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tones and pitch - an open letter to CDLC developers(Magna Charters)



There are two common issues that are affecting the quality of CDLCs here, and I'd like to extend this request to anyone and everyone making CDLCs. I apologize if this is the wrong forum, and I realize that the best and most direct approach is to contact the developer, but in this case it's almost too much work, so while I work on my boilerplate replies, I'd just like to give everyone a heads up in case they're about to upload a "less-than-awesome" CDLC.


I'm relatively new to guitar and extremely new to CDLCs but I have a few years experience as a bass and keyboard performer, studio engineer, and live sound tech, and I do know a little bit about guitar and mix processing, so I have some theories as to the mistakes that are being made. Please take a look at these tips in case any of the info is new to you.


#1: Tones


About a third of the CDLCs I download have... well, issues with tone. Here are some tips you should apply before attempting to create a custom tone.

  • Connect your RT cable right to the guitar. Not everybody owns a tube screamer or a preamp. If you set up a tone so it sounds good on your pedal rig, it will most likely sound terrible on a guitar, which is what RS recommends and which most players are using. Don't forget that there are EQ controls inside some pickups.
  • Do not use the tone controls on your guitar, or ask us to. This kills RS's note detection, and not all guitars have taps or tone pots. There are EQs in the tone editor.
  • If your guitar is so equipped, try to use the bridge pickup for lead and the neck for rhythm. This also relates to note detection. RS uses harmonics to tell what string/note you're playing.
  • Do not use a hollowbody, acoustic, short-scale, or other "exotic" instrument while developing tones. They sound different to begin with, and also have different harmonics that can affect detection. If that's all you've got, refrain from making significant tone changes or have a buddy with a "normal" guitar help you.
  • If you have any doubt at all, just use the default tone. It sounds great on quite a few songs.
  • Regardless of your level of expertise, get an honest and competent friend to check the sound for you. Many of these are just so far off I can't stomach playing through. Yes, you can use the tone stick under some circumstances, but there is a limited number of slots.
  • If you've adjusted any control (with some exceptions like fuzz or overdrive) in any plugin to the extreme end of its range, consider very carefully whether you've attempted to reach the tone in the wrong way. There could be a more appropriate signal chain.
  • Don't make a tone that's "better than the original." This is subjective, and it usually isn't.
  • If you are an extremely skilled guitarist, remember that the overwhelming majority of RS players cannot control muting as well as you and that your "all the way to eleven" tone will disappear in a sickening mess of fret and handling noise and 60Hz hum for everyone else here.
  • Remember that playing technique varies widely from song to song. Picking position, fretting, palm muting, and strumming style all contribute greatly to the timbre of a guitar's voice. Try to watch the original video and make sure you're playing the instrument appropriately before you then go on to tweak the sound. If you're unfamiliar with a guitarist you may be trying to achieve with stomp boxes what naturally comes out of his/her fingertips.

In most cases, if you search the web for "so-and-so's guitar rig," you'll find a precise rundown of what they use, and can get a very good clue to how to replicate it in RS. If not, you'll find a competent guitarist's guess at the very least.


#2: pitch.


About 10%-25% of the CDLCs I've downloaded are so far off in pitch that they're truly unpleasant to listen to, and it is difficult to play to a song that's not in tune, particularly when bending. Here are some tips for getting the pitch right:

