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MarcelK

Acoustic guitar with IR setup

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Hey folks,

 

I have purchased a few decent acoustic IR's from 3 Sigma Audio (they sound awesome in their video demos) but for some reason I cannot make my head around how to use them properly.

 

I have lots of other IR's for electric guitar Amp Cabs and I know how to use them having an amp placed before IR block with a few effects, but how do I use an IR block for acoustic guitar without having an amp? It does not sound great having just a simple straight input to the IR block. I'm using an acoustic guitar, not electric.

 

Is there any explanation how to use or create a great acoustic patch/preset using acoustic IR for acoustic guitar?

 

Any help is appreciated.

 

Cheers,

 

Marcel

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1 hour ago, MarcelK said:

Hey folks,

 

I have purchased a few decent acoustic IR's from 3 Sigma Audio (they sound awesome in their video demos) but for some reason I cannot make my head around how to use them properly.

 

I have lots of other IR's for electric guitar Amp Cabs and I know how to use them having an amp placed before IR block with a few effects, but how do I use an IR block for acoustic guitar without having an amp? It does not sound great having just a simple straight input to the IR block. I'm using an acoustic guitar, not electric.

 

Is there any explanation how to use or create a great acoustic patch/preset using acoustic IR for acoustic guitar?

 

Any help is appreciated.

 

Cheers,

 

Marcel

 

Hi Marcel,

 

There are many Helix owner’s on here that employ Acoustic IRs in their patches.

Here’s an video example from regular forum contributor Peter Hamm. 

Peter has also very kindly included a link to download the patch and a free IR to experiment with.

 

 

 

No doubt, other users have different approaches, but this will give you a start.

 

A very basic set up that I use is my Fishman Rare Earth Blend System into Helix with an Acoustic IR, Pre-amp, EQ and LA-2A compressor. After that you can throw in whatever you like - remember, there are no rules. Add some chorus, delay, reverb and about 20% of the legacy dimension effect are worth playing around with. Have fun - you are not going to break it!

 

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2 hours ago, MarcelK said:

I have lots of other IR's for electric guitar Amp Cabs and I know how to use them having an amp placed before IR block with a few effects, but how do I use an IR block for acoustic guitar without having an amp? It does not sound great having just a simple straight input to the IR block. I'm using an acoustic guitar, not electric.

 

The IR itself cannot be expected to do it all.... start by getting a really good acoustic tone first. This differs for person to person, guitar to guitar... but usually a compressor or studio pre followed by an EQ and reverb is enough to get a good tone. Once you have that, add the IR block (I would do this after the basics, but before reverb, delay, etc...) to sweeten it a little.

 

Often you don't need a full 100% blend on an acoustic IR... just blend it until you get the depth you want. 

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4 minutes ago, MarcelK said:

Awesome, many thanks @codamedia and @datacommando. My last question would be, in what order would you place the Preamp?

  • Preamp -> IR
  • or
  • IR -> Preamp

 

I'd try both and choose the one that sounded best... :) 

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All good points! And, yeah .... totally different than using the amp IRs with electric geetar.

 

I like to do EQ shaping before the preamp, compression, or any effects. That includes IR, which I treat as EQ.  As @codamedia mentions, get the very best raw acoustic tone you can first. I start with an EQ block and nothing else. Just your guitar and Helix. If your guitar has tone or mix controls, optimize those, as well as any gain level. 

 

After the EQ block is optimized for best possible tone, add IR. With the 3Sigma IRs, it takes awhile to find the best match. If you have different sets (e.g. Martin, Taylor, etc), first find which set works best with your guitar. (For example, compare Martin 1a to Taylor 1a, etc). Next, 3Sigma provides variations in each group that are bottom heavy, and top heavy (the 3Sigma docs discuss which is which; "a" is usually the best choice). After settling on a vs b vs c, compare all the numbers (1a vs 2a, etc). Narrow down to the IR(s) that sounds best with your guitar and pickup. You can bulk load all the IRs into Helix sequentially, and toggle between using the IR block to quickly compare and eliminate. You might even check the ones they provide for electric and sound hole pickups (assuming your pickup is piezo). Finding the best IR match for your guitar/pickup takes awhile, but is most important.

