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Sir Groove-A-Lot
Charvel So Cal & San Dimas
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You say nobody gives a fuck about the tone but I disagree. I think they were VERY particular about their tone. It was that a) the motivation and end-goal was completely different, and b) there was about 5% of the options that there are today, so you had to find all kinds of work-arounds.

For the most part, what was being used then is still very desirable and held in high regard today (basically JCM800s and Mesa Mark series). I'm someone who will take that stuff any day over what's current.

I think also engineering has moved on. There were techniques at play here that just arent desirable today because we've collectively figured out how to get better tones from 30+ years of trial and error.

Does that mean those tones were bad? Hell no.

Does Dave Mustaines tone suck even in the context of the era?

Yes.

Yes it does.

Edit: jacksonplayer basically beat me to it :lol:
 

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I do love Pantera, but I have never been a fan of the tone, but it has grown on me. I remember the first time I heard a Pantera song, I was like "WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS SHIT?! IT SOUNDS LIKE AN ICEPICK IN THE EAR!" I don't even know what song it was, and nowadays none of Pantera's songs have tone that bad (though I'm still not a fan of Dimebag's tone), but it might just be that I've seriously damaged my ears over the past 20+ years and I just can't hear those high frequencies that originally bothered me so much about Dime's tone. :lol:
 

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You say nobody gives a fuck about the tone but I disagree. I think they were VERY particular about their tone. It was that a) the motivation and end-goal was completely different, and b) there was about 5% of the options that there are today, so you had to find all kinds of work-arounds.
I disagree. If you think angry young alcoholic Mustaine was staying up late at night obsessing over the proper notch in his low mids in his rhythm tone instead of making Hetfield voodoo dolls, I doubt I'll be able to change your mind. :lol:

Edit: jacksonplayer basically beat me to it :lol:
The prog guy isn't exactly the definitive source on Bay Area Thrash. :wub:
 

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The prog guy isn't exactly the definitive source on Bay Area Thrash. :wub:
True. But the prog metal bands of the time were even worse, because their aspirations were higher and they were recording in the same shitty studios with the same shitty gear the thrash bands were. It's not like Fates Warning sounded any better than Exodus or Testament.

I did own a Megaforce pressing of the Ride the Lightning LP, though, many years before all the Metalli-Bros entered the picture. On the other hand, it was hearing "Orion" at a local record store several times that made me finally think, "man, these guys don't suck as much as I thought they did." :lol:

I still chuckle at my dad's response at hearing Metallica on my record player for the first time on summer break from college: "what is that barbarian shit?"
 

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formerly known as Engineer Trav
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I meant the guitar tone, "I actually kinda like it", as in, I dont think the guitar tone is too bad on AOR
I listed guitar tones I love because my brain decided to stop functioning on full power. The tone in the opening riff of Demonizer is awesome.
 

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Hates Richie Kotzen
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Eh, it's not a make or break type thing, it's ultimately one small part of the overall equation.

There is actually usually an inverse relationship sort of thing going on. Most of the records with guitar tone that people cite as bad still totally rule because the guitarist stayed in their fucking lane and they have awesome drum and bass sounds and pleasant amounts of reverb and all that shit.

There's like a billion cases of guitarist led projects or projects where the guitarist has too much say where other guitarists are like, high fiving eachother on "great tone" and everything else is totally flat and lifeless and milquetoast at best.

Nearly 100% of the tone I hear people doing the "DAT TONE THOUGH" shit, I am listening to the same thing thinking the track would have overall been better if they hadn't focused on the guitar tone and left everything else as an afterthought.

As a guitarist, of course I recognize that it's natural to have a sort of solipsistic guitar centric view. But at some point most people have to realize that the guys with truly great sounds don't spend a ton of time obsessing about being the most three dimensional shit ever. That's not the guitars role. The drums and bass are there to provide depth.

There's no question in my mind which is better, a record with somewhat 2D sounding guitar tone and 3D rhythm section sounds or a record with 3D guitar tone and one dimensional rhythm sounds.

Ultimately you are better off letting the other roles do their job for a solid final product than being a "All about the guitar tone" glory hound.

 

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Hates Richie Kotzen
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Ultimately I like pretty much every guitar tone people cite as awful. :lol:

"stay in your fucking lane and let the other instruments do their thing" is way better advice than "do something about that tone".

A bunch of the tones people are impressed by are on tracks that are glorified sales demonstrations for guitar gear where everything else is an afterthought. :lol:

It's way down the list. There are a bunch of tones on tracks that would have done better overall if the people involved had spent less time on guitar tone and more time on tuning toms to match bass.

