Ampeg Case Study distortion Eagles of Death Metal eq Eric Valentine free plugins Guitar Joe Barresi Josh Homme Kyuss Logic Queens of the Stone Age Them Crooked Vultures

Queens of the Stone Age in your DAW

Queen of the Stone Age is the brainchild of guitarist, singer, songwriter and producer Josh Homme. Few bands have left such an enduring impression on the rock idiom since the 90s as Queens of the Stone Age, and it could possibly be argued lots of that is right down to this man and the musicians and producers he surrounds himself with.

Hailing from Palm Desert, California, they’ve fallen underneath the umbrella of Desert Rock, a style they’re now synonymous with. They took the mantle the place the sweaty Gen Xers grunge sound of the early 90s began to tire and turn into formulaic, incorporating parts of psychedelia, blues, heavy metallic and hardcore punk.

Queens… are themselves a revolving door of gifted musicians with Homme as their ring leader. You’d be forgiven for considering Josh Homme’s enjoying fashion is simplistic because it lacks the flamboyance and pomposity of other modern guitar heroes.

It shares extra in widespread with the directness of punk and grunge without some of the wilful ignorance in the direction of the instrument some guitarists unusually take delight in. His type is DIY and idiosyncratic yet uncomplicated and properly honed. He’s (to borrow a dreadful cliché) a guitarists’ guitarist.

Rated R (2000) and Songs for the Deaf  (2002) left an enduring mark on my attitudes in the direction of how the guitar was played but in addition track writing and music manufacturing in basic. Even considering my complete lack of understanding of music gear I might inform there was quirks about QOTSA’s sound that set them aside from the Marshall/Strat/Les Paul tribe. Their newer works haven’t maybe shared the similar cult plaudits as the aforementioned albums however commercially they’ve remained successful.

I would like to try some of Josh’s gear and how one can get an analogous sound in your DAW on a price range in the similar vein as some of my other articles on Aphex Twin, Shoegaze, Squarepusher, Stranger Issues, The Prodigy and Radiohead.

This isn’t a precise ‘sound-a-like’ guide, nor ought to it’s thought-about one. Hopefully it could possibly shed some mild on some of the extra particular person tones from one of this era’s greats and inspire you to thing about alternative ways of processing your devices. Take pleasure in!

For Starters

I’ve long been fascinated with the QOTSA sound, and despite the fact that Josh has typically stored his playing cards close to his chest about his pedals (observe this parody video from their official YouTube channel) there’s still been some rigorous documentations of reside rigs and studio methods.

This article is essentially inspired by a Sound On Sound video where Songs for the Deaf producer (and drumbrella extraordinaire) Eric Valentine particulars the recording method for the guitar sound:

Whereas it’s fantastically complete, most of us don’t personal the related classic microphones, rare results pedals or boutique guitars to realize this sound purely with hardware. Nevertheless it acquired me considering that we might in all probability get something comparable in Logic or Ableton utilizing a mixture of low cost, free and native plug-ins.

The sound of Queens… is essentially right down to Josh himself, who has co-produced many of their albums together with older Kyuss data too. This text does focus round the above video, detailing Eric Valentine’s recording of Songs for the Deaf, however elsewhere I’ll allude to Rated R, which was produced by Joe Barresi (who additionally went on to supply Lullabies To Paralyze) and Chris Goss (no, not the horrible Spurs manager), who had a hand in numerous albums.

Eric has just lately grow to be a father and moved from working full time in his Barefoot Studio to a hybrid setup at his residence. Warren Huart from Produce Like A Professional lately caught up with him to talk all issues gear and you possibly can watch the interview here.

Guitar Anti Hero

Is it a Strat? Is a Les Paul? No it’s some obscure guitar that’s not more likely to turn into a household identify anytime quickly. Josh Homme has an enormous collection of lesser-known beauties however maybe one of the guitars he’s more famed for wielding is the Ovation Ultra GP, some this web site describes as the “ultimate junk guitar”(!).


I don’t know a lot about it aside from that is has two humbucker pickups, which is useful as the only guitar close to me is an affordable Epiphone SG, which also has two humbuckers 😁.

My SG is under no circumstances an in depth duplicate however it’s unlikely most of you reading could have the Ovation and even one thing more comparable. That is really a information about making do with what you’ve acquired somewhat than a forensic analysis or the gear used.

