Prep: Strings and Tuning


Recording Rock Guitars


Lesson Info

Prep: Strings and Tuning

This is a nice little layout I like tio I want to be talking about all this stuff throughout the whole class but right now we're going to make mainly talk about have in front of me were mainly going to be talking about set up right now so you have the um look at the amp setting it's it's only a tiny little piece of that tone pie if you will and uh so I enjoy a good tone pie as long as this baked correctly and you have a lot of ingredients is it warm and buttery? Yeah oh oh it's warm it's buttery uh so I just want everyone to look at this and sink in this hole a mess of the pie is your tone and it's it needs to be neat from the start I need to be correct and that's what we're gonna be talking about you were telling a little story about tom during the break I think would be good for a pretty good friend tom denny who also he does what I do he produces bands he writes music um sometimes I'll be sitting there like prepping things for people attract like just tweaking the tone a little bit ...

I'm playing I don't know if this sounds very good only whatever it here tom just take the guitar he starts playing okay the sounds good because tom is an excellent player and he's the one who actually tracked all the guitars all the rhythm guitars on common courtesy so big deal big deal player there it is a big chunk of that pie player pie it's a nice graph okay it's not super fun it is kind of boring but right now let's everybody at home pretend that you're in the studio with me this is what you would be going over and this is what I would be trying to explain to you and you'd be like, I don't know what you're talking about, you're insane. This is what you need to understand that these are things that you have to be aware of at all times while you're recording is the string dying? You need to be aware of that that happens so often to the lowest string that string will be your first one to go you need to be paying attention if it's dying it's going to die quickly, it always does uh, if you don't get this stuff if you don't get this stuff correct that's, why this that's? Why this whole class to me is so important that these things are things that you need to know and they're free to do like you can do all these things for free just to make your guitar maybe don't have a very good guitar if you just do these things that'll make everything sound better automatically so pay attention one thing I'd like to point out those you know it's not always fun but it can be you know I mean if you yeah I I'm a meticulous person I do enjoy it so I'm sure there's people out there sure like me I know for myself anyway, you know if it's the night before I'm about to go track the next day you know, a whole album or something you know, I think it's actually fun to sit there and you know, you have your good target going over all the fine details you know? You're making sure the intonation is spot on, you know, your pickup height this write all that all that stuff you know? And I should think it's fun because it's kind of like, you know, you're pretty you're preparing for, you know, making almost making the next day better can almost be meditative okay, I love editing I think that's why I do what I do I want better eating so much ok? But that whatever, who cares? You do care all right? What is first you have to buy new strings, you can't just use your guitar that's been sitting there with a three year old strings on it I think that's pretty obvious so of a brand that I use very often his ernie ball that does it it's not necessarily like the only one out used did dario is great I'm sure keith knew what are your favorite string brands? Well I mean you do you do medellin metal yeah I've used a bunch of different brands for awhile I was endorsed by la bella strings and they made me custom sets I used to use those then for awhile I used dea dario is kind of exclusively and now I'm using pretty much ernie ball all the time yeah art something I've noticed about ernie ball they sound awesome right away but they died pretty quick I don't know if it's because they're so bright right when you put it can yeah for um and depends on your hands some people they have corrosive hand I don't know what it is yeah jeff you know jeff loomis him and I are working on an album right now we just got a whole big case of ernie ball strings and you know, we would put him on our guitars and mine last like five times longer than his absolutely you know and he just burns through room, you know? And they corrode and they rust and he's got like, alien sweat or something yeah, I dont ask just coming out of a hundred tips yeah, so I've noticed that exact same thing it's um so I'll change strings I'm like really to me it's a big deal for the strings to be new out sometimes I'll change strings in the middle of a song like yeah and the other thing is to is when you trained when you change them out you know make sure you stretch him really good yeah, you know that they're going to hold tuning you know, because I mean when you first put him on, you know, you gotta play it for a couple minutes before you get back into tracking otherwise you'll have tuning issues and things like that exactly so important uh alright picks I'm going to be going over different types of picks why you should use certain picks when you should use them, etcetera um uh the setup which is intonation and I'll explain what that is um it's string height trust rod adjustment if you want to get into that, you can message your guitar if you have no idea what you're doing and tuning tuning for the studio is different in my opinion is different than tuning live and I'm going to be going over that it is very important. I think a lot of the bands that come in they just do their normal thing and they start playing and it sounds really on a tune, but um I'll help you guys so you don't have that problem it's a big deal, anything else no, I think I think that's about it but I do want to give everybody a preview ah andrew's going to play a song a little bit in a little bit here which he recorded in his hotel room using my okay guitar all the same software and stuff that I usually is and it sounds approximately one hundred million times better than anything I have ever recorded. Why do you think that is what is the what is the problem with that senate