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DoomMetalAlchemist
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2021 12:03 pm 
 

First, I'm not sure Iif this is the right place for this thread or the musician's forum. If the mods see fit to move it there, I understand.

Anyway, conventional wisdom is that for hard rock and metal, to get the best guitar sound in a studio recording, one must double track the guitars to give it a thicker, fuller sound.

My rebuttal to this is: I''m pretty sure Black Sabbath didn't do that in the 70s in the era where every band was recorded playing all together rather than separately, and the guitar tones on those albums are fucking MASSIVE. If double tracking the guitars is so necessary than how did Sabbath achieve those glorious tones, presumably when they didn't do that because presumably nobody was doing it back then?

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Unorthodox
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2021 12:25 pm 
 

They double tracked it, or had two guys playing the same riff at once which basically results in the same effect. Or everything has been remastered and the original version didn't feature stereo instruments (lots of older albums are like this).
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Gravetemplar
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2021 12:29 pm 
 

I'm not an expert on the matter but I'd swear the guitars on Electric Funeral are doubled. You can even clearly hear a delay between the left and right channel to create a fuller and heavier sound.

I also don't think you can really compare the "massiveness" of 70s black Sabbath and more "modern" doom metal bands. It's probably really subjective but to me nothing Sabbath have recorded sounds as heavy as these (composition and songwriting aside):



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DoomMetalAlchemist
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2021 12:33 pm 
 

Unorthodox wrote:
They double tracked it, or had two guys playing the same riff at once which basically results in the same effect.


Do you have a source for this? I've never seen in any interviews with Sabbath where they said they double tracked their guitars back then. Iommi would basically say he did "a little bit of" overdubs, and I assumed to mean mainly the "double" solos on songs like War Pigs and Children of the Grave.

Quote:
Or everything has been remastered and the original version didn't feature stereo instruments (lots of older albums are like this)


That's kinda my point though if this is the case, if these tones can be produced by properly mastering single tracked guitars, why is double tracking guitars deemed necessary these days?

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Gravetemplar
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2021 12:36 pm 
 

Quote:
Quote:
Or everything has been remastered and the original version didn't feature stereo instruments (lots of older albums are like this)

That's kinda my point though if this is the case, if these tones can be produced by properly mastering single tracked guitars, why is double tracking guitars deemed necessary these days?

Paranoid wasn't released in mono as far as I know. Even the early 1970 cassettes clearly state the album was stereo.

Image

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DoomMetalAlchemist
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2021 12:49 pm 
 

Gravetemplar wrote:
I'm not an expert on the matter but I'd swear the guitars on Electric Funeral are doubled. You can even clearly hear a delay between the left and right channel to create a fuller and heavier sound.


I'll have to take a closer listen to that.

Quote:
I also don't think you can really compare the "massiveness" of 70s black Sabbath and more "modern" doom metal bands. It's probably really subjective but to me nothing Sabbath have recorded sounds as heavy as these (composition and songwriting aside):




I wasn't comparing to doom specifically, I said "hard rock and metal." I guess what's massive can be extremely subjective. As a doom metal guitarist myself I'd infinitely rather have Iommi's tone circa Master of Reality than any tone Matt Pike ever had. It just hits that sweet spot. Then there's countless metal bands of more traditional genres that write good-great songs but have a mediocre guitar tone.

Other than Sabbath and Master of Puppets, the most "massive" guitar tone I know of is Battleroar's to Death and Beyond. In modern doom metal, the bass guitar is far more prominent than it is in most other metal, all the while in metal in general (but not in the days of early Sabbath) another trick to getting a fuller heavier sound is for the bass to basically mimic the guitar. But Geezer hardly did that.

In fact if you're talking about the outro of Electric Funeral, I'm pretty sure that is Geezer (almost) mimicing Tony, not double tracked guitars. Comparing guitar tabs and bass tabs for the song it looks like that is the case. But I'll take a closer listen to the whole song in case that's not the section you are thinking of.

