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travisrcampbell

Cutting through the mix with a Helix LT

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I'm going to continue playing through the PA at this weeks rehearsal with the only change being I've re-arranged the speaker placement and I've added skyfirez1's Optical Trem block idea. The Trem block adds a "Zing" in a way that highs are being accented, but, without any actual EQing. It's little hard to explain. It, very much, reminds me of adding the EP3 to my old pedalboard. It just does "something". I'm confident that the Trem block is going to have my guitar cutting a lot better.

All effects color or shape (attenuate/boost) the sound at certain frequencies, that is why you are getting some "zing" with the trem. 

 

Another thing to keep in mind if you find yourself getting buried in the mix: don't run stereo, run mono. If you are adding a stereo trem at the end of your chain, the "zing" you are hearing may sound great by yourself, but will get you further buried in your band setting. Running a mono signal chain out to your PA will help you punch through. Stereo is great if you can get your entire audience to sit in a particular spot in front of your PA, but most of them are not sitting in the sweet spot, and are missing a lot of your sound.  

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Great thread. Lots of good discussion.

 

I agree that a dedicated speaker, either FRFR or powered guitar speaker, is going to make a difference for an "amp in the room" sound and feel. This probably would have saved the OP.

 

DunedinDragon makes a good point about sharing a monitor with vocals and/or other instruments.

 

I've been running into a similar situation as the OP with the new band in a rehearsal environment and feeling a little buried. It's a five piece with keys and second guitar. The keys are going through the PA. The second guitar has a traditional amp setup. I've tried a few different things to compensate. What I haven't tried is a dedicated FRFR for my guitar (I don't have an extra speaker at the moment). After three rehearsals, I'm still working on it. The second guitar player is very receptive and we've made some adjustments to his rig. In the beginning, he was a little out of control. And he needs to improve his dynamics. Dynamics are huge. It's getting better.

 

Speaking of dynamics, and this hasn't been mentioned, if you are playing dynamically, and your bandmates are not, you are going to get buried (at times), no matter what.

 

I'm going to continue playing through the PA at this weeks rehearsal with the only change being I've re-arranged the speaker placement and I've added skyfirez1's Optical Trem block idea. The Trem block adds a "Zing" in a way that highs are being accented, but, without any actual EQing. It's little hard to explain. It, very much, reminds me of adding the EP3 to my old pedalboard. It just does "something". I'm confident that the Trem block is going to have my guitar cutting a lot better.

 

This is exactly the problem I was referring to.  I use a dedicated stage monitor for exactly this reason.  Vocals and vocalists can be problematic if you share monitors with them and the instruments.  Generally speaking those vocals need to stand out even more on stage than they do in the general mix in order for the vocalists to hear each other correctly, especially if you have multiple vocalists (we have 3 dedicated vocalist plus three others playing instruments).  In order to get the shared instruments in the monitors to the level where the musicians can hear them on stage you start interfering with the vocalists ability to hear themselves.  Then you start getting into increasing the volume on the vocal monitor channels inevitably leading to feedback issues.

 

We try to keep things very simple.  All of our monitors are Yamaha DXR12s including my own dedicated monitor attached to the Helix.  Our band stage monitors are dedicated exclusively to the vocalists and the harmonica.  The bass and rhythm guitar have their own amps and I have a dedicated DXR12.  I occasionally play keyboard and that is routed through the Helix to the DXR12 as well.  On some songs we also need an additional acoustic guitar and that also gets routed through my Helix and the DXR12.  That DXR12 is positioned behind me in the same fashion as a traditional amp so the sound of all the instruments are always coming from that backline.  On larger stages that use outside sound companies, they do mix in the instruments into the main monitor mix, but that is only to help fill out the sound on stage so we can all hear each other not to take the place of our own amps or dedicated monitors.  In the case where we use an electronic drum kit we do the same thing and route it to the back of the stage through it's own FRFR monitor (Mackie Thump).  This setup is used for gigging as well as rehearsal and it keeps our stage sound very consistent with a conventional backline setup and allows us to accurately manage the stage mix regardless of the size of the event.

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Thanks Dragon...

 

What I'd like to hear more about is how bands with multiple guitars set up their sound individually along the lines of this... Where does each instrument sit in the mix, and what kind of tones do you use so each person, guitars, vocals, bass, drums, etc., carves their own space in the mix, if that makes any sense.... i.e. how do you handle like maybe Fender clean rhythm so it sits back in the mix but still adds... what do two distorted guitars do so they don't muck each other up... etc.

