Today I worked on recording the guitar solo for The Ballad of Stumpy Ron. Of course my Line 6 POD X3 Live is all over that! I wanted the solo to sound a bit like Tony Iommi with a little C.C. DeVille sprinkled on top and be very energetic in timbre. Strange mix, I know, but that’s what was going through my mind. I set up the X3 with a dual tone blend having a fair emphasis on a typical shred type of sound. Tracking is not the usually the time to get real effects friendly. I’m the type who likes to record a dry-ish signal and save all the effects for the mix down. This gives me lots of options on shaping the sonic character of the solo and the way it sits in the mix. Record a solo with delay and you’ll just end up stuck with those settings, even if they end up not fitting with the sound of everything else later on. Here is the patch settings for the tone I used:
POD X3 Patch: Iommi meets DeVille shred
- Output Mode: Match Studio/Direct, Tone 1 & Tone 2 panned however sounds good to you
- Amp 1 Gate: OFF, Thresh -60dB, 0%
- Amp 1: Line 6 Insane, Room 73%, Cab 4×12 Green 25’s, Mic 57 off axis
- Amp 1 Controls: Bass 65%, Mid 49%, Treble 89%, Pres 90%, Drive 63%, Vol 75%
- Amp 2 Gate: OFF, Thresh -80dB, Decay 0%
- Amp 2: 2002 Bomber X-TC (Bogner Ecstasy), Room 73%, Cab 4×12 Brit Celestion V30, Mic 57 on axis
- Amp 2 Controls: Bass 82%, Mid 35%, Treble 91%, Pres 74%, Drive 69%, Vol 72%
Take note of the lack of a noise gate on this preset. A noise gate is a great tool for playing live, but in the studio I don’t really like the affect it has on tone and sustain. There are a few staccato notes in this solo which were adversely affected by the gate. Normally staccato is exactly where you would want a gate, but the sound of the gate opening and closing was far more distracting and less desirable than the extra hum between the notes. Besides, in a dense heavy metal mix, no one is going to notice the little bit of hum between the notes of my solo. You will probably want to turn the gate on if you are going to make heavy use of this preset. I have included the settings of the gate so you can see some that worked well in my setup.
You may also notice the higher than average Room setting on each tone. I really wanted a nice live room kind of vibe on the solo so I cranked the AIR right up. I matched it on both amps. It seems to help to think of your X3 (or other modeler) as an actual amp and envision the studio process used to get your sound. It is my opinion that this leads to more realistic sounding recorded tracks. These two amps were pictured in my mind, set up in the same room, plugged in to different cabinets, and miked similarly, but in a way to differentiate their sound. That is why I have the SM57 on each of them with one off axis. Also the matching Room setting helps to keep the two amps sounding as though they are sitting in the same room. This preset is not meant to sound like two amps. The goal is having the sound of one amp with a very complex harmonic structure.
The 4×12 cabs are different on each amp too. I put the classic Green 25 cab on the Insane model to tame the high end and provide some nice midrange beef to the sound. The V30 cab on the Bogner is awesome for guitar solos. It has the right sound to cut through a mix. Notice how I’m reversing the roles of the amps a bit. The Insane amp would typically be thought of as the one to cut through with the Bogner provide the body and meat of the sound. By using the cabinets in this way I have made the Insane model a little more like the Bogner and the Bogner a little more like the Insane. This juxtaposition of roles helped glue the sound together into more of a single, complex amp tone.
I recorded to my DAW directly through the USB outs of my X3 Live. I wanted to record each amp to its own track to give me more flexibility during the mix. Back to thinking about realism in the recording process, I only wanted to record a mono signal from each amp. I had one virtual mic pointing at each amp, so where would a stereo signal come from? This speaks directly to earlier comments about looking for realism out of a modeler. I recorded send 3 (amp 1 L) to one track and send 5 (amp 2 L) to another. I monitored the mix and X3 through headphones plugged directly into the X3. I have a family, and neighbors. Tweaking and mixing are always done through speakers, but while tracking I find it helps to use headphones to really focus me into the feel of the track. Getting in the right headspace is important for tracking with the right feel.
Guitar and other gear
The track is tuned down a whole step but this is a solo where I didn’t plan on using any open strings. With that in mind, I grabbed my #1 for the solo, a 1998 Ibanez Universe with stock Dimarzio Blaze pickups. I used the bridge position humbucker for the whole solo. This guitar is the best player I have. The neck, frets, action, and intonation suit my playing style more than any other instrument in my collection.
Ibanez Universe UV777 price check
DiMarzio Blaze Bridge Pickup price check
Stumpy Ron is finished!
Tonight I finished the master of The Ballad of Stumpy Ron. You can get it from the songs section of my site. Or just use this direct link if you don’t care about all that ;) Post some comments here and let me know what you think of the tones, the song, and the playing!
- The Ballad of Stumpy Ron (full song download)
- Read about recording the rhythm guitars (and hear a sound sample)
- Read about recording the bass track (and hear another sample)
Line 6 POD X3 price check
Line 6 POD X3 LIVE price check