That to me is way more noticable and momentum robbing. I'll get into pretty much any guitar tone on a track where the drummer has their toms tuned to suit the bass. A track with the greatest guitar tone ever is always going to suck if it's one size fits all modern metal toms.
 

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Hates Richie Kotzen
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It's like when producers say, "The vocal IS the song". No one says, "the guitar tone is the song".

You also have to take into account the vastly different ways music listening has changed over the years. A room stereo, bookshelf speakers, headphones, earbuds, car speakers, 5.1 etc. etc. etc. All the technical terms involved like crosstalk and all that.

There are a bunch of older albums from the 80s that sound way underpowered and mild on modern headphones and not anywhere near as attention grabbing as a modern mix if you play them back to back.

But if you play them on a room stereo with a receiver and everything it's magic and a whole separate thing. Then you play the modern ones on that set up, and it's just a slightly bigger version of the exact same thing it was on phones.

Like, anything around 1982 is going to perform way better on room speakers with big drivers driven by a 100 watt AV receiver. It's going to be underwhelming in a context where more modern tones and textural conventions have the edge.

That's why audio philes are so into the "you gotta get a headphone amp" kind of stuff. Audio switched over to a kind of scene where the majority of stuff is powered by kind of whimpy built in amps. Some stuff needs specific equipment to come alive. Some of the records with awful guitar tones sound like a million bucks on big speakers driven by a discrete power amp, in contrast, the more modern ones that had an edge on other setups just sound like total shit.

"Cross talk" is one of the biggest terms people throw around. One of the biggest problems with headphone listening or less powerful speakers. On phones obviously, the right side is going into your right ear and the left side is going into your left ear. None of the signal from the left side is bouncing around the room going into your right ear, unless you have a crosstalk emulator or DAC or whatever involved at some point. On speakers, that's not the case.

People tend to not focus on how the track is creating a stereo image on the gear its being played back on when they talk about tone. There are some tones that like, they don't make sense at all as being great on a stereo image created by closed back headphones, but they fucking rule on a big room stereo.
 

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There are a bunch of older albums from the 80s that sound way underpowered and mild on modern headphones and not anywhere near as attention grabbing as a modern mix if you play them back to back.
All of this.

It's also worth mentioning that those albums were recorded and mixed with LP mastering in mind. The harshness of a Marshall JCM800 would be tamed by going through several stages of analog recording and mixing signal paths, and then ultimately being played back on an LP or cassette through yet another analog signal path.

One example that I ran across was Fates Warning's No Exit. I remember the LP sounding pretty awesome back in 1988. When I got the early '90s CD version recently, I was shocked to find that it sounded weirdly harsh and flat by comparison.
 

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Hates Richie Kotzen
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^FM radios fidelity also tops out at 15khz. It doesn't carry frequencies above that. That's not even getting into all the limiting and sweetening commercial terrestrial radio does.

So in the age when a lot of these records with tones that are surprisingly obnoxious were made, most listeners wouldn't have actually even heard the obnoxious bits. Quite a few of the areas that have the really obnoxious frequency ranges are areas outside of the frequency range intended for traditional broadcast. All the transitory steps of how it would translate are always in flux.

In the category of "why is the classic rock radio version more fun to listen to than my CD version? I remember this sounding way better when I hear it on the radio for the first time, maybe I am just jaded". :lol:

edit: People already mentioned Ride the Lightning era stuff that might sound grating hearing the CD, but you might miss on FM radio, but I would say Randy Rhoads stuff is a more super obvious example.
 

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Sir Groove-A-Lot
Charvel So Cal & San Dimas
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I disagree. If you think angry young alcoholic Mustaine was staying up late at night obsessing over the proper notch in his low mids in his rhythm tone instead of making Hetfield voodoo dolls, I doubt I'll be able to change your mind. :lol:
For sure, there's a really obvious punk rock ethos to that era with a very pragmatic approach, but I can't imagine it wasn't cared about on some level, especially when the game was to be heavier than the other guy. But as I already said, it was a different end game. You didn't care about having "better" tone than the other guy, you just wanted to be heavier. Crunchier. Chuggier. Different goals, but there's still a rivalry and attempt to do it better than the others.

Among The Living's tone STILL stands the test of time today IMO as being absolutely crushing. Djent kids might not think so, but to me it's absolutely savage. Hey guess what they were using? Same amps as Dave Mustaine.

I don't buy that he didn't care, I just think he's a different kind of player, and the tone he has in his head that's required to serve up his brand of metal just ain't my cup of tea.
 