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DoomMetalAlchemist
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2021 12:52 pm 
 

Gravetemplar wrote:
Quote:
Quote:
Or everything has been remastered and the original version didn't feature stereo instruments (lots of older albums are like this)

That's kinda my point though if this is the case, if these tones can be produced by properly mastering single tracked guitars, why is double tracking guitars deemed necessary these days?

Paranoid wasn't released in mono as far as I know. Even the early 1970 cassettes clearly state the album was stereo.

Image


I'll have to look this up as I'm not entirely confident in this, but I thought it those days recording stereo was just using two different microphones for the same recording of one guitar and then panning one left and the other right.

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Wrldeatr
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2021 1:08 pm 
 

Doesn't seem like double-tracking is something as recent as you may think. Also, is there a reason to assume that Black Sabbath didn't double track?

"Double tracking is an effect as old as multitrack recording. As soon as tape machines had advanced to the point where there was a track or two left over after recording the band, someone got the idea that maybe doubling up a vocal might sound cool. And of course it did sound really cool, giving the vocal a depth, width, and timbral richness that could not be achieved with just a single recorded performance. This effect was further enhanced with the advent of stereo recordings, wherein the doubled tracks could be panned left and right in the stereo field for extreme width and separation. Some iconic examples of this effect exist on the recordings of The Beatles, who are responsible for some of the most well known early double-tracked vocal performances, captured primarily during the band's long tenure at Abbey Road Studios in the 1960s.
Double tracking would not long remain an effect strictly for vocals. Guitarists soon cottoned on to the sonic benefits of a doubled performance, and by the 1970s, double-tracked guitars were a standard feature of big rock recordings, as they still are to this day. Any guitar player that has experience recording knows how dramatic the difference can be between a single rhythm guitar track and a doubled one. Doubling is the only way to get that larger-than-life wall of guitars that most rock aficionados of today have come to expect. It's not just for rhythm tracks, though, as metal virtuoso Randy Rhoads proved with the legendary double and even triple-tracked solos that he performed in the studio with Ozzy."
https://reverb.com/news/double-jeopardy ... our-guitar

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Dandelo
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2021 1:50 pm 
 

You really don't need to double track to get a big guitar sound. You can pan the track left and right and add a slight delay on one side for a bigger sound. Doubling sounds much better though.

Also a huge part of having a big guitar sound is having a good bass player underneath it filling in those frequencies. Black Sabbath have that.

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Gravetemplar
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2021 1:51 pm 
 

I think this is really subjective because to me early Black Sabbath doesn't sound really that heavy or massive. As a matter of fact it sounds thin and dated to my ears. That tone has been overused these past decades and it doesn't sound fresh or interesting anymore. A band using this kind of retro sound is an instant pass these days for me.

I wasn't talking about the end of Electric Funeral, quite the opposite. The beginning sounds like two similar (if not the same) guitars on both the right and left channel playing the same with a slightly different panning but it could also be an overdub. In any case the effect is similar since both guitar lines are very similar (and the bass also sounds pretty close, although it has some flourishes here and there and some variations). It's not until 1:50 than the guitar moves to the left channel/the right guitar stops playing in case its an overdub (the bass is already on the right since the very beginning), up until 1:50 the guitar sounds doubled or overdubbed to me.


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narsilianshard
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2021 2:17 pm 
 

It's such a niche piece of information I can't imagine it would have made it into any interviews. And really only the engineer/producer would know the details, they can make all sorts of technical changes that the band isn't necessarily aware of.

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Death By Wall of Text
Metal newbie

Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2021 9:18 pm
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2021 2:27 pm 
 

DoomMetalAlchemist wrote:
My rebuttal to this is: I''m pretty sure Black Sabbath didn't do that in the 70s in the era where every band was recorded playing all together rather than separately, and the guitar tones on those albums are fucking MASSIVE.

I'm pretty sure the key thing to add here is: "...for their time". Sure, they sound heavy, have a very satisfying grit to them and must have probably sounded like Godzilla incarnate back then, but you cannot honestly say that there aren't lots of more recent bands who achieved much heavier tones simply because there's much more gear available that allows for that (a lot of which was admittedly inspired by Sabbath, among others).

