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Studio Pass with Joey Sturgis

Lesson 15 of 29

Toneforge - Menace Demo and Questions

Joey Sturgis

Studio Pass with Joey Sturgis

Joey Sturgis

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Lesson Info

15. Toneforge - Menace Demo and Questions

Lesson Info

Toneforge - Menace Demo and Questions

ID like to show tone forage if you wanna play some guitar for me, Cool. And I know a lot of people are probably curious about how to how to go about guitar tone. So I'm going to show you how I I actually made my own AMP. Simulator plug in, and it's going to be available. Pretty soon someone's gonna show you how you can utilize that to get your guitar tone. Let me find it. So with this, what I wanted to do with this plug in, um, I wanted to actually let's talk about before I do this, you could stay there. You're fine. Um, I want to talk about why we're going to use AMP simulators and why It's important. Okay, so the first thing with AMP. Simulators is that you have portability. Um, and that's really great, especially in today's age, where everything is done on computers. You can take your session around if you need to go to a different studio as long as they have the guitar AMP simulator installed than your session will open and it'll sound the same. Ah, and you can still open up the gu...

itar tones and make adjustments and change. You know your settings after, you know, from in different locations and things like that. So it's really useful for that reason. Also, consistency. Um, you know, a typical AMP set up is going to be It's gonna have so many different very variables. You're gonna have the guitar, which has already has a ton of variables, as we've learned today. Then it goes out of the guitar into guitar cable and then into a D. I box or into an AMP. And if it goes into an AMP after that, you've got a 1,000,000,000 variables. You've got the life of the tubes, all the various settings on the amps on the AMP, the speaker Cabinet, the type of speaker, the angle of the speaker, the microphone, the room that the microphone and the speakers are in, and the microphone going into the mic pre amp. And all those things. And having all those variables makes it very hard to have a consistent guitar tone. I've noticed that when you're miking up in AMP, it can change sound from day to day, and I know that's ah frustrating thing. When you're working with real amps, it's it's hard to keep consistent tone. So with with AMP. Sims, you pretty much don't have that problem. The other great thing about AM Sum's is that they have recall ability, so you can open a session three weeks from now and still change. How much gain is on your tone. If you wanted to do that in real life, you'd have to go back, get the amp. If you don't own it, you don't get it again. Set it all up, try to get the same tone and then change the gain up, which is just a lot of work. You also get the instant revamping while editing. And what that means is, you know, if we look at this session, for example, I'm going to actually look at the original guitar tracks. So if I take this guitar track, for example, and I put it into a tone and let's say I'm actually looping a little section right here one second, okay, so as I'm looping that Aiken fine tune notes. This is something that you would never be able to do with the real AMP. So I can click on this note and I can actually change the volume of it and hear how it affects the tone. So if I'm like looping my my section and changing the volume of this, we can hear how it will interact differently. So if you actually get into a situation where you think one of the notes sounds kind of weird, Um, the great thing about am Simms is what you hear is what you get. So you know that any changes you're going to make is gonna be that way forever. So if if you do hear a weird note and you're not changing your tone, your tone is changing. Is staying the same, then you can change the note, and you've fixed the you know, the problem with with the part. If you're working with a real AMP, you might have a weird note. And then if you go in and try to fix just that one note, it'll sound really weird because the the tones not as consistent so you would have to revamp the whole part, and that would take a lot of time. And then, if you if you do revamp the whole part, chances are your tone is gonna be a little bit different. So It's just a never ending battle of trying to get the parts to be sounding proper. So I actually used this technique quite a bit, um, like going in and changing the volume of the notes, or sometimes even doing preemptively cues like if you put a e que in front of the the guitar, the guitar amp, let me find a good one. All right, let's take a look at just this note here so you can actually go in and do, like, little eq you automation is for certain notes. And so, like, if I get to the point where the only way I can fix apart is by doing an e que automation, the amps them allows me to do that after the fact after I've recorded the guitar part. Um, if you were doing it with a real AMP, you would have to figure that all out, like in the moment, which sometimes is impossible. So I think am seems were really great. Um, I don't think that my life would be possible without them because the amount of work that would go into doing it, um, would just be insane. So, uh, let's demonstrate this amps him that I created called Tone Forge. Um, I think what I'll do is I'll just have you, like, kind of mess around. You can. You can either just play this song or you can play some riffs or whatever. And while you're doing that, I'll, uh, I'll just kind of twists, knobs and show you some of the features. One of the first things I'll show you is the gate, so I'll just I'll turn you on. You start playing in them all just the gate. Oh, sure, Okay, So as you could see on the gate, um, it's not like a cut off gate that's more like an expander. It's just one knob. But as you get closer to zero, it starts to choke up on the signal and and eliminate some of the noise. So if I, like, turn the gate completely off and you played played that same part theme, tighten up the signal a little bit, and then the input kind of works like a