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rorytheranga

Building a new patch. Where do you start?

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Good morning, good afternoon, good evening and good night!

 

What's your methodology for building a new patch? Do you start with an idea already in your head for what amp/cab you will use, or the sound you are going for? Do you scroll through amps first, then cabs, then effects?

 

Do you use a template patch for effects and then just play with the amps/cabs?

 

Whenever i start a patch, i usually scroll through amp+cab blocks to find something i like. Then i'll use just the amp block from that, and play with cabs. Then i'll sort out the amp settings to get the base tone i want. Then ill mess around further with cabs and mic settings. After this, ill add my compression to taste. Then i'll work with EQ blocks to get the perfect base tone. Final adjustment of amp settings if required. From there, i start adding effects - generally pretty similar across patches.

 

How do you do it? What's your methodology?

 

Cheers,

RM

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Also, does anyone seem to have the same problem as i do? When trying to find a new tone or build a new patch, i always somehow end up making them sound very similar. Obviously this is my ear making the patch sound how i like it, but sometimes its frustrating to fall into the same box with every new patch hahaha. I guess i just have a certain sound that i like!

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1 hour ago, rorytheranga said:

Also, does anyone seem to have the same problem as i do? When trying to find a new tone or build a new patch, i always somehow end up making them sound very similar. Obviously this is my ear making the patch sound how i like it, but sometimes its frustrating to fall into the same box with every new patch hahaha. I guess i just have a certain sound that i like!

 

With the exception of deliberately trying to mimic a specific tone, for a specific song, I suspect most of us fall into this same loop. We all have likes and dislikes with respect to tone, and you'll naturally gravitate towards what you like....(unless you're nuts, heavily medicated, or both ;) )

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My approach has evolved over the years.  In some cases in which I'm looking to emulate a certain artist's sound I'll do the research to find out what their rig consisted of and select amp/cab setups that are similar.  More often nowadays it falls back to a more generic sound that's consistent with the style or genre of the music.  So a Jazz song played on the Gretsch will tend to dictate a certain amp/cab setup that's different from a funk/motown style played on a Tele, or a crunchy rock sound from the 70's with a Les Paul.  Over time I've begun to depend on  just a handful of amps I turn to consistently rather than a broad range of different amps.  Similarly I have a fairly small and consistent set of IR's consisting of about 30 to 40 different IRs.

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For those who write their own music, what comes first? Mostly tone, or the music.

If it's the music first, the starting tone does not matter, so it's very generic and biased towards, as what the op mentioned, what my tendencies are. Usually nothing more than an amp, cab, delay, and reverb. Then I'll actually start writing some concrete music. As the music takes shape, which includes an expanding number of tracks, I'll start making detailed tones that conform to the music. Each track's tone is built in conjunction with the originating tone, which could be any of the tracks that make up the song. I usually have no idea what the final tones end up being and how simple or complicated they may be. Depends mostly on what I want to do musically.

If it's mostly the tone first, I'll have a musically vague idea, but I'll construct a detailed, stand alone preset first. Usually a lead track, but sometimes not. It's also biased towards my broader tendencies. It's somewhat the opposite of the music first method. Depending on what the musically vague idea is, this may include compressors, EQs, specific cab or IRs, specific amps, etc. This method also allows the opportunity to start exploring what Helix has to offer for creating something unique. The presets can become quite messy at times.

So the answer to which comes first, mostly tone or music, is both, but at different points and levels of detail within a song.

And when the song is near completion, there comes a phase where tones of all tracks will be nitpicked with small tweaks. The end result will hopefully be that the tone is integral to the music and vice versa.

 

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2 hours ago, duncann said:

For those who write their own music, what comes first? Mostly tone, or the music.

