You know what I’m talking about. That balls-to-the-wall rumble that slaps you in the face and holds your attention. So many of us go for it on our rhythm guitars and bass every chance we get, but did you know you can get that same depth on any instrument in your mix with surprisingly little effort?
When to Use This Trick
Perhaps the best part of this approach is the ability to dial it in or use it in parallel. You don’t need the growl to be featured at the front of the mix for it to catch your listener’s ear. We play around with the settings, find something that hooks us, and blend it up and into the mix.
At the same time, your mix might dictate the need for something to jump right out front. If that’s the case, this simple trick will allow you to push the aggression above and beyond traditional limits of compressors and limiters. When you push either too far, they can squawk and bark.
This approach has enough headroom to amplify your sound without choking.
Have you picked up on where I’m going with this yet? It’s not just a simple solution to beef up your bass. It’s not the same old trick that makes your snare pop out of the mix. The universal trick is using the unsung hero of the 21st century of audio: virtual amps.
Using tools like Toneforge Guilty Pleasure give us flexibilities that engineers and producers used to be terrified of trying for fear of breaking their equipment. Nobody wanted to run a percussive element like drums through their amp for fear of blowing out a speaker. But in the virtual realm of audio, we aren’t limited by their problems.
Instead, we can send anything we want through an amplifier. Drums, vocals, banjos – it’s your call.
And the results can be astonishing. Think of everything you could add that high-gain saturation to. Think of all the mixes that could’ve ended up drastically different if only you had a way to push pieces of your mix just a bit farther.
I’ve been using amp sims and virtual rigs for as long as I’ve been an engineer, and I spent way too much of my career thinking that amps were for guitar and bass only. Don’t make the same mistake.
A good, aggressive tone won’t take much: a bit of gain, mid-level presence, and some EQ are all you really need. Once you’ve got your sound, double check your output – things get loud fast. If the aggression isn’t enough, most virtual rigs have a plethora of pedals and effects ready to go (just one more thing to break if we were trying to do this with physical equipment). Get weird & experiment with your sound. You might just stumble upon something new and unique.
What Will You Crank Up?
If you’re ready to get started with a whole new range of tonal options, all you need is a computer with a virtual rig to do it.
Know what you’re going to try first? Come share it with us over in the Joey Sturgis Tones Forum on Facebook, and let’s see what you’ve got.