gain knob to Utkan like Drive the input or you can, you know, decrease the input. Go ahead and play again. Yep, And then that's Ah, that's also your calibration. Now, Sophie, need your if you need to, like, quiet down your input a little bit or raise it to make up for lack of gain, you could do that. Um, cool thing about the tone Forge. And I'll tell you basically why I designed it this way. I felt like there was there wasn't any single guitar plug in where you could get a guitar sound. A complete guitar sound from A to B. There's amp Simulators out there. You've got pedal simulators. You've got cab simulators, impulse response things. But there's nothing that really takes it and puts it all into one package. And that's what I try to do with Tone Forge s O. What should get is a complete signal chain starting with, you know, uh, like a pedal Could be an overdrive. Could be like input compressor or something like that. Then you get your amp. Of course. And then you've got the cab, which also is the microphone. So you've got different microphone selections, and then it goes into the Joey Magic, which is a little bit of my secret sauce. Actually, I'll show you the difference in having it often on so go ahead and play cool. Did anyone like it when the magic was off? Not as much as with the magic. Okay, good. That's the right answer. Um, then it goes into an e Q. And we have, ah, five band EQ. You. So you've got ah, high shelf for or ah, high pass. Sorry. Low shelf for high pass and ah, either a low pass or low high shelf. And it goes any frequency between 20 and 20,000 hertz and then you've got negative 12 to plus 12 adjustments. So you're gonna actually do just about anything that you need to do ik iwas within the plug in without having to reach for additionally keep plugging. And then finally the signal goes to the limiter. And this is really just used to ah, kind of increase your, um, perceived volume. Or while you can change the apparent volume and the perceived volume So it go ahead and play and I'll show the adjustment. Yet I don't know if you noticed, but the the meter can. It's kind of like having your ceiling at zero, but you can still get louder even though you're peaks are zero the limiter starts to shave them off and allows you to increase your head room or decrease your head room. I should say, which gives you more volume and the makeup gain is automatic. So your output knob is just a ah, just ah, a reducer. Um, Now you can turn any of these individual elements off if you don't like them. So if you don't like the overdrive pedal, you can turn it off. You can't turn the amp off, because why would you be using the plug in if you're not gonna have the amp on, um, you could turn the cab off. So if you want to use your own impulse response, you you can turn the cab off and then put an impulse loader after the plug in, you can turn the eq you off, and then you can, of course, turn the limiter office. Well, now, if you if you do, turn the cab off, it will automatically disable anything after it because because you wouldn't want a limit your signal before it goes into a cab. So just by nature of how the signal chain is supposed to work, all those things have to be bypassed if you're not using the cab, Um, there's just no other way to do it. So that's how it works now. I tried to design this specific model, which is called Menace, um, to be like the ultimate metal tone. Uh, so it has a ton of gain. Even when the game is low, there's just a massive amount of gain, so I'll actually demonstrate how much gain there is. Just go ahead and play. You can play different risk. Okay, Get tired of that one a little bit. I have. You've got your drive, which is how much overdrive there is. But you've got your gain up on the overdrive, Tuttle, and you've got your gay knobs on the AMP. So the combination of those two, they kind of interact with each other and give you the ability to, uh, a just like a just the overall gain of the signal. Um, Now, without the overdrive pedal, it is kind of interesting because it's a little bit of a different tone. So good and play, I'll show you. So you get that classic mid range bump in the base reducer when you engage the overdrive. Kind of like the classic tube screamer sound. Do you guys use? Do you use like an overdrive pedal when you play? What kind of anti you have? Eso You've gotta have that tightness that the tube screamer adds. How about you guys? You play guitar, right? That's awesome. So, yeah, this is basically trying to do the same thing as it like a max on or a tube screamer. I mean, it's the classic green pedal. Ah, I think it tightens up the signal quite a bit. But the thing that's nice about this one is you do have quite a bit of gain, and the tone knob is fairly wide range as well, so I'll show the tone knobs. Go ahead. And so then it goes. Um, so here's the AMP you've got, you know, your standard based mid trouble presence settings. The output is interesting because it can kind of it can kind of overdrive the whole signal chain, so you really don't need a ton of output gain. But you know, if you're working with a low gain input setting than you might need to raise your output, so that's why it's there. But if you're not careful, you can really overdrive the crap out of this thing. Um, so, yeah, these were pretty standard, like, have you play, and I'll just move the knobs around just to kind of dinner street with the difference. What kind of show? Me to play? Um, fast. Fast. So, yeah, I also demonstrated while you were playing, I showed off a couple of the different making positions. Um, these are just the fourth. I don't know. I feel like there's kind of four sounds assed faras metal goes, and I think these are the four best that you can use, and we kind of just gave him little nicknames. You've got the condenser sound, which is kind of brighter. Um, the 4 21 has got a little bit more of a hunk to it. 57 is kind of the classic straight on on on access sound. And then the 57 off axis sound, which is kind of like a little bit of a fatter, uh, not as bright, darker version of the same thing is the then. Ah, the e que is very adjustable. I mean, you can pretty much go in and change. You know, if you need to, like, remove micro