An incredible deal of Queens of the Stone Age’s catalog is tuned down two entire steps (C F Bb Eb G C). With out having your guitar setup by knowledgeable or getting some custom additional heavy gauge strings this will trigger the strings to be a terrific deal extra unfastened than regular and flap round when strumming.


Amps, Microphones and Pre-Amps

Ordinarily I’d bounce right into the pedalboard now however the amp sound and notably the distortion from it’s such an enormous part of Josh’s general sound it seems the natural place to start out proper.

As you’ll be able to garner from his Wiki Josh has an in depth assortment of classics amplifiers together with the big-hitters akin to JCM 900s, Bassmans, VOX and Orange as well as some more atypical, obscure inclusions.

By far the amp the QOTSA sound is most intently related to though is the Ampegs, which Josh has an enormous collection of. VT-40s with a four×10 cabinet could be seen on stage, but there’s probably an entire load of others that he’s used in numerous mixtures to help sculpt his signature sound. You’ll be able to see photographs of Josh’s stay amp settings right here.

There are various Ampeg simulations in Guitar Rig and Logic’s own plug-ins but by far the greatest sounding one I’ve heard is contained with IK Multimedia’s AmpliTube 4. This has by far the most flexibility of any guitar amp simulator with not only a plethora of famous amp models emulated but cupboard selection, microphone sort and place (see under) and even custom rooms in-which to put your amps.

For those of you more on a price range, Logic’s Bass Amp Designer has some Ampeg-y sound and Pc Music have launched a free simulation BassAmp CM, which is free with their journal.

As a rule of thumb I’ve tried to maintain the cupboards to 4x10s the place relevant. I bought a couple of microphone options inside AmpiTube to offer me a wide palette of sound decisions.

From the Valentine video we will infer he was utilizing a tube condenser mic (Sony C-37A) for a heat, clean and full bodied sound, a Sennheiser 441 dynamic mic, an RCA 44 Ribbon mic for the room and what he calls a ‘salt-shaker’ mic near the cupboard. This offers the aggressive, vibrant high-end sound which might be blended with the different three mics to achiever a wider range of tones.


Picture © Eric Valentine & QOTSA.

With this in mind, let’s take a quick take a look at The Misplaced Art Of Holding A Secret:

All of the drums for this text have been performed by the extraordinarily gifted Stuart Pringle and tracked at Copper Brown in Finchley, London by the very type Luke and his glamorous assistant Ollie. Please examine them all out as I couldn’t have carried out this without their effort and time!

The drums are principally combined with SSL-style EQ (which Homme remarks is “the rock EQ”) into some FET-like compression and some Electra DSP transient EQ from The House of Kush (love these plug-ins!). I added a Logic apple loop shaker.

The bass is my brother’s Ibanez bass tuned down utilizing some parallel distortion from Logic’s pedalboard. The allows the dry bass to be combined with the distorted one, protecting some clarity.

There are two guitars tracked – one enjoying the simple energy chords and the other adding the bluesy lick at the end of the 4 bars. Throughout this article I’m utilizing Fielding DSP’s Reviver so as to add third order harmonics into the guitar sound. This adds a slight touch of drive that’s pleasant, and beset of all it’s super low cost!

The amp settings used are under. Notice how much midrange is added right here. An enormous part of the sound is acquiring distortion from overdriving midrange EQ circuits. In the digital realm it’s essential watch out with your gain-staging as this could sound flabby and muffled should you’re not cautious.

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Nevertheless this wasn’t fairly proper – I added iZotope’s Trash 2 to change the tone some extra. Trash makes use of the similar convolution know-how normally found in reverbs to simulate numerous cabinets and circuits. I used the Lincoln Commonplace to color the sound and completed off with some SSL EQ.

The vibraphone is Logic’s EXS24 with some vibrato and plate reverb added. All the tracks are summed to a bus with a healthy bit of processing on. Some Kush Clariphonic EQ, Waves Fairchild emulation*, the wonderful Goodhertz Vulf Compressor, adopted by some tape saturation, a last bit of surgical EQ and limiting.

*Eric Valentine truly owns his own hardware Fairchild emulation company, producing the UnFairchild 670M II. Although retailing at $9,995 I wont be copping one any time quickly!

