Skank sound recommendations

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stranded horse
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Skank sound recommendations

Post by stranded horse » Sat Nov 17, 2012 9:33 am

I think some skank sounds are created not only by playing technique but also by production techniques. I am a guitarist in a dub band (check my soundcloud to hear me skanking), but to be honest, I only got one sound and it's a bit bland.
So if anyone of you would mind sharing some EQ settings to get a really different, but nice sounding skank, or any other recommendations you are welcome to share them.

I can also start this thread with giving away stuff I already know:

One usable different skank sound is with the wah wah all the way in the front position. It might get too tiring for the listener's ears after a while, like if you use it for many songs in one set, because it's quite sharp

Another technique is to not press down your left hand on the chord. Only hold the chord shape. Sounds very percussive, but I am quite sure this was used on some great recordings too.

I am not looking for dub-effects recommendations on guitar like reverb, phaser or delay, but the basic sound of the guitar before dubbing it.

One example I would love to figure out is the skank sound on Horace Andy's 'You are my Angel' record. It sounds very nice, but I can't seem to get close, and I am sure it's not only about playing technique.


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Post by AUX1Dub » Thu Jan 24, 2013 6:12 pm

Ok I have tried to solve this problem for a long time. This is how I get close to the Horace Andy sound.
I drop the mids and always play on the downstroke. On guitar sites they always say to play Reggae, strum up and jack the mids, this is wrong. You never see Reggae guitarist do this and it sounds terrible.

Technique is part for sure. You need just the right amount of mute. But too much mute makes it sound metallic and just bad. Also be conscious of how fast you strum. The length of the strum should match the tempo. Don't always just slice down on the guitar quickly.

The key is dropping the mids below 12 o'clock and set treble around 12, not too much treble. And compress slightly the guitar track. Or live, use a compression pedal. I don't know how they mic'ed the amps. I dont think it was very close though.

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Skank sound recommendations

Post by noiseboy » Sun Jun 23, 2013 4:28 pm

Dampen the strings using your fingering hand NOT the hand holding your plectrum.

Play only the top four strings.

Use a wah pedal (a Dunlop Cry Baby model is ideal) and have it set mostly static in a position that favours hi-mid frequencies around the 2Khz region.

Cut low & low mid frequencies on your amp and close mic it if it needs to go through P.A.

To make it sound nice with the rest of the mix try setting the level close to that of your snare or rimshot and above that of your organ bubble/shuffle.

YMMV. I am not a guitarist, I just work with a few good ones!

Reggae Crusader
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Post by Reggae Crusader » Sat Jul 26, 2014 3:20 pm

Playing technique is important yeah, but you don't need to be super skilled guitar player to get a decent sound. Just play around with amount of pressure with left hand. You should be muting the strings with the left hand. And when you stroke you quickly push down the strings. If the muted sound is good without extra pressure then you are close.

As for production EQ is very important to get good skank. Both piano and guitar needs to get treated. Back in the days they recorded to tape, and to get a special sound they let the meters go into red to get that "old school tape" sound. You can mimic this with distortion units, something that is not so extreme is good. Tube dist works well. Most DAW have a tube dist. The way production worked back then was either record->EQ->tape or record->tape->EQ->resample to new tape. So the effect chain needs to be your recording->EQ->tube dist->(what ever effect you want, reverb, EQ to place it in the mix, etc). What you do with the EQ to simulate going into red on tape is to boost a band with the EQ. Move this band around from 400hz->10khz and you will see how it affects the sound going into in the tube dist. Do this with both piano and guitar. Sometimes its nice if the piano is boosted in the lows and the guitar in the mids, sometimes its nice the other way around. Use your ears, when the skank sounds reggae, dirty, rough, squeeky you are there.

For extra movement you can automate the boosted freq band of the EQ to get more variation to the skank hits. You can for example treat different skank "hits" differently so they sound darker/lighter then the others. Or you can treat one skank hit with automation so it goes from dark to light or other way around this adds to the feeling of that classic reggae "wonk". The effect you achieve here is similar to using a wahwah pedal (but the sound is different). If you do one drop for example creating a movement that sounds to go "down" before the kick and "upward" after kick it can be a nice effect.

After you done all this there is nothing wrong with adding piano and guitar together, resample and do it all over again to add extra modulation and grit. What you do here is to simulate recording guitar and piano to tape together and then adding them into your mix.

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General Calisti
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Post by General Calisti » Sat Sep 02, 2017 5:28 pm

Thanks for the tips guys, i'll try to implement.

Here are two cents:

I've just recently bought a homemade semihollowed telecaster after trying it out, i hadn't played guitar in years and tried a little delta-blues pickage and a few skanks for fun and was amazed how well it sounded with such a crappy player handling it :D

Before i was playing a CHEAP stratocaster and skanking on it never worked. I had to work hard for stucks on it even, which means i put heavy effort on making them work.
Thin neck and no actual box for resonating stifled me from making them come alive while playing so i just never did guitar skanks at all. Now it's a whole different type of game, idk if its because i started to play acoustic string instruments as a kid but the fact that the wood is singing feels different to me.
What do you guys prefer?

The neck is thick and the body really resonates well, whoever built it put expensive parts in it and since the store selling it is part of a chain their policy on used and modified instruments is to sell them cheap and no real warranty.
Guy selling it wanted to charge me double just for the hardware in it, he had wanted it for himself but let me have it when he heard i was a deltapicker.

So i slapped a set of 12 gauge strings (i never liked thin strings at all) and went to work, love it!

I've also found downstroke is the place to skank, doubles i do with the returning upstroke but for a single skank it just sounds sharp and, well, crap when i play it. Idk how to make it sound nice.
Feels good to know i'm not the only one. I play the 4 thinner ones (that's what you guys mean as top right?) and my best results live on the middle of the neck while i strum above the neck mic.

I think ups are more for ska-type of beats, like quick barks from yappy terriers :)

I mute with my left (still figuring out how to be consistent over the length of a song and switch chords without killing sustain too much) and if it's a slower song (slower stroke) i use the inside of my forearm on the downstroke to mute if i want them to sing but still be snappy. It's not a perfect technique but i recommend you try it.

On the amp i keep my bass boosted up a little for body, mids slightly higher than bass and trebs considerably higher than both.

High mids get a boost on the EQ and i put just a little tiny drive on it through the daw, 1k-6k roundabout and maximum dry-wet is 80-20, as soon as the drive starts to go over 20% it just goes too punk (which i like but it's not what i'm doing) or just plain tacky or campy.

Mixwise i try to give them as much rythm function as possible, i like it when the skanks really sing the chord out but my own compositions are so organ and clav-heavy (i'm 6 months in on learning to play bubbles, counters and accents and i'm trying to ) that i need the skanks to keep order and structure. With decent room i can cover any minor cosmetic mistakes from being anything but "character", i try to mix it up a little here and there but level is pretty much set and forget when i lay down the riddim.

I'm trying to learn how to coax a soundscape that resembles the rocksteady and early reggae era in arragements and overall mix. But then i do some heavy bass boosting and a playful stuck that gives a little variation and evolution in the theme. I'm kinda studying songwriting, recording and playing the instruments as i go, i know revival style stuff has been done to death and people won't lift eyebrows with another neo-rockstady/goldies reggae producer but its my personal favourite style so i want to be able to pay homage and build from the foundation that keeps enthralling me.
Non possomus facere laterem sine DUB

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