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nsorens

Newbie - suggestions for improving a preset? (Mark Knopfler)

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Hello all,

 

I'm getting back into guitar and got a Helix to help with motivation. I feel better about my playing when it sounds like the original, and having a large library of user-created tones so that I don't have to fiddle and struggle with tone design myself is a really nice feature.

 

Of course, there are still some tones I'd really like to have and that I'll have to create myself. And I am just not good at recognizing what effects are needed or how they should be chained together. The one I'm specifically working on is for the lead guitar in Mark Knopfler's "Are We In Trouble Now," of which the guitar outro starting around 3:45 is the best example.

 

I've added the obvious volume pedal, a compressor, the Soldano SLO 100 amp and Marshall 4x12 cab that Knopfler is said to have used at the time of this recording, and a mild delay. I've left most at default settings, and it seems somewhat close but missing the sweetness of the original tone. Anyone have pointers on how to improve this? Maybe a distortion effect rather than using the "Solo Lead Crunch" channel of the amp?

 

I'm playing a PRS S2 Custom 24 with the neck humbucker selected and Tone set around midpoint.

 

For reference, here is the song in question:

https://open.spotify.com/track/3B1SoWeLyahoXawK11nqQR?si=dW9s8hUSR8ahNTlGjFw0QQ

https://youtu.be/Ri_y_BjIrDs?t=222

 

Trouble Now.hlx

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1 hour ago, nsorens said:

Hello all,

 

I'm getting back into guitar and got a Helix to help with motivation. I feel better about my playing when it sounds like the original, and having a large library of user-created tones so that I don't have to fiddle and struggle with tone design myself is a really nice feature.

 

Of course, there are still some tones I'd really like to have and that I'll have to create myself. And I am just not good at recognizing what effects are needed or how they should be chained together. The one I'm specifically working on is for the lead guitar in Mark Knopfler's "Are We In Trouble Now," of which the guitar outro starting around 3:45 is the best example.

 

I've added the obvious volume pedal, a compressor, the Soldano SLO 100 amp and Marshall 4x12 cab that Knopfler is said to have used at the time of this recording, and a mild delay. I've left most at default settings, and it seems somewhat close but missing the sweetness of the original tone. Anyone have pointers on how to improve this? Maybe a distortion effect rather than using the "Solo Lead Crunch" channel of the amp?

 

I'm playing a PRS S2 Custom 24 with the neck humbucker selected and Tone set around midpoint.

Upfront just because of circumstances you will never sound like Knopfler, you may be the best in the world but you won't sound like him. But with that said having a preset that sounds close to Knopfler is fun to have, Advise I have is: research his tones and effects he used and maybe ask other guitarists you know about Knopfler's sound and get their thoughts.

 

I hope that helps!!

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Quite frankly I don't sit at my computer with my guitar plugged into my Helix so I'm not going to go through the process of setting things up to listen to your preset, but there are a couple of things that look odd to me.  I listened to his YouTube version of the song since I don't subscribe to Spotify, but I assume they're pretty much the same.

First, are you using a Les Paul on this?  It's probably going to be hard to nail that tone without one since that was what he used on this based on the video of his live performance.  Looking at your amp and cab selection I see you chose to use the Soldano crunch which is an odd choice for Knopfler since he has a pretty clean tone and I would suggest trying the Soldano Lead Clean and adjust the drive to give you just a bit of grittiness when you dig in as that's what he's doing.  Everything else is crystal clean.  You'll probably need to play a bit with the bass control on that amp if you're finger picking like he does as it's likely going to be too dark.  On the live version of this song on YouTube it looks like he's using a Vox AC30 and he uses the middle selection of pickups on the Les Paul then switches to the neck pickup for his leads.  That, combined with his fingerpicking style is why I say you'll likely need to roll back the bass on whatever amp you decide to use.  I'd also suggest you use a mellower mic on the cabinet than an SM57 which has more of a harshness to it.  Using the Vox you'll probably be closest with the 4x12 Blue Bell cabinet.  Since you're only using one mic I'd maybe suggest an MD421 or a 30 Dynamic and move the distance out to 4 or 5 inches, which will change the highs and lows so you'll likely have to adjust your high and low cuts.

That's about all I see at first blush, but that's also making a lot of assumptions about the guitar you're using and the technique you're using when you play.

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To me it sounds like the tone knob on the guitar is turned down or a mellow wah pedal set in the middle somewhere. If you try the way, play with the wah's mix parameter. Just a couple of thoughts. I'm not at my Helix.

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Besides the excellent suggestions already posted I am hearing some serious compression on his guitar. At least on the live track I listened to here. I would definitely include a compressor on this preset and not a subtle one like the LA Comp or alternatively an amp model with a very compressed sound. I don't think he is using one but at times it almost sounds like there is a very subtle auto-volume swell in there as well. Who knows with his remarkable technique?

 

Our band used to play "Down To The Waterline"  and for some reason even though it seems like a fairly straghtforward sound it took me forever to dial in a tone that cut through the mix properly without stomping on the vocals and also allowed the quick transitions between the riffs and the rhythm parts required for that song. I find so much of Knopfler's tone is in his fingers which makes it more difficult to convincingly play his material as although I do employ hybrid picking when playing his parts I don't do the straight up finger picking technique he uses.

 

 

 

 

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Hi,

(Big Knopfler fan, here)

I downloaded your patch and made a few adjustments. Maybe it's is more what you're after. If you're not familiar with it already, I attached a picture of a setlist with all the amp settings per song from the 'On Every Street' tour.It helped me a lot in taming the SLO for Knopfler use ;-) I took the settings more or less from 'Brother In Arms' (slightly adapted considering the numbers on a SLO go to 11).

knopfler soldano.jpg

Trouble Now.hlx

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Hi everyone, thanks for all the detailed suggestions! I really appreciate the help. I feel like I am getting close (the above preset is great, thanks!) but am still missing a bit of warmth (might need the 59 Les Paul for that) and, more importantly, can't reproduce that wah sound brue58ski mentioned (most obvious on the 9^ bends on the G string at ~3:50, ~4:10, etc.). I've never used a wah pedal and am just flailing around with random settings without any progress.

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That vocal-type sound is not done with a wah. Part of it is the result of playing with your fingers, instead of using a pick. Also, his fingerpick attacks in this solo seem very gentle and soft, which mellows it out even more. Totally different from his older strat uptempo strat work. You could experiment a little with the tone knob, but I almost never do that when playing Knopfler.

Don't forget that, when listening to a recording, a lot of post processing (mixing) is done, so it's really hard to completely 'nail' a sound. I prefer to get in the ballpark and just play and make it my own, so it's my interpretation of Knopfler instead of trying to 'be' Knopfler. But that's a bit of a different discussion ;-)

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