The Illusive Pedal Board

Josh could be very protective of his floor-based tonal secrets in interviews and Baresi and Valentine respectfully corroborate his stance stance. Nevertheless, perverted pedal snoopers have obtained numerous upskirt photographs to get a clearer concept of what sits between his guitar and amp.

An enormous half of Josh’s sound is EQ, and in specific boosts to the mids and low-mids. In our DAW any digital EQ would handle this simply fantastic but as Josh has been recognized to use a Boss GE-7 and MXR Graphic Equalisers I’ll comply with in go well with.

To study more about EQ click on here.

To exhibit this, let’s check out You Assume I Ain’t Value a Dollar, However I Feel Like a Millionaire (the guitar kicks in at 1:00):

The drums are principally combined in the similar method as the previous example besides this time a wholesome dose of Audio Injury Rough Rider (which is free, so no excuses for not downloading it NOW). This is a particularly aggressive compressor that works fantastically on shotgun mics to beef up toms or increase the room sound in the combine.

I added my own clap tracks, processed with iZotope Vinyl (another free plug-in) – I typically use this as a restricted EQ to thin sounds out. There’s also some gating, enveloping, EQ, limiting and mid-side processing to slender the sound a bit of. Homme himself agrees:

A couple of plug-ins have been really useful, like the iZotope Vinyl plug-in, which modifications the frequencies to emulate previous data.

The bass was very low in this monitor, hitting the lowest C. To combat this I used some multi-band compression to tame the tremendous sub sonics, as well as AmpliTube and some optical compression. It doesn’t sound like quite a bit on it’s personal, as the guitars take up so much of the mix, however it helps the monitor properly.

I double tracked the guitar and panned them every off-centre. There might nicely be extra than just two guitars, however it’s arduous to tell in such a dense mix. I used Logic’s pedalboard EQ to spice up round 400 and 600 Hz, really digging into the Ampeg.

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Both guitar have been grouped together with some Reviver, Kramer channel strip and another favorite low cost compressor of mine; the Pensadia SOR8, which is a Distressor emulation.

All the things was combined into some extra Fairchild compression and ToneBoosters ReelBus. All together it seems like this:

In fact, not all of Josh’s distortion comes from overdriven midrange EQ – there are some basic fuzz sounds to be found on his board including the sought-after Univox Super-Fuzz and Fulltone Fats-Increase, in addition to numerous Boss compacts. Let’s take a fast take a look at Monsters In The Parasol:

The bass has a distinct distortion Nick Oliveri, which might properly be a Boss FZ-2 Hyper Fuzz. Without one obtainable I’m utilizing AmpliTube’s Fulltone vary, using their OCD do handle bass-fuzz duties. Run that into an optical compressor (Logic’s native one is ok) and a few of the Console EQ, and you’re there or there-abouts:

The guitar is processed utilizing Native Devices Guitar Rig’s aptly named Distortion module, virtually definitely a clone of the Boss DS-1. Hold the tone and distortion dials under 9’o’clock and regulate the input achieve to get it to break-up properly with out blasting the life out of it.

All the tracks are run right into a bus with Softube’s free Saturation Knob plugin, some EQ, VCA compression and tape saturation.


Some of my pedals Josh was recognized to use during the QOTSA era. (L to R) Stone Deaf PD-1, Lovetone Meatlball, MoogerFooger Low Move Filter, Approach Large Aqua Puss. Read more here.

stonedeaf.pngThe Stone Deaf PDF-1 is a modern homage to the Maestro Parametric Filter MPF-1 (Josh may be seen using the MPF-1 in some stay footage too). The MPF-1 is a parametric EQ circuit designed by the legendary Bob Moog for Gibson Norlin again in the 1970s. The similarity of the Stone Deaf identify is only coincidental. The Peak pot is a boost/attenuate with a variety of +/- 20dB whereas the Freq sets the range of the EQ from 65 Hz proper up to three kHz. Bandwidth is a five position change controlling the quality of the filter.

