Any good advice on matching the tone?

Somehow most reocurring problem for me is the part when I sit down and try to dial usable guitar tone. Especially when I want to get as close to the original as possible.

So this time I am looking into post-metal band Obscure Sphinx.
I am trying to do a cover of this song (guitar comes in @1:40):

Here’s my sample (don’t mind the drums, I’m gonna fix them up best I can later):

So what’s exactly the problem here:

  1. weak guitar as always. At least until the bass kicks in.
  2. not the same kind of tone. Apart from the above and how aritificial it sounds (with NDSP plugins somehow) I am aiming to replicate that soft sparkle and very specific frequency range. I’ve heard very similar sounding guitar tones somewhere but I can’t quite recall where and I lack knowledge and vocabulary to precisely describe what I have in mind. It’s like an aftertaste.
    I don’t even know if it is mids, low mids, high mids or highs or whatever.
    It’s some kind of pleasant hiss in the background.

Now, I luckily have some insight as to what was used to record the original - I have almost exact same guitar (8 string Schecter Blackjack) with exact same pickups (SD Blackouts). Only thing that’s missing is strings - they use absurdly thick .105 string for D while I’m stuck with .80 until I get fresh ones.

As far as amps go, I’ve seen them use a variety of stuff on their lives including Marshalls and Hiwatts, but on their studio report I only managed to notice a glimpse of Bogner cab and bass Ampeg head.


Lowered imput gain to -12dB and fiddled with IRs some more and it’s got a tiny bit better but still not yet quite there:

I just remembered another artist with the similar tone:

The first riff has almost the same tone and certainly the thing I am looking for.

I also recalled that on studio report they said they used a single coild guitar on some parts, I tried my split coil Vendetta and got slightly closer, but still not quite there yet:

Do you have any plugins that analyze frequency response? Sometimes that would help me identify where on the spectrum I was coming up short. I guess it’s tough with a full mix because you’ll also be getting the result of all the ‘mastering’ that happened on your target recordings.

I could be wrong, but on a casual listen, the youtube videos you supplied (that you’re trying to replicate) sound like they have a more saturated distortion sound than the what you’ve tracked. Like, yours is closer to a ‘crunch’ sound and there’s sounds more cranked.

I think you’ve got a nice start though!! It’s a fun but frustrating journey to try replicating your favorite tones in a home studio!

I don’t know man, I like your guitar sound better than the recording. The recording sounds thin, and the second one sounds “hashy” like they mixed white noise in.

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I guess EQ is fine? Otherwise I mostly have what came with Reaper. Some 3rd party plugins on top of that.

That’s on me, I was always told to use less gain. Especially since I am almost always quad tracking. Especially since it is an 8 string in double drop D.
But yes, it seems to be more saturated. The problem is it is saturated in a specific way that gives that soft sparkle and certain frequency range making for that (nasal? boxy? throaty? I dunno) tone.
That could be on IR though which would require rough estimate of what was the cab/speaker/mic combo.

Couldn’t agree more.

As for the second one I agree, they probably overdriven the whole chain.

As far as my attempts go I was constantly getting the unpleasant shrill in high end, that’s why I lowered input gain on my interface. Didn’t help much so I notched some top frequencies.
I also doubled the opening riff - 6string with splitcoil + the 8string and got rid of the second ampsim so it’s Fortin Nameless all around with settings kinda like that:

on the 8string when the lead and low parts kick in:

and the intro riff:

6 string:

8 string:

And now the sample:

I think I’m missing some top end atm but I guess it’s also high time to change strings on all my guitars which will happen as soon as I got some cash coming in. And I’ll try to get the .105 set as .80 is a good bit too soft. I mean overcoocked spaghetti soft.

Sorry, I may not have been clear about this. Back when I was into mixing, they had plugins you could put on any track that would show you what the frequency response was. It looks like this:


If you put that on your master out, and add another track in your DAW where you import the recording you’re trying to imitate (and on that track, put this plugin on it so you can see its frequency response analysis) , you’ll notice differences. Obviously since that track is professionally mastered the overall EQ of the mix will be different, but if you zero in on the region of the spectrum where the guitars are, you’ll notice you have more or less or a certain frequency than what you’re trying to achieve.

OR maybe you’ll find the frequencies are similar but that high frequency white noise thing @Fossegrim mentioned is present. If so, you could boost that area some on yours. But the spectrum analyzer will help identify what the frequencies are that you’re after.

Oh yeah, for sure. I think too much gain is a tone killer myself. Even for really heavy stuff. Well, that’s a relative statement I guess :slight_smile: You are into much heavier music than I ever was lol! Killswitch Engage was as heavy as I’d go before my ears started begging me for mercy. But they definitely have a saturated sound (AND really good tone IMO), not so much that it kills their tone.

I only mentioned that because though there is obviously some frequency difference between what you’ve tracked and what you’re trying to achieve, the lack of gain was more striking to me.

This is a good point, what you’ve got does sound pretty good!!! I’d snapshot your settings because this is a usable sound. Then, continue on your journey of imitation :slight_smile: And good luck!