frequencies or something. You can do that. You can also use it to just kind of get generally Mawr. If you want more base, more trouble, it's all in there. Go ahead and play way. Here's here's before good. Well, yes. So just in two seconds and just, you know, improved it. Ah, yeah, and I mean, that's pretty much it. Like it's a very simple plug in. It's designed to just get tongue. Great tones quickly. Um, in fact, I think I usedto have this set up to where it sounded pretty much the same as the down and dirty song. So let me see. I can show that it's actually take the down and dirty guitar performance tracks and drag him into the the tone. Ford's tone should be able to play it. Got that loop on? Yeah, that's pretty much it. It's home Forge Demo. Pretty cool. Yeah. I mean, what do you guys think? Do you think it's a pretty cool plug in? Awesome. Yeah, I plan to do more. You know, I want to come up with different models and stuff, but this is just my 1st 1 cause I I want to just come out with a metal lamp. Yeah, first, are you planning on trying to translate it out to something like a solid state head or something? Are rack mounted something? Yes. So we just started off just by saying, Let's just make a metal tone to start with. But I think we'll get into, like, you know, doing more like solid state sounding stuff, tube sounding things like that. I mean, like, do you Are you Do you ever have plants, actually, translate those tones that you guys are generating out into a foe in So hardware? Yeah, probably not. Just because I think everything is moving more. I think people will be playing guitar on their IPhones pretty soon. So I mean, with stuff like that, then I can see that happening sooner than later. Yeah. Yeah, it's pretty cool. Cool. Do you have any questions? Yeah. Marcus has a question. Mark, It's Stone. Do you track guitars just on one track? And how do you deal with? If so, how do you deal with overlapping with punching in? Do you have multiple tracks that are recording d I and then the amps him on like a track and you drop everything down once, you great question, I'll show you. OK, so as we've been kind of working in this song in particular, you'll notice I have three tracks here. Um, I've got guitar and then guitar A and the guitar be. And I know this might be hard for for some of the people to see, but I'll try and I'll try and tell you what everything says. So like this one, which I'll make orange that's guitar. Everything that you record in the sessions is recorded in that track, and generally we just put a really basic distortion tone on there and then, you know, just record all the parts in that track and then once you've got your part completely edited. And the nice thing is having that track allows you to do a bunch of stupid edit parts and and make all kinds of little cuts and stuff without affecting any other audio in the session. Once you've got it done, you can bounce that selection and then just drag it down into, you know, your main rhythm guitar tracks. So it would be like, you know, if you had Let's say we had like this much of the song recorded and we're working on the next part. We would work on it here and build it, put it all together. And then once we had it done, we would just drag it into place like that. And that's just like a workflow thing. Um, I feel like that is the easiest way to do it. What was the second part of his question? Um, how do you do? You have effects or your am Sims just on that one track that you drop everything down to. So, yeah, all three tracks have the amp simulator. So the first track has them simulator so that he can when he's playing, he can get here. Yeah, and then the other two. Typically, I will have a little bit more DSP on these other two. Like I might have more filters or more saturation or something that would normally cause late and see. OK, you wouldn't be able to play through those in real time, but it makes it sound better. So you Onley drag stuff into those tracks that you're gonna keep. You don't punch in on those tracks because you would have late in seeing it. It wouldn't be possible. OK, awesome. How standard Julian D wants to know how standard are these methods and other studios? Or did you just mainly develop a lot of your own techniques through trial and error? You know, I actually don't know. OK, because, I mean, I talked to a lot of people that do this, but ah, I don't know how many people do the things that I do. I I pretty much came up with this stuff just over the last 11 years of just messing around with recording and trying to figure out, like, how can I make the guitar riffs sound perfect? And you just you get to the point where you start literally recording it, note by note. Um, I don't know if this is a common thing, but I think now that are our culture expects perfection, especially in the entertainment industry. It kind of seems to be a more of a regular thing toe have stuff being like, more polished and more perfected, So yeah, I think it probably is becoming more common awesome. Um, do you repeat the process of riff building for overdubs, So yeah, we When we demonstrated it, we were just doing it for a single guitar. You would have to do it twice. Okay? Yeah, because you if you're doing like if we're looking at this riff in particular, both guitars play the same thing. But you still need to have a unique take of of each one, because if they were the same, I could I could actually demonstrate. So let's just say the rift was exactly the same on both sides. This is what it would sound like. And then without it, and with the actual unique take, so one is actually ends up being mono themed in the other one ends up being sterile because its a unique take and it what it really comes down to is if you zoom in like super crazy, these things will move at different rates, and that's the reason why it sounds unique. He's the wave form, actually is never the same on either side, even though you're playing the same part and it's the same notes in the same timing. Um, the way forms are exactly the same. So that's what creates the whiteness. Awesome. Adrian wants to know what language did you use to code that tone? Forge? It's made in C plus. Plus. Okay, How long? But I'm curious. Just