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MikeV7

"Rape Me" clean tone?

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I know that I should have my own tone, and not be trying to copy others' sounds. I really like the clean guitar tone on the intro to "Rape Me" by Nirvana. Does anyone know how I would get a similar sound?

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What guitar are you using and what kind of amp?

In Utero is my favorite Nirvana album, so I tend to know the most about the recording of that album. Kurt used his Jaguar on In Utero, and I know people assume it was his "Utero-era Mustangs" but it really was his Jaguar and he just toured with the Mustangs. The amp used was his Blackface Twin Reverb. Before I give you any advice, it's important to know that Steve Albini engineered and produced this album, and his recording techniques are not just a microphone in front of the amp. On "kurtsequipment", apparently at some point Kurt did an interview saying that the guitar was recorded in a room with a mic in front of the amp as well as several other microphones taped to the walls and ceiling.

That being said, it sounds to me like it was just Jaguar on the bridge pickup (DiMarzio Super Distortion) through the Twin Reverb recorded and mixed from that highly micro-phoned room.. High output humbuckers like the Super Distortion or the Seymour Duncan JB give you that kind of warm and fuzzy clean sound. If you are using the Stratocaster from your picture, I would try using the bridge pickup in combo with the middle pickup, especially if you are RWRP hum-canceling setup, and maybe try a little bit of overdrive and turn the guitar tone down a little bit until your satisfied.

I can experiment a little more and let you know.

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Thanks for your reply! You know a lot. The guitar I'm using is a squier vintage modified HSS strat. The humbucker is a Duncan designed HB-102, which I guess is just a JB but made overseas. Sadly, the only amp I have right now is a small 20 watt bc rich which only has one knob for tone. I was looking at getting a mustang III amp for the twin reverb setting. I thought it sounded fairly close.

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I would agree. I get that tone with my super distortion through my Fender Twin. The key (in my opinion) to that sound with those is to make sure you are using 1meg pots. Kurts Jaguar has 1megs and it makes a big difference in sound. Much brighter. :)

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I would agree. I get that tone with my super distortion through my Fender Twin. The key (in my opinion) to that sound with those is to make sure you are using 1meg pots. Kurts Jaguar has 1megs and it makes a big difference in sound. Much brighter. :)

^ There you go. So, essentially what we are hearing is the warm qualities of the Super Distortion colliding with the brighter tendencies of the 1 meg pot. That's why his clean tone is extremely warm and fuzzy yet is still highly detailed. It's really a unique sound. I had some time to play on a studio Twin Reverb and then on my own personal 6V6 tube amp to try to help you out and it seems it does come pretty close using any high output humbucker with any high headroom (to be able to crank it) tube amp. It at least gets you close enough that you could make minor EQ adjustments.

Your guitar is awesome man! I absolutely love the Squier Vintage Modified series of Strats and Teles. You are correct, the Seymour Duncan HB-102 is from the "Progressive" series pickups and is a replication of the JB, Alnico 5 mags and all. They are great because they are cheap so able to come stock in Squier's, and they still capture some great sounds. You're right there as far as electronics go, as I'm sure you know, Kurt's humbug of choice was the JB. I would just try setting your amp as clean as you can get it with the volume as high as you can put it and still have it clean. Unfortunately, it's really hard to capture the sound of a tube amp, let alone the infamous Twin Reverb. Good luck man! Let us know if you figure something out, and again, sweet guitar.

EDIT:: There are some very cheap Fender solid state amps that get a great clean sound and get LOUD. A few would be the Deluxe 85, Princeton Chorus, and The Twin.

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I can get the same sound through my fender amp, or even a mesa amp with my smaller brand pickups because theyre the same output. I actually kind of get that tone on my squier strat on a cover i did of lounge act not long ago.

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Turn all the mids to 10. That is very important. Give that a try especially on the mutes. Good luck.

Interesting you'd say that, because i have my mids turned all the way down.

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Interesting you'd say that, because i have my mids turned all the way down.