 

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...Another thing to keep in mind if you find yourself getting buried in the mix: don't run stereo, run mono...  

 

 

THIS... is HUGE! DO this people.

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Another thing to keep in mind if you find yourself getting buried in the mix: don't run stereo, run mono. If you are adding a stereo trem at the end of your chain, the "zing" you are hearing may sound great by yourself, but will get you further buried in your band setting. Running a mono signal chain out to your PA will help you punch through. Stereo is great if you can get your entire audience to sit in a particular spot in front of your PA, but most of them are not sitting in the sweet spot, and are missing a lot of your sound.  

 

THIS... is HUGE! DO this people.

 

I totally forgot about this. Sure enough, I had stereo blocks in the Presets. Fixed.

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I totally forgot about this. Sure enough, I had stereo blocks in the Presets. Fixed.

 

Actually, that might not matter if you run mono to the board, as it sums to mono anyway. It's when you run stereo to the board that you can run into a problem.

 

Rule of thumb for me, no stereo, ever, unless I'm the only guitarist in a trio.

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Actually, that might not matter if you run mono to the board, as it sums to mono anyway. It's when you run stereo to the board that you can run into a problem.

 

Rule of thumb for me, no stereo, ever, unless I'm the only guitarist in a trio.

 

Yeah, I've been running stereo to the board, in the studio, for no good reason other than I can. It does sound killer when I'm by myself. I had intended on working on some recording, but, now I've got the band going, so, that needs to be my focus.

 

I need to concentrate on my live and rehearsal setup. Live, I will just run one cable.

 

Thanks for the input.

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Thanks Dragon...

 

What I'd like to hear more about is how bands with multiple guitars set up their sound individually along the lines of this... Where does each instrument sit in the mix, and what kind of tones do you use so each person, guitars, vocals, bass, drums, etc., carves their own space in the mix, if that makes any sense.... i.e. how do you handle like maybe Fender clean rhythm so it sits back in the mix but still adds... what do two distorted guitars do so they don't muck each other up... etc.

 

 

 

In my experience this is less about frequency range than it is about technique, although frequency range plays a part...but it's a minor part in comparison.

 

One of the key components of this is alluded to in the movie "The History of the Eagles".  Being a multi-guitar group they really set the standard for such things.  At one point in the movie they're in rehearsal talking about what they're each doing on the song and they make a reference to one person taking the high part and the one person taking the low part.  How this generally translates is where on the fretboard you're playing.  Often it relates to one person playing open chords while the other plays barre chords higher up on the fretboard.

 

Over the years I've played in far more multi-guitar groups than anything else and I can say it really takes a while for two guitarists to learn how to play complementary guitars rather than competing guitars.  As a lead guitar player I try to play less and let the rhythm player take most of the burden of maintaining the ongoing chord strumming.  I focus more on accents, fills, and color chords.  It's not unusual at all for me to use a jazz variation of a chord even in a more rock or country song just to give it a fuller feel as long as it doesn't detract from the main sound.  I also do a LOT of chord muting and various individual string picking techniques against his rhythm strumming.  In our situation that tends to mean the rhythm player plays a lot more barre chords than I do.  If I'm playing a barre chord it's played in a manner more similar to a power chord or accent.  Generally he plays with more treble than I do which also helps differentiate the two.

 

I guess the most important discovery for me in playing in multi-guitar bands is to be careful with how much dirt or distortion you're both using.  Two guitars using overdriven tones can quickly become overwhelming and muddy.

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In my experience this is less about frequency range than it is about technique, although frequency range plays a part...but it's a minor part in comparison.

 

One of the key components of this is alluded to in the movie "The History of the Eagles".  Being a multi-guitar group they really set the standard for such things.  At one point in the movie they're in rehearsal talking about what they're each doing on the song and they make a reference to one person taking the high part and the one person taking the low part.  How this generally translates is where on the fretboard you're playing.  Often it relates to one person playing open chords while the other plays barre chords higher up on the fretboard.

