We're interviewing the creators of over 130 Tone Partner Collections now on ToneNET to learn more about their backgrounds and what inspired each collection.
We caught up with Tone Partner Tim Hurt of Live Ready Sound to discuss his journey as a guitarist and how he came about producing his TONEX Collections, available on ToneNET to demo and purchase HERE.
Learn more about Live Ready Sound (Tim Hurt):
Live Ready Sound Collections demos
IK Multimedia: Let’s start from the beginning. When did you start playing guitar and why guitar?
Tim Hurt: The answer to this is probably familiar to many. Somewhere around 13, music started to be a more important aspect of life for me. It started to shape how I saw myself and others.
I didn't exactly have an interest in playing an instrument until I picked up a friend’s guitar and picked a few notes. There was a feeling of excitement and I knew I needed one.
IK: Who were some of your early guitar influences?
TH: Early on there was Kiss, Motley Crue, Metallica, Slayer, Danzig, Steve Vai and even some I shy away from admitting like Poison. There were so many, however, the band with the largest impact on my development as a guitarist was Pantera.
IK: You have some very nice amps. When did this obsession with gear start? And how has it evolved?
TH: Thanks, the obsession was there from the beginning, haha! I had my idea of what I wanted to sound like but couldn't exactly find it. When I was younger, I went through many amps like Crate, Fender, Carvin, etc. I tried Marshalls in the store and never could get them to sound decent. If only I knew then what I know now.
After years of struggling with solid-state amps, I decided to go for the Line 6 AxSys modeling amp which allowed me to get a taste for many of the tube amps out there. Enter my first MESA. So loud and so great. I started buying and selling different models to see the difference and from there it led me to the Kemper. I enjoyed it from the first day but couldn't quite get the feel I needed from the existing profiles out there so I decided I would make my own. One amp to the next. The ball kept rolling from there!
IK: What components of an amp have the most impact on tone?
TH: Every chain is as good as its weakest link ... but for mic'd guitar, the room and acoustics are some of the hardest to master.
Beyond the environment, I do have a large collection of new and old tubes, speakers, cabinets, microphones, pedals, etc.
I do a tube roll with each amp to balance the tone and breakup to my preference. It's definitely important to make sure the amp is biased correctly. Even brand-new amps can ship with the bias set a little low.
With many years of going through equipment, there are always a special few items that stick out as being the best example of a specific speaker or microphone. Finding these gems is important.
IK: What is often overlooked when trying to get a good tone?
TH: The guitar setup and pickups. Everything starts here.
Then, how your guitar interfaces with your amp, be it digital or real. Signal levels can greatly affect the resulting tone. There has been a discussion lately on how to set the input level on your digital interface and software. It can be tricky but keeping your interface level all the way down and adjusting the input gain in the software to account for the dynamic range of the interface (check the manual for your interface) is the best way.
The one variable here is to know what level the amp model is created for. LRS Captures (with the exception of a few of the Bullet Proof) are made for 12 dB of dynamic range. 12 dB is commonly used so I use this as a reference. My interface has 15 dB of dynamic range so I have to raise the level in TONEX 3 dB so the captures see the guitar input as intended.
IK: What do you look for in a guitar amp?
TH: Honestly, popularity and reputation are where I start. But you’ll never know how you’ll like it until you try it. Often, I have the amps modded to allow me maximum control of the tone as they are too dark or don’t have enough punch, etc.
IK: Can you name 3 of your favorite guitars and why?
TH: Wow, that is a tough one. I have many but they are mostly for research in creating tones. My main guitar is a black Les Paul Studio with a Wagner Godwood bridge pickup. I love the mids and highs it has along with having a little less lows. Next, I would say my USA Strat with Lace Sensor pickups. Finally, my metal guitar is a Washburn with a Lundgren M6.
IK: What would your desert island rig look like (money is no object)? You are limited to 1 amp, 1 cab, 1 guitar, 3 pedals.
TH: It's funny as I think this could change by the day, depending on which amp I have set up, haha. But in the spirit of the question, I will say my modded Wizard Modern Classic, 1999 Mesa 2x12 cabinet and the Washburn with M6 pickup.
IK: Even though you own a lot of great tube amps and gear you have also embraced digital technology. Tell us a little bit about when and why you started capturing your amps and what led you to TONEX?
TH: As mentioned above, the marriage of feel and tone was missing for me. At first, I thought I would just get the tone and feel I wanted and be done but then I saw there were so many others out there that were having the same issue. I did quite a bit of research to understand what others were missing and saw there was a hole that needed to be filled in.
I am always looking to expand on what I can do with tone and saw TONEX when it was released. I did some initial testing with it and found that with the right setup, I could absolutely not tell the real recorded amp from the TONEX capture.
IK: What advice do you have for players starting out and wanting to jump into capturing their amps?
TH: Make sure you have the right equipment to convert the signal going into the amp to instrument level and clean up any ground loop or extra noise you may have.
IK: You have created several amazing TONEX Collections
- Tell us about why you chose these amps.
- What was your approach to dialing in tones for these collections?
- What surprised you the most about the quality of the captures?
TH: I wanted to pick a variety of amps for all styles to start with and some that were familiar to players.
I use many different guitars when dialing in the amps. Often Fender amps cut less lows in the preamp and the pickups output less lows. Understanding the relationship is important to understanding amps. This is not saying a Les Paul can't work with Fender Tweeds but a different approach needs to be taken to get desirable results.
The gain texture is preserved, the feel is preserved and the EQ matching done is very close if not perfect.
IK: Do you have any new collections in the works?
TH: In the first months with TONEX I went through at least half the collection just testing how well the captures would be to have full confidence in the IK ecosystem.
We have many packs in the works that will be suited for all styles. From our Modded Wizard and Modern Classic to the modded Komet Concord.
IK: Outside of capturing your amps, are there any music projects you are currently working on or have planned? (gigs, sessions, albums, etc.)
TH: My gigging days are behind me but I often consider the next project ... for now I am working out tones for all.
IK: Where do you see guitar gear going? Any predictions?
TH: I think AI is here to stay, however, at this point, someone will have to perfectly realize the reaction of the speaker to tube power amps to make tube amps obsolete. This is quite a complex study that would need to account for human perception at variable volumes. It could happen!