If it's the music first, the starting tone does not matter, so it's very generic and biased towards, as what the op mentioned, what my tendencies are. Usually nothing more than an amp, cab, delay, and reverb. Then I'll actually start writing some concrete music. As the music takes shape, which includes an expanding number of tracks, I'll start making detailed tones that conform to the music. Each track's tone is built in conjunction with the originating tone, which could be any of the tracks that make up the song. I usually have no idea what the final tones end up being and how simple or complicated they may be. Depends mostly on what I want to do musically.

If it's mostly the tone first, I'll have a musically vague idea, but I'll construct a detailed, stand alone preset first. Usually a lead track, but sometimes not. It's also biased towards my broader tendencies. It's somewhat the opposite of the music first method. Depending on what the musically vague idea is, this may include compressors, EQs, specific cab or IRs, specific amps, etc. This method also allows the opportunity to start exploring what Helix has to offer for creating something unique. The presets can become quite messy at times.

So the answer to which comes first, mostly tone or music, is both, but at different points and levels of detail within a song.

And when the song is near completion, there comes a phase where tones of all tracks will be nitpicked with small tweaks. The end result will hopefully be that the tone is integral to the music and vice versa.

 

 

I think this sort of thing varies with the approach one takes to writing music.  I'm more of an old school conventional songwriter in that I don't come anywhere near a recording session until I pretty much have the song completely worked out.  In my case the song itself will have a certain feel that determines the overall sound.  Once I get all the technical details of the song worked out (melody, progression, theme, lyrics, intro, verse, lift, chorus, bridge, ending, hooks and arrangement) I pretty much hear the finished song in my head which then dictates the tone I'll shoot for.   In essence at that point it's no different than what I do with any cover song and the sound is really determined by the genre or overall feel I want the song to have (rock, jazz, funk, blues, ballad, etc.).   From there it's just a matter of putting on my producer hat and performing the mechanics of recording and mixing.

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6 minutes ago, DunedinDragon said:

 

I think this sort of thing varies with the approach one takes to writing music.  I'm more of an old school conventional songwriter in that I don't come anywhere near a recording session until I pretty much have the song completely worked out.  In my case the song itself will have a certain feel that determines the overall sound.  Once I get all the technical details of the song worked out (melody, progression, theme, lyrics, intro, verse, lift, chorus, bridge, ending, hooks and arrangement) I pretty much hear the finished song in my head which then dictates the tone I'll shoot for.   In essence at that point it's no different than what I do with any cover song and the sound is really determined by the genre or overall feel I want the song to have (rock, jazz, funk, blues, ballad, etc.).   From there it's just a matter of putting on my producer hat and performing the mechanics of recording and mixing.

 

I'm jealous, lol... Being from the Bob Ross school of songwriting, just about everything I've ever written is the result of a series of improv-ed "happy accidents". 

  • Haha 1

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31 minutes ago, cruisinon2 said:

 

I'm jealous, lol... Being from the Bob Ross school of songwriting, just about everything I've ever written is the result of a series of improv-ed "happy accidents". 

 

Good point. Should have thought of that, because I've lost count on the number times I've stumbled on something I really ended up liking, refining, and using. The count is probably somewhere around the number of times I've been fascinated and hypnotized while watching Bob Ross in an 'alternate' state when I was younger.

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The preset should result from the requirements of the music.

 

If you're building a jack-of-all-trades pedalboard replacement preset that's one thing, and that's most of what my presets are: Start with a basic sound that you like using the amp/cab models, then build a pedalboard to go with it. I have presets that are basically my "vox modern tradiaional" board that has optical tremolo, channel switch on the amp, a dirt pedal, wah, delay, reverb, all switchable. But my one that's the "fender traditional" might have amp vibrato, tape delay, some kind of chorus, different distortion pedal... you get the idea.

 

But if you're building a preset designed for a specific song, put only what's musically required for the song in that preset. Or a better way to think of it would be: this song is Not musical if I DON'T have the 70's chorus effect (maybe during this section)?