It also has a clean/dirty toggle to modify between a extra overdriven sound and there’s an auxiliary output for separating the dry from the effected signal. The emulate this in your DAW I’d recommend using a filter’s bandpass setting, sweeping the cutoff frequency till you get a slender spectrum then adjusting the width accordingly. All DAWs come bundled with numerous filters, so get experimenting. Attempt adding a light-weight crunchy overdrive before or after the circuit if there’s not one built into the filter.

No One Knows is another instance of the basic Queens sound. The choppy guitar virtually definitely uses this parametric EQ:

The guitar right here is gated heavily (principally to right my horrible guitar enjoying) then EQd and enveloped again to scale back the gaps between chords. I’m boosting 400 and 600 Hz in a graphic EQ and including some drive courtesy of Logic’s pedalboard Classic Drive. I’m then using a second graphic EQ to emulate the job of the PDF-1, rolling off all the bottom and prime finish. This is run into AmpiTube after which EQd and enveloped again.

Josh can also be recognized to the consumer the Zvex Tremendous Arduous On – a clear increase pedal. There isn’t something particular that can emulate a clear increase inside Logic or Reside – the huge distinction here is how analog circuits perform when driven in comparison with DSP. In the digital realm we will’t cross a sign previous 0 dBFS without introducing disagreeable clipping artefacts, where as the Super Arduous On might comfortably increase up to sixty occasions unity achieve.

The super hard-on has an enter impedance of 5 million ohms and delivers up to eight.5 volts peak-to-peak, making it the loudest box obtainable with a 9V battery. It makes use of no bipolar, fet, or op-amp units, however relatively a mosfet change. Attempt listening to at least one turned down low with a strat. When it’s on, you possibly can clearly hear the pickup “open up” as the load is taken off by the very excessive input impedance.

Delays, Reverbs and other Modulation

It’s not all fuzz and distortion – there are a lot of other tasty pedals. Let’s check out In the Fade:

The monitor opens with an odd feedback sound and some Wurlitzer. I’ve recreated the latter with my Fender Rhodes:

The guitar double stops have a simple delay on them, probably a Moogerfooger (RIP) or Echodrive. I’ve emulated the sound using some compression and gating, a light-weight overdrive and echo from Logic’s pedalboard into AmpliTube. Nevertheless for those who pay attention intently, every other chord is in stereo, that is in all probability extra doubtless studio trickery. I’ve bypassed the Waves H-Delay and enabled it for each second chord:

Along with the drums, cabasa and bass, the entire thing seems like this:

There’s a tonne of different effects too together with wah pedals, synth pedals and extra. It’s troublesome to be absolute about what Josh is using the place, however you’ll be able to hear a vibrato/leslie speaker sort-of sound in the lead guitar from Go together with the Move (lead starts at zero.11):

I’ve tried to emulate this principally utilizing just Guitar Rig. I’ve gated it fairly closely to keep away from any background noise then added the 1176-style compressor and a few Huge Muff-esq distortion. This lets the lead maintain and squeal however it doesn’t have that wobbly-quality. The Ensemble module works like the previous Boss CE-1 – the basic Andy Summer time sound. Disable the chorus and dial in just vibrato to style. I’ve added the Rotator (a leslie cupboard simulator) to provide it s sluggish swirl, then run that into the Orange amp with matched cupboard and some plate reverb. Please excuse my enjoying!

You possibly can learn extra about Guitar Rig’s modules and the know-how they emulate here.

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Josh’s pedalboard from a Them Crooked Vultures present (1): a couple of MoogerFoogers (low-pass filter and delay) and a Roland Area Echo…


(2) ….and a few Electro Harmonix pitch related results, a fuzz-wah pedal and numerous others.

I Assume I Lost My Headache from Rated R has some fascinating guitar sounds in, let’s take a peak:

The primary repetition has simply guitar, bass and drums. The bass is has some of Logic’s Tube EQ (Pultec emulation) and is super-compressed with Logic’s optical emulation as well as some API 560 graphic EQ and multiband compression to tame the low-end. The guitars have been some of the hardest to get close; I ended up using a Whammy pedal and the Grinder pedal from Logic’s pedalboard with some graphic EQ.

This was run into one other Graphic EQ type Logic’s Vintage EQ assortment then Reviver, the Kush Omega mic-pre and some SSL channel strip. This still wasn’t chopping it so I doubled the guitar and used AmplitTube, some Distressor compression (the SOR8 again) and three EQs. Close enough.