 

After that, the IR block blend/mix setting is key. I usually use around 30—40% IR, but you might like more. It depends on how much you like the tone you get without the IR. It also depends on the room acoustics, and whether you're playing with other instruments (sometimes I don't use any when playing live). The IR adds a natural, wooden quality to the trebly "plastic" sound of most piezo pickups, so you can dial in the amount that you like. Too much may sound hollow and boomy to you, if so just dial it down. Also get a feel for what the hi and lo cut controls do in the IR block .... use them to tweak the eq a bit more. Sometimes I'll even add a second EQ block after the IR to further tweak.

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14 hours ago, codamedia said:

 

The IR itself cannot be expected to do it all.... start by getting a really good acoustic tone first. This differs for person to person, guitar to guitar... but usually a compressor or studio pre followed by an EQ and reverb is enough to get a good tone. Once you have that, add the IR block (I would do this after the basics, but before reverb, delay, etc...) to sweeten it a little.

 

Often you don't need a full 100% blend on an acoustic IR... just blend it until you get the depth you want. 

I'd actually recommend the opposite of this. Start with the guitar pickup and its tone set neutral/flat. Then go into Helix with just the IR block, nothing else. Then find the IR that best suites your guitar, playing style and FRFR. This provides the basic guitar tone starting point. You'd do something pretty similar if you were recording an acoustic guitar. You'd start with the right guitar for the song, with good setup and strings. Then you'd find the best mic position that fits the song and the role the acoustic guitar track plays. This again provides the basic starting point. In both cases, you're "getting it right at the source" before doing any other tweaking.

 

Now think about compression, EQ, distortion/exciter, and other effects as required to tailor the basic tone to craft what you need. This is similar to what you would do when mixing an already recorded acoustic guitar. These changes further adjust how the guitar fits in the context with the rest of the parts, and is similar to playing in a live situation.

 

You can of course repeat this process. If you can't get what you need from compression, ET, distortion, etc, then go back and adjust the IR or pickup preamp controls.

 

The point is, the "source" of an acoustic guitar is the guitar pickup + body IR as the IR is attempting to convert the piezo pickup output into what the guitar body would have sounded like mic'd. You want to get this source as close as possible before making other changes. You may find the result will sound more natural this was as you are minimizing processing after the basic guitar tone.

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@amsdenj... that is certainly a valid viewpoint in your post directly above. 

 

To be clear though, my original post was in response to him already trying the guitar directly into an IR and NOT getting good results. If the signal from the guitar is not good, you will not be able to fix it with an IR - you may actually compound the problem. It is important to optimize that original signal first. SURE... stay away from reverbs, effects and maybe even compressor until the IR is included... but I would stand behind using some EQ, filters and possibly even a pre-amp prior to an IR so the IR has something usable to work with.

 

Just my 2 cents...

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Acoustic body IRs work great, but they make a lot of assumptions and compromises. The IRs are essentially the subtraction of the piezo IR and the body IR with the same impulse. This is often done by using a bass drum foot pedal or other device to tap the body of the guitar and record the output of the piezo and mic's body at the same time. Then the body IR is convolution of the subtraction of these two signals.

 

So the reason an IR might not sound right for your guitar is that your piezo pickup might not be the same as the one used to create the composite IR. You can try different body IRs in this case. Don't expect the body models to sound as you would expect because you are feeding them a different input then what they used on generation. You'll just have to listen and find one that works for you.

 

Its best to keep the tone controls on your guitar piezo pickup as flat as possible when going into an acoustic body IR. This helps ensure your feeding the IR a similar signal to the one used to create it. Doing all the tone shaping after the IR instead of before might provide more predictable results as you're feeding the IR a signal closer to what was used to create it.

 

 

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