After hearing this, I would think that the best advice would just be to run a high output humbucker through a clean Fender style amp and make personal EQ adjustments from there. If it sounds right to the OP's ears, it's gotta be right :)

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Kurt dimed the mids on everything he had with a mid setting. Do the research and you'll find that he turned all the mids to 10 on everything that had a mid control. Listen to any of his live stuff and you can hear it. Its most obvious when he plays clean. He's never super clean but you know what i mean. I was after this certain tone he had live more than in the studio. I tried everything that i could think of. It sounded more like a vox than a mesa. I went to people who engineer and went in a studio full of gear and tried to get close to that tone. It sounded like a blown speaker. The thing is it was the tone at reading and you can't retrace everything that was used live because the environment plays a role also. The closest i got was actually with a wah pedal. We found a old wah and put it in one position where it pushed the mids real hard and it got close. I know Kurt never used a wah but it shows you that you can get there by strange ways but all that matters is if you get there. If it sounds right then you're good. I had trouble with the exact same question on this forum years ago. The forum is way nicer now because they went off on me for trying to "copy" Kurts sound and for even saying the word "clean" in the same breath as the word Kurt. I'm glad to see it's mellowed out and all the drama left. The "elitist" ####s have went back to where they came from or they realized that a forum themed after the guitar kurt designed may be the wrong place to come to just bash kurt. Luckily the ones who got off on ridiculing peoples questions weren't great musicians and didn't bring much to the table anyways. The forum is a lot quieter but honestly its probably better this way. More than half the posts were either making someone look stupid or saying how terrible kurt was. The person in this forum who could get you to that tone is James. He knows how to nail Kurts sound better than anyone. Listen to his nirvana cover band and you'll see what i mean. He gets it. He could help more than me for sure. Good luck

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Kurt dimed the mids on everything he had with a mid setting. Do the research and you'll find that he turned all the mids to 10 on everything that had a mid control. Listen to any of his live stuff and you can hear it. Its most obvious when he plays clean. He's never super clean but you know what i mean. I was after this certain tone he had live more than in the studio. I tried everything that i could think of. It sounded more like a vox than a mesa. I went to people who engineer and went in a studio full of gear and tried to get close to that tone. It sounded like a blown speaker. The thing is it was the tone at reading and you can't retrace everything that was used live because the environment plays a role also. The closest i got was actually with a wah pedal. We found a old wah and put it in one position where it pushed the mids real hard and it got close. I know Kurt never used a wah but it shows you that you can get there by strange ways but all that matters is if you get there. If it sounds right then you're good. I had trouble with the exact same question on this forum years ago. The forum is way nicer now because they went off on me for trying to "copy" Kurts sound and for even saying the word "clean" in the same breath as the word Kurt. I'm glad to see it's mellowed out and all the drama left. The "elitist" ####s have went back to where they came from or they realized that a forum themed after the guitar kurt designed may be the wrong place to come to just bash kurt. Luckily the ones who got off on ridiculing peoples questions weren't great musicians and didn't bring much to the table anyways. The forum is a lot quieter but honestly its probably better this way. More than half the posts were either making someone look stupid or saying how terrible kurt was. The person in this forum who could get you to that tone is James. He knows how to nail Kurts sound better than anyone. Listen to his nirvana cover band and you'll see what i mean. He gets it. He could help more than me for sure. Good luck

I get that reading tone on my peavey vypyr and i have my mids turned down. Theres alot more to it than just that i mean you gotta look at the pickups EQ, the pots, the type of amp etc.

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I'm playing a jag through a Mesa with a rat..I've been down this road years ago.

from an interview with Kurt:

What was the last amp you blew up?

A Crown power amp that was intended for use as a PA, but which I used for a guitar head because I can never find an amp that’s powerful enough -– and because I don’t want to have to deal with hauling 10 Marshall heads. I’m lazy –- I like to have it all in one package. For a preamp I have a Mesa/Boogie, and I turn all the mid-range up.

I could post a bunch of times where Kurt never mentioned any other settings on anything except he kept saying "dimed the mids" or "turn the mids all the way up". He says it in several different interviews and people who knew him said that was why he liked that Mesa. He liked the control of the mids. I figure if he said it over and over then it must be important. He played lots of different guitars all fitted with different pickups but it still sounded similar. What pickups did he have in that tele? I know it was single coils and i think they were stock but i'm not sure.

A Peavy vypyr is a solid state modeling amp? I am curious to hear the tone i'm talking about on that amp.

My point again is, if you got the sound already then great. No big deal.

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I'm playing a jag through a Mesa with a rat..I've been down this road years ago.

from an interview with Kurt:

What was the last amp you blew up?

A Crown power amp that was intended for use as a PA, but which I used for a guitar head because I can never find an amp that’s powerful enough -– and because I don’t want to have to deal with hauling 10 Marshall heads. I’m lazy –- I like to have it all in one package. For a preamp I have a Mesa/Boogie, and I turn all the mid-range up.

