Should I use guitar recordings or virtual instruments?

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Sonomi
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Should I use guitar recordings or virtual instruments?

#1 Post by Sonomi » Thu Apr 13, 2017 9:48 pm

In a visual novel I'm working on, there is a rock band and I wanted to include music for performance scenes.

The question is, should I use virtual instruments or try to record the songs with real ones? I'm leaning toward the first option because it's easier for me to make the songs, but they don't always have that authentic sound I could get from using instruments. At the same time, using real instruments means wrestling with Audacity to make sure everything sounds okay (mixing is hard).

This is an example of me using Audacity to record my electric guitar. Live Night - Sonomi

The drum track was made in FL Studio, the guitar was recorded by placing my microphone right against my amp, and the final recording was put through several FL Studio filters.

Should I stick to virtual instruments? Or should I keep practicing proper recording techniques until I get it right? Authenticity is what I'm worried about, overall.
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Re: Should I use guitar recordings or virtual instruments?

#2 Post by Joshua1207 » Thu Apr 13, 2017 10:51 pm

When given the option, I'd always go for the live instrument over the VST. I'd suggest giving REAPER a try over audacity. You can also use Reaper as a DAW instead of FL Studio if you want to keep everything in the same DAW (or you can route fl studio to reaper too, I suppose).

To be honest, guitar is the only live instrument that I record. It might take some time to learn how to mix it properly & everything, but its well worth learning how to do it.
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Re: Should I use guitar recordings or virtual instruments?

#3 Post by Sonomi » Thu Apr 13, 2017 11:10 pm

Joshua1207 wrote:When given the option, I'd always go for the live instrument over the VST. I'd suggest giving REAPER a try over audacity. You can also use Reaper as a DAW instead of FL Studio if you want to keep everything in the same DAW (or you can route fl studio to reaper too, I suppose).

To be honest, guitar is the only live instrument that I record. It might take some time to learn how to mix it properly & everything, but its well worth learning how to do it.
I guess I should start saving up then. :) Reaper seems like a powerful tool to have at the very least.

Perhaps I should try reading through a few more tutorials as well so I can record with better quality. Definitely can see why you would use live guitars. I don't know what it is, but there's a certain tone to it that makes the sound very distinctive and not so easy to duplicate.

Thanks for the reply!
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Re: Should I use guitar recordings or virtual instruments?

#4 Post by Joshua1207 » Fri Apr 14, 2017 2:11 am

Reaper has an indefinite free-trial so you can give it a try before you buy it. Definitely the best $60 I've spent haha.

There's a lot of helpful information around on the net when it comes to recording guitars. I know years ago when I first started out ultimate-guitar had some helpful articles although I dunno if they're still there. If you have any questions feel free to pm me and I'll try to help~
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Re: Should I use guitar recordings or virtual instruments?

#5 Post by D.ray » Fri Apr 14, 2017 4:31 pm

If authenticity is your goal then a live recording is your answer. There are some instruments which vst just can’t replicate and guitar is one of those. There are simply way too many factors and nuances that go into an actual guitar performance that vst can’t make up for. And as a guitarist it’s pretty easy to tell when a fake guitar is used on track vs a real life one.

I took a listen to your track and I like the riff and actual composition, however the quality leaves a lot to be desired. It’s very lofi sounding and yet very harsh at the same time. Sounds like you might have been clipping your mic too.

Recording guitar is an art form in itself. Here are a few tips to help you get a better tone.

- Use a dynamic mic on a axis directly on the grill of the amp and position it so it’s on the edge of the amp speaker.
- Play a riff and see how it sounds. Move the mic closer or further away from the edge of the speaker Then adjust height

By this point you should know what position gives you the best tone. However it would also be wise to record a take for each position you end up trying and to take notes on what position the recording is. This makes comparing each tone/position easier and helps you decide which one to use if you end up being unsure.

Once you know the correct mic position, adjust the settings on your amp. Bass, mids, and treble. You can record loud(if you have a tube amp) but make sure your mic doesn’t clip otherwise adjust the input settings via your interface. Also record with the least amount of gain needed for your tone. Too much gain will essentially destroy your performance. If your tone still need gain, or grit, you can apply saturation in the mix on your guitar tracks.

This will work for any rhythm guitar tone, and applies to lead tone (sometimes). There's a lot more to this, but this is a good starting point. I would also recommend using reaper. It’s an amazing DAW. In my opinion it’s the best one out there at the moment. There is a learning curve to it, but the reaper community can easily bring you up to speed on that. Audacity is ok for simple recording, but you definitely need a proper DAW for mixing, and you can’t go wrong with reaper. FL is ok, but IMO reaper has superior editing, mixing and recording capabilities and it can essentially do all the midi stuff Fl can do.
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Re: Should I use guitar recordings or virtual instruments?

#6 Post by Sonomi » Sun Apr 16, 2017 9:05 pm

D.ray wrote:If authenticity is your goal then a live recording is your answer. There are some instruments which vst just can’t replicate and guitar is one of those. There are simply way too many factors and nuances that go into an actual guitar performance that vst can’t make up for. And as a guitarist it’s pretty easy to tell when a fake guitar is used on track vs a real life one.

I took a listen to your track and I like the riff and actual composition, however the quality leaves a lot to be desired. It’s very lofi sounding and yet very harsh at the same time. Sounds like you might have been clipping your mic too.

Recording guitar is an art form in itself. Here are a few tips to help you get a better tone.

- Use a dynamic mic on a axis directly on the grill of the amp and position it so it’s on the edge of the amp speaker.
- Play a riff and see how it sounds. Move the mic closer or further away from the edge of the speaker Then adjust height

By this point you should know what position gives you the best tone. However it would also be wise to record a take for each position you end up trying and to take notes on what position the recording is. This makes comparing each tone/position easier and helps you decide which one to use if you end up being unsure.

Once you know the correct mic position, adjust the settings on your amp. Bass, mids, and treble. You can record loud(if you have a tube amp) but make sure your mic doesn’t clip otherwise adjust the input settings via your interface. Also record with the least amount of gain needed for your tone. Too much gain will essentially destroy your performance. If your tone still need gain, or grit, you can apply saturation in the mix on your guitar tracks.

This will work for any rhythm guitar tone, and applies to lead tone (sometimes). There's a lot more to this, but this is a good starting point. I would also recommend using reaper. It’s an amazing DAW. In my opinion it’s the best one out there at the moment. There is a learning curve to it, but the reaper community can easily bring you up to speed on that. Audacity is ok for simple recording, but you definitely need a proper DAW for mixing, and you can’t go wrong with reaper. FL is ok, but IMO reaper has superior editing, mixing and recording capabilities and it can essentially do all the midi stuff Fl can do.
Okay, so I was finally able to download and install Reaper on my laptop. It's a little overwhelming to learn a new interface again, but hey, that is essentially what I have done in every other software. Maybe it won't look so foreign in a few weeks from now. :)

I agree that this is an art form in and of itself. Really, I am taken aback as to how other people can get such great mixes with their own recordings (and of course this is me saying so prior to trying your tips...) Thank you very much for all of the information you shared!
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