with this with my setup it's me andrew is a better player than I am he has better ears than I am he's better what he does and point is like the player matters and prep matters all this stuff matters and you know the song you're going to hear later today is proof that it sounds amazing and it's all the same crappy stuff that I have sitting around in my bedroom and I used all the time and all my songs on awful in his son great also that song is going to be the demo for editing so it is not edited um but you can hear what unedited guitar sounds like um and then what? It sounds like quite a sedative which is very cool I think so um anyway we'll get into that a little bit uh what we have here stream gauges I'm going talk about strain gauges really quick and tunings yeah thick thicker strings does not mean heavy or sound if you get the thickest ring that you confined it's probably not going to fit in the nut of your guitar which still thinking the top thiss uh um so it's probably not gonna even fit you're not you're gonna have to shave your nut andi uh it's just gonna sound dead it's just going to sound dead and we go through each one of these for us andrew yeah, well, strings are really, really, really f ing important I don't know what that word means. Nice one. Uh well, I mean, I think we've been inf emphasizing that over and over changing strings every song at least change them every song um sometimes in the middle of a song you change strings every for every song. Yeah, well, sometimes people like your strings will last a lot longer sometimes people uh kill the strings immediately sometimes you can play for a long yeah, like for me I can usually get away with a couple songs. Yeah before I change him out actually, in one of those weird people that don't like the way string sound right out of the package I left him when you've played on for about a half hour or something like that yeah, they start to you know they get a little warmer sounding not quite his harsh for sure, but guys like jeff you know, as super alien sweat, you know when we get around the tracking his guitar parts on the album that we're working on were going to change him probably either halfway through the song our you know, our every song for me and it has to do with the the ability of the player because if you're taking longer you doing mohr takes for instance, you're wearing the strings down as you play, so if you know your stuff really quick really well and you can knock it out you're goingto your strength you're going to last for a lot longer so how do you guys how do you guys I know that it's time to change strings like what are the things that you hear that let you know I, uh it's been it's been a wild that actually I usually to test the string I'll turn the guitar off and listen to it acoustically and you can hear this is a dead string I mean it's taken me a long time to learn when it's if I'm being insane or if it is actually getting more dead and uh but there's a brilliance, a sustained brilliance that's gone you can hit a string immediately and its bright as soon as you hit it but if the sustained brilliance is gone that's whenever it's time to change yeah there's there's like an aggressive you know, attack and kind of a chirp sound you get with brand new strings and when when their old it just sounds really flat, you know, almost like you're picking it with your thumb or something. Yeah, you know, and they also feel a little bit different to when he did absolutely especially the unwound strings get they're not a slick feeling, they kind of you don't get it, you can't slide as easily and stuff so um okay and then all yeah, wash your hands, that's a tip to keep your strings last thing a lot longer. The oils, you dirt whatever weird things you been touching throughout the day your dog keep your dog out. Warrior tracking guitar and even for just your own playing and not recording cleaning the strings afterwards themselves right away last week a longer no corrode if you wait to clean them if you clean him immediately, then the last longer and, uh so you washing your hands in between each song? Well, depending on how so depends on the person but you you have to wash your hands immediately before you play. Do you ever use any string conditioner or anything like that? I know there's like the g hs like fast fred and stuff like that do you ever you know I have, but it seems it feels very strange to me so make some kind of slick and yeah I've never noticed that making the strings last any longer it's is now the field thing yeah yeah I don't know if I've got some people say that it makes a difference you know in how long they last but I don't know I've never really I've never really had strange last longer by using anything on him yeah I think just keeping your hands clean and stuff like guys is gonna help and do it and learning your song so you don't have to do million takes on it okay so this is a this is a typical on the left here the the orange pack fifty two is I think we will use that for like maybe see tuning I like to use pretty thin strings because they have a really have this twangy sound which I know sounds like it might be goofy but it's like this click clarity and this twain that happens with thinner strings the fifty six is about as heavy as I'll go if you're tuning something really low but actually you can get away with thicker strings if you have a longer neck on your guitar if you have a baritone guitar or if you have a ah base is a great example because those air really thick strings why did they sound bright but it has to do with life the next so if you have a baritone guitar or if you have a seven string guitar that has a little bit along the neck you can get away with thicker strengths but for some reason I have just ended up learning how to track on the standard next but I if you can get a longer neck for deeper tunings I would absolutely recommend it but not everyone has that option um g strings for for the most part I like wound so even if the the the gauge goes up for instance this twenty four wound here is what I would replace the seventeen with it I know it sounds very extreme but that twenty four wound sounds a lot clearer than the seventeen I don't know why but it does even those thicker that's the g strings are always yeah I actually cannot stand the way a thick unwound g string sounds on a guitar have been trying to string it