I could post a bunch of times where Kurt never mentioned any other settings on anything except he kept saying "dimed the mids" or "turn the mids all the way up". He says it in several different interviews and people who knew him said that was why he liked that Mesa. He liked the control of the mids. I figure if he said it over and over then it must be important. He played lots of different guitars all fitted with different pickups but it still sounded similar. What pickups did he have in that tele? I know it was single coils and i think they were stock but i'm not sure.

A Peavy vypyr is a solid state modeling amp? I am curious to hear the tone i'm talking about on that amp.

My point again is, if you got the sound already then great. No big deal.

which tele you referring to? i know his sunburst one had humbuckers in them, if you're talking about the "I <3 courtney" one, i think it may have just been the stock ones.

i know the cleans in this are mostly palm muted so its hard to tell, but the distortion has that same nasally sound, and that was the stock JS pups at the time

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zyPhOSdoxXo

heres a cover of rape me that i did as more based on the album version, but again i managed to get that same growly nasally sound

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I hear Kurt's guitar behind you so it's hard to tell. That's great but it isn't the tone i'm after. The one i want is more like a blown speaker. You can hear it on reading when Kurt backs off it a bit. I isolated the tone and let some engineers hear it and they said it was strange that the sound was coming through Kurt's set up because it sounded like an old vox or possibly just guitar run straight into a p.a. We found it through adjusting the mids and it got close so i just wanted to pass on the information in case someone else had the same issues. Have you tried cranking the mids? I'm just curious..

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I hear Kurt's guitar behind you so it's hard to tell. That's great but it isn't the tone i'm after. The one i want is more like a blown speaker. You can hear it on reading when Kurt backs off it a bit. I isolated the tone and let some engineers hear it and they said it was strange that the sound was coming through Kurt's set up because it sounded like an old vox or possibly just guitar run straight into a p.a. We found it through adjusting the mids and it got close so i just wanted to pass on the information in case someone else had the same issues. Have you tried cranking the mids? I'm just curious..

i have before and the problem is you lose a bit of the fizz on the distortion...which video were you talking about hearing kurts guitar behind it? because the rape me one i have the backing track turned almost all the way down, so the only guitar you're really hearing is mine.

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It must be the recording. It could be out of sync and it's tricking me.

i think certain parts are a bit choppy, i had that happen on a heartshaped box cover i did that when i uploaded it, the audio kept cutting out on some parts, but yea if its there at all its very faint because i found someone who had a bass cover of it as well as a drum cover, so i mix those with my guitar and vocals.

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those old mesa's dont act like your run of the mill guitar amp. even the markII's from the 80's have odd settings. the mid on those all the way up on that mesa is different than turning the mids all the way on a new or "modern" amp. buy a .22+ practice amp and a ds-2 and youll have kurts tone.

although on the in utero recordings its so obviously a fender tone, cant escape that hollow booming tone of a classic fender and prestine clean sound!!

studio22+Web.jpg

BossDS-2Big.jpg

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Ok well there you go. I play through a mesa. That could be why i am so adamant about turning up the mids. When i crank the mids it sounds right. I assume that when you crank the mids on another amp then it should respond the same. Now that i think about it, thats never the case. Great point!

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Ok well there you go. I play through a mesa. That could be why i am so adamant about turning up the mids. When i crank the mids it sounds right. I assume that when you crank the mids on another amp then it should respond the same. Now that i think about it, thats never the case. Great point!

Exactly, theres that, then theres also the pedal you're using, in my case its a modded DS1, or the cable, i've used a cheap cable from walmart then a higher end cable and the tone is totally different.

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All very good points, I'm sure the OP can get fairly close to what he's looking for. At one point, I also wanted Kurt's tones, and when I finally got there I realized "WTF am I gonna use this for now that isn't going to sound like I ripped off Nirvana" haha. My DS-2 is in the closet now, collecting dust mainly. I break it out every now and then and can actually get some pretty sweet "boosted" sounds out of it. To each his own, some people are totally happy with coming home from work and being able to be a big rockstar in their own home and I respect the hell out of that. Let's lighten this thread up with what we are currently running right now. My main rig right now is:

Tech 21 Blonde (Modded with speaker emulation removed) ->

DOD Supra-Distortion (Really noisy, squeals out and I use this occasionally for feedback) ->

NYC Big Muff (Heavily modded with mid and low eq pots, and toggle that bypasses all EQ including stock "Tone" pot) ->

MXR Micro Chorus (I find I rarely use this either but it can make things more spacious on a low setting) ->

Fender Reverb tank (Purely amazing) ->

VHT Special (20 watt, upgraded to 6L6 Winged C's, 7025 12AX7's, and a Jensen C12N speaker)

Occasionally, I run right into my modded Champ 600 and just crank it all the way. Really unbelieveable Tweed sounds with just some upgrades.

