Kit Tang Reveals Secrets Behind His Guitar Rig Rundown on "The Voice of Belief"

What's going on guys? This is Kit Tang. Welcome back to my page!!!

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I have been asked on facebook and youtube about how I get my sound for my recordings. So I decided to write about it in detail and share to you guys. Honestly, there are no secrets behind. In the recording situation, I use both amp simulator and real amps. In this article, I am going to show you how I setup the lead tone on my song "The Voice of Belief" released on Jamtrackcentral.com "20 Uplifting Rock Ballad Licks" with my favorite amp-sim Native Instruments Guitar Rig4. If you are using a newer/older version, that is totally fine as long as you understand the principles.

From my experience and years of experimenting in the studio, to have a killer guitar tones no matter with amp simulator or miking a real amp could be a headache and it could really take times. First I have to tell you that it is NOT just adding many effect/pedals on the signal chain. DON'T do that unless you really know what you are doing.

The key to creating a great tone is to truly understand Signal Flow, Frequency Spectrum, Dynamic Control, Stereo Imaging and Depth of Field. And of course...good sound always start from the source - your GUITAR.

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Digi 96 I/O, avid, audio interface, mic preamp, api 3124+, pendulum, neve portico, focusrite

DIGI 96 I/O Audio Interface (Red), API 3124+ Mic Preamp (Blue).

My basic hardware signal flow:

Guitar (Suhr Standard Pro) -> Tuner (TC electronic Polytune) -> Mic Preamp (API 3124+) -> Audio Interface (Digi 96 I/O) -> Pro Tools on Mac -> Monitor Controller (Coleman Audio QS8) -> monitor (Adam S2A)

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Presonus, Distressor, EL8-X, Coleman audio QS8, compressor, outboard, monitor controller

EL8-X Distressor Compressor x2 (Green), Coleman Audio QS8 Studio Monitor Controller (Yellow).

My Pro Tools setup and some tips:

I have been using Pro Tools for a while since version6.0. and still, it is the best DAW I would recommend you to work with.

I use Pro Tools 8 HD system, the audio interface I am using is separately from my mic preamps. For recording purpose, having an outboard compressor inserted after your mic preamp but before your interface can be a life saver. You will create much more headroom by tame the peaks, bring up the quiet parts, and get a big guitar sound before the signal reach your DAW. However, not many audio interfaces have insert I/O in the back, so I'm not going use outboard compressor now. For a home studio, you will use interfaces with built-in preamps like Focusrite's Scarlett 18i20, UA's Apollo Twin Solo and etc.

Before we go to the guitar rig settings, one thing you need to keep in mind that you should ask yourself what your ideal guitar tone sounds like before you try to dial the knobs.

Remember how the amp sounds (without pedals and effects) = 80% of the sound you want.

It's just like buying an amp, you'll pick the one that can produce the sound you want. If you are a metal guy, you would definitely choose something like Randall, Peavey or Engl type of amps rather than a Vox AC30. Many people just care about getting more distortion by adding many pedals and ignore the characteristic of the amp.

So let's start and I will walk through all the settings step by step in detail with you!!

  • The first thing you want to do is to create a Stereo Master Fader if you are using Pro Tools. Always keep your eyes on the buss meter.

  • Set the "Buffer Size" as low as possible to reduce latency under Setup>Playback Engine.

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  • Get the right preamp level before you insert Guitar Rig. Create a mono Aux track and then assign the corresponding input from your guitar. I usually hit the guitar strings real hard at full Vol and Tone to get the level at about -6dB.

  • Remember you should create a MONO Aux track and insert Guitar Rig in STEREO.

  • Use new guitar strings and try guitar picks with different thickness to enhance clarity. I use PLANETWAVES Duralin 1.50mm pick.

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Fig.1 Here you can see (from the left to right) 5 Auxiliary tracks with Guitar Rig inserted (Blue, Pink, and Orange), another Aux track with a compressor (Yellow), Master Fader (Red), and 4 other Aux tracks for Delay and Reverb (Green).

(Blue): Clean Tone (Pink): Low Gain Tone (Orange): Lead Tone (3 orange channels should be ON simultaneously)

Clean Tone

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Basic Clean Tone (Blue channel on fig.1)

As you can see the setup is really simple. A TWANG REVERB (Fender Twin Reverb) -> Vintage 4x12 cabinet. In the "Control Room" panel, I mixed 5 mics together, 3 in the center and 2 panned slightly to the left and right. The "Air" control adds some room space to the sound. And I added a tiny bit of reverb at the end of the rack.

Sometimes I turn on the "Bright" switch on rhythm session to make it easier to cut through the mix.

You should use the Amp EQ, mix and match different cabs and mics, or adjust the BASS/TREBLE knobs on the "Control Room" panel before adding an equalizer.

Low Gain

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Low Gain Tone (Pink channel on fig.1)

For low gain, I use JUMP (Marshall JMP) with a Vintage 4x12 cab. 2 mics in the center and 2 other mics panned slightly to the left and right. This amp has the sound that I wanted, but it is a bit muddy on the low strings on my guitar when I try to get more drive. So instead, I reduced the drive on the amp and added the red TREBLE BOOSTER pedal (Dallas Rangemaster Treble Booster) which helps to maintain the clarity on low strings.

Lead Tone (This is the setting I used on my JTC release "The Voice of Belief")

My lead tone setting is different from the 2 previously. It is a 4 amps setup. (The 3 Orange channels on fig.1)

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"HG JUMP" (the Orange channel in the middle in fig.1)