In the second repetition we’ve some lap-steel guitar (performed by Dave Catching). I don’t have one lying around so I’ve just used a trusty bottleneck. To get it sounding efficient I had to compress it fairly arduous. I used Logic’s own amp simulator using the Stadium Amp and Pawnshop 1×8 cupboard with a Ribbon mic cranking the constructed in spring reverb proper up. I added some plate reverb and boosted the sides with the (free) Goodhertz Midside Matrix.

In the next couple of repetitions we have now a second guitar added that has a particularly squelchy tone to it. My concept is that it’s an Electro Harmonix MicroSynth, which we will emulate in Guitar Rig. Earlier than that I’ve added some compression, EQ and a static-wah pedal. This makes the tone somewhat honky however it helps reduce via the mix. In Guitar Rig I’ve added some Massive Muff distortion and the Harmonic Synthesiser. Hold the Dry and Octave sliders up at full and experiment with the Att[ack], Res[onance] and relaxation of the filter section.

Let’s see the way it all sounds collectively:

Studio Instruments and Fishing Touches

Most all of the tracks have been “mastered” in the similar means. Firstly operating into some type of corrective EQ to surgically add or remove in any frequencies current in the unique document. Plug-ins like Fab Filter’s Professional Q-2 have a superb diagnostic EQ match function that may assist you determine some of the muddier frequencies in over-saturated guitars, however I wouldn’t depend on it to combine for you.

Sometimes I might then run in to a Fairchild-style compressor. This isn’t my go-to outdoors of this undertaking however it was very clear that it’s such a well-liked master bus compressor in the rock world and Eric Valentine even has his personal company making emulations of them. I used Wave’s one but there are others on the market (UAD Fairchild 670, Slate Digital FG-Mu, vladg/sound Molot, IK Multimedia Model 670, Native Devices Vari Comp, Audified u73b to call however a number of).

Next I might run right into a tape plug-in. Extra just lately I’ve been enjoying the ToneBoosters stuff however traditionally it was PSP Classic Warmer. Right here I attempt to not overdrive or color the sound too much, but some mild distortion can soften the larger frequencies which is great particularly with fizzy guitars and splashy cymbals. Lastly I might use limiter and in some rare instances another EQ simply earlier than that.

I tried to maintain the mixes as dry as potential as I couldn’t hear too much audible reverb in the recordings. Typically I’ve use Area Designer for a small room sound however the normally I attempted to make use of the overheads to make the drums feel greater and AmpliTube’s constructed in room simulation for the guitars. Throughout I need to confess to using flex-time on pretty much every thing. I’m an enormous believer in getting issues right at tracking somewhat than relying on this but typically time was towards me and for a tutorial (moderately than an inventive endeavour) I’ve no situation using this in small doses.

Josh, Eric and Joe have all documented the numerous EQs, compressors, microphones and desks they use in their respective studios. Most of the standard candidates may be found here, Pultec & API EQs, Fairchild compressors, obviously tape machines and different basic gear.

Pultecs are emulated by all the typical suspects of course together with Waves, nevertheless Logic customers can take a look at the new Classic EQ assortment. This not solely emulates the Pultecs however Neve Console and an API 560 graphic EQ. For those of you on a price range that don’t own Logic Pc Music have a Pultec-stlye EQ with their free EQ CM. I’ve additionally come throughout this however haven’t tested it.

To recap some of the other free and low cost plug-ins I’ve  used a tonne in this article here’s a short record:

The truth is, lots might be completed with very restricted instruments. I’ve tried to get as shut as I fairly can with the instruments I have inside my DAW however even with a free copy of Guitar Rig or AmpliTube (both supply absolutely useful demoes) and the primary EQ, compression, modulation and spatial FX in your DAW, quite a bit may be finished.

I hope this article has been of some use and also you’ve had as a lot fun reading it as I’ve had writing it. Granted most of the guitar enjoying is a bit of ropey and the sounds aren’t good but I hope it’s impressed you to attempt to provide you with your own tones utilizing much less typical strategies. In any case, what number of more Les Paul into Marshall amps do we’d like? I’ll depart you with some movies I used for half of the research for this text, beginning off with the ever wonderful Pensado’s Place with Eric Valentine’s Barefoot studio profiled.