomming faster on the bike (better at playing) requires practice, training, effort… which you can’t pay for.

As far as my own post, I was not asking for masterful tone. I wanted help with the basics for recording decent audio for making progress videos here. I had an AI and a DAW, but, from what I’ve heard, it doesn’t sound great without an amp sim. The only amp sim that came with my AI was very dirty sounding. So, I wanted to know what I needed so that I could post progress videos here and have my audio sound clear and listenable. That’s all.

Now that, thanks to a recommendation here, I have a free amp sim with a clean, Fender-y tone… I think I’ll be set for my needs for now. Will I fall into the rabbit hole of purchasing all sorts of crap later? Who knows! :rofl:

So, I may not be the target of your rant. But, I understand, we all need to rant sometimes.

Best Wishes,
Todd

PS: To add to my above-stated analogy: Just like buying a nicer bicycle might make you more likely to ride the bike, and therefore actually be a benefit for your health, well-being, and cycling ability, you could say the same thing about guitar; having the equipment of your dreams may make you more likely to enjoy practice and continue with it. So… I guess we all need to evaluate for ourselves how much value things add to our lives. For example, I’ve got everything I need, right now, to keep practicing all sorts of lessons on my guitar. I don’t really need to get anything else at this point. Am I still searching Reverb, Sweetwater, Amazon, etc. for guitar gear all the time? YES. But, I should really stop.

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Actually, I don’t mind GAS too much as it’s part of the joy of the hobby. If having (say) a nicer bike increases your enjoyment of riding then I’m not going to be the one that says you shouldn’t buy it.

The same applies to guitar gear, although the assumption that “more expensive = better” often needs to be challenged.

I’m more railing against people who try to use a tool, particularly software, to try to fix a more fundamental problem which is their lack of knowledge, skill, or commitment to understand how to use the tools they already have.

It’s worth saying my rant came at the end of a long bar session with some co-workers at the end of a long and frustrating week where we were swapping war stories about projects and clients.

A particularly frustrating aspect of my job is seeing clients spending huge amounts of money replacing system A with system B because system B is somehow “better”. Meanwhile a different client with identical requirements is replacing system B with system A for the same reason…

I was probably too drunk to have posted that rant because, on (more sober) reflection, I don’t think that it really applies to guitar gear and software so much, so my rant is somewhat misplaced.

Cheers,

Keith

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Hey Keith!

Truly, it sounds like we are in complete agreement. No worries, man! If you’re ever near here, let’s get a beer!

I didn’t want to come off as too critical in my last message either. That’s why I had added that little post-script. If collecting guitar gear makes someone happy, like collecting bikes makes me happy, more power to them! (I do have a background in Philosophy, so, part of me wants to delve into this so much more deeply… but, that’s probably a bad idea for everyone involved. :laughing:)

Heck, I participate in a discipline of cycling called cyclocross, which can be very technical and gear heavy. And, some people really take joy in the collecting of the gear (e.g., getting the right bikes, the right wheels, right tires, right shoes, right kit to wear…). There is actually a lot of talk in cyclocross about how some amateurs take it too far… does an amateur, like myself, really need to have a whole second bike and second set of wheels waiting for them in the pit in case they break something or decide they need a different tire? Probably not… but it sure is fun! So… interestingly, I’m seeing a ton of parallels between the hobbies of cycling and guitar. Basically, these are just traits of human beings. We like obsessing over the things that interest us, and we like collecting things pertaining to those things that interest us.

Peace,
Todd

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