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I've researched this question before but after not finding exact sounding examples of what I'm going after, I decided to post my question here with an audio example.

I'm looking to get this sound: Jawbreaker - "West Bay Invitational"

I'm using software to emulate this sound but it ends up sounding flat and not punchy at all. I've tried layering the tracks, adding delays distortion and flanger, and while it all sounds nice in a wall of sound kind of way, it's not there yet.

I'm using Logic and the pedalboard audio effect.

I'll also take advice with physical equipment.

Thank you in advance!

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    Without even listening, I bet the original sound is not as distorted as you're trying to make it. The overall effect comes in the mix, as the track is comped. It was the early days of multi-band compressors & brick-wall limiting. Listen to Eels, Novocaine for the Soul for one of the very first examples. – Tetsujin Jan 23 '18 at 18:23
  • I listened [& to some pixies]... my first comment stands. Don't over-push your amp sound, the effect comes afterwards, at the mix. Check this extract - more like Eels than your examples, but this is a single guitar, no overdubs, crunchy not high-gain, mastering comp makes the "wall" - soundcloud.com/graham-lee-15/norton-disney-weightless-excerpt – Tetsujin Jan 23 '18 at 18:31
  • Thank you! I'll look into multi band compression and brick wall limiting. From a quick glance it seems like they are mostly used in the mastering stage rather than mixing/writing. – Eugenio Jan 23 '18 at 19:07
  • Yes - though if that's what you're aiming for from the start, you can strap one over the master bus earlier. You need to learn how it affects things, though, & not just go mad with it ;) – Tetsujin Jan 23 '18 at 19:10
  • I would definitely advise against adding any effects to the mater track prior to completing your mix. I would agree that the overall "wall of sound" approach to guitars has more to do with how it is mixed/mastered but you do have to get the right sound on the way in (or in the box if you're doing your effects there), so I think the best answer will talk more about that than mixing but it all has to be considered. – Basstickler Jan 23 '18 at 20:14
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The guitar sound on that track is clearly a fuzz pedal to me. Fuzz pedals include:

  • ProCo Rat (very popular in the 90s because of Kurt Cobain - it might be a Rat)
  • Big Muff Pi (this recording might be a Pi)
  • Dallas/Arbiter Fuzz Face - Maybe the most famous vintage fuzzes with many clones made over the years up through today
  • Sola Sound Tone Bender - Also vintage and many clones have been made

There are some fuzzes that have come out since the 90s that have been popular, most particularly the Zvex Fuzz Factory as made famous by Matt Bellamy of Muse. But that's not related to this question.

I would try some different fuzz sounds, and probably single coil pickups. Actually I find the guitar sound in the sample recording to be quite thin. It only is full in context because of the bass guitar. Fuzz doesn't usually have a setting that only applies a little bit of fuzz, but you can find the edge of fuzz by rolling off the guitar's volume a bit.

So I would say single coil bridge pickup into a fuzz pedal like a Rat or Pi or some cheap 90s fuzz (punk is all about cheap - usually). Make the amp pretty clean, maybe even a solid state amp - it doesn't have a rich midrange. Set the fuzz to middle settings and put all the tone controls on the amp all the way up. Roll off the volume knob on the guitar until it starts to sound about right.

That hopefully gets you close to the raw guitar sound. There are two guitar tracks on that recording both with the same sound. It's not exactly double tracked, because the parts are slightly different. One guitar is panned around 50% right and other about 50% left (meaning halfway between center and panned hard. Then there's the bass that helps with the low end.

I suggest working from time to time to recreate tones that you like, but limit yourself to just giving it a good attempt. Don't spend too much time chasing someone else's sound because you really want to find your own. You'll never nail another sound anyway.

When you're done, a look-ahead peak limiter on the whole mix was very popular (I guess actually mandatory) in the 90s, and just a bit of subtle reverb.

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    This is an incredibly helpful answer. Thank you so much. I'm hearing the bass a lot more now since you mentioned it. Your encouragement to find my own sound is inspiring, and freeing in many ways. Thank you also for pointing out the panning on the tracks, it helps me listen to songs closer to hear exactly what might be going on. Truly appreciate it! – Eugenio Jan 23 '18 at 20:24
  • Agree with this answer, this is bass, and also the drums are making it very punchy. note how turned down the guitar really is, and as Todd said, panned heavily. when working the mix keep the guitar's bass down, work on higher treble/tone and blend with bass/kick. NOTE: if you are using a solid state amp, overdrive pedals do not come out pretty. go for a "distortion" pedal. take your amp and guitar into a music store, and ask to try out pedals. maybe leave your stuff and go out for lunch lol they'll very likely have no problem with it if you're serious about buying. – NOP Jan 23 '18 at 22:40
  • note: I know you mentioned software solutions, but also stated hardware. I've used both extensively, and suggest getting ONE good, dedicated distortion pedal, and learning it well, will be a most valuable asset for years to come. (I say distortion, because I feel they're more robust, but that's personal opinion. my pedal is reviled (ORIGINAL Grunge FX69, DOD, had since I was a kid) but with my trusty 90's Strat I pull a wild range of sounds – NOP Jan 23 '18 at 22:50

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