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Minimal gear for DI guitar/bass recording

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Minimal gear for DI guitar/bass recording

Postby mnearents » Mon Apr 05, 2021 9:52 pm

I've done a ton of research but just can't quite figure out what I need. I am not a pro musician. I write music for myself, my wife, that's about it. I'm not going for a pro, sounds like a million dollar studio quality sound. I'm going for a half-step below that.

So, assuming mixing, mastering, etc., is all on par, what is the minimum amount of equipment you'd buy to record guitars/bass DI, to have the widest range of tones and effects, with a clean enough sound/signal that it could be mixed in and sound good.

Assumptions: I already own the guitars, bass, and computer. I'm using Garageband to record. I'm sending tracks off somewhere else to be mixed/mastered. Drums/vocals are recorded somewhere else as well. Genre will range from light alt-rock, to heavy metal.

Budget: Around $1000.

Current equipment: Focusrite Scarlett Solo.

Option 1: Buy a multi-effects pedal with a USB interface, like the Helix Stomp (or GT1000 Core), which can record a track with effects and one clean at the same time, and use software to "reamp" (am I using that correctly) the clean track.

Option 2: Go full software and just run from my Guitar to the Focusrite. Maybe add a booster pedal and a simple IR cab sim pedal like the Digitech CabDryVR. The Digitech can send a dry track and emulated track simultaneously, so if I upgraded to a Scarlett 2i2 I could still record one clean track that I edit with software, and one cab-emulated track simultaneously.

Option 3: Create a pedalboard instead of the multi-effects pedal. The Boss MD-500 seems like it would cover everything except distortion. I could find a distortion pedal or use software.

I'm looking for people who have experience with simple guitar recording that once mixed, can sound great. Maybe not a million dollars great, but could fool a non-musician into thinking it was professionally recorded. Maybe post some spotify links to songs recorded like this. That would be super helpful.

I know it's about opinion and you should experiment and try different things. I plan on doing that, I just want a good direction to start. I do have a Digitech CabDryVR and booster pedal on the way so I can try that first.
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Re: Minimal gear for DI guitar/bass recording

Postby CS70 » Mon Apr 05, 2021 10:05 pm

I'm looking for people who have experience with simple guitar recording that once mixed, can sound great. Maybe not a million dollars great, but could fool a non-musician into thinking it was professionally recorded. Maybe post some spotify links to songs recorded like this. That would be super helpful.

They are all options, because it's not really the gear that makes a great guitar recording. It's a great guitarist playing great :D

Philosophy aside, the easiest technical way is option 1 - a multieffect with amplifier/cabinet emulation. You don't need a new interface or USB as you can get the analogue outs of the box into your current interface.

There are other options (for example, I've played my parts recently with some of my actual amps, my pedalboard and a loadbox) but that is by far the easiest.
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Re: Minimal gear for DI guitar/bass recording

Postby Sam Spoons » Mon Apr 05, 2021 11:43 pm

As above :thumbup:

I'd add that any of the rigs you suggest (and many others) are capable of producing release quality recordings, there is no one 'magic bullet' piece of equipment or software.
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Re: Minimal gear for DI guitar/bass recording

Postby mnearents » Tue Apr 06, 2021 12:55 am

Sam Spoons wrote:there is no one 'magic bullet' piece of equipment or software.

Totally agree with this. I guess I’m looking for the easiest option that gives me the most flexibility with tones and effects. And maybe just looking for some reassurance that it’s possible. Or any big roadblocks people have run into with one option or the other.
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Re: Minimal gear for DI guitar/bass recording

Postby Moroccomoose » Tue Apr 06, 2021 7:13 am

For a MIMIMALIST approach, you already have all you need. The Focusrite has a hi z instrument input specifically for guitar DIing. There are tonnes of vst effects to cover the whole spectrum of guitar tones. Amplitube or Guitar rig are the obvious virtual guitar rig modellers, but there are loads of alternatives at all price levels. Your budget has them all covered.

There are also any amount of tutorials for getting great tones from amp modellers.

Depending on how complex your tracks are, its unlikely that latency will be a significant issue.

The advantages of the external solutions like amp modeller boards and so on mean you can replicate your guitar sounds away from the computer. I wouldn't want to rely on a computer in a live performance environment, but I don't think that is an issue for you.

I'd also echo the above sentiment that its not really about the gear.

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Re: Minimal gear for DI guitar/bass recording

Postby ef37a » Tue Apr 06, 2021 8:24 am

I agree with the others that "it is not about the gear" but not completely perhaps.