how long did it take you to start is in large, okay? And we're barely I mean, what? How long is that? That's, like, 10 months. Yeah, Yeah. Took about 10 months. Okay. Gotcha. Is Ah, preproduction. Difficult if you don't find the band's material. Interesting. Doesn't make you less interested in the project. Yes, absolutely. Um, at that point, I probably wouldn't have agreed to do the project. I've got to be interested because I have to be invested. And if I'm gonna be invested in the only way Teoh really get into it is the like it. So there are cases where someone wants to work with me, but I don't want to work with them. And so you just have to let him down gently, I guess. Yeah. Is that has that been true through your whole career? Has that changed over time? Like initially, You don't get to pick like, at your level. You can pick and choose who you want to work with, right? When you're just starting out as a producer and engineer, it seems like you just got to try to pay the bills and Well, yeah, actually, when I started out, I think I would record anyone okay, because it was fun. And I was still trying to figure out what what I like to do anyway. But as time goes on and you get more and more people that want to work with you, you have to start being choosy, even if you don't want to be. Yeah, but I would think like for the person who's out there, who doesn't, you know, isn't having people fight over them. And and they're not. It's like, you know, how am I supposed to work with these bands if I don't like them? But I still have to make money. You know, you've got to cut your teeth somehow, and I think you know, there's no better way than just actually doing it. And for the people out there who want to know, like, how to actually make money doing this and they're not yet making money, I would say Just record anyone who is willing to let you record them, because if you keep doing that, you're going to get to a certain point where people are gonna be willing to pay you to do what you do. And I think that's when you deserve to be paid, is when someone is willing to give you money to do it. So I honestly, that's what I did. I just recorded my friends and myself until people were like, Hey, can I give you money to record me? I was like, Absolutely, that's also yeah. Um, Ludwig Goransson. Now, do you make your own impacts in effects, or do you sample libraries? Um, a little bit of both, but I'd say it's probably more so. The sample libraries, um, there have been times were like Like, for example, one time I parked my car in empty parking garage, and so it was like super reverberated. And I just got out my IPod that I had at the time, and I hit voice memo hit record and I shut my car door. It sounded crazy like this really cool sound. And then when I got home later, I downloaded it from my email and put it in the song. So I mean, you could do stuff like that, but I would say a majority of like my effects and stuff, especially on this song that we heard today. All that stuff is just from, like, different sample libraries and pre recorded gunshots and things like that. Yeah. Okay, Awesome. Um, this question got six votes. I know you've said you like to record everything 100% perfect. When you're tracking. How do you deal with frustrated musicians that don't understand how perfect you need to track it? So that sounds like it's coming from a frustrated person engineer. Um, you know, it can be difficult because when you're working on album, you know, there's, you know, you work on one song. There's like a lot of parts to it. There's a lot of things. So sometimes you get into these grooves where you're like, you're just telling the guy played again and you're not telling them why. Because you're just like I just want to hear the right one, and you're not really giving him any feedback. So it kind of comes down to just being a good communicator. If you're like you noticed when he was doing the chicken chicken sound, I was like, Can you make it tighter? Can you move your hand This way you can make it sound more like this. If I was just like, no, do it again like he wouldn't know what to do. So it's all about being very open with what you want, and you have to know what you want. You can't direct somebody if you don't know what you want, so you've got to know at least where you're trying to go with it. And then once we're there, just be a good communicator and try toe. Convey what you want that person to do to make it the right thing. Awesome. Maybe one final quick. Do you have any more questions in here? One final question. Then, as a logic pro user, as many of us probably are. How do you or does it matter which doll you use to achieve top quality recordings? Or are they all essentially the same? They in terms of sound, they're all the same. Um, however I do, I firmly believe that your workflow does actually determine, like, okay, if I say you record, let's say we recorded this one album on pro tools and then then we recorded on Q base. I technically they should sound the same. But since Q base works differently than pro tools, I think they actually come out differently. I think they would. If you record the same album on two different dolls, they would come out differently because the way that you interact with the program to to effectively do certain types of editing operations and things and mixing causes you to make different decisions. So while it would technically sound, the same areas should sound the same because it's just a a program that reads zeros and ones off of the hard drive. You're gonna make different decisions based on the tools you're using, right? So if your guitar doesn't stay in tune very well, then you're riffs. Might be sloppy because you just get frustrated with it, You know what I mean? It's so it's the same thing with like, if you can't if If you're recording program is really difficult to edit guitars with, then I bet a lot of the guitar track sound sloppy because you just get fed up with, you know, trying to edit it. So I think Q base is a great I mean, I love Q Base and I have pro tools and I, you know, I've often in situations where I'm comparing the two, and I just I think Q base is better, but that's personal preference, totally awesome.

