Guitar Tracks - Tips on plugins?

Even though my question is more of a “How do I…”, I figure any answers to this post will serve has a tip. Basically, I’m looking for any advice on plugins for guitar tracks.

I recorded 4 tracks for my current project, two tracks recorded at the same time using an SM57 off center and an AT2020 condenser about 2-3 ft away (mic’d Peavey 6505+). Within Ardour, I’m using a SC4 mono compressor and a Parametric EQ on each track, each panned L 70 70 R, respectively. Then, I have all 4 tracks being sent to a ‘Reverberator’ bus.

The Question:
Are there any plugins I should consider in addition to what I’ve already done to boost the sound quality and give it that crystal clear, airy like sound like the pros… make it more awesome? The CAPS plugins have a lot of Amp simulator plugins and/or Tone plugins. Are they worth a shot or mostly designed for DI recordings? Chorus plugins? Something I’m not even considering cause I’m stupid?

I’m not a guitar player and my ear is horrible, which is half my problem. But I know comparing my efforts to pressed CDs, mine sounds like poop! What would be a great plugin chain on the track or ideal BUS setup for FX?

Thanks in advance…

Wow. Classes on recording guitars can take entire semesters.

How I treat acoustic guitars in a mix is entirely different than the way I treat distorted electric guitars, but closer to the way I treat clean electric guitars.

The first thing I would do is move that 2020 in to the same distance as the 57. With two mics I always mic two different cones in the cabinet.

But even before I put a mic in front of the cabinet I turn the amp down and put my head in front of all 4 speakers (in a 4x12) one at a time and pick the two best sounding cones, to my ears. Then I mic those two.

Having one mic 2 or 3 ft away introduces 2 or 3 ms of delay on that mic, and when you combine the two signals you will get some comb filtering, and I always try to avoid those things. Now you can fix that later, by dragging the tracks around in ardour, but I would make a choice on if I was close miking the amp, or not, in advance, and be consistent. This is just a habit I picked up working analog, where it’s harder to fix, later.

I know very little about the 2020, and since I have never used one, I can’t truly say much about it, but I wouldn’t expect much from a $99 condenser. I would expect it to break up at high SPL levels (redundant, I know), so don’t put it in front of a really loud amp.

I’m not sure I understand your panning. Could you explain that again?

You can't shine poop as they say :P You're better off spending as much time on the guitar tone and your micing techniques than anything else. If you get the sound going in sounding as good as possible, you'll have less to do with it later, which is the best way really.
I don't think I have a bad sound, per se. I mean, with all four tracks, its sounds heavy as hell. But besides HPF/LPF, EQ, and Compression, I was curious as to whether or not there's anything else to add to spice it up to get it ear-bleeding awesome. Delay is good'ol standby when you have only 2 tracks or so.... might be overkill with 4 tracks panned accordingly. Reverb is a neccessity live, but should it be in a recording? Maybe a chorus? a Tube Warmer? Lots of plugins... which is why I'm asking: What would you do?


EDIT - Are you recording a single guitar take? If you are doing that and it's not so much the tone that's lacking but the fact that it doesn't sound as big as you'd like, try doing double takes. I'd do this over taking the signal from two mics first (not to say that you shouldn't try using the two mics).
Two takes, two different guitars, same mic position for both the SM57 and AT2020. So basically, two different guitarists recording dual tracks from the same amp (6505+). The variation in sound is mostly from their guitars, not so much different mic positioning.
The first thing I would do is move that 2020 in to the same distance as the 57. With two mics I always mic two different cones in the cabinet.
I actually had the AT2020 almost 4 ft away (just to capture ambiance). I ended up moving it about 2' back to keep it in phase with the SM57. So basically, I can tweak the highs and lows of the guitar by adjusting the gain on the two tracks. It works out kinda nice cause I can set the HPF/LPF different on the two tracks.
I'm not sure I understand your panning. Could you explain that again?
The two AT2020 are panned hard R and L. The SM57 tracks are panned 70 degrees R and L, respectively. This essentially puts the bassier SM57 tracks closer to center with the high AT2020 tracks more outward. I thought about doing it the opposite way.... but most instruments are panned bass toward the center. Figured I'd just keep with that theory (though it could be creating competition with the other instruments).

It’s at this point that I quote the famous Ralph Kramden and say, “HominaHominaHomina.”


Some great advice in this thread and I couldn’t agree more about getting things right the first time and paying close attention to mic placement. I don’t work much with that scooped-mid metal sound personally but as far as plugins go I find the linuxDSP DT-1 LV2 stompbox plugin can be quite useful to help improve a lackluster guitar track if you’re already stuck with it.

You would assume that a plugin like the DT-1 would only be used to make a dry direct recorded guitar sound like an amp, and it does a good job of that however I find even on tracks that have been recorded from a miked amp the DT-1 and the speaker emulation does a nifty job of focusing the track and finding a little narrower and therefore more prominent bandwidth in the mix without adding more unwanted distortion. Simply jacking up the level control and dialing in the drive to whatever focus point you like works great.

A big plus any anemic sounding instrument like hardware keyboard synths, Rhodes/Wurlitzer Electric Pianos and B3-like organs all can benefit from the nice ‘musical’ overdrive provided by the DT-1 as well.


On a semi-related topic if you have an acoustic guitar track that needs a lift I find the Calf Exciter used conservatively can really bring it to life. I had an older recording where the acoustic guitar was recorded with an SM57 ( I didn’t have a LDC mic at that time) and the performance was good but the track sounded pretty dead, a few minutes with the Calf Exciter totally saved it! You have to be careful otherwise it can get pretty zingy and plastic sounding if you add too much ‘excitement’…

Just another plugin guitar plugin observation… and now back to our experts

I don’t have the linuxDSP plugins, but I think either invada or caps had a few distortion plugins. I’ll give those a whirl and see if I can breath anymore life into my guits! Also, I just realized who you are. I know you have an A/V Linux image, but I didn’t put two and two together! I’m a Mepis fanboy… and I remember some of your older posts on the Mepis forums asking about using Mepis as the base image. Sorry to hear about 6.0 being such a pain in the ass. Regardless, I want to take a look at it so I’ll be pulling down an ISO in the near future!

Also, if anyone else out there is a Mepis Linux user, I just had some of the support folks package the Steve Harris LV2 plugins; they’re available on their test repos now.

Just to give everyone an idea of what I’m working with, I created this sample to show the extremes of before and after. If you hear anything in the ‘mixed’ part (guitars) that could use some tweaking, do tell!! More mids, more lows, more highs… more scoop in the mids… etc…

Hi Hippie,

Wow good memory, that was a few years ago now! I remember you too… I think we were about the only Ardour users using MEPIS back then…lol

MEPIS is a great community but I needed a bit more freedom to accomplish all the things I wanted with AV Linux. I’d love for you to give the ISO a try sometime, although I’ve had to cut back my time spent doing it significantly I have still managed to get some important updated packages built since the release of AV 6.0 so it is still quite current and it comes with all of linuxDSP’s stuff in demos as well as a demo of Harrison Mixbus…

Best of luck with your recordings!

thanks for these article or thread as it gives us an insights. it did also truly help us specially on my part since i have almost the same situation this time. in fact, i’m glad i came back to this site and read this post. cheers. thanks.