Looks a lot like EQs I’m using with added stereo widener plugin:

Usually when I’m mixing I throw in some tape saturator on master bus. Well maybe not master but a track that is a sum of all other tracks before hitting actual master. Maybe this will help?
Or just add some juice to guitars by either raising recording levels back up from -12db to something around -8dB or giving it a touch more gain on the amp?

I guess it depends on individual taste and sample. I posted 4, each better than the last, still there is a lot of space for improvement.
I doesn’t quite sound like studio quality and that’s what bugging me the most apart from getting similar tone.

If you were able to get a solo sample of just the guitar, you could use a plug-in mastering suite like Ozone, and a ton others and use the auto EQ match function. It would require to you to have a general approximation of the gain and sound in place. There are a ton of EQ plugins that will do this,

Also, it sounds like they are adding some sort of digital clipping in with that sound like I mentioned before - like beyond hard knee limiting. it’s really exciting higher order harmonics, and I find it almost irritating. I think the sound you got sounds like a much better more professional version of it, but again that’s all in the eye of the beholder I guess.


I’ve always wondered how people obtain the individual tracks. Rick Beato seems to get his hands on the multi’s of ANYTHING recorded ever.

yeah I heard of those plugins, but I can’t really get my hands on soloed guitars.
Also the whole point is to learn how to dial the tone I have in mind without relying on tech wizardry.

But do you mean the first clip (Obscure Sphinx) or the second one (Alcest)?
In case it is Alcest I don’t really aim to have it hard clipping. Actually amount of distortion is further down on my list of priorities. First one is to get that interesting frequencies right.

Well, he’s a producer with a lot of friends in the business so it is not as surprising.

Now I noticed that the original somehow sounds darker in my DAW than on Youtube.
As it is brighter in reality I moved the low pass filter on guitars from app. 8kHz to 12kHz, but it’s not enough.
I wonder if I should boost highs or presence - I never quite understood the difference between the two.

Sometimes you can use similar software to remove or solo certain things too, especially if they take up very predictable space in the mix like vocals for example. That’s how people get isolated vocal and guitar tracks. It’s not perfect and you often still get bleed, but that’s typically how many people do it.

Regarding Rick, it wouldn’t surprise me if he does have those connections, but I also believe he has quite the arsenal of tools at his disposal to do that kind separation if he needed to. Dude clearly has a professional home studio at his disposal.

I think that dude actually lives in a studio.


Raised both a bit to see how it goes:


There is something harsh now that I’m not so sure I like.

And with some reverb:

The track you posted immediately after this was my favorite so far. Again, not sure it’s hitting your ‘target’ tones but it’s a good sound. Subjective, I know.

Again, opinion here but I’ve never put any reverb on heavy rhythm guitars. It makes them sound too distant and washed out for my taste. I know there’s other mixes you’ve put up here where you were specifically going for a washed out sound though, so take my comment with a grain of salt there. At the end of the day, if it sounds the way you like, that’s what matters.

The goal with the reverb is to imitate room here. I know they recorded the album with whole band playing at once.
I just want to add a bit of depth and life this time, nothing else really.

I see. To make stuff appear in the same physical space, I usually used an effects channel that had a really saturated amount of reverb/delay. I would then send certain tracks to this. My DAW had the ability to send anywhere from 1 - 100% of any given track to the effects track. I’m sure that’s fairly standard, but I don’t know since Cubase is all I’ve ever used.

It kept the mix cleaner but still had the impact of “gluing” together various groups of tracks/instruments.

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The other thing you can do, and this is what I do, is that I make a copy of the track, and then I drench that one 100% with whatever reverb and/or delay I want to use. I then mix the two together with some panning so that they are spaced a bit in the stereo spectrum, and then bring the level of the 100% wet track up to the level where it mixes well which for me is when it’s barely audible, maybe more so for lead. That gives a nicer reverb sound and clarity in my experience than putting it directly on the recorded track, and you can make it boisterousor subtle as you want. This way you have individual control of the track and the types of effects on it, instead just a master buss.

I created whole new track with reverb at 100% wet and sent all instruments there.
It is more noticeable on drums, but otherwsie barely audible.
Dialing it in is a bit trickier - lots of parameters and options to set:


As it applies to guitar amps, it’s a little complicated, but the presence control in your typical guitar amp is semi active, and is speaker dependent, meaning you could get a different response depending on the speakers and cab you use.

If you are curious exactly what happens and why, and want me to go into it, I will, but it may be pretty long winded just to warn you.

I usually just copy the track I want to effect so I can set everything up individually.

I have just been told what gear was used to record the song:

POD XT Pro + Sonic Maximizer into Marshall JCM800 2204 into Laney IRT 412 for one guitar,
POD XT Pro + Sonic Maximizer into Peavey PV900 poweramp into Orange 412 cab for the other.

Now only if I could find myself correct IRs that would be great.
Also need to find out what were the settings on PODs and what exactly is Sonic Maximizer.