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I'm not after the rockstar at home thing but i do like to take bits and pieces of others sounds to create my own. The tone i was after can be heard in short periods during the reading show and really isn't associated with Kurt because it isn't his signature tone. I had a song that could benefit from that tone and thats why i wanted it. I figure that if i understand how to get a certain sound then it broadens me as an artist. Even if i don't use that tone ever. You know what i mean? Knowing how to achieve a tone is like learning math backwards. It may help down the road and it teaches me and lets me be independent. The backwards math thing simply means that if i'm hearing something weird coming through the mix like too much mids for example, i will be able to go to each piece of gear and find the conflict. If you are a performer you'll know that every venue is different and if you want to sound like you then you need as much knowledge as possible. I'm not trying to argue and i like the comment you made about lightening it up. I appreciate that but i wasn't sure if you thought i sit at my house and play teen spirit in front of a mirror. I do dig nirvana a lot but i have never played any of it live and honestly haven't played a nirvana song in 2 or 3 years, even to practice. I learned how to play guitar because of Kurt so we have that bond and the first 10 songs i learned were his.

My current setup varies on either the type of song i'm recording or the type of show i'm playing. I only play a couple times a year and its mostly blues stuff at festivals. I never stay long in one genre so my gear is changing all the time. If i were famous..it would probably be my sheraton II or strat through my mesa with a rat and a boss fender deluxe reverb pedal and a muff or a voodoo labs sparkle drive. I always use a tech 21 para also, even when i play acoustic or slide so that will be there also. Those pieces of gear are the ones that i trust and i feel comfortable with.

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I'm not after the rockstar at home thing but i do like to take bits and pieces of others sounds to create my own. The tone i was after can be heard in short periods during the reading show and really isn't associated with Kurt because it isn't his signature tone. I had a song that could benefit from that tone and thats why i wanted it. I figure that if i understand how to get a certain sound then it broadens me as an artist. Even if i don't use that tone ever. You know what i mean? Knowing how to achieve a tone is like learning math backwards. It may help down the road and it teaches me and lets me be independent. The backwards math thing simply means that if i'm hearing something weird coming through the mix like too much mids for example, i will be able to go to each piece of gear and find the conflict. If you are a performer you'll know that every venue is different and if you want to sound like you then you need as much knowledge as possible. I'm not trying to argue and i like the comment you made about lightening it up. I appreciate that but i wasn't sure if you thought i sit at my house and play teen spirit in front of a mirror. I do dig nirvana a lot but i have never played any of it live and honestly haven't played a nirvana song in 2 or 3 years, even to practice. I learned how to play guitar because of Kurt so we have that bond and the first 10 songs i learned were his.

My current setup varies on either the type of song i'm recording or the type of show i'm playing. I only play a couple times a year and its mostly blues stuff at festivals. I never stay long in one genre so my gear is changing all the time. If i were famous..it would probably be my sheraton II or strat through my mesa with a rat and a boss fender deluxe reverb pedal and a muff or a voodoo labs sparkle drive. I always use a tech 21 para also, even when i play acoustic or slide so that will be there also. Those pieces of gear are the ones that i trust and i feel comfortable with.

Awesome man! All great gear. Yeah, I wasn't taking a shot at you, directly nor indirectly dude. I just was stating that some people (not you) do like to play the rockstar thing when they get home from work as an example and I don't see anything wrong with that. Honestly, even the hypothetical situation you brought up — If someone wanted to sit in front of a mirror and play "Smells Like Teen Spirit", I don't see myself judging them or even laughing at them. If that makes that person happy, what does that have to do with me? IMO, that's Kurt's music being completely successful. He wrote a song that makes someone happy and a chance for them to use their imagination and live a dream. That's where I was coming from. I wasn't using you as an example, but rather "you" in a hypothetical way haha. Sorry if I came off as an #### to you in my last post, I have a bad habit of saying "you" in that hypothetical way and coming off as a prick haha. it wasn't my intention to even mention anything regarding you at all, let alone take a shot at you. Peace, keep on making music.

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My current is really, really simple.

I have more, but this is what I use for recording:

2011 Kurt Cobain signature Jaguar

1984 MIJ Stratocaster

Peavey XXX 2x12 (godlike distortion, sounds huge when double tracked)

Fender M-80 (Beautiful cleans)

Electro-Harmonix Small Clone (used in combination with the Fender)

Vox Wah

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