 

It's really easy when you have 300 effects to choose from to just start throwing in all sorts of effects without the end result truly being musical. I downloaded an artists preset that's a "clean" preset that has a parallel paths with chorus on one, flange on the other, a pitch shifter turned on, tape delay, two EQs and two compressors at various points in the signal chain.... 9 effects blocks not counting the amp and IR blocks. It is, in my opinion, kind of a mess. It's billed as "ambient clean" but it's one of the wettest presets I've come across. It's only "clean" in that it's not got any distortion in it. And with all the swirls happening on the pitches I'm playing I'm not sure how I'd use it "ambiently" as it draws too much attention to itself. That's not to say you wouldn't be able to use it in a certain setting, but to me it's not very musical (this guy has made a lot of presets that I've been trying that are really good too, just this one stood out as being not so good for my ears).

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When building my live patch, it was with a singular purpose....

 

Get the Helix to sound as MUCH like a Rivera S120 with EVM12L speakers as possible.

 

That was NO easy feat, but I accomplished it.  I play in an original band so I only needed ONE sound with a couple of pedals to give me what I needed.

 

I also do session work on the side for local singer/songwriters.  Often I will come in and just play some lead stuff, other times I will come in and be tasked with helping to develop an arrangement for electric guitar.  In these cases, my approach to developing a patch varies.

 

Often I will start by asking the "artist" or producer for a reference piece.  Most songwriters have an "inspiration" piece or something similar that can give me an idea.  If there is no reference piece, I will ask for a rough mix of whatever has already been recorded.  Most of these artists and producers are people I have worked with before so they feel comfortable enough giving me that.  Some don't.  At that point I start by asking lots of questions.  That is where I determine which guitar I will use, and the most likely amp/cab/effects combo.  I will usually build a few patches so I have a few options when arriving for the session.  If I can get NOTHING useful, I remind the artist they will have to pay me for the time it takes to build the rig, lol.  The downside to that is that I usually just use something I have already created - I have a TON of guitar specific patches built around "standard" amp rigs.

 

Once I get into the Helix, I tend to follow this pattern:

 

1)  Drop an amp that I think will work into Path A.  Go to the matching cabinet and drop it twice into the lower path, then I "stack" them.  I will keep one cab "stock" and the other I will pull up either a ribbon mic or a condenser mic, move back to about 5 inches, add in some early reflections.  I put my cabs on an A/B split, not a Y.

 

2)  From there I press the amp button and start playing.  A lot of the time I have to make minimal EQ tweaks - I will adjust gain/master/channel volume to get me close to where I want the amp to be.  If I DO have to tweak the EQ, I set everything as neutral as I can, and +/- as needed - in small increments - to get me the sound I want.

 

3)  Many times I'll add a splash of spring reverb between the amp and cabs.  Most of my real amps have spring reverb, or I add it via a Fender Reverb tank.

 

4)  If I NEED to add drive, I look for the most natural sounding drive.  I will often stack 2-3 drives, and sometimes I pull them to a parallel path so I always have some clean signal blended in.  That's VERY important to me.  It helps with the clarity.

 

5)  I pretty much always stick an MXR Dyna Comp model first in the chain.  I run it at 1.6 on the sensitivity and 72% on the other control (forget what it's called).  The output stays where Line 6 has it....+5.4, I think?

 

That's it.  I end up with stuff that sounds a little like me, but has the characteristics of the rig I am trying to emulate.  

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I usually have a sound in my head that I try to get close to.

 

Sometimes I experiment to see what I come up with.

 

Sometimes I build entire patches on theory alone before I even hear anything. Then I start dialing in while I play through it, or run the DI. (if I am ReAmping)

 

I do the above sometimes as a challenge to my memory, and to build up the accuracy of what I am hearing, and able to do in my head. (for times when I am not at my studio)

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My early method was to modify the existing patches on CustomTone, Glenn DeLaune, etc.

My latest approach is to do it like you just walked into a music store.

Guitar, amp, IR/speaker cab, get good tone that way, compressor to shape the front end, effects/'pedals (if you need them), EQ for specific amp or PA. That's pretty much it.

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