The Solo IS about as basic as an AI can get and I always have the uncomfortable feeling that such 'one lunged' devices are really bottom barrel specification? But no, you don't need to go mad and get an Apollo IMHO. What I would suggest is a step up to an interface with at least two mic/line/instr inputs (if nothing else it will save plug swapping! ) I would look even a little further for an AI with 2 mic etc ins plus 3/4 line ins where other devices, keys, mixer perhaps could be connected in the future. Two mic inputs also allow experimentation with DI boxes, even the cheapest passive devices can give useful 'colour' to a guitar or bass.

Two such interface come to mind. The Native Instruments KA6 and the MOTU M4 (when you can find one!) but Focusrite make such a beast as do Tascam and several others.

Bit what I would ask you is, what are you using for monitors? Your results can only be as good as the 'listening rig' and the room allows.

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Re: Minimal gear for DI guitar/bass recording

Postby Aled Hughes » Tue Apr 06, 2021 9:04 am

I like Amplitube. I’d have no issues with plugging straight into the Focusrite and using Amplitube to get the sounds.
That kind of approach is the simplest and most flexible I think.
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Re: Minimal gear for DI guitar/bass recording

Postby The Elf » Tue Apr 06, 2021 9:15 am

And I'll throw in Line 6 Helix Native - I use this and the hardware and it makes things very simple and repeatable.
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Re: Minimal gear for DI guitar/bass recording

Postby CS70 » Tue Apr 06, 2021 4:44 pm

ef37a wrote:I agree with the others that "it is not about the gear" but not completely perhaps.

Mostly :lol:
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Re: Minimal gear for DI guitar/bass recording

Postby MOF » Tue Apr 06, 2021 5:03 pm

You could replace your current interface with a UAD Apollo interface and use a Unison enabled guitar amplifier plugin for very low latency and the ability to change amplifiers after recording just the DI signal.
https://www.uaudio.com/
https://www.uaudio.com/audio-interfaces.html
https://www.uaudio.com/uad-plugins/guit ... 5-dlx.html
https://www.uaudio.com/uad-plugins/plug ... undle.html
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Re: Minimal gear for DI guitar/bass recording

Postby MOF » Tue Apr 06, 2021 6:10 pm

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Re: Minimal gear for DI guitar/bass recording

Postby mnearents » Tue Apr 06, 2021 7:39 pm

Moroccomoose wrote:I'd also echo the above sentiment that its not really about the gear.

Totally totally understand. Let's just assume this is one of the controlled variables. I'm as good a musician as I've ever been and that's not going to change much. I'm not expecting gear to magically solve all my issues. I'm just wanting the smartest and most efficient solution. I appreciate the feedback I've gotten so far.

I guess I'm a little worried about the preamp quality of my Scarlett Solo. So I wasn't sure if it was sufficient. I've seen people mention the Apollo. That would be sweet and is within my budget, but means I'd have to rely on software for all my sounds, which is fine, but not as fun as physical pedals/processors, ha. But it's definitely an option.

I will check out Amplitube as I saw someone mention that. I also just discovered the amp designer in Garageband (never knew it was there). So that could be something to explore too, which would save money for physical gear or a better interface.
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Re: Minimal gear for DI guitar/bass recording

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Apr 06, 2021 9:45 pm

mnearents wrote:I guess I'm a little worried about the preamp quality of my Scarlett Solo. So I wasn't sure if it was sufficient. I've seen people mention the Apollo. That would be sweet and is within my budget, but means I'd have to rely on software for all my sounds, which is fine, but not as fun as physical pedals/processors, ha. But it's definitely an option

Unless your room and monitoring rig is excellent the quality difference between the Scarlett and the Apollo will be pretty much irrelevant. Go for what inspires you to play better (in my case that's a small valve combo and a few pedals (though I'm trying to learn to love a Headrush Gigboard).
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Re: Minimal gear for DI guitar/bass recording

Postby ef37a » Tue Apr 06, 2021 10:17 pm

CS70 wrote:
ef37a wrote:I agree with the others that "it is not about the gear" but not completely perhaps.

Mostly :lol:

Oh? I have followed your arguments pretty well in the "F'rite" debacle (although writing drivers is total Greek to me) But that response I do not get?

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Re: Minimal gear for DI guitar/bass recording

Postby CS70 » Wed Apr 07, 2021 11:06 am

ef37a wrote:
CS70 wrote:
ef37a wrote:I agree with the others that "it is not about the gear" but not completely perhaps.

Mostly :lol:

Oh? I have followed your arguments pretty well in the "F'rite" debacle (although writing drivers is total Greek to me) But that response I do not get?

Dave.

Apologies for being too cryptic. If you click the link, you find a video of Zakk Wylde playing a beautiful rendition of a Black Sabbath song on a Hello Kitty guitar. :D

When it comes to guitar playing, it's mostly not about the gear, but the player. A good player makes a toy guitar sound good, a bad player makes the best and most expensive gear sound bad.

Within reason, of course. Hence the "mostly". :)
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