Maybe there are solutions of this question like lowering the gain level on a virtual amplifier or something. Right off the bat I want to point out: doing that does not remove those problems, it just makes them more quiet while sacrificing the distortion level.

File to listen to is here:

So I recorded some DI parts and then put a software amplifier on the repeats of those. DI parts aren't played back perfectly (I tried though), but those should give you the idea of what I'm trying to play with distortion. Especially the first lick. I want to do a full scale run using that pattern, and every time I hit the note on 2nd string it gets killed by distortion. I tried using palm muting, but the problem remains and all brightness in the tone is lost (lick #2).

Double stops are destroyed every single time I play them, while using distortion (the worst happens when you play a second or a seventh). That's happening in lick #3. Palm muting is also applied there.

Lick #4 is a little sweep. Also get destroyed by distortion. Well, in 2nd sweep first note is kinda chewed, but I don't get the problem with the 1st sweep.

It happens on all pickups (I use a Gibson, so in all positions: Bridge, Bridge + Neck, Neck). I played using Bridge + Neck position for a more balanced tone. If I would have used Bridge – there also would be crackles in the audio. I really don't understand what's the problem about. If you need more info, I use a Gibson SG, compressor pedal and I play with a regular polycarbonate pick. There are no peaks or anything. Also somebody may advice to use a real amp – I don't own one. Peaks

I mean I'd also like to mention guitarists who have sweet distortion tones like John Petrucci, Mikael Åkerfeldt, Fredrik Åkesson or any other modern Progressive Rock, Progressive Metal/Djent, Metalcore band, but I think they all tend to use real amps. So I can't name known guitarists, who use software amps and pedals, so I'll just paste a YouTuber's solo moment that sounds sweet (still using a virtual amp).

Still not perfect if you listen closely, but not such crap as I get.

  • 1
    Can you upload audio to something better 'policed' like Soundcloud, rather than a file-based solution. More people will click it to listen. Another upside, Soundcloud links appear 'live' in this site [once you save the edit, not in your preview]
    – Tetsujin
    Sep 4, 2019 at 16:32
  • 1
    @Tetsujin Ok, SoundCloud it’ll be. Like in an hour or so.
    – Eugen Eray
    Sep 4, 2019 at 17:04
  • Seems like Doktor Mayhem understands your question. I don’t understand it. What do you mean by a note being “killed” by distortion? I thought you meant that you couldn’t hear the note at all with the distortion on, but that doesn’t seem right. Sep 4, 2019 at 20:36
  • @ToddWilcox It ruins the sound of it. When I'm playing a scale run toggling between E and B strings, notes on E string sound fine while notes picked on B string are overemphasized. When other guitarists played double stops (on studio recordings) they sound as balanced as all other single notes. When I play double stops they sound very harsh. So yeah, by the word "overemphasized" I meant that it adds extra harshness to the note. I do not want that to happen, I just want it to sound balanced.
    – Eugen Eray
    Sep 5, 2019 at 10:33

1 Answer 1


This is EXACTLY what distortion should be doing to your notes. What are you expecting? You have 2 notes playing at once so the distortion you get is exacerbated. If you want a clearer note you need to find a way to play the note on its own, or reduce the distortion.

  • This could be by appropriately damping your other notes more quickly
  • Or you can use certain elements of compression to drop the amplitude a bit
  • Or change your distortion so you aren't hitting clipping/harmonics as hard
  • 1
    But how does DragonForce style distortion sound so smooth even though it takes too much concentration to damp adjacent string notes in time while playing scale runs? Can this only be achieved using certain equipment? youtu.be/15JCb6P60Vw?t=299
    – Eugen Eray
    Sep 4, 2019 at 18:33
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    They can't do that live - it's studio only, which lets you cut and chop everything to suit. In fact they have been pretty shabby most of the times I have seen them live. They use ProTools, they use keyboards to play various parts, they use a lot of compression. It doesn't sound like good legato though
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Sep 4, 2019 at 18:52
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    @EugenEray Note that in the DragonForce clip, what sounds like double stops is not double stops. It’s two guitar parts layered or two guitarists playing at the same time. Sep 4, 2019 at 20:38
  • 1
    @DoktorMayhem These aren't really double stops rather just notes that ring over each other (I also get this problem when mixing open strings and fretted notes, while doing string skipping, which this solo includes, according to tablature songsterr.com/a/wsa/dream-theater-endless-sacrifice-tab-s5955t2 bar 183) youtube.com/watch?v=ZvYuTc2zW5c&feature=youtu.be&t=417
    – Eugen Eray
    Sep 5, 2019 at 10:52
  • My solution was to damp the hell out of those notes included in that run. Clean is better than sweet.
    – Eugen Eray
    Sep 8, 2019 at 14:47

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