it's like poking you you're bleeding everywhere yeah they feel weird there they try to bend you can't it's harder bend the on while in seventeen then it is tio bend the twenty four wild so they're these were the gauges that almost typical use and you know anything kind of between these so oh yeah um this is a great tip the uh strings that are above the nut ring out and it's almost impossible to get rid of it when it when it's really bad you could try to using gate or edited out but it's going to ring through your chugs or your stops anything like that uh and that will drive you insane so you typically do that oh definitely and actually there's a product now that is made specifically for that else the groove dear fred rap I have one on every guitar on every video I need to give that what is it again it's ah groove gear g r u v gear around that's threat rap yeah it's basically it's just well it's that but it's a velcro strap you can take it on and off and you can slide it up and down the neck let me show this part on some guitars also rings out depending on how far back the this is the bridge how further back this is from the bridge so um what if it also fit down here if you wouldn't it's it's mainly just for the neck but it you know I use it for that exact reason that you have in that picture there you know I put it above the nut and it kills that chinese overtone you get for leather you know so uh come to them ok yeah so sometimes this will bring out too if you take that up and you're wondering why you're still here itself is this also ah lot of this one does not have it but when you have a floating bridge straight spring's in the back and they won't bring out sometimes so you can put cloth in there or kleenex whatever just shove it in there and not too tight so it's it's not been easy but it will keep that from feeding back even live sometimes we get weird lo and feedback and that's probably from the springs inside your guitar yeah I usually just wrap tram springs with electrical tape just a couple lines around them you can still use the trim and it doesn't really affect the way that it operates but it kills those those overtones authority will it's great quick question from uh razzle crow in the chat room will the ring problem above the not happend with a guitar using a floyd rose style neck with locking nut yes there's your answer absolutely yeah if it rings out it's gonna anything that brings out on the guitar is going to come through pretty much any guitar under high gain is good you're going to get that you know if you do full stops and exactly you know you play really hard and then you try to meet the strings with your hands you'll hear those overtime going guitar anything on a guitar that's ah that does ring out is affected by anything else around it that's ringing out so it'll it'll pick up on that all right so that's uh okay let me show you guys about picking and stuff okay okay so this guitar is indy right now um this is this is the part where a lot of guitarists in the studio don't understand it's one of the reasons that I have to grab the guitar the most during tracking it might not be because of any kind of lack of skill it's just because you just you're not aware of this information so whenever you're tuning you want to tune let's say if we're doing a lot of stuff a lot of stuff that's open or you know just you know rhythm that's down on the further down the neck um you would want to tune it you would want to tune it open on the reason I said that will become clear in a second so while you're tuning you want to hit it as hard as you're going to be playing so if it's a really soft part if you're doing like pretty little chords like that you want it you're going to tune a zhar dh as your plane which is enormous so if you're really hard it's you can hear it going sharp so I to play like that you see is sharp sometimes you need to flip that the tone so it's a little a little more tonal if you're having problems picking up like just now and I usually use a pedal tuner or iraq tuner in the studio I feel like it it picks it up the best this was a terrible way well, this was not very responsive action um anyway, so you would tune it while you're doing that picking out a good tuner is actually a really uh this is a good example you can't just buy any old tune or just use use any tuner for some reason this doesn't work on the way so that's what school? So when you're doing the harder strummer you're what I've actually done is tuned a little bit flat so whenever you're strumming harder it's staying in two but but when I sprung lightly it sounds terrible so some tuners are going to work better than others I have a little uh pedal to nor the chromatic tuner that everybody owns I think it's made by boss maybe um and then ah rack tuners are great too um so tuning how you tune is huge. So now that I've tuned to that that's open if I'm trying to play the same thing up here it's a mess, so sometimes as you're playing it depends on the style. It depends on how hard you're playing etcetera, etcetera. So um you kind of need to adjust as you go and I know this is very tedious, but this is one of one of the most important things and making great d I tracked if your stuff is out of tune you won't especially if you're doing open stuff you're not going to get those the clarity in the low end that you're aiming for so you need to make sure all your stuff is in tune if it's a little bit out of tune a little bit of a tune versus perfectly tuned is a world of difference whenever whenever you're trying to get a tone and having it in the mix and stuff so what I would do normally is intimating guitar and I don't think we're demonstrating that exactly because that's that's kind of a long um the process but what what you do when you intimating atari's you're adjusting the saddles how far this way how far up are down they are and how it correlates to the neck but I'm not going to be getting into a lot of that stuff um also before we talked about if I can have a camera uh which can run my own this one if you can see the the height of the strings from this pickup what's cool is you can mess with that a little bit listen to how it sounds keep messing with it to see what sounds the best where it's the clearest um sometimes having it right up against the pick pick up sounds the worst so sometimes having a little bit further out it will be clear