As for the main subject of double-tracked guitars, as mentioned it's not really recent, but also it does give a massive advantage in getting a heavy sound simply because the effect is really, really dramatic even in its most basic form (i.e. record the same part with the same settings twice and layer them). But it opens up a whole world of possibilities, such as using slightly different tones for the left and right guitar, which fills more space and sounds even more massive. There's a really cool moment on Opeth's "Morningrise" where just the left guitar plays for a moment (with a darker, grittier tone) and then the right (much sharper and more biting), so you can tell how they add up together.

From my own experience you can really go a long way with this, I tend to use two different boosts (a typical overdrive for one and a grittier distortion for the other) for each channel, and the combination of the two is seriously more than the sum of its parts, as well as allowing you to cover more ground because you can combine a clearer tone with a grittier one. It's one of those things that aren't just hyped because everyone does it, but it really works with benefits that are hard to deny even in amateurish applications.

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MawBTS
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2021 4:17 pm 
 

The slow riff in "Electric Funeral" is definitely double tracked - the left guitar has a wah effect on it while the right doesn't.

The faster part sounds like just one guitar panned right with the bass panned left, though.

Quote:
You can pan the track left and right and add a slight delay on one side for a bigger sound.


I don't recommend this: it adds something called the Haas effect to your sound. Your guitars might sound OK in stereo but they'll have horrible phasing issues in mono.

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narsilianshard
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2021 5:07 pm 
 

Wouldn't a slight delay and/or flipping the phase on one in the DAW solve that? Also, anyone listening to a stereo track in mono should expect a shitty experience by default.

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Wahn_nhaW
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2021 7:13 pm 
 

DoomMetalAlchemist wrote:
My rebuttal to this is: I''m pretty sure Black Sabbath didn't do that in the 70s in the era where every band was recorded playing all together rather than separately, and the guitar tones on those albums are fucking MASSIVE. If double tracking the guitars is so necessary than how did Sabbath achieve those glorious tones, presumably when they didn't do that because presumably nobody was doing it back then?


That is major misconception you have there. Bands have used overdubbing ever since it became technologically feasible, decades before Sabbath. Very few albums in the history of recorded music have been made live-in-the-studio, or, as you, say, with everyone playing together.
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narsilianshard
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2021 7:35 pm 
 

Multitrack recording only came about in the late 50s and was prohibitively expensive at first. It was very much a new technology at the time Sabbath were starting out: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multitrack_recording

And live tracking is not as uncommon as you say. Lots of bands do it to save time/cost or because they want to capture that specific energy. I'll be recording my band's demo this way soon. A comment in this thread claims the Sabbath debut was recorded live: https://www.reddit.com/r/indieheads/com ... in_studio/

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Hexenmacht46290
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 17, 2021 7:49 pm 
 

Studio fuckery isn’t as modern as you think. Before metal, Jimi Hendrix’ producers had to actually hold down the tape, in one channel, to get flanger effects, it sounds pretty similar to modern flanger, but the modern version can actually be done live, with pedals. Tracking bass, with one fuzz track, and one clean track, is pretty common as well(if you want your bass to sound heavy, and cut through the mix, with just one track, then you must be like Lemmy, and crank your mid range as much as possible).

Black Sabbath definitely did it. And it makes sense, because they only had one guitar. I never saw them in the 70s, so I don’t know if they had the equipment to pull it off live.

What I’m guessing OP is referring to, however, is when people multitrack the same instrument, in a dumb way. When you have 2, 3, or 4 channels, with the highest gain, and not much difference between them, then it can make the music sound less heavy. When they do this in something like djent, where they’re playing something that doesn’t feel like it has genuine emotional expression, and barbaric passion, but is instead, some “meme,” or joke, about math, the shitty guitar tone, and shitty non-riffs showcase each other, in truly nauseating ways.

