How To Strengthen DI’s Played With A Weak Picking Hand

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For the metal engineers.

There’s a lot of hate for it, and a common belief that you can’t get a ballsy metal guitar tone if rhythm guitarist is picking softly. This causes the transients to have less attack. When a rhythm guitarist picks really hard into a high gain amp, the tone has a sharper transient. This extra strong transient pushes into the overdriven amp harder than the decaying note tail, causing a more aggressive response. If the transients are softer, the sustain is decaying too quickly, and you’ve recorded a DI for reamping purposes, there’s a fix.

Transient designers.

Some of my favorites for this task are Audio-Assault‘s Multi Transient, and Plug & Mix‘s TransControl.

We’ll start with TransControl. If you have it, or any other broadband transient designer, put it on your DI and put your amp sim after. Turn up the sustain and listen to how it affects the heat of the guitar tone. If you need more attack, turn that up too until you get the bite out of the tone you’re looking for. With careful application, you can use this to mimic active pickups if you’ve got a passive guitar. Increasing the sustain lifts the low level sustained notes and makes them hotter, which causes them to sustain more and behave like an active pickup would. And being able to dial in the amount of attack you want using the attack knob really helps to fine tune the overall vibe of the performance.

Now we’ll talk about Multiband transient designers, using Audio-Assault‘s Multi-Transient. If the guitar is tuned down, which it often is in metal, you’ll want to make the muddy stuff in the lows less prominent. You can use a multi-band transient designer to increase the attack of the sub lows, while reducing the sustain if it’s needed. This will create a meatier low end without adding needless mud.

Then we have the low mids, which is where the real meat of the metal guitar is going to live. We can add attack and sustain, which gives the picking more presence and adds drive to the amp on the sustained parts of the note. The same with the high mids, bring in some attack and sustain. And maybe just a touch of it for the treble band.

Bypass the amp and listen to the DI track as you bypass the transient designer. Listen to what it adds. Now bring the amp back in and listen as you bypass the transient designer. You may need to fine tune it to get the attack you want, but if the guitarist just isn’t nailing the attack you want from them this is one thing you can do in post to address the issue.

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