Updated: Nov 19, 2020
The London Journals
I'm starting a new band. This is how to record a metal song by yourself and and am going to make a recording in Logic Pro X. It's just me lol. I have no idea how this is going to unfold but I have some ideas formulating. I know I want this project to be heavy, technical, catchy, instrumental and above all...I want it to sound GREAT!
I’m starting to write an instrumental metal song by programming drums. I’m starting off by using Toontracks EZ Drummer because, well...its easy. I will also be using Superior Drummer but it just uses more processing power than EZ Drummer. I always start a songwriting session in Logic by saving as much processing power as possible. That way I don't overwork the session early on. That really kills the creative process. I’ll switch over to Superior Drummer once I have a solid idea where the song is going.
While programming drums in Logic I usually have my guitar in hand so I can play around with ideas and formulate different parts of the song.
After a couple days of coming up with some ideas, I’ve got it! I have a few powerful guitar riffs that I can play around with to make the song. It's great when I am able to write a song quickly!
Now that I’ve pieced together a song, I’m going to start creating the vibe of the song. I want the drums, bass and guitar to sound HUGE. I’ll probably end up tracking the guitars and bass a few times to get the sound I want.
To get the rhythm guitar sound I wanted to hear, I had to record 3 guitar tracks for the center, 3 panned hard right and 3 panned hard left. It’s crucial that each take is recorded and played separately and not just duplicated. It’s the subtle differences in each performance that make guitar stacks work! I bounced each group of 3 to a new track to save processing power and time. I A/B’d this against having 9 separate guitar tracks. I actually think the 3 bounced tracks sounded tighter since there was noise from only 3 amps instead of 9. I’m recording the guitar direct into my Universal Audio Apollo X6 and am using the Line 6 Helix Plugin for amp and effects modeling.
The bass was pretty straight forward. For this track I need the bass to fill the holes. It’s sort of the glue between the drums and guitar. I first tracked a 5-string bass through a Trace Elliot Transit B Bass Preamp. I’ve used these before and they are AMAZING. To my surprise I just didn’t get the sound I was hoping for, for this style of music. I ended up tracking it direct.
Back to the drums. At this point I’m going to go back and start changing the drums. My intention was to use Superior Drummer but by a complete accident I found almost exactly what I wanted through a few EZ Drummer kits. I used two snare drums instruments to create the snare sound I wanted. One snare from EZ Drummer and I layered that snare with a snare from the Ultrabeat in Logic Pro X. I also layered the toms using toms from EZ Drummer and Logic X Drum Kit Designer.
I always look for ways to add interesting elements to keep the listeners engaged. For this style of music I added a couple of 808 samples when the music comes in from a break and some hand claps at the beginning using EZ Drummer.
I started testing out different amp modeling software. I’ve tested Logic X Amp Designer, IK Multimedia Amplitube, Line 6 Helix, Waves GTR Amp, Positive Grid Bias FX2 and I recently discovered the Fortin Amp Plugin (WOW, This thing is amazing) I ended up getting a really great sound from the rhythm guitar by combining the Fortin Amp Plugin with the Line 6 Helix Plugin but I made a video comparing the amp plugins that I tried so you can compare them too. I understand there are so many factors and a “good” comparison may be to use the same amp and settings in each plugin, but that’s not what I did. I found the closest sound that would best suit the song from each plugin and compared each one. I hope you find this video helpful!
That was not enough. I’d been hearing a lot of great things about the Universal Audio OX reactive attenuators. If you don’t know what it is or even if you think you know what it is but you have never used or seen the OX, please watch this video. It’s more incredible than you could ever imagine. So I bought all the hardware that I was previously using as plugins because I had to compare them. I also wanted to show everyone a real side by side A/B comparison of the best digital amp sound that I could achieve and compare it to the real hardware. I bought a Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier, an MXR Carbon Copy Delay, a TC Electronic Sentry Gate and an Ibanez Tube Screamer. I’m going to reamp the guitar through the hardware so we can see if that beats the amp plugins. I’m hoping it does since I just spent all the money on new equipment but we’ll see! I already really like the sound I’m getting with the Line 6 Helix Plugin on the left and right guitars and the Fortin on the centered guitar tracks.
EUREKA! We’ve done it! The Boogie completely blew away all other amp mods. In my opinion the amp software that came closest to acting, sounding and feeling like the real tube amp was the Fortin Plugin. WELL DONE.
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