At first, super low tuning can be a challenge. It is a common misconception that a low tuned guitar is about more bass. It can be, but in most situations the additional bass is a huge problem.
We are using plugins for this example, but the same ideas apply with real amps or hardware modelers.
The Goal - pronounced high mids, tight bottom and great tuning. even dynamics but responsive and richness.
For a gain tone, humbucker equipped guitars are generally going to be the least challenging to get a good chunk with low noise.
New strings (unless you are intentionally going for an old string sound). I did video on strings. They are not all created equally, different strings can make a huge difference.
Enough scale length for your tuning will allow you to be in tune, up the neck and keep the string gauge lower. Keeping the gauge down is generally going to afford you a bigger tone, with better sustain and a snappier attack.
2. Amp & Cab
Before you think about pedals or post FX, nail the amp down. Select an amp that gives you the character that you are looking for. It's best to start with everything set to 5 or “noon”. Try this amp with as many cabs as possible. The cab is a gigantic part of the tone and often overlooked.
For heads, I tend to have the best luck with high gain, 6L6 power section amps. Usually Dual Recs and 5150s, but there are other great 6L6 amps out there. 5881 and KT88 designs also often work pretty well. EL34s usually don’t work for me, but they might work for you.
Often, I tend to go with the straight, Mesa, oversized, 4x12 and / or 2x12 with V30s. They have a big but tight sound without being dark and muddy. I find cabs by Engl and Orange extremely dark and muddy. Try a lot of cabs or IRs to develop your ears and preferences. It's always best to audition IRs in a mix. It's the only way to be sure.
A TubeScreamer type overdrive is important. We don’t use any of the gain on the pedal, only a healthy dose of level - 75% to 100%, and adjust the tone to your taste. More modern overdrives provide up to double the amount of boost. If you are using modelling (hardware or VST), you can achieve this by using 2 TubeScreamer type overdrives.
The gate. You may or may not need a gate depending the the style of music you play or how much you choose to push into the amp. Personally, I need a gate, even though I REALLY dislike gates. If I push this hard into the amp, I need it.
The mics that seem to always work are Sure SM57s and SM58s. There are a ton of other choices, but we are going to focus on these.
These mics tend to have a decent natural low end roll-off around 90hz or so. This is helpful in taming the bottom-end. As well they tend to accentuate the upper mids, also helpful for our cause. I like the mic close to the speaker and slightly off access of the cap to tame the “scratchy” sound.
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