Why does this recording sound so bad!?

This is a request at helping me improve my recording. If there is a better forum for this, feel free to move it.

Disregard the playing mistakes, unless I’M the problem!
The issue I’m hoping to get around is all the string noise during recording.

My other guitar is a Yamaha Active bass so it has a pre-amp built in with some effects. This guitar never seems to have any issues when recording.
This guitar is a Fender MIM Jazz so just a a bare-bones pickup.

I use aB1-Four to a Focusrite Solo to connect to my computer.
I use Reaper to record Audio, first, then into Resolve to piece Audio and Video. I have separate tracks for backing and bass.

I used Amplitube software amps in Resolve to give the bass some grind and grit to try to match it close to the original. I feel this may be part of my issue as adding treble, or something, may be picking up a lot of the string/fret noise I’m hearing lots of buzz and clunks. Especially in the back half where I get a little more aggressive on the strings.

I look forward to your input!

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I can’t opine about Reaper as I use GarageBand on my phone, but from what you write, it sounds like you’re using the Zoom for effects, then going into your DAW and applying more effects there. Is this the case?

When I recorded myself, I will either use external effects (a Hotone Ampero One, which also acts as an interface) but record into a clean channel (ie no software effects / amp simulation, other than a bit of EQ), or I’ll record with the bass plugged a Scarlett Solo and apply effects in GB. What I don’t do is mix external effects with BG / software effects.

I’ve also found that my different basses record very differently. The Dingwall is quite bright, the Steinberger is surprisingly versatile, the Spector growls and the Ibanez is very dark. So I pick the bass for the song…

Not sure if this helps….

Thanks @sunDOG The Zoom was using an empty preset so it should have acted like just a passthrough, but to rule that out I’ll try it without.

I also found this entry dealing with simple line noise that I may try to incorporate:

Now, how to get the best signal to noise ratio:

  1. Get a VU meter, it will make it easier for you. mvMeter2 is free.
  2. Put the meter in your DAW right behind your AT5 plugin.
  3. Turn off the AT5 plugin.
  4. Turn your guitar volume knob all the way up to the max level and keep it there.
  5. Set your audio interface gain knob so when you hit hard your barre A chord the VU meter needle hits just about 0 VU (that equals to – 18 dBFS RMS, not peak, which is being considered a standard and optimal signal level). It may surprise you that the level seems kind of low, but that’s correct, just turn up your headphones level.
  6. Turn on your AT5 plugin but keep the VU meter in front of you.
  7. Use AT5’s Mixer faders so the summed signal coming out of the plugin stays at 0 VU when you again hit hard your barre A chord.
  8. If you want clean sound but your amp distorts too much, rather than turning down your guitar volume knob, turn down the AT5’s input level fader. Otherwise leave it at the default position.
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Yes, definitely do that. If the Zoom is set to Bypass, it doesn’t add anything to the signal but noise. Just record your clean signal directly through your DAI into Reaper, and don’t enable any software effects while recording. You can always do that afterwards while mixing.

I listened to your video, and I think you might want to go a little easier on the effects. A little goes a long way!


So, sometimes I like to have that string noise in there, depending on the song. But obviously you don’t want it in this one. I would maybe turn down the gain a bit and also the tone on the chorus.


Thanks for all the input. I’ll take what you’ve dropped here and give it another try as soon as I have some time!

Less is more, Got it!

  1. Something is adding phase modulation to that. Are you using a chorus or phaser plugin, or doubletracking?
  2. The bass levels are too high. If you recorded and left them this high (sounds like -2.0 to 0.0?) and then put them through amp/cab sims in the DAW, it’s likely you are overdriving the sim. Try to gain stage it down to between -18 and -12 dBFS on the track before going in to the sim, and then bring it back up to the level you want on the master track (via gain or level). A metering plugin will help immensely here.
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Thanks @howard ,
I was using a chorus. I did some searching on the web to see what Journey was using to get that sound and almost everyone suggested chorus.

I felt it was too punchy but was not sure what adjustments to bring it down while still being able to hear what I’m playing. I’ll try your suggestions.

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Best is to get a metering plugin and shoot for -18dbFS at each stage in a track :slight_smile:

Note that there are differing methods of measuring the tracks (including the track level meters) and the -18 refers to VU full scale on a meter.

This explains the whole thing:


It’s awesome that plugins model analog gear so well it even includes their behavior when overdriven, but that also leads to the corrollary that it is easy to accidentally overdrive them :slight_smile:


Thanks, I’ll give that a watch!

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This is what to shoot for at each stage on a track:

That’s a metering plugin, set to VU scale, and calibrated so 0 on the meter is -18 dBFS.


Just added VU Meter by Zenomod to Reaper.
HEre are the default settings.

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Those are correct :slight_smile:

Next step is, for the initially recorded bass and then between every plugin on a track, move the meter there and verify the playback doesn’t go above 0. If it does, you want to stage it down. One easy way to do this is a simple gain plugin (Reaper might come with one, or you can use one like the one in the Kilohearts free bundle, which everyone should get anyway.)

This ensures you won’t overdrive later plugins in the chain.

A lot of plugins also have an input level meter built in you can also use for this, it’s a nice convenience when they do.

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Are we not overlooking the elephant in the room here @groaner

Buy a P bass and all your problems will melt away :heart::sunglasses:


Can’t hurt!

The really cool kids go reverse P :sunglasses: :upside_down_face:

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Lol, my Yamaha TRBX 304 is an active bass that hasn’t had the issue I was trying to get around.
Maybe some day a P will be mine.

I’m pretty sure the cool kids have p-j basses.

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They do :sunglasses: but they have jazz basses as well :nerd_face:

It’s also possible your J is simply much hotter than the TRBX and it is throwing your usual settings off.

Some plugins and gear sound great overdriving. Some don’t (like, for example, audio interfaces)

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