Class Description

Joey Sturgis is the producer behind some of the biggest names in metalcore, including Asking Alexandria, Of Mice & Men, and I See Stars. His style is one of the most sought after sounds of the last decade and in Studio Pass he’ll show you how he produces it.

There is no magic bullet to Joey’s sound. It’s simply the combination of a million little decisions that add up to something incredible. In this class – for the first time ever – Joey will demonstrate his entire process: pre-pro, engineering, mixing and mastering, from A-Z. 

You’ll learn:

  • Writing and arrangement tips that take a song from good to great
  • Recording, editing, and mixing tips for guitars, vocals, bass, drums, and synths
  • How to get stuff to sound loud, super clean, and tight

Joey is a hands-on engineer – he’ll talk about how he works with bands to develop their writing and ideas so they are working with the best possible raw material. He’ll show you the specific signal chain he uses for mixing guitars, vocals, bass, drums, and synths. And he’ll give extra focus to vocal tracking, editing, tuning, compression, and effects.

If you want to transform your recording and engineering process, don’t miss your opportunity to learn from chart-topping metalcore producer, Joey Sturgis.

Class Materials

bonus material with enrollment


What is Vocal Production

Autotune Pitch Correction Modes and Tools

Understanding Pitch Graphing

Timing and Quantization

Vocal Mixing

Separating Lead & Background in Mixing

Mixing Harmonies & Adv Production Technique

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes



I have been following Joey's work since the early Prada days... This is one of the best discussions any producer has ever contributed to digital audio. I love the amount of transparency. He simply reveals everything and guides you on a very wise path on how to become a in-the-box producer like him! Turns out, the answer is -- a ton of hard work! Plus, this has to be the best use-case on his own awesome and super-affordable plugins. I have watched almost every popular producer/engineer workshops and have also sat-in on Eddie Kramer, Alan Parsons and Quincy Jones producer workshops and believe it or not... This is the best one yet.

Adam Train

I'll be honest, I'm not a fan of the bands Joey records. The only reason I bought this class was because I enjoyed the Periphery one so much. Joey takes modern production techniques to the absolutely extreme. He takes punch-ins and editing to a level where it's not even funny any more. If you're looking for tips on recording and mixing in general, this class is not for you. If you're looking for editing tips to see how far you can possibly push the strive for perfection, this is pretty spot on. If you're a beginner, don't take this class to heart - Joey's workflow is borderline psychopathic - go and get the Periphery session instead. If you've been recording for a while and you're looking to see how far editing can take you, it's worth a look.

a Creativelive Student

Easily one of the best investments I've made. There is so much information here that you'll have to watch it multiple times to really catch everything. Looked up to Joey Sturgis for a long time and this is literally a dream come true to get a behind the scenes look into his talent. He delivered the material in a very understandable fashion and was extremely clear with all his examples. I love creative live =)