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Hates Richie Kotzen
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Among The Living's tone STILL stands the test of time today IMO as being absolutely crushing.
Among The Living is Eddie Kramer though, who is a legend among legends who has been there since the beginning. So it definitely has a massive edge that goes beyond amps and guitar players. It had a guy who wrote the book on getting stuff to translate well in an era where issues like making sure the track could survive being played it mono, because it would be played in mono inevitably, and doing a mix that could physically be cut into vinyl without the needle jumping and all that.

None of the other ones mentioned were done by dudes who were pioneers at knowing exactly how far the technical limitations could be pushed and still be workable. They were done in pro studios and all that, but Eddie Kramer is at the top of the heap in terms of knowing how to do the best record possible in spite of the limitations of the technology involved.

You can't really fairly compare them without mentioning that Among the Living was done by the guy who wrote the book on putting electric guitars to tape who was literally there with the Beatles and Hendrix.
 

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Sir Groove-A-Lot
Charvel So Cal & San Dimas
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No you're absolutely right.

Which is also why we (Chris) can't compare Dave Mustaine's attempt at a guitar tone with today's bedroom tweakers and youtubers :lol:

Different world. Less excuses.
 

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Which is also why we (Chris) can't compare Dave Mustaine's attempt at a guitar tone with today's bedroom tweakers and youtubers :lol:
Well it's a good thing I didn't even come close to doing that then. :lol:

I have no issue with Mustaine's tone. Just posers who think it should sound like Killswitch Engage. :fawk:
 

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Hates Richie Kotzen
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No you're absolutely right.

Which is also why we (Chris) can't compare Dave Mustaine's attempt at a guitar tone with today's bedroom tweakers and youtubers :lol:

Different world. Less excuses.
Which Mustaine tone are you guys talking about in particular? I'm not a fan of his tone in particular, a bit brittle for my tastes, but you would not believe the number of people I know who shell out for the CAE preamp units to get the "coveted Rust In Peace sound".

Ironically, both RiP and Peace Sells have fucking awesome bass sounds.

In the same vein of debate about thrash tones, the Metallica ones, on the records where that technique of speeding up the final record was employed, have that hard to place slightly surreal vibe going on with the transients you can only get from a slightly sped up recording. In the same vein as the huge Necrophagist shitstorm about how you can't get "that sound" playing back the recording at 100% speed.

The thrashier tones to tape have extra layers of sophistication obviously. You definitely have to know your shit about doing percussive palm muted type tones to tape. Tape speeds and all that shit. Eddie Kramer is the dude with the encyclopedic knowledge of pairing the right tape to suit the guitar tone for sure.

Even now using a tape plugin, many of which are Eddie Kramer branded, you can totally butcher a thrashy guitar tone if you go in not knowing stuff about traditional IPS and shit.

Fascinating stuff for sure, that's Eddie Kramers thing for sure, it's definitely lightly addressed in manuals but you would need a lifetime of experience to truly understand it. You can definitely take shit to the next level using the right speed tape and all that, but it requires a ton of knowledge and you can also easily make it much worse.

There are only a handful of people in the world who could tell you off the top of their head what tape speed and all that shit to go with if you want this or that sort of sound and transient response and etc. etc. etc. You can definitely hear on a lot of the earlier thrash stuff that the technique was so knew the dudes recording it probably went with more generally applicable settings on speeds and all that, and didn't fine tune the tape speed config and all that for the guitar sound.
 

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Hates Richie Kotzen
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The transient thing is obviously its own wormhole, doesn't only apply to the tape it's recorded too either, especially for solid state tones.

Interesting stuff for sure, people usually hype up tube amps as "more responsive and alive feeling", but in actuality, they can't match the transient response of solid state.
 

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Which Mustaine tone are you guys talking about in particular? I'm not a fan of his tone in particular, a bit brittle for my tastes, but you would not believe the number of people I know who shell out for the CAE preamp units to get the "coveted Rust In Peace sound".
If you pay close attention, they're usually talking about his desirable rackmount surge protector.
 

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Bowes Guitars
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I was (and still am) a huge Pestilence fan back in the day. Got Malleus the first week it was out, and by the time Spheres hit they were one of my all-time favorite metal bands. I still remember the night this song hit Headbangers Ball and instantly thought "WTF, the guitars sound awful!" but still loved the song, Martin's Vox and Patrick's riffs. A week later I discovered Bolt Thrower and that was the end of Pestilence being my fave band.

The tone is like nothing but pick sub-harmonics squeezed through a way-too-tight hi/low pass filter. Not sure if it's the producer who screwed it up or the guitar players bought all new gear and didn't know how to dial it in before recording or what... but man the guitar tone is awful.


What song do you love that has a guitar tone you hate?
I love this song and even as a kid I thought the guitars sounded like trash.
 
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