 

Over the years I've played in far more multi-guitar groups than anything else and I can say it really takes a while for two guitarists to learn how to play complementary guitars rather than competing guitars.  As a lead guitar player I try to play less and let the rhythm player take most of the burden of maintaining the ongoing chord strumming.  I focus more on accents, fills, and color chords.  It's not unusual at all for me to use a jazz variation of a chord even in a more rock or country song just to give it a fuller feel as long as it doesn't detract from the main sound.  I also do a LOT of chord muting and various individual string picking techniques against his rhythm strumming.  In our situation that tends to mean the rhythm player plays a lot more barre chords than I do.  If I'm playing a barre chord it's played in a manner more similar to a power chord or accent.  Generally he plays with more treble than I do which also helps differentiate the two.

 

I guess the most important discovery for me in playing in multi-guitar bands is to be careful with how much dirt or distortion you're both using.  Two guitars using overdriven tones can quickly become overwhelming and muddy.

 

+1 to that. Totally agree. 

Also -  It might have been mentioned - but worth mentioning again. 

Create your preset / sound at home and tweak it to match the bands sound picture at rehearsal.

Do the final adjustment at gigging level.

Record and listen - get other fellow guitar players and band members to give advise and recommendations to your sound.

 

We all know that the fat juicy sound you create at home suddenly sounds weird and weak in band context. That goes for Digital as well as old school amp and pedalboard.

 

Sound and how you approach the multi instrument situation all adds up.

 

Most importantly - don't give up - keep rocking.

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my final theory on the Opti Trem is that it agitates the signal just enough to give it a rich complexity.  Its like drinking a freshly opened drink instead of one that has been open for hours.  it eliminates that stale feeling - sonically.  Like i said in my video on the subject, some people can hear it, others cant. If you cant hear it, you might want to find out why..... but its there, trust me its there and it makes a big big difference. 

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my final theory on the Opti Trem is that it agitates the signal just enough to give it a rich complexity.  Its like drinking a freshly opened drink instead of one that has been open for hours.  it eliminates that stale feeling - sonically.  Like i said in my video on the subject, some people can hear it, others cant. If you cant hear it, you might want to find out why..... but its there, trust me its there and it makes a big big difference. 

 

Well, the oscillation is probably the challenge isn't it.

 

If you don't want that oscillation, the solution won't work for you.

 

If you do, that's awesome.

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This is exactly the problem I was referring to.  I use a dedicated stage monitor for exactly this reason.  Vocals and vocalists can be problematic if you share monitors with them and the instruments.  Generally speaking those vocals need to stand out even more on stage than they do in the general mix in order for the vocalists to hear each other correctly, especially if you have multiple vocalists (we have 3 dedicated vocalist plus three others playing instruments).  In order to get the shared instruments in the monitors to the level where the musicians can hear them on stage you start interfering with the vocalists ability to hear themselves.  Then you start getting into increasing the volume on the vocal monitor channels inevitably leading to feedback issues.

 

We try to keep things very simple.  All of our monitors are Yamaha DXR12s including my own dedicated monitor attached to the Helix.  Our band stage monitors are dedicated exclusively to the vocalists and the harmonica.  The bass and rhythm guitar have their own amps and I have a dedicated DXR12.  I occasionally play keyboard and that is routed through the Helix to the DXR12 as well.  On some songs we also need an additional acoustic guitar and that also gets routed through my Helix and the DXR12.  That DXR12 is positioned behind me in the same fashion as a traditional amp so the sound of all the instruments are always coming from that backline.  On larger stages that use outside sound companies, they do mix in the instruments into the main monitor mix, but that is only to help fill out the sound on stage so we can all hear each other not to take the place of our own amps or dedicated monitors.  In the case where we use an electronic drum kit we do the same thing and route it to the back of the stage through it's own FRFR monitor (Mackie Thump).  This setup is used for gigging as well as rehearsal and it keeps our stage sound very consistent with a conventional backline setup and allows us to accurately manage the stage mix regardless of the size of the event.

 

I decided, at the last minute, for last night's rehearsal, to sacrifice one of the DXR12 PA mains for my personal amp/monitor (in the traditional location behind me). The room is fairly small, so, I didn't expect the PA would suffer, and it didn't. The keyboard player didn't show, so, the only thing going through the PA was vocals.

 

It worked very well. I wasn't totally happy with my tone, but, I had no trouble keeping up with the second guitar players's MKIV sitting a few feet away and I did not feel like I was buried in the mix.

 

I feel like I'm a little further on up the road.

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