Edit:
narsilianshard wrote:
And live tracking is not as uncommon as you say. Lots of bands do it to save time/cost or because they want to capture that specific energy. I'll be recording my band's demo this way soon. A comment in this thread claims the Sabbath debut was recorded live: https://www.reddit.com/r/indieheads/com ... in_studio/


I remember reading an article, last year, about the 50th anniversary. They said that they recorded that way, and that the band was so heavy, the tenant above them threatened to get the landlord to kick them out! It was a studio doing stop motion animation, for TV ads. Sabbath just plugged everything in, like normal, and Geezer Butler’s bass tone was so insane, that it knocked over all the filmmakers stuff. He didn’t know that a “professional” recording has the bass plugged into the mixing console. It got me thinking, about how a lot of really old school bands probably sounded heavier, live. But back in the day, certain effects were only possible in studio though.
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Methuen
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2021 12:52 am 
 

Wahn_nhaW wrote:
DoomMetalAlchemist wrote:
My rebuttal to this is: I''m pretty sure Black Sabbath didn't do that in the 70s in the era where every band was recorded playing all together rather than separately, and the guitar tones on those albums are fucking MASSIVE. If double tracking the guitars is so necessary than how did Sabbath achieve those glorious tones, presumably when they didn't do that because presumably nobody was doing it back then?


That is major misconception you have there. Bands have used overdubbing ever since it became technologically feasible, decades before Sabbath. Very few albums in the history of recorded music have been made live-in-the-studio, or, as you, say, with everyone playing together.


There's another great thread idea for you - albums recorded 'live' / without studio overdubs. Must be even fewer than web 1.0 sites out there.
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Space_alligator
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2021 1:47 am 
 

Black Sabbath certainly did use double tracked guitars...moreso from Pariniod onwards.

Debut mainly double tracked the solos.
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Wahn_nhaW
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2021 4:31 am 
 

narsilianshard wrote:
Multitrack recording only came about in the late 50s and was prohibitively expensive at first. It was very much a new technology at the time Sabbath were starting out: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multitrack_recording

And live tracking is not as uncommon as you say. Lots of bands do it to save time/cost or because they want to capture that specific energy. I'll be recording my band's demo this way soon. A comment in this thread claims the Sabbath debut was recorded live: https://www.reddit.com/r/indieheads/com ... in_studio/


Yeah, the keys word being "demo" and "soon", as in 2021. You can record anything anywhere now and have it sound like a nuclear war. The thread is about early 70s professionally recorded albums.

The debut was largely recorded live. There were still some overdubs later. And what allowed them to do it so quickly was that they lucked out with the studio, with everything being set up so well as to capture everything clearly on the first take - definitely not the norm at the time, which is, in fact, the reason why everyone always points out the fact that the album was recorded so quickly and for the most part live - because it was unusual. By 1970, it was already not the norm.

Check out this article about Paranoid to see how much studio work goes into making even an average-sounding rock album without too many bells an whistles: https://www.mixonline.com/recording/cla ... oid-376405

What I'm responding is to the OP's belief that nearly everyone recorded live in the studio in the 70s, with minimal overdubs later on, which I just thought sounded pretty naive. No one could possibly hear a Pink Floyd or a Led Zeppelin or a David Bowie album and think any of those were simply bashed out in the studio in the time that it takes to listen to them, and that's just using three glaring examples. Not even punk bands recorded that way for the most part. Do a bit of search online for how the Sex Pistols album was recorded and why those guitars sound so thick. Even the Clash, apart from the debut, I suppose, had all sorts of obvious fancy recording techniques all over their albums.
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FirebathDan
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2021 9:43 am 
 

Dandelo wrote:
Also a huge part of having a big guitar sound is having a good bass player underneath it filling in those frequencies. Black Sabbath have that.


Bingo. The most astute point made in entire thread thus far. A very much overlooked fact.
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Acrobat
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2021 11:16 am 
 

Sabbath were double-tracking even on the debut; there’s one guitar with more treble, one with the tone cut.
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DoomMetalAlchemist
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2021 1:51 pm 
 

Well this thread was an eye-opener. I'm glad I made even though I was proven wrong. Thanks guys!

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