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> Digital Amp/cab Modeling And Modern Country Pop/rock
Bogdan Radovic
post Nov 26 2014, 10:52 PM
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Here is a random thought smile.gif

I don't know if I'm just imagining or if it something else but always when I hear modern country pop/rock songs on the radio, I always get the impression that the guitars were recorded using software modeling or devices like Axe Fx or Kemper. There is something in the sound which gives me these vibes, I'm not sure what.

Some examples :





...or maybe it's just the type of mastering they do on the tracks which makes me thing this?
Somehow as if I'm getting "digital" vibes from the recordings.


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Kristofer Dahl
post Nov 26 2014, 11:11 PM
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My experience is that its no longer possible to distinguish something 'digital' from kemper/axe, they dont color the sound in that sense. So if there are artifacts (etc) audible in a recording it is just as likely to come from a real amp thats been badly recorded. Recording a real amp is very difficult but grabbing a professional kemper profile is easy, so I definitely believe we're hearing more and more of it on the radio etc


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Kristofer Dahl
post Nov 27 2014, 10:11 AM
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I have now listened to the videos and I am not really blown away by the guitar sound, so to my ears they could probably even have used classic amp plugins.

For recording those (ampfarm etc) have been delivering for along time, provided the right man/woman is sitting behind the desk - however they have been very far from ok as far as dynamics and response goes. And therefore not useful for gigging or practicing (how can you learn to master dynamics if they aren't there to start with?!).

The new units (kemper/axe) - excel at this as well. Which is why they have become a substitute for amps in all circumstances, not just 'in the mix'.

Great topic btw!


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Bogdan Radovic
post Nov 27 2014, 10:23 AM
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Thanks - so it is not just me smile.gif

I thought I was imagining things as I would hear the same kind of guitar sound/tone over several different artists recordings in this genre. These are extremely popular songs with millions of views which also confused me as to why wouldn't they record higher quality guitar tones. This is all speculating of course but maybe most of tracks in this genre used a same session guy who uses a specific setup for all of his work? Or they don't care for the production as much as for the song itself. I do believe the song always comes first and that there is no amazing production which can make a bad song turn into a good song smile.gif

Great to hear about Kemper/Axe experience and impressions, I always knew this day would come where the process gets much more simple (process of recording guitar). From my experience recording live guitars even in best studios with great mics/amps is too time consuming and often doesn't sound like one imagined it before recording. So far, guitarist would buy a quality instrument/pedals etc and then save up for a high end amp to complete the chain. Now, one can just get a Kemper or Axe FX as "safe choice" and be recording ready + those units can be used live with addition of a cabinet if I'm not mistaken.


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Kristofer Dahl
post Nov 27 2014, 10:36 AM
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QUOTE (Bogdan Radovic @ Nov 27 2014, 10:23 AM) *
I thought I was imagining things as I would hear the same kind of guitar sound/tone over several different artists recordings in this genre. These are extremely popular songs with millions of views which also confused me as to why wouldn't they record higher quality guitar tones. This is all speculating of course but maybe most of tracks in this genre used a same session guy who uses a specific setup for all of his work? Or they don't care for the production as much as for the song itself. I do believe the song always comes first and that there is no amazing production which can make a bad song turn into a good song smile.gif


Yes. It could simply be that the engineer has invested a lot of time in learning a classic amp plugin, and then sticks to it in order not have to re-learn. Probably not wise in the long run - but even pro people can get too comfortable...

It would be interesting to hear what Ken thinks about this!


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Mertay
post Nov 27 2014, 11:19 AM
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Wow this song has lots of edits in it! almost every beat to a word the guy sings to me seems recorded separate or edited really tight, felt odd cause one hears this more on gaga sort of stuff where in this genre we're used to a more flowing vibe like almost live recording (less editing due to great musicians)...

The guitars also sounded funny to me, anyone ever messed with guitar vsti? I haven't but maybe its some samples keyboard triggered?