  • Please don't use audio from YouTube, like many tutorials describe. Legal issues aside, YT compresses the heck out of audio and this will also result in a transcode; and you're also trusting that the person who ripped it originally didn't screw it up. In addition, off-tuning songs fools YT's copyright police software, and many uploaders intentionally screw with the pitch or tempo of songs for this reason.
  • Don't transcode at all. Bit rates are sensitive to distortion when transcoding, and there is always a possibility the result will be a few cents off.
  • Don't use CD ripping software if you don't know how it works. There are options in most ripping software for sample rate conversion that can affect pitch.
  • Don't trust your ears. Not everyone can tell by ear that a whole song is out of pitch. You have to know what to listen for. Learn how to use a strobe tuner (you can download one for your phone). Ask multiple people to help you check. If your ears are all you've got, play the CD alongside your CDLC and listen for flanging or "fattening." Listen to your editor's MIDI playback if that is an option (and make sure you've got the right tuning).
  • If you are ripping from tape, vinyl, video, or any other source, remember that all of these types of sources can go out of pitch and must be calibrated periodically.
  • Don't use a cheap sound card. Some plug-in USB sound interfaces have horrible clock accuracy. Sometimes the driver affects clock speed and dropped samples in response to your video card's settings. Laptops and their many integrated peripherals seem to be notorious for pitch issues. Ripping direct from a CD does not require any processing of the audio by your hardware.
  • Don't forget to tune your guitar meticulously while you develop your CDLC. If your ax is out of tune, you won't notice that the song is out of pitch. If you're a relatively new guitarist, remember that your playing might be a little sharp due to your fretting force.
  • Don't forget that some songs were not recorded in A=440. Try your best to make sure you're in the same tuning as the original.

I am very grateful to everyone who's taken the significant time and effort to upload CDLCs so please don't take this as needless griping. I would like to help everyone here who is working to expand the customs universe and as my RSCT skills grow I will certainly lend my assistance to anyone who asks.


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- If you're going to spend ages typing out a big long story with accurate grammar, capitalise the title


- Don't give CDLC creators too much credit, most of them started playing guitar in the last year or two - they have no experience with real life pedals never mind software equivalents, and their tones probably don't even sound that nice on their own systems


- Making tones is normally the end of the CDLC process, and creators have already spend umpteen hours scratching heads and balls trying to figure stuff out - they just want the bloody thing out, not spend another 3 hours trying tones until their ears bleed


- You can always engage your own tone, press 2, 3 or 4 after the song starts


- The Rocksmith sound engine is not a $3000 one-amp simulation plug in, its pretty darn hard to get things "perfect" - there are even some Ubi tones which I think are dreadful


- You can alter pitch on any CDLC in approx 30 seconds, depending on the speed of your pc


- There's no accounting for taste




I hope you don't think I'm just being sarcastic, I did enjoy your piece and agree with most of it.  I just think that you are aiming way, way too high with your criticisms and advice.  You are up at degree level, where most of the people you are trying to help are down at primary school level (dunno what its called in the States).


Honestly, try making a CDLC and you may end up being more sympathetic.


I do know what you mean though, and I barely download any CDLCs any more because I invariably end up disappointed.

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I'm not too picky on tone, but I really dislike the ones that break all tones in the game until you restart. That's just indicative the CDLC wasn't even tested. I get that it's free and it's a hobby, but come on.


Now I just split my signal to the cable, mute ingame tones, and get my amp sound from modeling software using a MIDI pedal to switch tones on the fly. Sounds a lot better to my ears.

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This problem should be less and less encountered as the toolkit should avoid that issue by itself if it's up to date but many old custom haven't been updated and still have that issue.


It's sad that this makes you miss the tones that some charter actually take time to create because many do some good work on that point.

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This problem should be less and less encountered as the toolkit should avoid that issue by itself if it's up to date but many old custom haven't been updated and still have that issue.


It's sad that this makes you miss the tones that some charter actually take time to create because many do some good work on that point.


There's also some limits to the Rocksmith software modeling in terms of certain tones. Volume swells is something that's hard to recreate using automatic tools, and an expression pedal will always work best. Things like Dire Straits - Brothers in Arms and Fleetwood Mac - Dreams benefit heavily from using an expression pedal to achieve an accurate tone.


On the flip side, I recall a number of CDLCs that have a really great tone. I certainly appreciate the time content creators put into the songs, but I think the op was just providing some constructive feedback to help with some of the issues CDLC has.

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