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In need of a clean guitar DI signal


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Hi,

 

This is probably partly because I'm a lame guitar/bass player (been playing all of two months), but I really can't get a clean signal from my electric guitar and bass. Because I'm new to this (I'm a piano player), I need some help getting a decent sound.

 

My two types of signal chain are:

 

Epiphone les paul > MOTU Traveler

 

Epiphone les paul > Apogee Duet

 

Things are slightly better with my Duet, but I get hum, a muddy sound and whenever I put my recordings through something like Guitar Rig 3, those hums, clicks and squeaks are amplified loads (depending on the amp model of course) creating a pretty unpleasant sound in comparison to what I hear elsewhere.

 

I'm looking to get the type of sound you can hear on the iZotop Trash demos (before they're put through the plugin of course):

 

http://www.izotope.com/products/audio/trash/samples.html

 

If I don't touch the strings on either the guitar or bass, there is a loud hum, but i assume that is normal right?

 

I was thinking about getting an UA Solo/610 as I was told this would help loads with getting a good bass and guitar signal. Apparently, it would also be good for vocals:

 

http://www.dv247.com/studio-equipment/universal-audio-solo-610-classic-vacuum-tube-mic-pre-and-di-box--33426

 

Can any guitar/bass pro out there confirm that the above is the way to go or recommend something else?

 

Thanks,

 

Cato

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My two types of signal chain are:

 

Epiphone les paul > MOTU Traveler

 

Epiphone les paul > Apogee Duet

 

Things are slightly better with my Duet,

As they should be. The Traveler has no instrument level inputs.

 

If I don't touch the strings on either the guitar or bass, there is a loud hum, but i assume that is normal right?

No.

 

I was thinking about getting an UA Solo/610

If you're not getting a clean signal with the Duet's instrument inputs, then you should look at your pickups and cable first as the culprits before shelling out for a new DI/Pre.

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Sounds like a guitar problem. I've never NEEDED a UA 610 to record a guitar DI, and neither do you.

 

Sounds very much like your pickups aren't grounded. Get a guitar tech to look at this. You could try getting a dedicated DI box, these often have Ground Lifts on them which can help. But to me it sounds like it's your guitar. My (ibanez roadstar) guitar doesn't do this, my (fender mustang) bass does a bit.

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It is normal for some guitars to hum when not being played. When I plug in my Telecaster that has single coil pickups there is noticeable cycle hum and when played through an over driven amp or distortion effect it can sound like a plane taking off when you are not touching the strings (probably why the Tele is not the git of choice for thrash metal).

 

In your case (unless your guitar has been modified) you probably have Hum-buckers in there so your hum should be minimal especially with a clean signal (i would not go as far as to say nonexistent). I would go with the suggestions above for trouble shooting this and add that you may want to try a different power source to make sure that is not compounding the issue. If you have ever plugged your amp in to the wall socket of some dive bar you will know the buzz associated with crap wiring.

 

I must say i have never played a guitar that was whisper quite in all situations. some effects will bring out the background noise and others will not this is why noise gate is such a popular tool for guitar. However it sounds like the hum you are describing may be a little out of the ordinary so i would get it checked out.

 

As for the muddy sound fool around with your guitars eq a bit and change your strings if they are old. (You probably have already done this but if not it could make a big difference in your tone)

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After thinking about it some, I believe you should check in this order, Electric ground on the outlet your interface/computer is plugged into, jacks and electrics on the guitar, audio cable/guitar cord. Do you have another guitar to try? See if it also has the hum, then you can narrow it down, but many older guitars need some fixing, I found lining my BC Rich with a bunch of active electronics, inside the body cavity with a foil tabe it cut out almost all hum I was having along with replacing the 1/4" jack.

 

Could be from a bunch of different things, start by logically :) sorting each different component out until the hum is gone, then you will find the culprit.

 

Good luck this kind of thing can drive one crazy.

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I've seen people connect electrical wire, or a string, or a piece of foil to the bridge of the guitar, with the other end toughing the plug casing on their lead. Any bit of metal on the lead should do.

Of course this depends on the problem with your guitar as it could be other things.

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It is normal for some guitars to hum when not being played. When I plug in my Telecaster that has single coil pickups there is noticeable cycle hum and when played through an over driven amp or distortion effect it can sound like a plane taking off when you are not touching the strings (probably why the Tele is not the git of choice for thrash metal).

 

In your case (unless your guitar has been modified) you probably have Hum-buckers in there so your hum should be minimal especially with a clean signal (i would not go as far as to say nonexistent). I would go with the suggestions above for trouble shooting this and add that you may want to try a different power source to make sure that is not compounding the issue. If you have ever plugged your amp in to the wall socket of some dive bar you will know the buzz associated with crap wiring.

 

I must say i have never played a guitar that was whisper quite in all situations. some effects will bring out the background noise and others will not this is why noise gate is such a popular tool for guitar. However it sounds like the hum you are describing may be a little out of the ordinary so i would get it checked out.

 

As for the muddy sound fool around with your guitars eq a bit and change your strings if they are old. (You probably have already done this but if not it could make a big difference in your tone)

 

+1 to all of this.

 

And I'd like to add - not knowing exactly what pickups are in your Epiphone Les Paul (most likely they are hum-bucking), you should know that P-90 style pickups are notoriously loud. It's part of their charm.

 

So, think of it in these terms:

 

From loudness of cycle/pickup hum noise, loudest to softest:

1 - P90 pickups (loudest)

2 - Single Coil

3 - some "active" single coils

4 - Humbucking

4 (tie) - "noiseless" single coils

 

It depends on what type of music you're making as to what you'd want to look more closely into. For instance, if you were rocking out some James Gang style rock and roll, the P90's are perfectly noisy. For Evanesence type stuff, you'd probably want some fancy actives. BUT all of this is to say that at least some hum/cycle noise is to be expected and shouldn't be completely ripped out of your guitar "tone".

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