This post has been edited by Mertay: Nov 27 2014, 11:20 AM


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klasaine
post Nov 27 2014, 02:42 PM
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Hard to say - ?
Pop country has always been very homogeneous. Since the mid 80s really. The guitar tones have gotten very processed (and generic) sounding whether it's a real amp or a modeler (Kemper most likely). As a session player on any instrument many times you're required to get a certain 'sound' if you want to get called, especially for commercial music. In the 70s it was a 335 and a modded Princeton reverb. In the 80s - chorused out Strat rhythm tone or L.A. metal modded marshall lead tone. 90s and 00s - huge fuzz/gain rhythm with an LP or a Jazzmaster/Jaguar and/or the Edge's clean delay patch. Now it's kinda all back to the 80s again. That's super general of course but you get the idea. For todays pop country you better have the a good classic rock lead tone i.e., Vox or Marshall (real or modeled) with either a Tele or a Les Paul.

I think the first vid is all actually played by a guitar player. No idea if it's 'real' or profiled/modeled.
The second vid (Luke Bryan) probably has samples in it or is just really chopped up and manipulated - very common. The Luke Bryan tune even cops the classic modern hip-hop chord progression (at certain points) and digitally tweaks the banjo part (among others). Shit like that cracks me up laugh.gif
*Earlier this year I did a banjo track for Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins (of TLC fame). It was kind of a pop/hip-hop country esque song that was used when she did a guest spot on either the Voice or America's Got Talent or one of those shows - ? A lot of the song was just a vamp on one chord. I played through the whole thing but they cut me up and pasted sections. Sometimes it's done because they like the feel or attack of a particular two or four bars or because the actual form of the song is not set in stone. It's easy now to completely change up a tune.

Demographically, pop country sells H U G E ! As big or bigger than Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and Bruno Mars. They apply the same aesthetic ... and it can suffer the same fate. Once the producers find a guitar tone (or fiddle or steel tone) that sells, then they use it on everything for awhile. Until some other hit tone comes along.
*Neither of those posted songs are considered to be 'country' by anyone actually into country music. Not a value judgement. We just think of songs like that as 'pop'.

These days any and all pop or commercial guitar tracks will have been recorded at least two ways simultaneously: 1) amp'd or modeled 2) clean DI for re-amping/modeling. Even when I go over to someone's house to record I pretty much insist that they take a clean DI track from me along with whatever else they want.

This post has been edited by klasaine: Nov 27 2014, 07:21 PM


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Bogdan Radovic
post Nov 27 2014, 10:14 PM
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Thanks a lot for insights Ken! smile.gif

I've been listening to this genre a bit via online radios but I didn't know about the background of it. It makes perfect sense though what you say about tones - they found what worked and they are just re-using it all over the place. I have a feeling this genre due to popularity demands pretty quick production and delivery of new materials which might be cause for trying to make the process as efficient as possible. So this is in the USA called just "pop"? I thought it had to do something with country due to clear country vibes in the songs and overall presentation. I did find the mix/song styling fresh to listen to, especially since you can't hear it locally on radio here at all.

Why does it sell so well? Is the lyrics and vocals which I'm noticing are usually in "story telling" mode and pretty personal?


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klasaine
post Nov 28 2014, 12:12 AM
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QUOTE (Bogdan Radovic @ Nov 27 2014, 02:14 PM) *
So this is in the USA called just "pop"? I thought it had to do something with country due to clear country vibes in the songs and overall presentation. I did find the mix/song styling fresh to listen to, especially since you can't hear it locally on radio here at all.

Why does it sell so well? Is the lyrics and vocals which I'm noticing are usually in "story telling" mode and pretty personal?


The general populous calls it 'pop country' or new country. But, if you're into actual country music i.e., anything from Ernest Tubb and Hank Williams up to about Randy Travis and Alan Jackson you don't call it 'country'. A cowboy hat, boots and a truck does not a country song/artist make ... IMO.

In the early 90s starting with late period Garth Brooks, Toby Keith, Kenny Chesney and Shania Twain (all of which I dig - except Chesney) it started to change. Way more mainstream pop elements entered into country music and mainstream at that time as now, incorporated a lot of 90s style rock, nu-soul/R&B as well as hip-hop so ...

Why does it sell? As you noticed the lyrical content has a lot to do with it and it's pretty non-threatening as music goes. No odd rhythms, no weird chords, it's very (predictably) melodic, there's a lot of precision in the performances/mixes/production and folks do still dig a cool guitar solo. In a lot of ways it's a like a good solid piece of furniture or a good car. Maybe nothing 'special' but it does the job.

This post has been edited by klasaine: Nov 28 2014, 08:47 AM


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