and sound bigger somehow it's just how it works so um you have to first adjust the height and then intimate and while you're intimating you also have to know the I think we might have a slight about this, but you need to know what tuning you're going to be playing it and you have to know what gauge strings and all of that has to be on the guitar ready to go before you intimate. So anyway, let's let's say, I'm intimated perfectly, I haven't said it this guitar, so I'm not sure um, but if you are playing really high on you are perfectly tuned when it's open and even if you are perfectly intimated, sometimes you're pressing down on the string a little bit too hard. Sometimes you are playing harder than you would, so what you do eyes you actually tune to the fret you can't do this life. This is just in the studio thing. Sometimes if you're playing, sometimes you're playing a lead or something like that, you might have to split the lead up between playing down here and having it tune and then playing up here and having it tuned to the frets so some people bend the strings a lot when they play and it's important for the person that's playing to tune it to their playing style and that's why it's really important to understand how to tune correctly so ah anyway so uh I think you understand the method um whenever I'm doing very fine adjustment on this type of a guitar with a fixed bridge um and uh I don't have those little like on a floyd rose I don't know what those little things are but it's really easy tio tuned finally with that, whatever one of its flat I tune up with the tuning machine if it's sharp I stretch the string so that's how you're going to get the the best result and uh I think that covers it for for tuning let me okay question from uh, question from the audience got two of them from daybreak studio first of all, how do you think the built in tuner and the expects to holds up is that you ever use that one? Oh yeah actually that was pretty responsive that one's quick? Um yeah, I think I'm just I'm personally used to the little pedal tuner and I know a lot of people owned those already because of you of life situations but the one in the axe effects works pretty cool. The second question again from daybreak studio the topic of intonation and set up about string to pick up height I often get this awful pick attack noise playing really hard will this be resolved by setting my strings higher? Um the strength that they said like the string attack noise awful pick attack noise playing really hard well let's be resolved by setting my strings higher or maybe we'd have to hear the problem to answer that question that it could be a few things because it could be and I'm about to go over that it could be the pick that you're using um it could be your playing style and raising or lowering the string I don't I don't think that would solve that sounds that's it scraping against the pickup and what if you have something super? Yeah if it's something that extreme then yes yeah if it's fretting out or anything like that you know, when you if you play hard and it's bouncing off the fret wire you know it can it can make that shirt noise like that so sometimes, you know, raising the string up can help, you know, soften that that slap against the threats but, you know, for the most part that's that's more of a setup issue than than anything but it can be picks and yeah, I don't think adjusting the pickup high helps to bunch with that it can I mean, if you get the you know, the pick up closer to the strings it's going to kind of it loses some clarity actually when you do that, so I mean, if it sounds too bright and too articulate maybe move in the pick up closer to the strings will help a little bit yeah, I'd say that's probably more of a setup issue than anything. Yeah that's what it sounds like and you can also I didn't mention this you khun most guitars you khun raise and lower the just the pick pick up itself by adjusting these screws or there's different methods depending on the guitar um, okay let's get into picks and picking yeah, so I'm going to switch the guitar tone really quick so we can have some distortion. One thing I wanted to mention about the the tuning and the tuners the best one that I've found for guitars in the studio is the peterson to stroh brack it's a digital stroke tuner you can actually set it up, you know, depending on what you're playing and in this, you know the style that you're doing and where you're playing on the neck you khun actually set up different profiles and, uh, you know, tune accordingly and it's the most accurate tuner I've ever used, you know, it's it's a stroke tuner, but it's a digital? Yeah, those are it's it's really nice? Yeah, they're not I mean, they're a little more expensive than the standard rack tuner, but you know, if you do a lot of guitar recording in the studio. It's. A really nice one. Have for sure, for sure. All right, okay, I got some radio station coming through. I just want to see. Don't assess this level first, make sure it's okay. Oh, also, whatever you're tracking in front of your computer, sometimes you get a buzz. You take care of that just by turning it's kind of weird that works.

Class Description

A great guitar sound is the centerpiece of modern rock, metal, pop-punk, and metalcore. Join producer Andrew Wade (A Day to Remember, The Ghost Inside, The Word Alive, etc) for an intensive look into the rock guitar techniques every producer and engineer needs to know. In this two-day course, Andrew will teach you everything you need to know about creating huge, thick guitar tones. You’ll learn how to prep and setup, and develop best practices for tracking guitars. He'll cover both real amp and amp sims, mixing in your DAW, and more. Whether you’re recording tracks at home or in a professional studio, this course will give you concrete, easy-to-apply techniques for taking your guitar sounds to the next level.


Chris Dimich

This class was extremely helpful! I learned soooo much. Andrew is a pro and it is absolutely worth the money. Specifically the tuning section of the class. Did not think to put this much effort into tuning, but it makes perfect sense! You can have the tightest band, with the best musicians, the most expensive gear, with amazing tones, but if they are even slightly out of tune its literally a bottleneck for the whole sound of the song. Thanks Andrew!